/ Language: English / Genre:det_espionage / Series: Craig

The man who sold death

James Munro

James Munro

The man who sold death


In April 1961, on a cold, clear Sunday morning, Charlie Green went to start his brother-in-law's car. The idea pleased Charlie, who owned but had not finished paying for a motor scooter. His brother-in-law's car was a Bristol; it had eight cylinders and disk brakes. To hold its wheel, to put your foot on its accelerator, was to know power; to deal, if the fates willed it, in death. Charlie, opulent in a fifty-guinea suit and hand-made shoes that his brother-in-law had grown tired of, opened the back door of the house and stepped into the garden. This was the northeast of England, and it was cold. The wind blew bitterly and persistently, retaining still the spiteful zest it had picked up in Siberia, and overhead a seagull planed and screeched complaint to the skies. Charlie shivered, and hurried to the garage.

Its door swung open easily, and for the thousandth time Charlie admired what he saw inside; the car, gleaming with wax, the neat tool racks, the workbench, even the inspection pit. It all meant money. His sister had done all right for herself, he thought, and so, in his modest way, had Charlie. With a brother-in-law like his, you need lack for nothing. Rich-and generous with it. A rare combination, very rare. The garage was warm-a small spirit stove glowed in the corner-and Charlie decided to leave it on. It was nice to be warm, and comfortable, and secure. He opened the car door and got inside, then fussed in his pockets until he found the key on its thin silver chain. He put the key in the ignition and sat happily, imagining with what grace and skill he would drive the big, warm, beautiful car. Life, he thought, is good. Then he switched on.

The explosion wrecked the car completely, and blew

the side out of the garage. It transformed Charlie Green from a man dreaming of happiness into raw and hideous meat. Then it started a fire, and Charlie Green could not be recognized ever again. It hurled bricks and lumps of wood, too, a great distance, scarring the paintwork of his brother-in-law's house, cracking the panels in its doors, smashing such windows as were not shattered by blast. One brick burst through to hit Charlie Green's sister on the head, knocking her unconscious to the floor, where a long sliver of glass lay embedded like a sword.

Charlie Green's brother-in-law had been working in bis orchard, a grove of apple trees fifty yards from the house. To him the explosion was an outrage, a sound of such enormity that he felt at first stunned, then sick. He dropped the saw he had been using and ran, past the burning garage, into the house, crouching as he went as if to escape another terrible blast of noise. Inside he stopped to look at his wife, from whose mouth a thin trickle of blood was running, and touched her pulse, which was slow and uneven. She lay with one leg bent, exposing the top of her stocking and the paleness of her naked thigh. Gently the man pulled down the hem of her skirt; conscious, she would never have lain in an attitude so abandoned. He walked past her to a small room on the ground floor, his study, opened a cupboard, and took from it a briefcase, a small suitcase, and a Luger automatic pistol, then put on his brother-in-law's duffle coat on top of the overalls and sweater he had worn to prune his trees.

He hesitated, and turned again to his wife, but when the telephone rang he fled, crouching, to Charlie Green's scooter, shoved the cases into its panniers, and kicked it into life. His house was a quarter of a mile away from his nearest neighbor's, and no one saw him. He called the police and ambulance from a phone booth, and by the time they arrived, he had traveled five miles. When his wife was admitted to the hospital he had reached Newcastle and the Al. He turned off it south of York, sought and found a deserted road. Houses far away, warm with the wealth of Sunday, and he drove along a narrow road, deep ditches on each side, with a cart track leading to it through empty fields.

He propped the scooter against a wooden platform for milk churns, and pondered on how to destroy it. At last he made a fuse from the lining of Charlie's duffle coat, soaked it in gasoline, left it in the tank, lit it, and ran, taking his cases with him, and his gun. Again an explosion shocked him, but he ran even faster. A bus took him back to York, and he found that he was hungry. He ate at the station buffet-pie and sandwiches, strong brown tea-with the soldiers, the maintenance men, the four youths with guitars, who traveled on Sundays because they had no choice. Like him. His train was late, and he was once more afraid. When it came he found an empty carriage and sat very still, watching the window. He stayed like that all the way to King's Cross.

Detective Inspector Marshall called at the hospital and went to look at the woman. Brady was the surgeon attending her, short and squat, utterly Geordie, with a face like a chimpanzee's, ugly, mischievous, and charming. Marshall had never been at ease with Brady.

"Severe concussion," Brady said. "Hit by a brick and the brick was moving. She's not dead yet, not by any means, but whether she'll ever remember anything-" He shrugged.

Marshall looked at the still figure on the bed, the face as white as bone.

"When will she be conscious?" he asked. Brady shrugged again.

"Maybe this afternoon, maybe never. She's been out twenty-four hours as it is. They had one in the Midlands somewhere-she was out for fifteen months, then she died. Never regained consciousness." He looked at the woman again. "Silly old bag."

Marshall stared at him, surprised.

"In my business it doesn't do to be hypocritical," said Brady. "Did you know her?" "No," said Marshall. _

"She was on all the committees," Brady said. "Leprosy, Save the Children, Mayoress's Charities. None of my wives could stand her."

Brady, who regarded marriage as an ideal capable of ultimate achievement, had been married three times.

"Full of her social importance," said Brady. "Always introduced herself as 'Mrs. John Craig-my husband's in shipping, you know.' "

Marshall said, "So he was. He managed the Rose Line. Six tramps. Go anywhere, load anything."

"He played bridge, too," said Brady. "And poker."

"Good?" asked Marshall.

Brady nodded. "Mind like a computer and no nerves at all," he said. "Working for Gunter, he'd need them both. You seen him yet?"

"No," said Marshall. "That's another treat I've got coming."

Brady stuffed his stethoscope in his pocket and offered Marshall a cigarette.

"Why would anybody do a thing like that?" he asked.

Marshall said, "No reason at all, so far. But they did. If we knew why-"

"Dynamite," said Brady. "Who would dynamite poor Craig?"

Marshall started to say something, then hesitated.

"Let me know if you find out," he said at last. "I'll be with Sir Geoffrey."

Brady looked in disgust at the figure on the bed. Typical of him, thought Marshall. He'll work like a mule to keep her alive, yet he can't stand the sight of her.

"Her now," said Brady. "I could understand anybody killing her. Pompous bitch." His voice changed to a parody of a half-educated, middle-class woman's, mellow with self-esteem, firm with ignorance. "My husband is an associate of Sir Geoffrey's, you know. Such a dear, sweet man. In these days one is fortunate to find a colleague who has any breeding at all. My husband has been lucky." Brady scowled. "And poor old John sitting there and taking it and never daring to argue."

"Why not?" asked Marshall.

"Because she'd just have kept on going," Brady said. "She was improving him. Making him mix with the right sort of people, wear the right clothes, use the right voice. It didn't matter that he was the one who did all the work in the firm. You can't argue with women like that.

They just don't listen. Believe me, I know." He scowled at the memory. "All he could have done was give her a bit of a clout now and then, and he couldn't manage that, being English-and middle-class. But it takes something drastic to shut up the Mrs. Craigs."

"Such as?" asked Marshall.

"Dynamite," said Brady.

Marshall went back down the corridor to the hospital entrance. His sergeant, Hoskins, was waiting there, talking to a nurse, a pretty one. Hoskins was big and blond and easygoing and women seemed to rise out of the ground to meet him. He saw Marshall coming, and whispered to the nurse, who giggled and walked off in her brisk, rustling, rat-tat nurse's walk.

Hoskins said, "Nurse Carr, sir. She put Mrs. Craig to bed."

Marshall said, "She's got nice legs too." Hoskins grinned.

"Brady said Mrs. Craig may be out for days," Marshall went on. "Says he liked her husband. So did everybody else. He was a likable sort of a chap. Quiet, good at his job, good card player. Not the type that gets murdered. In fact Brady seemed surprised she wasn't the one who got it. Disappointed, too."

"Who would kill her?" Hoskins asked.

"Craig would-according to Brady," Marshall said. "And Brady wouldn't have blamed him. Does Mrs. Craig drive?"

Hoskins nodded. "She's got a current licence, anyway," he said. "But surely Craig wouldn't set up a booby trap like that and just forget about it?"

"No," Marshall said. "Not Craig. But she didn't have any motive to kill him, and no one else was there." He sighed. "So far there isn't any reason why anybody should have done anything. We've got to keep on going until we find one. Let's go and see Sir Geoffrey."

The police Humber took them back into the town, past the housing estates and the fifteen-story flats, past the football ground, the dog track, the supermarket and bingo belt, into the old town of movie houses and dance halls and Edwardian pubs, and long, tight streets of houses all pushing their way to the docks. Then the docks themselves, disused coal staithes, and their first glimpse of the river, gray and broad and slow, and downriver the big ships waiting, the fishing boats and tugs tied up in rows, bobbing in unison like ducklings. This was where John Craig had worked, utilizing his mind and nerve and making money; quite a bit for himself, and vast sums for Sir Geoffrey Gunter, chairman of the Rose Line, now in need of a new manager.

The Rose Line's offices had been Sir Geoffrey's grandfather's house and offices combined, and now Sir Geoffrey had them preserved for him by a trust because the place had been designed by Dobson and Craig had had an idea for saving money. The house was big and deftly proportioned, more like London than Tyneside, as was its owner, Sir Geoffrey, a healthy, pink man in tweeds, deftly proportioned as his offices, and with the same air of being left over from a more spacious, more class-distinctive age. His very cigars seemed Edwardian, and he offered them with exactly the right air; a gentleman conferring a favor on a social inferior whom he wishes to put at his ease. It was unfair of Marshall to refuse, thought Hoskins. The old boy looked as though he'd been done out of a treat. He puffed out a cloud of Havana smoke, and deposited half a crown's worth of ash in a copper ashtray. He and Marshall sat in chairs of mahogany and black leather, and Sir Geoffrey faced them across a mahogany desk. To their right a bow window looked out to the river, the rattle of rivet hammers muted now to a gentle background noise. To be rich, thought Hoskins, was not necessarily to be a bastard, but it brought its own problems. Where was Sir Geoffrey going to find another Craig?

"In the Navy," Sir Geoffrey was saying. "He did very well during the war. He joined the firm in forty-seven. Of course he was very green, but he learned very quickly and I'm bound to say he's built up the business."

In forty-seven, Hoskins remembered, there'd been a terrible shortage of shipping as of everything else, and the men who'd done well were the ones who'd got ships built first to replace the stuff lost in the war, men who'd been prepared to jump into it, shove and shout and threaten and bribe to get their ships on the slipway. Sir Geoffrey didn't look like that. There'd been fat pickings in the fifties, but afterwards the shipyards had caught up and there were far too many ships looking for cargoes and the threat of a slump was always in the air, like a fog. Hoskins remembered his father's stories of the last depression, of ships sailing from the Tyne with half a dozen master mariners in the focs'le. Things weren't as bad as that yet, but a man who could keep a cargo ship sailing now was a miracle worker, in a small way. Sir Geoffrey had never worked miracles, not even small ones.

"We concentrate on the Mediterranean mostly," Sir Geoffrey was saying. "That and the Baltic. Lot of small stuff, but if you can get it all in one cargo it does very nicely. Craig was very good at that. He had a lot of contacts, you know."

"Where, sir?"

"All over the place. France, Italy, Spain, Greece, North Africa. Germany too. Very likable sort of chap. Then the Rose Line is reliable. Always has been. Once people come to us, they stick. He saw to that."

"What did he do before forty-seven?" asked Marshall.

"Some sort of import and export. Did damn well at it too. He brought quite a bit of capital with him."

"Where did he work?" asked Marshall.

"The Mediterranean mostly. That's where all his original contacts were," Sir Geoffrey said.


"It's possible," said Sir Geoffrey. Then he turned slowly, imperially purple.

"Now look here," he said. "Are you suggesting that an associate of mine was a smuggler?"

"He may have been," Marshall said. "If he was, it was a long time ago-but it may have given him enemies."

Sir Geoffrey said stubbornly, "He was a very decent fellow."

"I'm sure he was," said Marshall. "Did he have any relatives?"

"No," said Sir Geoffrey. "Poor chap was an orphan. His wife had a brother, I believe."

"Yes," said Marshall. "We're trying to trace him."

"Bit of a bad lot, from what poor John told us," said Sir Geoffrey. "Work-shy sort of chap. Always borrowing."

"Was Craig afraid of him?" Marshall asked.

"John wasn't afraid of anyone," Sir Geoffrey said, and Marshall's eyes flicked up at him. The old man seemed so sure.

"Did he have any enemies that you, knew of?"

"No," Sir Geoffrey said. "Why should he? He was likable, I told you. One or two business rivals, of course. But dynamite! That doesn't happen in shipping, Inspector."

"I realize that," said Marshall gravely, "but we've got to start somewhere. You tell me he was likable-yet I can't find one close friend. I can't find his wife's brother, either. If I'm going to find out who did it I need information. How much did you pay him?"

Sir Geoffrey huffed a bit and puffed a bit, but in the end he told, because what had happened was so terrible, and he wanted to help if he could.

"Five thousand a year," he said. "He had some shares too. But he earned it. He worked damn hard."

They went into Craig's office and questioned his secretary, Miss Cross, and learned nothing except that she was in love with him, and he'd been too busy to notice. Methodically the two big men went through the desk, the filing cabinet, the safe. Contracts, manifests, and letters going back for a decade. Some of them were in German, some in French, and Marshall put them aside for the interpreter. They wouldn't tell him anything, he was sure, but he couldn't leave anything to chance. Miss Cross fussed a bit about opening the safe, but Hoskins used his wistful charm and she did it at last, to show them a series of ledgers, a hundred pounds in cash, and a handful of old snapshots. Craig in the Navy, as an ordinary seaman, as a leading hand, then as a petty officer in small boats, ramshackle affairs with an Arab look about them. By the end of the war, he was a full lieutenant, piratical in a stocking cap and dirty overalls, always in small boats, always with the hard sunlight of the Mediterranean as background.

"Special Boat Service," said Marshall. "A tough job. We'll have to get on to the Admiralty about this lot."

Hoskins grunted, and dived into the safe once more. From the back of it he extracted a roll of black woven cloth, and let it unwind in his hands. It formed a long, thin line to the floor, and Hoskins wound it up again carefully, almost with reverence.

"Judo black belt," he said.

"Is that good?" Marshall asked.

Hoskins nodded. "Too good for me. The best there is." He turned to Miss Cross. "Have you seen this before?" She shook her head.

"I don't think it was Mr. Craig's," she said. "Why not?"

"Judo's wrestling, isn't it?" Hoskins nodded. "Mr. Craig wasn't interested in that sort of thing. He wasn't a rough sort of man."

Marshall looked at the photographs in his hands. The man they showed was young, scarcely a man at all by legal definition, but hard as nails. He looked back at Miss Cross, who had made Craig over in a different image; bowler hat, Bristol saloon, the casual gallantry of the wardroom; Miss Cross loved what she had made. Perhaps that was how Mrs. Craig had felt too. Marshall said nothing, but he kept the photographs, and the belt.


Marshall and Hoskins went back to the station to sort out what they'd got before conferring with the police surgeon and the expert from the forensic laboratory. The sergeant on duty told Marshall that the chief constable would like to see him as soon as the conference was finished. Marshall listened, impassive, and Hoskins ached in sympathy for him. A detective inspector with nothing to report should at least be spared chief constables.

Two men waited for them in Marshall's tiny office. Thomas, the police surgeon, was slow, bespectacled, taciturn, and fair-minded to the point where defense counsel bought him drinks. The man from the forensic lab, Inspector Maynard, was an ex-Royal Engineer whose passion for explosives had survived even bomb disposal. As Marshall entered, he slapped him gratefully on the shoulder.

"Well, Bob," he said. "You've sent us a beauty this time."

"Glad you like it," said Marshall, but he was thinking of the chief constable, and his voice was sour.

"Biggest we've ever had," said Maynard. "Enormous. You know we found pieces of that car in a tree fifty yards away? And we had to cut them out. They were going like bullets. They might as well have dropped an H-bomb on the poor bastard. I've never seen anything like it."

"What did they use?" Marshall asked.

"Hard to say yet," Maynard said. "Gelignite maybe. If it was, they used a hell of a lot. In fact, I thought it was something a bit more lively at first. Plastic stuff maybe. The blast waves were all wrong for dynamite."

"It wasn't TNT?" Marshall asked.

Maynard said, "The detonation would be too difficult. You need something with a big impact for that, like a bomb or a shell."

He settled back with the contentment of a man who knows he's going to say something good, and his big, capable hands, deft for all their size, groped in an ancient Gladstone bag and emerged with the mangled remains of a heavy steel box and a flat cake of lead.

"The lid of the box is magnetized," he said. He nicked a paper clip at it and it snapped at once to its battered top. "Very highly magnetized. The explosive charge was inside, so that all the killer had to do was clamp it to the underside of the car beneath the driver's seat. Then a piece of cord was run from the box and this lead weight was attached to its other end. As you can see, it's very heavy." He tossed it up in the air. "The weight was balanced on the exhaust pipe of the car. When the-"

Thomas said, "But surely that's impossible? I mean, look at the shape of it."

Maynard chuckled. "It was the right shape when it started," he said. "We found it embedded in a brick." He beamed at them; talking about explosives always made him happy.

"When the car's engine was switched on," he continued, "the vibration shook the lead loose, and the resultant pull on the cord detonated the charge inside. The results of that you've seen for yourselves."

His voice was now a lecturer's, primly impersonal, and Marshall looked at him, astonished. He had been the first to see the body. In the past he'd seen men shot, burned, knifed, battered to death, but he had never in his life seen anything so appalling as the twisted remains of that body. Below the waist it had ceased to exist, and the head had been completely smashed by impact with the windshield of the car. After that there had been the fire… The man had died immediately, but the dismemberment of a human being was so cruel in itself that it had haunted his nightmares for the last two nights. He turned to Thomas.

"Anything you want to say, Doctor?" he asked.

Thomas waited for a count of three before answering, as he always did.

"There is very little I can tell," he said at last. "Obviously he was killed outright by any number of things, all of them lethal. I found a fractured skull, a broken neck, several arteries severed, at least a dozen bones broken, and a steering-wheel rib driven through his heart. No one ever died more quickly."

Thomas turned to Marshall. "How will you prove identification?" he asked.

"Clothes and shoes," Marshall said. "The bits we got were Craig's all right. Hand-made stuff. I've had them identified."

Thomas nodded.

"I see," he said. "Do you need me for anything else?" Marshall said no, and he left.

Maynard explained how the container had been made wider at the top than at the bottom, and the magnetized lid much thinner than the rest of it. In that way the main force of the explosion struck straight up at the driver.

"A little beauty," said Maynard, then added, "the bastard."

Hoskins looked up from his notebook in surprise. He had never before heard Maynard criticize an effective explosion.

"He didn't care who got it, did he?" Maynard asked. "Craig could have had half a dozen kids aboard. Anybody. For all this sod cared, they could all go, just so long as Craig went with them. I know it's stupid to hate in our business, but this time I can't help it."

"What do you make of it?" Marshall asked.

Maynard shrugged. "There you've got me, boy. That's your problem, thank heaven. I've given you the modus operandi, the rest is up to you. Fancy a beer?"

"Yes," said Marshall, "but the chief wants to see me."

"Ah," said Maynard. "I'll be over in the Grapes if you've got time."

Marshall followed him out, knocked on the oak door of the chief constable's room, and went in as soon as he heard the unintelhgible growl from inside.

"Sit down, Inspector," Chief Constable Seddons said, and Marshall sat, with that strange combination of strength and primness that never left him. He and the chief constable fitted perfectly into that bare, aseptic office, and Marshall began to relax without knowing why.

"This Craig business," the chief said. "How's it shaping up?"

Marshall told himl There was no point in evasions and both men knew it. Marshall talked clearly and economically, telling how he had found the body, the shambles of the garage, the continued unconsciousness of Mrs. Craig who, according to Dr. Brady, was abominable. He described the bomb, and how it worked, and his interview with Sir Geoffrey. Then he reported on his progress. Stolidly, in the same economical way, he told the chief that there was no progress to report. Craig had been a man with dozens of acquaintances and no friends, a man who lived for his work, a man whose only private possessions were a handful of snapshots and a judo belt. "You checked on that?"

Marshall nodded. "None of the local judo clubs owns him, sir. Hoskins is looking into it now. He says the black belt's the best there is. And he should know, sir. He's pretty good at it himself." He paused. "I've been flunking, sir. I'd like to get in touch with the Admiralty about his background."

The chief said, "I've already done that."

Marshall scowled then, unable to hide his anger.

"I know I shouldn't have," the chief said. "And I'm sorry I had to do it, Inspector, but I had no choice. You'll see why in a minute, but you'd better read this first."

He handed a typed foolscap sheet to Marshall.

It read: "To Chief Constable. From: Admiralty Record Office. Transcribed Telephone Report.

"John Craig joined the Royal Navy in 1941, as a volunteer, at the age of seventeen. Trained at Devonport. Showed outstanding ability in the handling of small boats. Outstanding also in the use of small arms and unarmed combat. After one voyage in a destroyer, went to the Special Boat Service in the Mediterranean, where he stayed for the remainder of war. Promoted Leading Seaman, Petty Officer, Sub-Lieutenant, Lieutenant. Promotion from petty officer to commissioned officer unusual, but justified (a) by a shortage of officers, (b) by Lieutenant Craig's remarkable abilities.

"Lieutenant Craig was twice decorated (D.S.O., D.S.C.) and three times mentioned in dispatches. He took part in seventeen major raids against the enemy in Greece, Italy, and North Africa, was twice captured and twice escaped. All the boats he commanded inflicted severe damage on the enemy. (Details withheld. Their information is still partially secret.)

"Lieutenant Craig is a man of outstanding courage and very high intelligence. (By the end of the war he was fluent in French, Italian, and Greek, proficient in Arabic and German.) All the officers and men with whom he served were impressed by his qualities as a man of action."

Marshall put the paper back on the chief's desk and waited.

"Is there anything you want to ask me?" Seddons asked.

Marshall hesitated. The memo had given him enough to gamble on, no more. At last he said, "The bomb, sir. Inspector Maynard gave me a list of things it might have been."

Seddons said, "Well?"

Marshall said, "I think it was plastic, sir." This time the chief didn't smile; he grinned. "Why?" he asked.

"Craig ran a shipping line," said Marshall. "His ships were tramps. They sailed up the Baltic, picked up cargo all over the place, then moved down through the North Sea, into the Atlantic-France, Spain-then on into the Mediterranean. Here's a typical run, sir." He took a notebook from his pocket. "This is the Rose of Tralee last year. Danzig, Hamburg, Antwerp, Rabat. Rabat is in Morocco, sir. In Danzig the Rose of Tralee loaded agricultural machinery and shoes from Czechoslovakia. In Hamburg they took on cars, sewing machines, and sports equipment. The shoes were unloaded at Antwerp. The machinery and sports equipment went on to Rabat." Marshall paused and took a deep breath. What he was going to say now, what he had to say, would earn him savage mockery if he was wrong. At last he said, "I don't think his manifests told the truth. I think the agricultural machinery and the sports equipment were arms for the Algerian insurgents." Seddons said nothing, and he went on: "I don't think Sir Geoffrey Gunter knows. Craig probably gave him the flat rate for the job and kept the gun-running perks himself.

"There's another thing. Craig speaks German, French, and Arabic. And every year he went abroad for six weeks to look for customers. I think that could have been a good cover for his gun-running contacts."

"Go on," said Seddons.

"Craig was a planner. He worked things out and he had a cold nerve. Men followed his leadership too. There would have to be a man on his ships he could trust, and the man he would want would be the master. But whoever it was would trust Craig's judgment"-he tapped the memo-"if this means anything at all." "Why plastic?" Seddons asked.

"The French settlers don't like people helping the Arabs," Marshall said. "They've got their own organizations-the A.F.L. and so on. And they've also got their own terrorist groups. And they're dirty fighters. Fanatics. They've used a lot of explosives too. Mostly it's been plastic. That's why I thought-" His voice trailed off. "I'm very sorry, sir. I know this must all seem ridiculous. But it's the only thing that fits the facts."

Seddons said, "I had a man in to see me this morning. He was from the Special Branch, seconded to some cloak-and-dagger outfit I'd never heard of." He smiled with a realist's amused tolerance, and this time Marshall smiled too.

"He was looking for a man," Seddons said. "It might or might not have been Craig. He didn't know. He wasn't prepared to tell me how he was going to find out. But the man he was looking for was wanted urgently-very urgently. When I told him that Craig had been murdered he asked if he'd been plastique. You know what that means? It's French for blown up-with a plastic bomb. Pity he couldn't have got here a bit sooner." He gave Marshall a third smile.

"You've done very well," he said. "Anything else?"

"Yes, sir," said Marshall. "One more thing. I'd like to trace Mrs. Craig's brother, Charlie Green. He's the only one who visited Craig regularly, and that was to borrow money."

"You think he's mixed up in this?" Seddons asked.

"He might be," said Marshall. "Anyway, he's the only lead we've got. The Craigs' charwoman gave me a description, and he bought a motor bike a while ago. We might trace him through that. He's the sort of bloke that changes his lodgings pretty regularly. I think he might have a bit of a record, sir."

"All right, you carry on. It's your case," Seddons said. Marshall rose, then hesitated.

"There's just one more thing, sir. The Rose of

Tralee is due in Genoa tomorrow. I think someone should let her skipper know what's happened. He could be next on the list."

"Good idea," said Seddons, and Marshall went out at peace with the world. Seddons hadn't the heart to tell him that the man from Intelligence had suggested the same thing.


Craig had spent a night at a cheap hotel in St. Pancras, then he moved to another, more expensive one in Bays-water. This he selected with great care. There had to be nothing furtive about it, nothing seedy. It had to be the sort of place that the police would treat with respect. He chose the Rowena, which was small, and full of junior executives, and was invariably packed whenever there was an exhibition at Earl's Court. He signed the register as John Reynolds, and gave a Manchester address. Reynolds had been his commanding officer in a raid on Crete. He had died in Craig's arms, his body torn by a burst from a Schmeisser machine gun.

He had a drink in the bar and told the barmaid he was an incorporated accountant. She accepted the information without noticeable enthusiasm, but even so Craig talked, on and on, about anything at all that he thought would bore her, until the poor girl gritted her teeth to hide her yawns. That was good. If he bored her enough she would warn off the others, the good chaps up for a few days who might be looking for an extra bloke to take to a strip-club. John Reynolds mustn't be the bloke they would invite; his clothes were right-he'd bought them that morning at Simpson's-but his personality was all wrong. He was a bore, and he talked. Moreover, he hadn't bought the barmaid a drink. They would ignore him, and he had to be ignored. If he weren't, he might die.

He went to a public phone booth then, and made a call. A girl's voice, bright and alert, said "Baumer's Exports. Good morning." "Mr. Baumer, please."

What he got was Baumer's secretary, and a confused, apologetic story of urgent business for Mr. Baumer, who would be away for some time. Craig hung up. Mr. Baumer would be away forever. In the phone booth somebody had left an Evening Standard. His story was there, on the front page, but they hadn't managed to get a picture of him. He'd been careful about pictures. Those snapshots from the Navy would be with the police now, but they wouldn't be much help. They were twenty years old. He was surprised to find what an effort of will he needed to read about himself. He had avoided newspapers and radio ever since that shattering, obscene noise. He wanted no details of what had happened to Charlie, and he was finished with Alice now. For her sake he had to be. Even Alice couldn't disapprove of desertion if it was to keep her alive. He forced himself to read on. Alice was still unconscious, and the man they had thought was Craig had been blown to bits. Poor Charlie had been in his shoes once too often. He put down the paper and rang another number. A small, infinitely polite voice said, "Mr. Hakagawa speaking."

"This is Craig."

Breath hissed, quickly, at the other end of Jhe line.

"I wasn't killed," Craig said. "They got somebody else by mistake. I've got to see you, Hak. It's urgent."

"Yes," said Hakagawa. "Come now, please."

The Japanese hung up, and Craig went to look for a taxi. On the way to Kensington he thought about Baumer, and wondered where he'd gone. The states maybe, or Brazil. Baumer had always wanted to five in Rio, and he had enough money, after the last trip. But they'd be looking for Baumer, as they'd looked for him, and hating Baumer even more, for the men who hunted were anti-Semites, an idea they'd borrowed from the Nazis, as they'd borrowed militarism and the Fuhrerprinzip and their one overwhelmingly important creed, the everlasting superiority of the white man. Craig shivered. He knew they would find Baumer. If they killed him quickly he would be lucky.

Hakagawa lived in the ground floor and basement of a house off Church Street, one of a series of Edwardian monsters of salmon-pink brick relieved with white stone that glittered like icing. He rang the bell and SanuM Hakagawa let him in, a neat, ageless Japanese in a sweater and jeans.

"Shenju is giving a lesson," she said. "He won't be long."

They drank coffee together, and discussed the weather, and Kensington's appalling prices. If Mrs. Hakagawa knew that Craig was supposed to be dead, she gave no sign of it. At last a bell rang, and Craig jumped up. Sanuki rose too, and Craig forced himself to be polite, to walk composedly out of the room and down the stairs to Hakagawa's dojo, the gymnasium which was his classroom.

Hak was by the mat, a squat, bullet-headed Japanese with an astonishingly beautiful face. He wore judo costume, and was drying his sweating arms and neck on a towel. He was in his middle forties, but he moved with the easy speed of a man twenty years younger, as he crossed to Craig and took his hand, controlling his grip with scrupulous care.

"John," he said. "It's good to see you. When I read the paper I-"

Craig smiled.

"It was my brother-in-law they killed," he said. "He was wearing an old suit of mine." "And your wife?"

"According to the papers, she's still unconscious. If they'd killed her it wouldn't have worried them." "They?"

"I shan't tell you," said Craig. "You're better off not knowing, Hak, believe me." The Japanese looked hurt. "They're very thorough," Craig continued. "If they get the idea I'm not dead, they'll make the rounds of all my friends they can find. I'm telling you this now because I want to ask a favor."

"If I can do it I will. You know that," Hakagawa said.

"Think about what I've told you first. And there's another thing-the police may come here."

"The police have come here," Hakagawa said. "They wanted to know about a Mr. Craig who holds a black belt."

"What did you tell them?"

"The truth," said Hakagawa. "I had given you lessons and I liked you. You were a very promising judoka. What you did in business and why you were killed I don't know. But I was very distressed. Now what is this favor?"

"Karate," said Craig. "All you can teach me."

"You are a dead man. You have nothing to fear," Hakagawa said.

Craig said, "I can't be sure. If these people ever find out I'm still alive they'll hunt me down again. If they find me they'll probably kill me, but I want to make a fight of it. With everything I've got."

"They are very wicked, these people?" the Japanese asked.

"The worst I've ever met," Craig said.

"And if I taught you you would swear to use your knowledge only against them?"

"Yes," said Craig. "I give you my word."

"Very well," said Hakagawa. "But remember your hands are terrible weapons if you know how to use them. In Japan a karate man who fights, really fights, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon. This." He held up his clenched fist. "And this." The fist opened and Hakagawa turned over his hand to show the hard edge of bone and muscle that ran from his wrist to the tip of his finger.

"I'll show you," Hakagawa said.

He put a deal board in a pair of clamps, holding it vertically. The board was of soft wood, but an inch thick at least. For a moment he stood absolutely still, breathing slowly and evenly. Then he hit it with his clenched fist, three times. At the third blow the board broke jag-gedly apart. Then he set up another board horizontally, and hit it with the edge of his hand. It broke at the first blow.

"It is a very amusing trick," Hakagawa said. "That is why I keep the boards here-to impress my pupils. But a good judoka, one who is ready, he needn't be afraid of a blow, even that blow. He will meet it and use it to throw the man who strikes. Be careful who you use it on."

An hour later, streaming with sweat, Craig had begun to add to his knowledge of killing. Hakagawa had prepared for him two thin canvas bags, filled with sand. On these Craig would punch every day, using his fists and the edge of his hands, until they were hard and deadly enough for his skill in using them, until they became lethal weapons.

Hakagawa said, "You are good. Very good. One day you will beat me."

Craig said, "I don't think so."

"Oh yes," said Hakagawa. "A year, two years, and you will beat me. You are a very unusual man, you see. Even today, after men have only just failed to kill you, all your body and mind are concerned with is defeating me. You are very dangerous, John."

"I used to be," said Craig.

"You are now. You can never be anything else."

"Alice-my wife-doesn't think so. She thinks I'm a-" He hesitated. "A machine for making money and hoisting her up in the world. That isn't very gallant, is it? But I'm trying to tell the truth."

Hakagawa knelt on the mat, and motioned to Craig to face him. Now was the time for Craig to talk, to ease the terrible pressure on his mind. Craig knelt too.

"She was pregnant when I married her. That's why I did marry her. And I was lonely. She was nice in those days, too. And she knew how to behave, how to talk to people-all that. I didn't. Not even when they made me an officer. And in those days I wanted to know how to behave like a gentleman. She was the one who taught me. God knows where she learned it. Her background wasn't all that much better than mine." He grinned. "I was an orphan, Hak. A nothing. Joining the Navy was like going home. All I'd ever had before that was house mothers. Poor, stupid old bitches. The war was good to me. I got on. When it was over, I went to Tangier for a bit. And after that, Gunter's old manager was looking for help. The help he wanted was a pirate with a taste for bookkeeping, and I was the nearest he could find. So I got on again. I made money. A lot of money. I could have gone on my own, but Alice didn't want to risk that. She wanted me to be Sir Geoffrey's right-hand man." Again he grinned. "My right hand was stiff with holding him up. Ah well. I made more money anyway, but I didn't bore her with the details. She'd have been scared the Conservative Ladies' Tea Club would hear of it."

"It was illegal?" Hakagawa.asked.

"Yes," said Craig. "But I don't think it was dishonest."

"What happened to the child?"

"It died," Craig said. "Meningitis. She didn't want another. Neither did I, really. The way we got on-it wouldn't have been good for a child. Then I got mixed up in this business-I hope she doesn't die, Hak. I had no right to do that to her."

Hakagawa said, "I hope neither of you die."

"I suppose we've both got a chance," said Craig.


The Society for the Solution of the Algerian Problem had its headquarters in Nice, in a big, stone-built building flanked by the offices of a petroleum company on one side and a multi-story garage on the other. A drab and unremarkable building except that its windows were of toughened glass, inches thick and protected by steel grilles; its main doors of steel, veneered with wood. It was impervious to direct assault from anything smaller than a tank, and the men who worked there were all ex-soldiers, trained in the skills of war in Indochina and Algeria, men dedicated and disciplined to the idea that Algeria was French forever. Within its offices were a gymnasium, a miniature rifle range, the complex paraphernalia of modern espionage: microfilm, dossiers, short-wave radio, masses of data on Arab countries, Arab leaders, friends of the cause, men who would fight, men who would give money, men who would give their lives. Lists of enemies too. Those who could be threatened, those who could be bribed; and the ultimate fist, those who had to be killed. There was one other department, the Department of Interrogation, but that was in the colonel's villa, and the specialists who worked there came into headquarters very infrequently.

Three days after Charlie Green died, one came and was admitted at once. The office he went to was on the top floor, the most difficult to reach with a bomb or a bullet. On its door was written Colonel de St. Briac, Founder and President. Outside it was a man with an automatic carbine, and inside, a tall thin man in olive-green, who wore the epaulettes of a colonel in the office, although the French Army had long since dismissed him. He had the hungry strength and pale eyes of a fanatic, and he looked at his visitor with the dangerous calm of a man single-minded to the point of mania. At his feet an Alsatian crouched, watching the newcomer warily, waiting the word to kill. St. Briac tugged gently at its ear and it was still.

"Come in, Cadella," St. Briac said, and the visitor entered, stamped to attention, and saluted.

A big, chunky man, with a sallow face, neither French nor Italian. A Corsican, devious and deadly, standing now waiting for the praise that was his due.

"I've seen the English papers-you've done very well," St. Briac said.

Cadella stayed rigidly at attention.

"You may stand at ease," said the colonel, and was obeyed at once. Cadella, even in a business suit, could be nothing but a warrant officer in front of his colonel.

"Craig was the most difficult by far," St. Briac said, "and yet you succeeded the first time. That is good. That leaves us with Baumer and Rutter."

He rang a bell, and another, smaller man came in, another Corsican, wiry, neat in his movements. He smiled as he saw Cadella.

"A wonderful job," he said. "I congratulate you."

"Just two more wonderful jobs, and that particular annoyance is ended," said St. Briac softly, and Pucelli was silent at once.

"Rutter is captain of a ship called the Rose of Tralee now," said St. Briac. "It is due quite shortly in Trieste."

Pucelli said, "I request permission to meet him there."

"No," said St. Briac. "Ships are not very reliable as a means of transport. They are delayed by storm, or redirected. It will be better if Rutter comes to you." He produced a key, opened a filing cabinet, flicked through a row of files, and took out one marked Rutter.

"He will know soon," he said. "Perhaps he knows already. When he reaches port he will run-to you."

"You know where he will go then?"

"He will go to Geneva," said St. Briac. "He will call himself Altern and he will go to his bank there." He smiled. "He has a great deal of money. Watch the hotels -the big ones. No fuss, Pucelli. No bangs. Not this time. I don't want any fuss this time."

Pucelli bowed.

"That leaves Baumer," St. Briac continued. "It's likely that he'll go to Brazil. He has inquired at several travel agencies. I have a man here who is anxious to help us." He paused. "For money." He picked up an. internal telephone.

"I will see Cavalho," he said.

They waited in silence until the door was opened by the guard, and St. Briac's hand went to the dog, soothing him with impersonal tenderness. The man who came in was fat, sweating, soft, with small, shrewd eyes as black as prunes. He bobbed a neat, swift bow to St. Briac.

"How can I help you, Colonel?" he asked.

"You can find a man called Baumer for me," said St. Briac.

He went to the filing cabinet- once more and produced a photograph. "This man. He is forty-three years old. Jewish. Quite wealthy, I understand."

"And what do you want me to do with him?"

"I want you to kill him," said St. Briac, and Cavalho winced. "Or have him killed. He has all his money with him… A wealthy Jew. You can keep his money."

"If I find him," said Cavalho.

"You'll find him," said St. Briac. "If you don't, you'll lose fifty thousand francs.'" He paused. "Five thousand now to take you back to Brazil, forty-five thousand when I know he's dead."

He pulled open a desk drawer. It was unlocked, and crammed with money so tightly that bank notes spilled out of it on to the floor. PucelH stooped, and picked up five thousand-franc notes, crumpled them into a ball, and tossed it to the fat man, whose hand moved, darting to the magnetic tug of money, holding it tight as he stared at the fortune in the unlocked drawer. St. Briac smiled.

"You find it strange that the drawer is unlocked?" he asked.

"Forgive me," said Cavalho. "I merely wondered-if a thief should break in here-"

"He would be killed," said St. Briac. "Believe me, Cavalho, anyone who tried to cheat or rob me would be killed." He turned to Cadella. "Take him to the villa," he said. "Show him the sights. There are things he has to remember if he is going to do his best for us."

He walked up to Cavalho, and the fat man flinched, then gasped aloud as the colonel held out his hand, took his in its dry, hard grip.

"I will do my utmost," he began. "I assure you-"

"There is no need," St. Briac said. "I know you will find Baumer. You are greedy, and you want his money-and mine. You are also afraid of what will happen if you fail. You are right to be afraid."

He was dismissed, and Cadella took him out to the villa. He saw many things that frightened him, and one that made him vomit. When he left he knew that it was better to kill himself than to let down the colonel, and better still to kill Baumer.

›?‹ CHAPTER 5 ^

THE wireless operator of the Rose of Tralee took a message to the captain. Captain Rutter was asleep when the operator knocked but in one smooth movement he had rolled off his couch and was facing the door. He called "Come in," and took the flimsy the operator handed him.

"Regret inform you Mr. Craig killed in motorcar explosion. Gunter." He read it, and nodded.

The operator asked, "I suppose that must be the manager, sir?"

Rutter looked up at him, and the operator sensed the force in the small, neatly bearded man.

"Yes," said Rutter. "But why waste time sending cables here? We'll be in port this afternoon."

"Any reply, sir?"

"There can't be," said Rutter. "He's dead."

The operator left, and Rutter, very methodically, began to work out what he had to do. If they were waiting for him on the Genoa docks, he was finished. But Genoa wasn't on their original schedule. The Rose of Tralee had been rerouted there from Trieste. If they were still waiting for him at Trieste, he had a chance. He opened the ship's safe; inside was his survival kit; a Colt revolver, five thousand American dollars and a Central American passport. If he got a sufficient start, they should be enough.

The ship reached Genoa harbor that afternoon, and Rutter was able to go ashore in daylight, dressed in the civilian suit he always wore when he went to see the agent, Ponti, a fat, hospitable man, generous with his brandy. The first mate of the Rose of Tralee wasn't worried for at least three hours. Sessions with Ponti were always long ones and he wished he was there too, or in a nice, quiet restaurant away from the waterfront, eating pasta. After three and a half hours he felt anxious. After four he rang the agent, and heard that Rutter had never reached him. By the time the police arrived, Rutter was well on the way to Rome. By the time they had organized a search of the docks, Rutter was in an airplane, bound for Switzerland. The Genoese police were still looking for him when he landed at Geneva and went to his bank.

By then Gutter looked different. The name on his Central American passport was Altern, he was clean-shaven, wore an expensive Italian suit, and possessed three matched, lightweight suitcases, in addition to his briefcase. His bankers were delighted to see him, and offered him wine, the dry, light port they kept for the middle range of customers. Nothing, they assured him, would be easier than to transfer funds to Greece for him, if that was where he meant to settle for a while. Senor Altern thought he might take a place in the Greek islands, and the bankers were enchanted, and advised him to boil the water.

Rutter went to a hotel, a good one, and for the first time he felt relaxed enough to phone down for a drink. He asked for Scotch, and specified the brand. When the knock on the door came, however, he put the Colt in his coat pocket and was well away from the line of the door when he called "Come in." It was the waiter. He poured out Rutter's drink and palmed his tip with professional deftness, but Rutter waited until the door had closed before he picked up his glass, and sipped. It was good Scotch. Very good.

The waiter opened the door again, and for a fraction of a second Rutter saw him, reflected in the mirror. This time he wasn't carrying a tray. He held in his hand a small revolver with an oddly extended barrel. He shot Rutter twice, in the back of the neck, but once would have been enough. The two shots made no noise. No noise at all.


Craig found it hard to fill in his days. In his role of incorporated accountant on a business trip, it was necessary to stay out of the Rowena a great deal, and necessary also to avoid conspicuousness, the attention of policemen, the curiosity of reporters. For the most part he bought clothes, visited picture galleries, and worried about the ten thousand pounds locked in the suitcase in his hotel bedroom. His plans for his future safety had been made years before, but it was necessary to wait before he moved, until even his enemies were satisfied that he was dead, and he could start to live again. In the meantime he looked at pictures. All he had to do was stare, and let his mind drift. It was in the National Gallery that he first thought of finding and killing the man who had planned the planting of the bomb.

For six years he had been planning, negotiating, arranging; worrying about contracts and ports of delivery, forcing himself to look for trade between North Africa and France so that the men who hunted him now might not suspect, parading Sir Geoffrey in public on every possible occasion to show how unspottedly pure the Rose Line was. Six years had been enough. He'd all the money he needed. He could go anywhere, be anybody, so long as they thought that he was dead. And until the inquest had been held they wouldn't be absolutely sure: and so he drifted, tightening his mind and body to action only when he went for his lessons with Hakagawa.

Then, in the Gallery, he saw the landscape, Rubens's "Chateau de Steen." In the foreground is a hunter with a long-barreled gun. Craig saw at once how right that hunter was; it was obvious in the way he moved, the way he handled the gun and used his cover. As he looked at the tiny figure, the whole picture made sense. A man who was hunting-he made sense too. Kilhng for food, or because somebody was trying to kill him. Either way he had no choice, and to Craig there was a passion in such killing that nothing else had ever supplied. It would be difficult to find out for certain who had planted the bomb, but it might not be impossible-and he knew very well who had ordered its use. He let his mind drift again, back to memories of the St. Pauli district in Hamburg, and his meetings with the man who had first got him into gun-ranning, a man called Lange.

Lange had fought in Greece too, on the other side. He had known all about Craig since 1943, and for a brief while they worked together in Tangier, when Craig had turned to smuggling. Cigarettes. Nylons. Batteries. Tires. Almost everything was in short supply then; almost everything paid. Craig remembered a Greek millionaire who insisted on a weekly delivery of smuggled cigars, a Cata-lonian electrical dealer who had ordered a quarter of a mile of copper wire. They'd delivered both, and been paid top rates, though the Spanish police nearly sank their boat. An old German Raumboot they'd been using then, salvaged unofficially by some of Lange's friends. No overhead, no insurance, and enormous profits.

In Tangier they had dressed quietly, discreedy, talking and acting like businessmen, which was what they believed themselves to be. Craig had wanted to be a businessman ever since the war, and he was happy. He was getting on. They didn't handle arms in those days. They didn't need to. The ordinary materials of commerce were so profitably scarce. When they did at last split up, they had gone on being businessmen, and for a while Craig really believed that he had made it, that his life was complete. The Rose Line needed him far more than he needed it, and yet he was grateful to it for providing him with the kind of work he loved: the traveling, the contacts, the bookkeeping, the frantic scramble for cargoes, and for ships. And then, when the Rose Line was ticking away as smooth and untroubled as a Swiss watch, and his marriage had moved by easy stages from passion to tolerance to contempt, Lange had sought him out again. He had been patient and thorough and very German, waiting until Craig was so bored, so mutinous against his life, and his marriage, that when he made his offer Craig accept at once. Lange was clever, and he knew Craig well. T proposition he made was dangerous, heroic, and abc all romantic. They would supply arms to gallant freedo: fighters (the Algerian Arabs) and so help them in th struggle against brutal and tyrannous oppressors (t French). Because of the risks they ran, the gallant, fr‹ dom-loving Arabs would be happy to pay them a gn deal of money, but the money was a secondary thii Far more important was the need for action.

Lange had been clever all right. He needed Crai contacts in the shipping world, he needed his ships, a above all he needed Craig's energy and drive, and he j them all. Once Craig was in charge, Lange reverted to natural role of adjutant, and took care of every det: meticulously. Once Craig was in charge, it was too f to discover that not every freedom-fighter was a patri or every Frenchman a swine. He was hooked, and knew it, and at first he didn't care. When he did at 1 decide to get out, the hunters were already on to him, a he had to stay in the organization to protect the othe That had been a disastrous mistake. They were all marl for death: Rutter, Lange, Baumer.

Lange had always insisted that they meet in broth; strip-shows, night clubs whose only entertainment M obscenity. He had known that his time might be she and he'd made the most of it. Craig had warned him be more careful, but he'd died. According to the inqu there had been a car accident. There had been a with him, and she had died too, a casualty in a ba fought a thousand miles away. Craig knew that he too 1 had a share in her death. He shuddered, and began think about a man called McLaren.

He'd first met McLaren in a rest camp in Sicily in 19 The man was a Commando sergeant, long and lean as brown as an Arab, with the soft Highland voice I gave no hint of the speaker's strength and endurai McLaren had found a bottle of whisky. Found was word the army always used for things like whisky, and was willing to share it. Craig, who was then ninett did not dispute his choice of word. They put it dc drink for drink, and Leading Seaman Craig had the sense to see that Sergeant McLaren would disapprove of the usual violence or lust. Sergeant McLaren was a philosopher, whose release was in conversation. At twenty-five he was immeasurably older than Craig, and terribly aware of death. He had killed too many times to doubt that soon it would be his turn to die, and so he talked as they drank his whisky together. In the whole camp he had found Craig alone to be fit to share his bottle, and Craig was flattered. It never occurred to him that his ruthless efficiency at his craft was superior to the sergeant's own, which was why McLaren had chosen his company. Sadly, regretfully, as the Johnnie Walker disappeared, Sergeant McLaren had bidden farewell to civilization. The war, he was convinced, was the end of all that. No one would ever again feel the need to struggle for anything but his own survival, or, in exceptional cases, comfort. But these would be the rare and gifted ones; for the commonalty it would be enough simply to go on living. He tilted the bottle, and passed it over.

When peace came, the men who would do best would be those who had deliberately allowed their personalities to be molded by war: the men who had learned to act, decisively and at once; the men who had learned, whatever happened, to survive; and the men who had learned to be gentlemen. "That's always what the English look for," he said. "Gentlemen. You must be a gentleman too."

Craig considered his background; slum house, orphanage, and Devonport barracks. He found it inadequate.

"I don't see how I can," he said.

"Get a commission," said McLaren. "Royal Navy. Special Boat Service. You'll look well with a commission. Then get rid of your accent."

"You didn't."

"I'm not going to be a gentleman. I'm going to be a schoolmaster," McLaren said. "That's why I'm going back to Glasgow University-if I live that long. And anyway my' accent is socially acceptable. Yours isn't."

"Why should I be a gentleman?" Craig asked with alcoholic earnestness, and McLaren beamed at him.

"I like you," he said. "Always asking the right questions.

Good for my Socratic method. Every philosopher should be issued with a leading seaman full of whisky. Basic equipment… You should be a gentleman because you're not fit to be anything else. It's either that or piracy. That's all you know. You get yourself a commission. It's safer."

He took another pull at the bottle and gave Craig what was left, letting him finish it in silence.

It was early May, and the almond blossom smelled sweet, the cicadas softly chirred. Like a backcloth, the ruins of a Greek temple groped for the moon that silvered and softened the brutal Sicilian landscape to a comic-opera prettiness. Craig finished the whisky.

"Bastards," he said. "Bastard orphanage. Bastard pigs.* But wait till this lot's over. I'll show them."

McLaren looked at him. Even half-drunk he was as alert as a hunting leopard, the ruthlessness burned into him, never to come out.

"Aye," said McLaren. "You'll show 'em right enough."

From the temple there came the sound of pipes, and McLaren scrambled to his feet.

"That'll be the Jocks," he said.

Craig hesitated. In the village there was a widow who slept with him, giving him pleasure, wine, and Italian lessons all for a few cigarettes. On the other hand, McLaren had given him ideas, and an aim in life, and he was grateful. It wouldn't hurt to look at a few Jocks. They walked through the camp to a flat patch of earth already baked hard by the sun. A crowd of Scottish soldiers sat around watching, drinking Sicilian wine, and in the middle a kilted piper played, and six kilted men gravely danced.

The crowd didn't applaud; their emotional involvement was too deep. They simply sat and absorbed it all; the shrill sadness of the pipes, and the men dancing with a proud, masculine beauty. Someone produced two swords, and a boy of Craig's age did a sword dance on his own, a dance of such grace and power that McLaren sighed aloud.

"All this'll go too," he said. "The fag end of a culture.

* Lower deck slang for Naval Officer.

This is maybe the last time you'll have the chance to see fighting men dance."

"What for?" Craig asked. "What do they want to dance for?"

"Because it's art," said McLaren. "Ach, they mightn't like the word, but that's what it is. Art. A part of their lives. Every man there is dancing."

He looked at the lone, dancing man.

"They've been fighting at Catania," he said. "They won, but they took a hiding doing it. This makes them feel better."

The piper stopped, and the dancer picked up the swords.

This time the watching men roared out their applause. Another dancer appeared, but the piper shook his head, his hand already clutched around a bottle of wine. McLaren stood up, and dragged Craig after him.

"Come with me," he said. "I'll show you some more dying culture."

He pushed his way through the lounging men, and spoke in Gaelic to the new dancer. The boy grinned, and nodded, and McLaren began to sing. It was a high-pitched, intricate song, the rhythm strongly stressed, and McLaren sang it without appearing to draw breath; the caelidh mouth music that can take the place of fiddler or piper as long as the singer has strength. Gravely the boy danced, and the crowd of men was silenced once more. This time Craig didn't have to ask why. When he was older, and more sophisticated in his approach to experience, he would realize how hackneyed the situation was; kilted Highlanders dancing, in the middle of a war, among the ruins of an ancient civilization. But it was also beautiful, with a beauty that made the heart ache to see it. When McLaren had finished, he was weeping.

"Whisky and nostalgia," he said. "Nothing like it for a good cry."

Craig nodded. He could share McLaren's enthusiasm, and his melancholy, though he didn't know what nostalgia meant.

"Like before I went to the orphanage," he said at last. "Me da used to take me fishing sometimes. Seine-netter.

The crew was all in it together. You know. They had an old feller there used to sing. Old songs. They made you feel good."

McLaren said, "You ought to practice that story. It's the sort of thing gentlemen appreciate. They like to feel sentimental about the deserving poor."

Craig wasn't listening.

"When I was eleven, me mam ran off with a sailor. A steward on the King Line. The old man jumped off the pier, and I ended up in what they called a home. They didn't go fishing there. Mind you," he added, determined to be fair, "they taught you how to fight."

He had left McLaren then, and gone to find his widow.

He left the Gallery, and bought a paper. On the back page was a filler describing the death of a man called Altern in Geneva. Craig knew who Altern was. Rutter had been at that rest camp too. He had hoped with all his heart that they would not find out about Rutter. For a long time he stood by the Gallery steps, remembering Rutter as he had been in Greece, young and full of life, and dangerous with the need to prove how well a small man could do in a big man's world. He remembered a blazing E-boat and a nightmare chase in an olive grove. He remembered Rutter locked in combat with a blond, enormous, Panzer grenadier. Always Rutter had gone for the big ones, to show they weren't too big for him… He'd given up a P. amp; O. job to work for the Rose Line. Craig felt the salty sting of tears in his eyes, and shook his head angrily. Rutter had known what he was getting into. He'd known very well he might die. It would be nice to see McLaren again, Craig thought, and ask him if he'd done the right things with his life since the end of the war. Behind him the news vendor was speaking to him, asking him if he felt all right. Craig shook his head again and moved away, pushing into the crowd in Trafalgar Square, folding his paper neatly, holding it under his arm. Soon he was inconspicuous again.

He went back to his hotel, changed, and went out again. In his mood he knew that it was dangerous, that he should have stayed indoors, but his anger and grief were too strong for him. He had to go out. He drifted toward Soho, drinking steadily, until he reached an Italian restaurant in Greek Street. There he ate pasta as he and Rutter had enjoyed it, and drank a bottle of Orvieto. Then he wandered again, past the come-on girls in the clip joints, the barbecue grills and hamburger heavens, content to be forced along by the crowd, swerving from time to time into a pub.

He'd reached one in the Tottenham Court Road when he met the Irishman, Diamond, who splashed him with stout, then hung on to him for the rest of the evening, relishing his taciturnity with a talker's avid greed. When the pubs shut, they went to a club Diamond belonged to, the Lucky Seven, because it wasn't far away and Diamond knew a girl who went there sometimes. Diamond was a bookie's clerk with a taste for the theater, and he settled down to spend the rest of the night telling Craig the plot of every play he had ever seen. Craig didn't mind. From time to time they bought each other whisky, and he could think about Rutter behind the smoke screen of Diamond's unending chatter. Then the girl appeared, Diamond fussed busily, finding her a chair, buying her a drink, introducing her to Craig, then taking up his monologue in mid-sentence.

Her name was Tessa Harling, and Craig tried to remember what Diamond had told him about her. She'd started off as an actress and failed. Then she had married, and her husband had turned out to be a prime bastard, and the marriage had failed too. Now she lived on her alimony, and drifted around clubs like the Lucky Seven and drank Diamond's gin because he was gentle and undemanding. She spent her days alone, getting up late, Craig thought, coffee and aspirins for breakfast, and too many cigarettes, and sometimes perhaps a man she didn't want and found hard to get rid of because she was lonely. A born victim, like the girl in Lange's car.

And like Lange's girl she was pretty. Twenty-eight or thereabouts, tall, full-bodied, her hair cut short and dyed so black that it looked blue in the lamplight, and grave brown eyes that had seen very little to laugh at for a long, long time; yet her mouth was wide and apt for laughter, twitching up at the corners at Diamond's heavy-handed jokes. She wore a red dress with no back to it, and neat, expensive, patent-leather shoes. No wedding ring. Face, figure, and clothes combined to make her by far the best-looking girl in the club, but she didn't let it bother her. She had come there to drink, and laugh with Michael Diamond. Craig liked her for that, and tore himself away from his memories for a brief while, and tried to be pleasant. She seemed to expect him to dance with her, and from time to time he did so. When they danced, Diamond talked to the waitress.

There were three men at the next table. Two of them were young and big, and dressed to kill in dark Italian suits and Chelsea boots. The third was nearing thirty, with the build and aggression of a successful middleweight. He wanted to dance with Tessa. This seemed reasonable enough to Craig, since Tessa was attractive sexually and danced very well. But the middleweight had a mean mouth, and Diamond was a friend of hers and this man who called himself John Reynolds was attractive in a new and puzzling way she didn't understand. She preferred to stay where she was, soothed by Diamond's inexhaustible chatter and trying to prod his friend into an awareness of herself.

Craig scarcely heard either of them. He had drunk a lot of wine and then, even by club standards, a lot of whisky. He was dimly aware that a pretty girl in a red dress with no back to it liked to dance with him and that a tireless Irishman kept yammering on about two old tramps who lived in garbage cans. The club itself was no more than a brightly lit bar, a jukebox, and slot machines, and for Craig they existed not at all. In his mind he was in Tangier, drinking Pernod with Rutter. It was 1955, and they were fighting their war all over again. They had met on vacation, and they were going to dine with two Spanish girls, and while they waited they talked, nostalgic for the triumphs they had known, and the risks without which triumph was impossible. Cautiously, Craig had worked the talk around to gun-running, and Rutter had almost wept, so grateful was he for the chance to be a hero again. He never knew that Craig had hunted him out, as he had himself been hunted, followed him to Tangier, then bumped into him in a hotel bar by a remarkable accident. But it didn't really matter. How could it? Rutter had known all the risks and clamored for his share, and more than his share. For Rutter life had been a task so irksome that he preferred to get it over with, to attack it all the time. It had been good in that bar, cool and dim, with Arab music playing very softly on tape.

Tessa was saying, "Are you really an accountant?" "Yes," said Craig. "What do you do then?" "Account," he said.

Rutter. Baumer. Charlie Green. And perhaps Alice too. One way and another, he had quite a bit of accounting to do.

"Your life must be very dull sometimes," Tessa said. Craig smiled then.

"No," he said. "Not dull. Busy."

"Did you ever see the one about the two loonies?" asked Diamond.

"No," said Tessa. Then to Craig, "Come and dance again."

The middleweight came over and once more asked her to dance. She shook her head. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm with these two gentlemen."

"Leave them," the middleweight said.

"One of them's had electric-shock treatment," Diamond said. "He gets pally with a tramp." He looked at the middleweight. "Tessa's with us," he said. "She doesn't want to dance with you. She wants to dance with John." He turned away again. "These days there's a hell of a lot of tramps about in the theater. Not that I'm objecting, mind you. I don't say I could understand it, but it was all very dramatic."

"My name's Eddy Lishman," said the middleweight.

Craig looked at him in disgust. While he stood there arguing, he couldn't think about Rutter.

Diamond said, "I don't care who you are. She doesn't want to dance."

But his hand was shaking as he picked up his glass. "No. It's all right," said Tessa.

She smiled at Craig and went to Lishman's arms. He danced with a cruel, aggressive skill, as if dancing were a prelude to rape.

Craig watched him glumly. Lishman would make Diamond fight for his girl, and Diamond would lose. It was too bad. He liked Diamond.

"Used to be a fighter," Diamond was saying. "Now he's in business. Betting shops mostly. Keeps a few girls too. Or so they say. He's a bad one, right enough. You'd better get off out of it, John."

"Me?" said Craig. "It's got nothing to do with me. What about your girl? You should get her out of here."

"She isn't my girl," said Diamond. "I wish she was- but I wouldn't dare take her away. Lishman knows where to find me."

"We'd better have another drink," Craig said.

He bought two more, and Lishman brought Tessa back to their table, and sat down with them. The two young men came over too, and Lishman bought everybody another drink. The talk turned at once to betting, and Craig audibly groaned. Lishman banged down his glass.

"I've bought you a drink, haven't I?" he asked.

"Yes," said Craig.

"And I haven't bothered you, have I?"

"No," said Craig.

"What's the matter then?"

"Gambling bores me," Craig said.

The girl Tessa put her hand on his sleeve in warning.

"Do you mean I'm boring you?" asked Lishman softly.

"Yes," said Craig.

The two young men looked at once to Lishman, and when he laughed they laughed too. Craig's madness was privileged; he was court jester.

Carefully Craig got to his feet and went to the washroom. He spent a long time running cold water over his face, and cursing his foolishness. If Lishman hadn't laughed, he'd have had to fight him. It would have been very gratifying to fight with Lishman. It would also have been stupid. After a while he went back into the club, drank a cup of black coffee at the bar, and took another back to the table.

"What's up with you now?" Lishman asked.

"I think I've had too much to drink," Craig said, and the middleweight roared his delight.

Craig said to Tessa, "I'd like to dance."

She hesitated, but Lishman graciously waved his assent.

Craig took her in his arms and she said at once, "You'd better go home. Now. Take Michael with you." "What about you?" Craig asked. "I'll go when I'm ready," she said. "Do you think he'll let you?"

She shrugged. "Michael doesn't know this-but he's bothered me before."

The hand that held his began to shake. "It doesn't do to turn him down too often. He's dangerous."

"He looks as if he thinks he is," Craig said.

"I mean it," said Tessa. "He's got a terrible temper. He nearly kills people if they cross him."

"Is that a fact?"

"Yes, it is," she said, and shook him with protective impatience. "He had a fight with a man called Harry Corner-anybody here will tell you. He put Harry in the hospital. And Harry's tough, believe me."

"How disgusting," said Craig.

"Oh my God, can't you sober up?'" she whispered. "He thinks you're funny now, but if you made him angry- you think it's just like the telly, I suppose? Something you sit down and watch then switch off when you've had enough? Well you can't, believe me you can't. Michael should never have brought you here. You'd better go- and take him with you. I'll try to keep him here till you've gone. If one of his boys follows you, you yell, darling. And keep on yelling. You might find a brave policeman."

"All right," Craig said. "I'll go. But Diamond will have to make his own arrangements."

The girl flinched from him then, but Craig shrugged off her disgust, scarcely aware that it existed. Two weak people were at the mercy of a strong one; it wasn't his

business. That was to survive, and to achieve that end he did not dare get involved.

The dance ended, and she led Craig back to the table.

"Now do as I tell you," she whispered. "Finish your drink and go home."

He sat down and sipped at another cup of scalding coffee. Lishman said, "Say something else. Make me laugh."

"I've had a really enjoyable evening, but I think I ought to be getting along," said Craig.

"Quite," said Lishman. "Oh, abso-bally-lutely."

He roared with laughter, and looked at Tessa. Very unwillingly, she smiled.

Diamond was in agony. Craig got to his feet.

"Well," he said, "it's been nice meeting you."

Lishman laughed again, and slapped Tessa on the thigh, then deliberately squeezed it through the thin cloth until the girl gasped.

"I don't want you to leave us yet, Mr. Reynolds," he said. "We're having too much fun. I tell you what. Let's go to my place. I'll phone a few girls and we'll have a real party. What do you say, darling?"

"Oh yes," Tessa said brightly. "I'd like that very much."

Diamond said, "I don't think I'll be able to come."

"That's all right," Lishman said. "I'm not asking you. You can shove."

"I haven't finished my drink," said Diamond.

"Oh yes you have," Lishman said, and threw it in his face.

Craig reminded himself, even more firmly, that this wasn't his problem. It was no business of his if Diamond was thrown out, the girl he liked taken away. There were plenty of girls, and humiliation was even more plentiful, but it never killed anybody. He watched Diamond go, watched Tessa sent to fetch her coat, and finished his coffee.

"I really think I'd better go too," he said. "I don't feel like a party tonight."

"Now that's enough of that," Lishman said. "I'm having a party and you're coming, so wrap up."

His voice was still genial, but there was a warning in it now, a raw edge of violence he found it unnecessary to hide. Craig stayed still. It would be a very bad idea to go to Lishmans party, but he didn't want a scene in public. When Tessa came back, he got to his feet. The two young men in Italian suits correctiy interpreted a glance from Lishman, and stood one on each side of Craig. With his guard of honor he walked across the club floor, up the basement steps, and into the empty street. Lishman's Jaguar was parked twenty feet away. Craig turned, and the two young men moved in closer.

"I have to go now," Craig said.

The two young men took him by the arms.

"Mr. Reynolds," said Lishman, "you're coming to my party. Believe me."

Then Lishman did something stupid. He struck Craig in the face, once, then again; hard, open-handed blows.

Immediately, as if it were a reflex, Craig kicked him in the crotch, kicked with the appalling strength and accuracy that Hakagawa had taught him so patiendy. Lishman screamed and doubled up, and as he did so, Craig moved, swinging the young men around, freeing one arm, tripping the man who held the other. The first man struck at him as he turned, catching him on the shoulder. Craig staggered and clipped him on the throat with the edge of his hand, but the blow was mistimed and the young man swayed, but stayed on his feet. The second young man leaped in with a blackjack, and Craig swerved from the blow, locked his arm, and threw him on top of Lishman. The first young man produced tough young manhood's cliche of terror, a switch knife, and came in again. For a few seconds he and Craig danced beneath the street lights, then the young man leaped, and Craig's hand, accurate as a cobra, seized the knife wrist, levered, and pulled. This time he held on to the wrist as he threw, and the young man screamed as his wrist broke, then lay still. The first one, who had banged his head on the curb, lay draped over Lishman. There were no interruptions from the club, no spectators on the stairs. Craig straightened his clothes, picked up his bowler hat, and looked at Tessa, who had stayed immobile since the fight began.

"You," he said. "What am I going to do about you?"

He took her arm, and walked her past Lishman, who was still groaning. The girl hesitated.

"Shouldn't you do something about him?" she asked.

Craig's still drunken mind sought for an explanation. At last he said, "There's nothing to do. He lost."

She could feel his hand tight on her arm as he walked her back to Tottenham Court Road, and a taxi. When one came, he still held on to her until she got in, then quickly sat beside her.

"I shan't run away," Tessa said, and kissed him.

Craig returned the kiss with automatic passion, but as he did so, he thought of the girl only as a means of escape. Where could he go now, except to where she lived? She had seen him too closely to be left alone, and the name Reynolds was known now; he could be traced. That she wanted him was, for the moment, useful, but her enthusiasm was unlikely to last for long.

She lived in a flat in Holland Park, but they went first to the Rowena. When he went inside, he took her purse with him. He told the night porter of a sudden death in the Midlands, and his urgent need to be gone. While his bill was made out, he packed, and when he had paid, got back in the cab where Tessa waited, and gave her back her purse.

"You needn't have done that," she said.

"I don't want to humiliate you," said Craig. "I just can't afford to let you run away."

"I don't want to run away," she said. "After all you've done for me-"

"I did nothing for you," said Craig. "You'd better realize that. What I did, I did for myself. You just happened to be there."

Tessa smiled in the darkness of the cab. Already she had decided that he was too modest, and hated praise. That was something she'd have to attend to. A man like this one didn't need to be modest.

In her flat she left him to make the coffee he asked for, and Craig allowed himself one more cautious drink. The whisky burned, but gently. His head stayed clear as he looked at her living room. A Canaletto print, not quite straight, above the fireplace, a big wooden settee, covered in striped silk and scratched down one leg, a Spode vase crammed full of daffodils. Pretty room, pretty girl, but without purpose, both of them. Drifting along because drifting was easier than putting things right. There was no sound from the kitchen, and Craig put down his glass and went to the door. From the room opposite there came a soft click, then the whispered chatter of a telephone dial spinning. Craig crossed to the room and went in.

It was her bedroom. Tessa was standing by the phone at her bedside. She wore a nightgown of white nylon, sheer, thin stuff that made the rich cream of her skin dark and glowing. As she turned to face him, the light from the bed shone full on her, and he could see the firm maturity of her body, already tense and eager for him. He moved quickly to her, and his left hand came down on the receiver rest, his right took the receiver from her and replaced it.

"No," said Craig.

"I was just ringing Michael Diamond," she said. "To make sure he's all right."

"He will be. He got out in time," Craig said.

He was standing very close to her, and she moved into the hard barrier of his arms, her hands came up and embraced his neck. Her kiss was an act of pure submission, but when she had done, he continued to hold her, not moving, not touching.

"Darling," said Tessa. "What's wrong? What have I done?"

"You said something about coffee," said Craig. "I'd like some coffee."

She took his hand and pressed it to one firm breast. Its point was as hard as a ruby.

"Would you?" she said. "Would you really?"

"Yes," said Craig. "I would."

She pushed past him, dragged on a dressing gown, and slammed into the kitchen. Craig took off his coat and lay on the wide, soft bed, listening to the crash of crockery viciously handled. She came back at last with a tray and banged it down on the bedside table, then hauled off his shoes.

"It's my bed," she said. "I don't want it dirty." She poured coffee for him, lit a cigarette, and put it in his mouth.

"There," she said. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"Stop waiting on me," said Craig. "I don't own you."

He sat up on the bed and sipped the coffee. It was good coffee. Tessa flushed, and her hp trembled for a moment, but she felt again the sudden, overwhelming need for this man, sensing the strength in him that would go through and beyond passion to the firm security of love.

"That crack about my bed," she said. "I didn't mean you would make it dirty." Craig said nothing. "Michael told you about me, I suppose? The way I drift around, and sometimes I drink too much and get lonely and some man picks me up? It doesn't happen very often, honesty, and it doesn't mean anything when it does." Still he said nothing. "Please," said Tessa. "Please. Won't you help me at all?"

"I am helping you," said Craig. "I don't want you to get hurt. And that's what's going to happen if you go on like this."

"Surely that's up to me?" said Tessa.

"I believe what you told me," he said at last. "Diamond said you're a wonderful woman but you've had too much bad luck. I believe that too."

"Well then," she said, and her hands went to the belt of her dressing gown, her shoulders shrugged, and it fell to the floor. Her arm reached out for the light switch, and in the darkness he heard the harsh rustle of nylon, and then she was beside him, her body firm against his, her fingers nimble with his tie, the buttons of his shirt and pants.

The soft movement of her hands on his body roused him to an urgent need, and his fingers closed strongly on her thigh, the soft curve of her belly as she stripped him. Now he could forget his loneliness and fear in the eager, skillful love she offered him. But even then he realized the danger he brought her, might perhaps have drawn back, if her mouth had not found his, her hps and tongue


In a room in Queen Anne's Gate, three men sat drinking coffee. One of them, Linton, was the inspector of the Special Branch who had visited Marshall's chief constable. Next to him was Grierson, an operator in a special department of Intelligence. Facing them across a desk was Loomis, a gross, sloppily dressed man, the head of Grier-son's section. It was known as Department K, a small, highly selective unit, and it was very secret indeed. Department K handled the jobs that were too dangerous to be handled by anyone else. The men who worked for it were skilled men, technicians; and utterly ruthless. They had to be, if they were to survive.

"We should have found Craig sooner," Loomis said angrily. "He could have been a big help to us. I could have used him. Of course the French would have been annoyed."

"Those madmen from Algeria fixed that," said Grierson.

Loomis said, "Craig, Baumer, and Rutter were the only ones in this country who went in for this kind of nonsense. Now Craig's dead, and they got Rutter in Geneva. Baumer's disappeared. He won't try it again even if he survives, so that's all right. This isn't a good time to have a row with the French. All the same, you should have found him before you did, Linton. I wanted to see him. You should have allowed for that."

Linton coughed warily. Loomis's nature was anything but forgiving. "It could be he isn't dead, sir," he said.

Loomis swiveled around in his chair to face him. An enormous man, hair splashed with white, like snow on a wheatfield, and light, manic eyes. "There's no need to be

willed him to take her. Their love was fierce yet tender, demanding yet compassionate, exhausting his body and mind of everything but his need for her. Even so, his sleep was wary.

frightened," he said. "I've just about decided to forgive you."

Linton said, "I'm serious, sir. I went up north again yesterday. Had a chat with Detective Inspector Marshall. His chief constable kept him on the case, sir, even after I'd told him you were against it."

Loomis stirred vastly, and Linton hurried on. "Marshall's a pretty bright chap, I think. He's had his medical experts working on what's left of the body. It was the wrong shape for Craig, sir. Too heavy. Then there's the brother-in-law's motor scooter. It's been found, sir. Or what's left of it. It was destroyed just outside York."


"Petrol tank blown up, sir. He was lucky to get the chassis number." Loomis grunted.

"Marshall thinks the brother-in-law was killed in the car. Craig sometimes gave him his old clothes, which could account for the identification. He thinks Craig drove the scooter to York and took a train from there."

"Where to?" Loomis asked.

"Could be London, sir."

"Could be Timbuktu," said Loomis. "Why London?"

"Last night a man called Lishman was beaten up near Tottenham Court Road," Linton said. "He's in the Queen Alexandra Hospital-he'll be there for quite a while. He'll be lucky if he's ever a father again."

"Gangster obscenities," said Loomis. "Sunday-newspaper stuff."

"Lishman's tough," said Linton. "He had two other men to help him. They left with a fourth man and a girl from the club. The fourth man beat them stupid. It took him about five blows and thirty seconds. Then he left with the girl."

"Sensible feller," said Loomis.

"The general description we got could be Craig," said Linton.

Loomis said, "Why? Because he beat up three men? You could do that. Even Grierson could. And as far as general description goes, you both look like Craig. It'll probably turn out to be Grierson having a randy night out and too shy to tell us about it."

"Sir," said Linton. "I couldn't beat up those three. Not on my own. They were professionals. Good ones. Maybe Grierson could do it-"

"Very decent of you," said Grierson.

"But they'd have made a mess of him first. This lad doesn't seem to have been marked. And they're scared of him. Lishman doesn't scare easily."

"How did he do it?" Grierson asked.

"Judo mostly," said Linton.

"And Craig's a black belt," Grierson said.

"All right," said Loomis. "See if you can find the girl and have a word with her. And if it should be Craig, for God's sake go easy. I don't want him upset."

"Don't you want us to bring him in, sir?" Linton asked.

"I want you to ask him to come in," said Loomis. "I want you to ask him nicely. Just as well for you, really. It would look bad if he started knocking you about. People like to believe we're supermen." He looked at them with withering scorn. "All right. Get on with it."

Philip Grierson was thirty-seven years old, with black hair, blue eyes, and a laziness of disposition that could awake sometimes into eruptive violence, all of which made him remarkably attractive to women. He was an ex-Marine Commando captain, an excellent pistol shot, and a man of quick and resourceful wit. He had also a deep and passionate belief in the importance and necessity of his job, which he did well enough to persuade Loomis to treat him with a grudging respect. Moreover, he had always, so far, delivered the goods, and had killed three men in doing so. Loomis, to his horror, found that he was beginning to rely on him.

Linton knew very lhtle about Grierson, least of all that he had killed. It was Loomis's business to see that such things weren't known, and he conducted his business admirably, which was why he had ruled that very special department for nine years without so much as a question being asked in the House of Commons. Linton, like everyone else in the Special Branch, knew that the word

"Special" covered a wide area of extraordinary activity. Somewhere in a bookcase in his house in Pimlico, between Stone's Justices' Manual and Moriarty's Police Law, Linton had a dictionary that defined "special" as, among other things: particular, peculiar, chief in excellence; person or thing specially appointed. Linton understood very well that Grierson was all those things but he knew also that he was easy to work with, and unlikely to fuss.

They went to the club Craig had visited, the Lucky Seven, in Grierson's car, an elderly Lagonda whose gasoline consumption caused unending arguments with Grierson's accounts department, and occasional salutes from the more conservative type of policeman. The battlefield was calm and devoid of sightseers and the club had opened for its afternoon session when they arrived. Linton showed his warrant to a bored barmaid whose boredom vanished immediately with the realization that she had found another audience for her saga.

Linton and Grierson listened with the stolid good manners of professionals, and heard how the man called Reynolds had looked and dressed, and had drunk a lot of whisky, then had tried to sober up on coffee. When they asked her to provide a description, the barmaid said he was a smashing-looking feller, and when asked to be more specific, said he looked a bit like Grierson, only not so dark. Grierson was pleased, as always, by a tribute to his good looks; Linton assumed that the man had been menacing all along, but had masked it well, as Grierson did.

After Linton had threatened and Grierson had sympathized, the barmaid, very reluctantly, told them where Tessa lived. Then the manager appeared, took them to his office, poured out whisky, and talked at length of the pacific and law-abiding nature of bis members, pointing out that it was a guest, an unknown, who had run amok to such effect. The window from which he had watched the conflict was to the right of his desk; the telephone which he had not used to call the police, immediately before him. Linton remarked on this, and the manager insisted that he was as pacific as his members, and so upset by the sight of the conflict as to lose all ability to communicate, had had a blackout, in fact. The manager had two parallel razor slashes on his right cheek. Grierson and Linton drank more of his whisky, then went to call on Tessa Harling.

She, well groomed and pretty in a nylon dressing gown, sat in her kitchen watching Craig eat grilled bacon and scrambled eggs, which she had herself superbly prepared.

Tessa was thinking, to her immense astonishment, that she loved this man. Last night she had watched him fight with one of Nature's prime bastards, and hurt him where he, of all people, deserved to be hurt. Tessa knew he had done it for himself, not knowing or caring that she was there, but even so she loved him. He was dangerous and self-sufficient and almost certainly a criminal. None of it mattered. Soon, perhaps very soon, he would leave her because she was not clever enough or beautiful enough to hold him, and because he lived so secretly, as hunted men must. That mattered terribly, but it couldn't stop her from loving him. Nothing could do that. She had seen him fight, watched the terrible energy he had released, a cunning craft of destruction. Wherever he went, Craig carried danger with him like a bomb, but as long as he would let her, she would go too.

Craig finished his breakfast, and offered her a cigarette. "That was fine, Tessa," he said. "The best meal I've had in weeks."

She smiled her gratitude, but his eyes were cold still, and wary. Already she knew that he was considering how best to leave her, to get away.

"I want to help you. I want you to stay here," she said.

Even last night, she was thinking, when he was drunk, in that cautious, controlled sort of way, even then, when I thought he was an accountant or something, I couldn't leave him alone, I had to go after him, even with poor Mike Diamond sitting there, and Mike's spent an awful lot on me, and I quite like him really. But I just ignored him. This man filled my world.

"They'll trace me," Craig said. "They'll try to kill me."

Not for a moment did she doubt what he said.

"Who will?"

"Some people who didn't like the business I was in."

"You mean a gang, don't you?" she asked.

"No," he said. "Not a gang. Just killers. The best killers alive. They should be. They've had the most practice."

"But they can't possibly know you're here," she said.

"The police may find out," he said. "All they have to do is follow the police."

"Nobody saw you come in," she said. "People come and go here all the time. You'll be safe here, darling. I've got money-"

"So have I," he said. "I'm a rich man, Tessa. I've got ten thousand quid with me now."

"You could go away then," she said. "Anywhere in the world."

He shrugged.

"I'm supposed to be dead already," he said. "But I don't know if they believe it or not. If I run now, and the police get on to me, they'll find me too." The inquest, he thought. If they identify Charlie, if poor Alice recovers and tells the police that he was driving the car and I was in the orchard, they'll come for me again. But they may know already that they failed this time. They may be looking for me now. I daren't run away.

She saw how overwhelmingly tired Craig was, as he went on:

"You'd better not get mixed up in it. They'd kill you too, you know, to get at me. I mean it. The last time they tried for me, somebody else died."

He put his hand out to her, his ringers strong on her smooth, warm skin. There was desire in his hands, but there was friendship too, and kindness, and farewell, not just to this one girl, but to all the warmth and tenderness of a life he couldn't have.

"I wish I could stay," he said.

She kissed him then, clinging to him, willing him to love her, until at last he responded to her with an urgency that matched her own. When the doorbell rang, they still held tight to each other, trying to deny its sound, but it went on and on until she felt the hand at her shoulders move, tilting back her chin, so that she was looking into his eyes, wary again, and brutal.

"No," she whispered. "No. Believe me. I wouldn't-"

At last: "I believe you," he said. "Find out who it is." As she called out, he moved quickly, silently, stacking plates in the sink, hiding his suitcases among hers. When she came back, he was holding the Luger automatic.

"It's the police," she said. "I'll have to let them in."

He nodded. "All right. Try and keep them in the sitting room. And for God's sake look indignant. You've paid your taxes."

He went back to the kitchen, as the bell rang again, and she opened the door. Grierson's lazy charm buckled under the weight of her anger.

"What the hell do you want?" she asked. "I've just got out of bed."

"Mrs. Harling?" Linton asked.

"Yes," said Tessa. "Who are you?"

Linton introduced himself and Grierson.

"May we come in?" he asked.

"Must you?"

"It's important. Very important-for you," said Linton. "All right," she said. "In here."

They went into the sitting room, and Tessa willed herself not to look at the kitchen door.

Linton said at once, "You saw a fight last night." "Did I?"

"Oh, come off it," Grierson said, and offered her a cigarette. She shook her head.

"Everyone in the Lucky Seven saw you," Grierson continued. "You went out with a man called Lishman and two of his boys who thought they were tough. Another man went with you too. A Mr.-" he snapped his fingers. "Do you remember bis name?"

"Yes," she said. "And so do you. It was Reynolds."

"You saw what he did to the other three?"

"All right. All right. I saw what he did."

"Where did you go after that?"

"I came back here."

"With Mr. Reynolds?"

"You're joking," she said. "After what he did to Eddy Lishman? Suppose he did it to me?"

"Why should he?" Grierson asked. "You don't look like Eddy."

"No. And I don't fight like him either."

"People say he went with you," Linton said. She was sure she heard a tiny sound at the door of her flat, but the two men, alert as they were, didn't move.

"People say anything," said Tessa. "We went up to Tottenham Court Road together, then he left me."

"He didn't like you?"

"He can't have, can he?"

"Then why did he fight Lishman?"

"Men like that don't have to have a reason."

"Men like what?"

"Madmen," said Tessa.

"You think he was mad?"

"He must have been. You know why he did-that?" Grierson shook his head.

"Because Lishman wanted him to go to a party, and he wanted to go home. Half-killed the three of them. He must be mad."

"Home?" Linton asked.

Tessa willed herself to be more careful.

"That's what he said."

"You mean he lives in London?"

"He didn't say so," Tessa said.

"But he must, mustn't he? Or at any rate it looks as if he's staying here." Tessa said nothing. "Did he say what he was?" "An accountant," she said.

"An accountant?" Grierson yelled. "He just about crippled Lishman and those two bodyguards of his."

"Maybe he takes boxing lessons."

Grierson said, "You can't have been watching very closely. He kicked Lishman, and threw the others. When he hit them, it was like this."

He moved his hand in the air, demonstrating a karate chop. "That's right, isn't it?"

Tessa said, "You're a big man, aren't you?" She turned to Linton. "So are you. But you better watch out for that one. He'd clobber the pair of you."

"You seem very sure," Grierson said. "I saw him," said Tessa. "But you haven't seen him since?" "That's right."

"This chap, Diamond. He's a friend of yours, isn't he?" Grierson asked.

Tessa nodded. "He seemed to think you were fond of this-Reynolds."

"He thought wrong," Tessa said. "Anyway, he was drunk."

"So if we looked over your flat now, we wouldn't find him here?"

"Of course not."

"I see." Grierson smiled, using all his charm. "Well, in that case, Mrs. Harling, I think we'd better just take a look around, purely for your own protection, of course. I mean, a chap like that could break in at any time, and as you say, he's a madman, and you never know what a madman might do."

As he spoke, Grierson had moved into the hallway, and opened the kitchen door before Tessa could stop him. The kitchen was empty. Tessa forced herself to go on protesting as he examined her bathroom and bedroom. Then he turned to her at last, beaming comfort.

"There you are, Mrs. Harling," he said. "You've got nothing at all to worry about. You're perfectly safe."

"Well, of course I am," Tessa said. "I told you there was nobody here."

"Oh come now, miss," said Linton. "It was you who asked us to look around, now wasn't it? It's not the sort of thing we'd do without a warrant, not unless we were asked." Tessa took a deep breath, and Grierson admired the rich heave of her breasts.

"Get out," she said.

Grierson sighed. "If you insist. We policemen are used to ingratitude. Look, Mrs. Harling, if you should ever see Reynolds again-"

"I won't," she said.

"Life's very uncertain sometimes. If you should just happen to run into him by accident, ask him to give me a ring, will you?" He scribbled a number on a page of a small notebook, and banded it to her. "Tell him he can reach me here at any time. You can tell him we know about a chap called Rutter too. And say we can help him. We want to help him."

"Why bother?" Tessa asked.

"It's no bother," said Grierson. "Good-looking chap, was he?"

"He was drunk," Tessa said. "Then he was fighting. What he looked like didn't matter." "To him, do you mean?"

"To anybody," she said. "He was a man on his own."

They left, and Tessa locked the door and ran to where he'd hidden the suitcases. One of them had been opened, and was empty. She wept for a little, and then began to wash the dishes. In the street outside, Grierson stared in disgust at the soggy imitations of Georgian brick.

"I think we just missed him," he said. "You saw the bed, didn't you? And the breakfast dishes? I think it was him."

"Quick work," said Linton.

"You're forgetting the circumstances. You shouldn't do that. Always allow for circumstances. Look. She's on her own. She's lonely-bored with heir own company and bored with her friends. She drifts-meets a few of the wrong people-like Lishman. She's not a whore but he treats her like one, and she knows his reputation. She knows what he'll do if she objects. So she doesn't object. She plays along and hopes for a miracle. And she gets a miracle. A knight in shining armor. A rescuer of distressed damsels. Who else would she bed with? He's Robin Hood, Sir Galahad, and Young Lochinvar all rolled up into one gorgeous six-foot package. 'A man on his own,' she said. 'What he looked like didn't matter,' she said. The poor kid's hooked."

"And Craig? If Reynolds is Craig?"

"He'll know how she feels," Grierson said. "And he wants to five. By now he'll be miles away. But just in case he isn't, we'd better go back."

They went through the building floor by floor, then returned to Tessa's flat. She opened the door at once, her face falling when she saw who it was. "You seem disappointed," said Grierson.

"Can you blame me?" said Tessa, but she made no move to stop them as they went once more through the flat.

"You still say he wasn't with you last night?" Grierson asked.

"You have a very nasty mind," said Tessa.

"No," Grierson said. "Not on duty. There were two of you in bed. That's a fact, Mrs. Harling. Just a fact. Who was the other one?"

"I don't remember," said Tessa. "I have a very bad memory-for faces."

"You can't act either," said Grierson. "You're not like that at all."

Tessa flushed.

"Tell Reynolds I want to see him. I want to keep him alive," said Grierson.

Tessa remade her bed, swallowed a couple of tablets, and slept. Half an hour later Craig came back into the flat, stared at the sleeping girl, and settled down to wait. After three hours she stirred; after four, her eyes opened, to see him looking down at her.

"You shouldn't-" she said. "Those policemen. They've been back here once already-"

"One of them's still outside," Craig said. "They'll be watching you now. I told you what it would be like."

"But I told them just what you said-"

"The dark one, Grierson," Craig said. "I heard the way he was questioning you before I got out. He's good. He knows I've been here?"

"I'm sorry," said Tessa. "I just couldn't hide it."

Craig shrugged.

"It doesn't matter. When they came, I was going to leave you. 1 took my money and went out while you were talking. They searched the whole building before they came back here. Did you know that? Grierson's clever, all right. But he didn't have enough men to do a proper job. All the same, he should have checked the service elevator." He grinned. "Just as well for me he didn't. All the time we were playing hide and seek, I was thinking about what I was going to do, and it all came back to the same thing, every time. I don't want to be alone any more. If we play this right, we might just get away with it. There's a chance, anyway. A good chance. All the same, you'll be taking a hell of a risk, Tessa."

"I don't mind," she said. "Honestly I don't. My life wasn't all that marvelous before."

"And if things got too rough, I might have to leave you again."

"I'll take what I can get," she said at last, and drew him down to her.

This time she made love with a completeness, an urgency, that came close to despair, and when they had done, Craig slept, deeply, without fear. Outside, Linton watched, and was angry, and longed for his relief. Craig would be miles away by now, and even if he wasn't, why should he give himself up to Grierson? And even if he did, why should he help Loomis? He shifted from one foot to the other, and looked at a fat, dark cloud, heavy wtih rain. Grierson was all right in his way, but when it came to the boring jobs he always disappeared.


Brady went to the hospital in the splendor of full evening dress. He wore medal ribbons too, the M.C., the North Africa Star, the Italian and Normandy Campaigns. Pinned beside them was a huge badge he'd bought on a visit to the docks. "Look out, girls," it warned, in lustful purple letters, "I've been six months at sea." Brady was going to the hospital ball, yielding to the threats and pleadings of the latest of his wives, but already he was making his protest. He called at the hospital on the way to the ballroom, to make sure that his patients wouldn't spoil his evening. He had a few things he wanted to tell the mayor… His chances were good; even Mrs. Craig was still unconscious.

"Eleven days, and she hasn't said a word," he said to the night nurse. "Two weeks ago you could have got a hundred to one against that. Never emptied another bedpan as long as you lived."

The night nurse sniffed, and Brady, determined to be pleasant, whatever the cost, patted her rump.

At the dance he met Thomas, the police surgeon, for whom he bought whiskey, and remarked to him how unfair life was that Mrs. Craig should only be quiet when her husband was far too dead to enjoy it. Thomas, a bachelor, and one unused to whisky, said that Craig could enjoy the silences of his wife whenever he chose, but that he was far too callous and unfeeling to bother to inquire, even if his wife was dying.

When Brady learned that Craig was still alive, he ordered more whisky, and by midnight the press knew it too. The press was a chubby, anxious young man sent by the local paper to get the names right, timid enough to refuse free beer, yet with the occupational courage to approach Brady to ask him what his badge was, and to refrain from asking, instead eavesdropping shamelessly, when Craig's name was mentioned. Next day the chubby, anxious young man found that he was the northeastern correspondent of a national daily, and his story was on its front page. It was the beginning of a great career. Somewhere the chubby anxious man had heard that Craig had been in Tangier, and he made the most of it. From a maze of hints, a story of genteel and romantic crime emerged, with Craig perhaps yet again avoiding death, and somewhere or other turning at bay to face who knew what ruthless enemies? Once more, reporters set off north. L'Osservatore Romano sent a man over, and Der Spiegel sent another, and a cameraman. Two Frenchmen also turned up. They said they were free-lances.

Marshall had to face his chief once again. He had been to see Dr. Thomas, an interview of agonizing embarrassment. The Special Branch people had been so anxious that there should be no leak, and the chief had given them his word. He knocked at the chief's door, and went in to the chief's rumbling invitation.

There was another man with the chief, a vast man with red hair sprinkled with white, his enormous buttocks sagging over the seat of a hard, wooden chair. The fat man looked with evident distaste at Marshall, then scowled at tin(c) cliicf

"This the fellow?" he asked.

"This is Detective Inspector Marshall, yes," said the chief.

"Bright sort of a fellow! The sort that gets ideas. Good ideas," said the fat man, more unhappily than ever.

"You've done very well, son, but you'll have to come off the case."

The chief said, "This gentleman is from Counter-intelligence. I'm afraid you'll have to do as he says."

"But I know I'm right. I can prove it. I've got Dr. Thomas's report."

"Well of course you're right," the fat man said. "The trouble is, it's a bit too well known now, do you see."

"But it was bound to come out at the inquest," said Marshall.

"That's a moot point," said the fat man. "Very moot. I'd have asked you to box clever at the inquest, believe me I would. As it is, I'm going to ask you to get it adjourned. I'm also going to ask you to deny that Craig is still alive."

"But why on earth should I?" Marshall asked.

"Because if you don't, he won't be," said the fat man, "and I've got a little job for Craig. A very nasty, very important littie job. And he can't do it if he's dead, now can he?"

"But what about Craig's brother-in-law?" "He is dead, son. He's past caring." "What about Mrs. Craig? Suppose she recovers?" Marshall asked.

"She won't be making any public statements till Craig's done his stuff."

"And I'm going off the case?" Marshall asked.

"I think you'll have to, unless you're good at telling lies. You're bright, I admit that, a credit to your force and all that, and things would have been a bit tricky for me if you hadn't got on to the idea that Craig was still alive. But now that's public knowledge, unless you deny it. And if you deny it you've got to make it convincing. Officially you may look like a fool, but unofficially you'll have done yourself a bit of good. There's more to it than that. Your chief tells me you figured out what Craig's been up to. Now it just so happens that a situation's arisen where Craig could be very useful to this country. He's got specialized knowledge, you see. It's your can, son. I'm afraid you'll have to take it back." "What about Dr. Thomas?"

"I'll speak to him too," the fat man said. "But you're the one the press will be after."

"All right," Marshall said. 'Til deny it."

"That's a very sensible decision, son," said the fat man.

He was genial now and relaxed, as only a fat man can be, but he had the coldest, most ruthless eyes Marshall had ever seen.

Marshall and Dr. Thomas spent the next two days either avoiding or misleading reporters who theorized where there were no facts, and made much of Mrs. Craig's coma and a photograph of Charlie Green. No amount of bribery or threat could procure one of Craig. The two French reporters visited the office of the Rose Line, and asked a lot of questions that reduced Miss Cross to tears and Sir Geoffrey to impotent fuming. When he threatened to call the police, they left. Because he was at peace again, and Miss Cross still wept, Sir Geoffrey didn't call the police after all. It was as well. The two Frenchmen were convinced of his innocence, and could see no reason why he should die.

They flew back to Paris, and from there took the next plane to Nice. A black Citroen waited for them at the airport, and they drove off at once to an office building near the Place Massena. The two relaxed in the sunlight; the northeast of England had been cold, and these were men who clung to a Mediterranean warmth… When they went inside, they had to identify themselves three times before they were admitted into the presence of the man they had come to see, the man in olive-green shirt and slacks worn like a uniform, who carried the insignia of a colonel in the French Army; and even then his bodyguard sat facing them, a Sten gun in his hands, and at his feet an Alsatian dog that panted softly in the warmth of the room and looked at them as his master did, cautiously, unwaveringly, ready to kill as soon as the word was given. St. Briac sat very still, with a terrible calm of will that struggled with the flickering madness of his pale eyes. He was very thin and yet looked strong, with the more than physical strength of the fanatic. His face looked bland because he chose to make it so: it was a mask that served his purpose. Yet even the serenity was achieved solely because he was incapable of compassion. For him the extremes of physical pain, even death itself, were a means of achieving an end, no more.

One of the reporters said, "We think Craig's still alive."

The colonel said, "What makes you think so?"

His voice was as bland as his face, yet if Craig lived, his most important mission had failed.

"The English reporters think that their police are lying when they say he is dead, and yet they don't know why."

"Do you think their police are hiding him?" the colonel asked.

"Not yet. They are still looking for him. The Special Branch from Scotland Yard are helping. They are the people who deal with espionage."

"I didn't know that," said the colonel, and the reporter flushed and hurried on. "One of their men, Detective Inspector Linton, has been to Craig's house. He has also visited the local police."

The colonel nodded and sat back, and the bodyguard spoke softly to the dog. Only then did the two reporters dare to get up to leave. When they had gone, the colonel pressed a button on his desk. Almost at once, the door opened and the guard dog stood up, the hair on the back of its neck rising, then sat down again as it saw another man in olive-green, a captain with a golden tan and yellow hair, a handsome young man with beautiful, stupid blue eyes.

"Robert," said the colonel, "Craig's still alive."

The captain began to protest, but the colonel spoke again, and he was silent.

"He is alive," said the colonel. "Whoever the bomb killed, it wasn't Craig. Now he's disappeared-and the English police are looking for him. The Special Branch. They are very good at finding people. I think we should let them do it, and when they are successful and find him, Craig dies. And this time we shall be quite certain that he is dead."

"Who shall I send?" the captain asked.

"Cadella can try again," the colonel said. "It is his chance to redeem himself. And this time Pucelli can go with him. Craig knows about us now. He is too good for any one of us. Even you, Robert."

The captain frowned.

"I'll go myself," he said.

"No," said the colonel. "I need you here."

He nodded at the door, and the guard went out. "We need more funds, Robert. And you raise funds so prettily. You are so big and blond and boyish-what old lady could resist you? We need money, Robert. The Middle East is too quiet. Muscat, Oman, Aden-calm everywhere. The British should be struggling as we are struggling in Algeria. It's time to work on the old ladies."

The captain stiffened to attention, his face so miserable that the colonel laughed.

"Being nice to old ladies is important too," he said. "Without money we can do nothing. Even to execute Craig costs money. Get me the money, Robert, and I'll find you other work. There's plenty of it. Almost too much. But not quite. We shall keep Algeria. It is part of France. If it goes, we have only one excuse. What is it, Robert?"

"We shall all be dead," said the captain. He said it without melodrama; a simple statement of fact.

"That won't happen," said the colonel. "I promise you it won't. Not if you get me the money I need. And there is always your pretty Englishman when your work is finished." Again the captain tried to protest, and again was quiet at once when the colonel spoke.

"The fact that you are a homosexual is unimportant to me," he said. "But be careful, Robert. It must not become public, you understand?"

"Yes, sir," said the captain.

"Then you may go," said the colonel.

When Robert left, the colonel unlocked a drawer and took out a list. Craig's name was on it, neatly ruled out in red ink. So were Lange's, and Rutter's. Neatly, precisely, the colonel wrote it in again.

Captain Robert La Valere removed his rank badges, then walked out to the Place Massena. A thin young man in a shirt of yellow silk, wine-red, tapered slacks, and yellow sandals sat outside a cafe, scowling in the sunlight at the office building, his drink untasted beside him. In his mind he was saying, over and over, the words on its door plaque. Society for the Solution of the Algerian Problem. President: Colonel de St. Briac, and adding each time obscenities that did not match a yellow silk shirt and wine-red, tapered slacks. Then he saw Robert, and the scowl vanished. For Robert there was always a smile. Perhaps one day he would have to betray Robert, but it would be for his own good. Always for his own good. He adored Robert. The captain held out his hand, and he held it in both of his. Held it and held it.

In Tessa's flat, Craig settled easily into a routine, working at the exercises that Hakagawa had set him; loving Tessa, talking to her, listening to her. Slowly at first, then with increasing speed, he allowed himself to become involved with another person, to regulate his life in terms of another's. It altered his appearance far more than the beard he was growing.

When she came home with the newspaper, he didn't try to argue. It was better that she should know who he was. The knowledge gave her ultimate power over him, but if she chose to use it, it was better that he should die. She had wanted him so much; surely she would never try to destroy him. If he were going to be involved with other people, then they and he would have to take tremendous risks, and if he were not, then he must condemn himself to another time of loneliness and fear, before he tried, like Baumer, like Rutter, to create a new character whom they could not know.

All Tessa said was, "I gather you're married." He nodded. "You didn't like her much, did you?"

"No," he said. "Not for a long time. I should have tried harder. She didn't help me much, but I should have tried. Does it bother you, my being married?"

"I haven't dreamed about orange blossoms for an awfully long time," Tessa said. "I hope she'll be all right."

"So do I," said Craig. "It's my fault that she was hurt. It's my fault that she was left alone after it happened. I had my chance to help her, and all I did was run. If anything happened to you, that would be my fault too."

The phone rang then, and she looked to Craig for permission before she picked it up.

"Have you heard from your Sir Galahad yet?" Grierson asked.


"The bloke who laid out Lishman. Hasn't he been to see you yet?"

"You mean Reynolds? I'd have to look in my diary," Tessa said.

Grierson sighed.

"Tell him to ring me," he said, and hung up.

Tessa tried to speak before she had put the receiver down, but Craig put his finger to his hps, and replaced it for her.

"They may be tapping the wire," he said. "I don't think so, but they might. What did Grierson mean about my calling him?" She looked away. "You'd better tell me," he said.

Tessa looked at him stubbornly, preparing to resist. He might hurt her, but for his own sake he mustn't know.

"Tessa," he said. "Don't make up my mind for me. I can reach Grierson myself if I want to. All I have to do is tell a policeman who I am. Just let me know what he's after first. I'm the expert in this game, love, not you. Keeping quiet might be the biggest risk of the lot."

It was the only way to learn what he wanted to know, and she told him at once.

"Grierson said, 'We know about Rutter-and we can help you.'" She gave him the phone number. "Did he say who 'we' were?" Craig asked. She shook her head. "More police, I suppose." "Maybe, but I don't think Grierson's a copper." "What then?"

Craig shrugged. "Cloak and dagger boy," he said. "Airy smile and a gay flick of the wrist. The one who beds the contessa while somebody else breaks open the safe and steals the plans. He'd better watch it this time. I can flick my wrist too."

"What are you going to do?" she asked.

"You," said Craig. "For not telling me before."

Later she asked him again, and he said, "I'l think about it. I'll think about it a lot. And when I've got the answer, HI tell you."


Loomis sent again for Grierson, and once again Grierson sipped black and scalding coffee and listened to Loomis grumbling. It was very important that they should talk to Craig; it would save certain people, Loomis said menacingly, a great deal of work; it might even save the taxpayers' money. Why the hell couldn't Grierson produce him?

"I'm trying to, sir," said Grierson. "Linton's got half the narks in London looking for him. We're watching ports and airlines, doing spot checks on the trains. Trouble is, the only photographs we could find are the ones left over from the war. We've had them touched up a bit, but they're not exactly portraits. Do you want Linton to give them to the press?"

"Good God, no," said Loomis, genuinely horrified.

"If I had any idea why you wanted him, it might help," Grierson said.

"All right. You can't say I don't give you every chance.

I want Craig to do a job for me." Grierson's cup clattered in its saucer. "Craig? A job?" he asked.

"Don't shout," Loomis yelled. "I can't stand shouting. Certainly a job. Why not? He's the only one who can do it, except you. You might-if you were lucky, and if I can't find Craig, I may have to use you anyway. But I'd sooner use him. He won't need any luck."

"What's the job?" Grierson asked.

"The one you set up in Nice. He's made to order for it. Now where the hell do you think he is?"

Grierson said, "I've no idea."

"Well, I have," Loomis said. "It's sticking out a mile. He's still with that Tessa person. In Holland Park."

"But we searched the place twice."

"Maybe he was too clever for you. It hardly seems possible, does it?" Loomis snarled.

"Do you want me to go and look for him now?"

"No," said Loomis. "Go and listen in the flat next door. Dress up as the gas man or something. You know the stuff to use."

Grierson was in luck. The man next door was a solicitor named Reddish, a bachelor, who was attending Canterbury Sessions. Grierson sought out the porter of the flats, discussed with ominous calm the possibility of a gas leak, and was admitted without argument. He set up his equipment, and painstakingly recorded the murmur of voices, the creak of bedsprings, the prolonged crash of a flushed toilet. Once he used Mr. Reddish's phone and called Tessa's number after he'd seen her go out; there was no answer, but shortly afterwards the toilet flushed again. Then there was silence until Tessa returned, and Grierson received the full blast of Radio Luxemburg at maximum volume, and decided that he had heard enough. Loomis, inevitably, was right, and when the time came he and others, probably including Linton, would be beaten stupid trying to persuade Craig to take coffee at Queen Anne's Gate. Meanwhile all he had to do was return the gear and take a girl out to dinner while he waited for the recording to be amplified. His only problem was which girl to take.

In Tessa's flat, Craig nagged at the question of whether to phone Grierson. In his mind there was room for nothing but his survival and hers, and cautiously he tested out what he must do, andin doing that, he found it necessary to review what he had been, where he had come from. He remembered the beery cheerfulness of his father's house, and the joy of the seine-netter, an idyll of oven-bottom cake and bull's-eyes and a man's skills in handling a boat. Then his mother had betrayed him and ever since then women were suspect, an indulgence, a luxury that carried its own risks, like field mushrooms carelessly picked. With women he had always been so careful, until now. Then suddenly his mind refused to accept Tessa as a problem. He could trust her and he knew it without having to worry about proof.

He thought of the orphanage and the misery he had endured there, until his body had filled out and his speed and strength had bought him peace. At first he had wept, and been tormented, but after he had learned to hurt, no one had dared approach him. He was left in a lonely pride. Foster mothers next; good, bad, mostly indifferent. Then the Navy. The sea again, and security, so long as the war lasted; the only time when the gifts that had been thrust upon him, the aggression, the ruthlessness, the will to survive, had been welcomed by authority; they had even paid him for using them. And after the war, the advice of Sergeant McLaren, and piracy-it was the best word for it-in Tangier. Then the Rose Line, the chance of a lifetime. Craig wondered what Sergeant McLaren was doing. He'd talked about schoolmastering, but it seemed impossible that a man could teach after he had known the despair that had made McLaren state with such utter conviction that there would be room for nothing, after the war, but a man's own survival. It would be satisfying to see McLaren again, to face him and say: Here I am. I did what you advised me. Do you still think your advice was good? McLaren had said that gentility or piracy was his only choice, and Craig, being English, had compromised and tried both, because Sergeant McLaren had said that civilization was finished and the only thing to do was grab enough power to make life bearable.

He'd grabbed it, all right: grabbed it by the balls and twisted till the victims yelled. Then they hit back; the victims he'd chosen were as tough as he was; toughened in Indochina in year after year of hopeless war, until all they had left was their skill in destruction and their desperate need for a victory. Any victory. After Indochina they'd been moved to North Africa, the most elegant thugs in history. St-Cyr for polish, the paras for ruthless-ness. And in North Africa they'd run up against Craig, industriously selling mortars, bazookas, grenades, machine guns to trigger-happy Arabs who were doing well if they could get their weapons pointing the right way. The destruction they had caused had been immense, and totally haphazard. With the guns he had supplied, they had killed Frenchmen, and women, and children; and each other: hale or infirm, young or old, it had made no difference. As soon as they learned where the trigger was, they pulled it. To a European it was more than frightening, it was incomprehensible. But they paid well. On delivery. Every time.

The French had hit back, with no more cruelty-that was not possible-but with far greater efficiency. They had hunted out the freedom-fighters or terrorists (as always synonymous: only the viewpoint differed), the leaders, the staff, the lines of supply, and so, in the end, they had hunted out Craig, who, they argued, deserved to die for selling the means of death to savages. Craig remembered the men and women he had met who had been beaten up, the bare fingers and toes crushed under army boots, electric shocks in the testicles. He had been shown the machine that was used for that one, a birthday toy for the Marquis de Sade. Then there were the bomb outrages in the Arab quarters, the young colons roaming the streets, the pan lids and car horns crashing out Al-ge-rie Fran-gaise. Bee-Bee-Bee-Bee-Bee. They were no better than the Arabs; maybe worse. They should have remembered what it was like themselves.

Craig shrugged that one away. Right and wrong didn't come into it, not for him. This was a commercial undertaking to fill a need created by two conflicting ideologies. He smiled. That had been Baumer's phrase. Baumer had never felt happy until he'd smoothed down the raw issues with big, dignified words. All the same, he'd have sold to both sides if there had been a market, and if Craig had let him, but the French managed without Baumer and Craig. Craig could never have managed without them. Because of the colons and the colonels, he'd made a hundred thousand pounds. Tax free. He needn't fear the orphanage any more, or the foster mothers. Alice had been bis last. Alice had worked hard on him, come very near to changing him, but had not quite managed it. He'd made his money, and he'd run the risk of death. If he'd done what Alice wanted, that would never have happened, but he'd gone his own way, and now she might be dying. Always now he carried death with him. Lange. Rutter. Alice. Soon it might be Baumer's turn. Tessa was pretty, cheerful, not very bright, but she'd shared bis risks and taken his chances because she loved him. He couldn't let her die. Tomorrow he'd phone Grierson. Maybe he'd write to McLaren too, let him know he'd followed his advice. Craig yawned and listened to the radio. It was playing a Jewish folk song, "Almonds and Raisins." He tried not to think of Baumer.


Next day he told Tessa that he was going out. It took a long, patient time to persuade her that he would be safe, and in the end she agreed because she believed that it was best for him, might even save his life. From the curtained window, he sought the man who was watching the flat, a middle-aged, serious sort of man. Bowler hat. Pipe. Financial Times. Standing by a bus stop, looking at his watch. Craig dressed in slacks, a woolen shirt, suede jacket. They went well with the beard. Then he told Tessa what she must do. He would see Grierson alone.

The man at the bus stop saw her running out of the block of flats, clutching a suitcase, her clothes disheveled, and race for a taxi. Craig, from the darkness of the hallway, watched as he hesitated, then ran for the next cab. As the two cabs turned a corner, Craig prepared to leave, but froze where he was. A Fiat followed the second cab, and there were two men inside. One of them, he was certain, had been pointed out to him in Marseilles, and afterwards he had been given photographs of him to study until he could never forget him. Pucelli. French citizen, Corsican extraction, living in North Africa. An executioner.

Craig breathed slowly and deeply until his fear subsided, then went out into the street and bought a paper, on his way to a pub which Tessa said had a telephone. He ordered a bitter, then rang the number Grierson had left.

"Grierson here." "This is Craig."

"Ah, good," said Grierson. "When can we meet?"

"Lunch," said Craig. "The Brewers' Arms. It's off Kensington High Street. One o'clock."

He hung up, and Grierson grimaced as the receiver clicked. Then he went into the kitchen, where a girl wearing his pajama top was drying eggs.

"I'm awfully sorry, darling," he said. "Something's come up."

Craig called Hakagawa next, who agreed at once to what he asked. Then he settled down with his bitter and the paper. When Tessa came in, he went out, leaving the paper behind him. The instructions he had written on it were perfecdy clear. The man with the bowler hat and the pipe was still paying off his taxi, but the Fiat wasn't there. Craig walked back to the block of flats. The Fiat was on the corner, and there was one man inside. Pucelli. Craig went in by the service entrance, took the elevator to the floor above Tessa's, and walked down with infinite care. The door was locked, and he opened it with Tessa's key, slowly, slowly, the fluttering of his heart perceptible as he did so. He drew the Luger and the chill of steel calmed him as he moved into the hall.

The man in the bedroom was taller than Pucelli, heavier, but quiet in his movements, deft and sure as he opened Craig's suitcase. Craig spoke softly in French.

"Stay still," he said, "or I'll kill you."

The man obeyed for a moment. Then, as Craig moved a step nearer, he swirled around like a great fish and charged at him, his hand clawing for the gun. Craig struck down with the gun barrel, but the man's grasping hand deflected his aim and he struck him on the shoulder. He gasped with pain but came in again, with knees and fists and feet; then his arms came around Craig, trying to pinion him. Craig's gun arm was pinned to his side, but his left hand was free, and he struck with its edge at the big man's neck. This time the man groaned aloud, and the pressure of his arms slackened; Craig struck again, slipped free, and hit the big man under the heart, then once again on the neck with a tremendous judo chop. He fell over the bed, and Craig went through his pockets, then put the money back in the suitcase, stuffed some clothes of Tessa's and his own into another case. The big man was breathing in great snoring gasps, but Craig ignored him. As he left, he put the safety lock on the door.

Once again he went down to the service entrance, and waited there till Pucelli left the Fiat and walked over to the building. Craig took a taxi to Hakagawa's house then. When Tessa came, he told her nothing, except that she must stay indoors until he returned, and that she would be perfectly safe with Hak. From there, he went to the British Museum and looked up the Glasgow University Directory. There were plenty of McLarens, and seven Ian McLarens, but only one was a thirty-nine-year-old philosophy graduate. Craig wrote down the Chelsea address and took the tube to Kensington High Street.

In the Brewers' Arms he drank bitter and ate cold roast beef and salad. Grierson was late, but as soon as he came in, a barmaid fluttered up to him like a homing pigeon.

"You're late," said Craig.

"Business, I assure you," answered Grierson, and Craig went on eating.

"Look," said Grierson. "As long as we're together, would you mind cutting out this silent man of action stuff? Not that I can stop you being rude, but it makes me angry, and that's bad for both of us."

Craig looked at him; a big man, lean, sure in his movements; hard, bloody hard under that easy manner.

"Would you like to see my teeth too?" asked Grierson.

"Is that why you've been looking for me?"

"All right. You're tough. I admit it. Now can we please get down to business?"

"Maybe. There's something I've got to know first. Are you going to take me in?"

"My dear chap, whatever gave you that idea?"


"Oh shut up and listen."

But the barmaid came back then, and asked which of them was Mr. Grierson, and ushered him to a phone booth.

Craig went on eating for a while, then looked around. He and Grierson were sitting at the counter, the only customers there. Most of the tables behind them were empty, and in any case there was a mirror behind the bar. Looking into it, Craig could see exactly what was happening. Tessa had told him about that too. That was why he had chosen the pub; the food was terrible. Craig ordered another bitter, and the barmaid looked at Grier-son's half-finished lunch.

"He's been gone a long time, hasn't he?" she asked.


"Smashin' lookin' feller, isn't he?" "On the films," said Craig. "He has to look like that. Can't help it. It's his job."

"Go on," said the barmaid. "What's his name?"

"Stark Wilde."

The barmaid looked sad.

"Never heard of him," she said.

"You will, love. Real star quality that boy's got."

"Fancy. Are you in pictures too?"


"I thought you might be one of them villains," said the barmaid. Craig grinned in the rich brown of his beard, and the barmaid suffered a delicious terror.

"I might be, love, if you don't leave us alone. It's

Stark's big chance if I think he's right for the part."

Grierson came back, looking worried, and the barmaid brought him more beer.

"You listen to what the gentleman tells you," she said.

Grierson nodded and smiled, unheeding, and she went to the other end of the bar, ready to snap at anyone who might interrupt the progress of the British screen.

"I've got bad news," said Grierson.

"No novelty," Craig said.

"For God's sake, stop it. That girl friend of yours-.her flat-"

"What about it?"

"There was a bomb inside. It went off." Craig drank bitter. "They've found a body." Craig wiped his hps. "Well?"

"Well what?" Craig asked.

"Your girl-"

"She's out," said Craig. "Away. Staying with friends. The body's name's Cadella. Jean-Marie Cadella. Six feet two, I should think, and fourteen stone. Scar on right temple. He was with a man called Carlo Pucelli. Pucelli must have got away. Pity."

"You're sure?" asked Grierson.

"I found Cadella in the flat," said Craig. "Pucelli waited outside in the car. I'd seen him before. It wouldn't do me any good if I forgot what he looked like."

"Did you know he'd planted a bomb?"

Craig shrugged.

"I knew it was possible. I didn't wait to find out." He drank more bitter. "What do we do now?"

"I want you to come and meet somebody," said Grierson.

"Your boss?" Grierson nodded. "Is he the one who's going to help me?" "Yes," said Grierson.

"All right," Craig said. "But he'll have to do better than he's done so far."

In Queen Anne's Gate, Loomis waited, sipping more of his terrifying coffee, while Grierson introduced Craig. Then Loomis did an unprecedented thing. He stood up, shook hands with Craig, and offered him a cigar, and scowled only slightly when Craig took it. Grierson thought Loomis must want Craig very badly. Craig thought so too, as he looked around the first-floor room with its superb stucco ceiling, sash windows, Chippendale desk, and overstuffed armchairs covered in flowered chintz. Grierson brought him coffee and he sank back at his ease. Whatever was going on, he'd been brought to the top man. Somewhere in all this there might be a deal for Tessa. He enjoyed his cigar as Grierson told Loomis about the body in Tessa's flat.

"You can prove this?" Loomis asked.

Craig handed over the wallet, gun, and traveler's checks he'd taken from Cadella, and Loomis pawed them happily.

"I've had a man looking at the ruins," he said. "They got a bit too fancy this time. The bomb was under the bed. It had some sort of time detonator on it. Set to go off at three this morning. They thought you might as well die happy. Trouble was, they didn't set it right."

"They shouldn't have set it at all." said Craig. "Your boy scouts need a bit more woodcraft."

Loomis quelled Grierson's objections with an imperious flipper. "You're not being altogether fair," he said. "That clown disguised as Third Secretary to the Ministry of Dither and Footle wasn't one of ours. We had him on loan from-er-elsewhere."

Even now, Loomis thought, Linton would be wreaking terrible vengeance, and there'd be more when he heard about the Corsicans.

"We're very short-handed, do you see," he said.

"You must be," said Craig.

Loomis flushed a savage and unpleasing mauve, and struggled for twenty seconds before he regained his temper. Grierson thought it might turn out to be a pretty decent afternoon.

"You think our friends got at you through whoever was watching the house?" he gasped at last. Craig nodded. "But how could they?"

"They'd go to my house," said Craig. "They'd see a lot of policemen and reporters there, so they'd say they were reporters too. Then they'd find out Security was on to it.

They'd find out about Tessa. Then all they had to do was watch the blokes who were watching me."

"You gave yourself away at the Lucky Seven," Loomis said.

"Just as well for you I did," said Craig. "You'd never have got on to me otherwise. Now what's the proposition?"

"You do a job for us and we'll help you get away. There'll be money in it as well."

"Never mind the money. I've got enough. What about Tessa?"

"We'll get her out too."

"What's the job?"

"Cadella and Pucelli worked for a man called St. Briac," said Loomis.

"Colonel Pierre-Auguste Lucien de St. Briac," said Craig.

"You've met him?"

Craig shook his head. "If I had one of us would be dead."

Loomis said, "He's a dangerous man. Very dangerous. The whole bloody lot in Algeria are madmen, but St. Briac's raving. He's trying to drag us into his war. He thinks it's about time we had a go at the Arabs too. Did you know that?"

"No," said Craig.

"Well, he does," said Loomis. "He's stirring up trouble for us in the Middle East wherever he can. Jordan, Oman, Aden, Iraq, anywhere where there's British interests. And God knows, where there's oil there's trouble. He's had politicians beaten up so that they nearly died, and used that to start riots-three this year already. The last one cost eleven dead. Three of them were women. Two were kids. And he's going to go on doing it until we're in an Arab war as deep as the French are."

"But why on earth-" Craig began.

"The way he sees it, the Arabs will unite-and I dare say he's right-so he thinks we should unite too. The French can't lick the Algerians on their own. They need help. He thinks we're the ones who should help them."

"We'll never do it," said Craig.

"Of course not, but we'll have a hell of a time keeping out after what he's done," said Loomis. "He's made sure we've taken the blame for everything he's done."

"Why not just deny it? Say it was him?"

"The Arabs would never believe us. Why should they? They've got the evidence he left. Payoffs in five-pound notes, British arms and ammunition, letters and pamphlets from British fascist organizations. It's not easy to deny that sort of thing and be convincing when you're doing it. Especially when the people you're trying to convince want to believe it's all your fault anyway."

"Complain to the French," said Craig.

"We have," said Loomis. "Oh, brother, we have. But St. Briac's nobody. Nobody official, that is. They chucked him out of the Army for brutality. Officially, French Intelligence has never heard of him-and unofficially half of them give him all the help he needs. They've even had the blasted nerve to tell us they can't trace him, and all the time he's got an H.Q. in Nice. The Society for the Solution of the Algerian Problem, it's called. And it's got two aims, two ideas. One is dragging this country into their war and the other is what they call the exclusion of undesirable influences. By undesirable influences he means you and blokes like you, and by exclusion he means murder, and he's bloody good at it. You're the first one he's missed twice. He got Rutter first time off."

"You want me to kill him," Craig said.

"Yes," said Loomis, "I do. I've tried everything else and it hasn't worked. The Middle East's a powder magazine and he's sitting in the middle of it, giggling away and tossing matches. My orders are to stop him. How I do it is up to me. But you need him dead, son."

"Why can't he do it?" Craig asked, nodding at Grierson.

"Ah," said Loomis, "I thought you'd ask that. St. Briac's a bit tricky to get at. Bodyguards and all that. I mean, you can't just ring up and make an appointment and shoot him in the tripes. You've got to reach him. Now that should be a piece of cake for you. He's been trying to reach you for weeks. All you've got to do is tell him you want to make a deal and you're home and dried. Then there's another thing. You want to kill him."

"You've already said that," said Craig.

"It'll stand a repeat," said Loomis. "He killed Lange. He killed Rutter. Sooner or later he'll kill Baumer too. He's nearly killed your wife and had two goes at you and one at your girl friend. Killing him's the only way you'll get any peace."

"I could run," said Craig.

"Not any more." Loomis coughed, delicately for him, an eruptive gurgle into a square foot of white lawn. "You see what I mean, don't you, son? We've got to get St. Briac. And if we can't have you for executioner, we'll have you for bait."

Craig said nothing.

"There's another thing too," said Loomis. "You're a natural for the job. You've killed before. You're neat and quick and quiet, so the Navy says, and you get on with it. You've worked at it too. Worked bloody hard. Black belt. Karate. And you can use a pistol too." Craig nodded. "Oh you'll do a grand job. You know, son, when you cut out all the balls about duty and survival, I think you enjoy it."

Craig took it without a word.

"So there you are," said Loomis. "What do you say?"

"There's another thing too," Craig said. "If I get killed myself trying to do it, nobody can say I'm one of your lot, can they? It'll all be blamed on the gun-running."

"Exactly," said Loomis, and beamed at Grierson. "Shrewd as well," he added. "He's so good it's creepy." He turned back to Craig. "We've got you now, son. We aren't going to let you go."

"I want to think," Craig said.

"How long?"

"Tomorrow. It'll keep till tomorrow."

"Just as you like," Loomis said. "We'll lunch at my club. You can tell me all about it then." He levered himself up from his chair. "There's just one thing. We'd like to give you a checkup. Do you mind coming downstairs?"

"No, I don't mind," said Craig. "But there's something I'd like to know first."

"I'll do my best," Loomis said.

"Just who the hell will I be working for if I do it?" "This is Department K of M.I.6," said Loomis. "We're a sort of sump really. Whatever comes in is filtered through the pipeline, and we collect the dregs; the stuff that's too dirty for anybody else to handle. All very unofficial, naturally. Nobody knows about us and nobody wants to know. Our sort of job is usually pretty nasty, you see. This one's nasty. But I have to do something about it. It's important, son."

They went down to the cellars in an old and cautious elevator, and on the way out Loomis motioned to Craig to go first. The floor and walls were of hard, dark stone, and the fluorescent light flickered unevenly. Craig walked along the passage in the half-dark, and Loomis and Grierson lagged farther behind. He turned a corner, and a pistol crashed like thunder in the stone-enclosed space, a bullet wheeped savagely past him, then spanged in whining ricochet from the wall. Craig dived to the floor, then rolled over and over to the darkest corner. Already he had seen the bulk of the man who had fired. His own gun roared once, and again, then suddenly more lights came on and he saw what he had aimed at was a dummy.

Loomis and Grierson came around the corner, and Loomis chuckled, a smug, fat sound.

"You're quick, son," he said. "Let's see if you're accurate."

Grierson walked to the dummy, a cheap, tailor's window creation, with the shoulders of a heavyweight and the face of Bardot.

"Gorgeous, isn't it?" Loomis asked.

He looked at it more closely. There were two small holes, four inches apart, near where the heart should have been.

"You're good, son," he said. "You must be. One might have been a fluke, but two-I should have met you years ago. You really do enjoy it, don't you? You come into the cellar and some bloke pops off at you, and what do you do? Yell for the finest police in the world? Ask me what the hell I'm playing at? Write to your M.P.? Not you. You fire back. And I bet you squeezed that trigger before you even knew what you were doing."

He patted Craig's shoulder with unashamed pride of possession, as a man might pat a Sheraton sideboard he'd found in a junk shop.

"Fast as a computer, son, and all done by reflexes."

"You're right," Craig said. "I didn't stop to think. If I had I might have been killed. How did I know you were what you said you were?" He glanced down at Loomis's massive hand, which was still on his shoulder, a hand the size and color of a ham.

"You bastard," he said.

Loomis said, "I knew you'd get to like me. Everybody does. Through here."

They went then into a gym, the floor covered by a padded judo mat, where two men in track suits, two squat and muscular men, stood waiting. They had the unmistakable stamp of unarmed combat instructors, the aggressive muscularity of men who feared nothing because they'd studied the book until they knew it backwards, and the book provided for every possibility.

"I'd like you to show us what you did to that feller-" Loomis snapped his fingers.

"Lishman, sir," said Grierson.

"And his friends. These two splendid fellows can be his friends. As they're a lot better than the originals, I think you might start with your arms free. Grierson can be Lishman." He leered at Grierson. "If you don't mind, we'll assume that you've already kicked him. Otherwise he might fret. Down, Grierson."

Grierson lay down.

Craig said, "I don't think I can do it."

"Why not?" asked Loomis.

"I'd have to hurt them," Craig said.

"They're paid to take risks," said Loomis. "We all are. Start whenever you like."

Grierson, flat on the floor, marveled at Craig's swift, easy grace. The whole thing went like a ballet. The P.T.I.'s moved in, he grabbed one, threw him, and in the same movement attacked the other, knocking him out. The one he had thrown bounced in again, and again Craig threw him, this time holding on the lock he had used. The P.T.I, groaned, and lay still. Craig let him go, turning to

Loomis, and Grierson remembered his instructions and prepared to spring.

"Any more?" Craig asked, and Grierson leaped for him, grabbing his arm in a hammerlock. Craig somersaulted forward, and Grierson went with him, still clutching Craig's fist. He landed underneath, and Craig swayed aside and struck with the edge of his hand at Grierson's arm. Pain scalded across his biceps and he loosed his grip. Craig wriggled free and his arm came across Grierson's throat, pressed deeper and deeper into the windpipe. Grierson struggled for air; his eyes seemed to be ballooning in their sockets, his legs thrashed.

"Who do I have to do next?" Craig snarled at Loomis. "You?"

"No, no, I'm convinced. But we had to see for ourselves. You must see that. You might let poor Grierson breathe a little."

Craig got up then, and hauled Grierson to his feet. For a while he had to told him up, but at last Grierson could breathe without feeling that every breath was being forced through a throat choked with steel wool.

Loomis said, "You're slipping, Grierson." Then to the P.T.I.'s, "You're all slipping."

One of them was silent; he was still unconscious. The other, murder in his eyes, said, "Yes, sir."

Loomis slapped Craig on the back.

"Come on," he said. "I think you're entitled to a drink."

Farther into the cellars was a small, luxurious bar. Loomis went behind it and mixed pints of black velvet, the Guinness drawn from the wood, the champagne uncorked with the minimum of fuss.

Craig looked at his tankard suspiciously.

"What's in this lot?" he asked. "Spanish fly?"

"Please," said Loomis. "I'm completely satisfied, and I'm sure Grierson is too. Aren't you, Grierson?"

Grierson croaked "Yes" and let the soothing chill of his drink caress his throat.

"I worry, you see," said Loomis. "I have to worry. That's why I try things out first. I never tried out one like you before. I never thought I'd get the chance."

"I don't think there are any more like me," Craig said.

"If there are, I'm sorry for them. Look. I made a hell of a lot of money out of arms. A hundred thousand quid." Loomis whistled. "But you don't make that sort of money and then just live happily ever after. At least I didn't." Craig drank more black velvet, hesitated, then continued: "I knew I was on their list two years ago. I knew I was due to die. That's why I kept on with judo. You've no idea how difficult that was. I had to drive twenty miles to practice-I didn't even dare to let it be talked about where I lived. It was too big a lead. Then there was the pistol. The only way you're good with a gun is practice, again, and that wasn't easy either." He sighed. "I made money all right, and I enjoyed making it. I didn't worry too much about where it came from. No. That's not true. I didn't worry at all. But it didn't bring me any happiness. I didn't worry about that, either. Not till now. I'd made my choice, and my money, and I didn't kick about it. I just got ready for trouble. I didn't think it would be Alice and that poor bloody brother of hers who'd get it." He looked at his drink. "I didn't think champagne could make me so miserable," he said.

"That's the stout," said Loomis. "What are you going to do now?"

"See my girl," said Craig. "If you don't mind."

"Why on earth should I?" asked Loomis. "We're all heteros here. Anything else?"

"I want to see a man called McLaren." When Loomis asked why, he tried to explain. "I met him in Sicily," he said, and told them what had happened.

"All right, it's a good story, but what do you want to see him for?" Loomis asked.

"You hear a lot about things that change people's lives-Reader's Digest stuff-and I'm not blaming McLaren for what happened to mine, but he was the only one who ever saw what I was and what I could make of myself. I want to see if he's done it too."

"Done what?" asked Grierson.

Craig struggled with unfamiliar ideas, ideas that had nothing to do with bills of lading, or manifests, or the maintenance of small arms.

"He told me what the world was going to be like, and he was right. About the world anyway. I did what he said I ought to do. I don't mean that it was his fault. I just did it. I'd like to know if he went in for teaching. Somehow I can't help feeling that he wanted to go the same way as me."

"Suppose he hasn't?" Loomis asked.

Craig shrugged.

"It won't make any difference; it's too late for that. I just want to know." Again he struggled for words. "Look. I'd done a lot of things before I met him. I've done a hell of a lot more since. And I never dream about them. Never. But I do dream about that bloody rest camp, and his singing, and me watching those poor bastard soldiers dancing under the moon. I want to know what he's like now."

"Does he know your name?" Loomis asked. Craig shook his head.

"He just knew me as John. I only found out his name because he introduced himself to the Jocks."

Loomis grunted, and meditated. After a while he said, "That seems to be all right. But I'd like you to tell somebody else about it before I make any decisions."


Loomis peered at him shyly. "A psychiatrist," he said.

"Do you think I'm crazy?" Craig asked. "I don't want to kill him. I just want to talk to him."

"I don't care if you're crazy or not," said Loomis. "I want you the way you are. If you think you're a teapot, you're going to go on thinking you're a teapot till the job's finished. And talking to McLaren may make a difference. I couldn't risk that." He turned to Grierson. "Go and get Wetherly," he said.

Wetherly joined them in the bar. He was small, rosy, and bland, a pared-down Pickwick, and he drank a pint of black velvet and heard about McLaren, while Loomis stayed in the background and read a much-used paperback called Death in Purple Garters. After a while the psychiatrist left Craig, and dragged Loomis away from his book.

"It's always the same," he complained. "You want the answer in minutes when it takes me days to find out what the question is."

Loomis peered vaguely at the book's front cover. The purple garters were there, all right. There superbly, in fact.

"All right," Wetherly snapped. "He's sane enough, but he's under a great emotional strain, most probably fear. The man McLaren is important to him in a way I find it hard to explain. You might say that he represents for him a sort of super-Craig-a realization of all Craig's aspirations and needs."

"Never mind the codology," said Loomis. "This is urgent."

Wetherly sighed.

"Now he's not so sure. He's beginning to suspect that McLaren wanted to take his own advice." "So?"

"Craig's ashamed of himself. He's failed all along the line."

"He's made a fortune. Mind like a razor, and he could crush you with one hand. How on earth can he have failed?"

Wetherly sighed.

"You use the same words as I do, but they all have a different meaning," he said. "He's failed with his wife, failed with his friends, he thinks he may fail with his girl. He's a very violent man. People who come close to him get hurt."

"So long as I can pick the people," said Loomis. "What's this got to do with McLaren?"

"If he's a sort of super-Craig, and he's failed too, Craig won't feel so bad. If he's succeeded-"

"How do you mean-succeeded?"

"Craig thinks he may be a schoolteacher. In Craig's estimation, that would argue a high degree of success. I shouldn't advise a meeting if he is. On the other hand, if he's what Craig would consider a failure-a meeting may be useful for your purposes."

"I'll find out what he's doing," said Loomis, still looking at the cover of the book.

"He gave me McLaren's address."

Loomis held out his hand, not looking.

"It won't make any difference," said Wetherly, "but I can assure you that that young woman's development is anatomically impossible."

Loomis looked hurt.

"We all have our dreams," he said. "We have to. Otherwise you'd be out of a job."


That evening Grierson drove Craig out to the studios of the Express Television Company in his Lagonda. His arm had only just stopped aching and his temper was vile. He loathed Craig, and the easy contempt with which he'd thrown him and hurt him, and it was now a matter of urgency that Craig should be impressed, if not terrified.

The big, soft-purring car was impressive by any standards, and so was his driving skill as he threaded it north to Hampstead and through increasing London traffic; then over the Heath and north on to the Al, letting in the supercharger, watching the rev counter and speedometer climb, up and over, until they reached a hundred and kept on going, the car handling beautifully, beautifully handled. There, you bastard, Grierson shouted in his mind at Craig. There. And he four-wheel-drifted a curve, feathered out so that his revs hardly fluttered, and pressed his foot down again. Craig, who hadn't spoken in minutes, sat up then and listened to the car's eager roar, then turned to Grierson.

"Your plugs need cleaning," he said.

For a moment Grierson was so angry that he almost crashed the car, then he eased back on his right foot and risked a glance to his left. Craig was laughing at him.

Grierson put his foot down again and the car leaped forward, then once more he eased off and he too began to laugh.

"All right," he said. "I give in. I suppose you drive at Le Mans too."

"No," said Craig. "I wish I could. I used to drive an E-type Jag, but I swapped it for a Bristol. My wife-" he hesitated, "she liked a roof. You were really going a bit there."

"A hundred and ten's her top," said Grierson. "At her age, it isn't kind to ask for more." He eased back further. "Now remember. I'm a bloke sent down by the advertising people because they want to keep in good with me and I said I wanted to watch a recording. You're an old pal of mine who's come because I invited him. That means I'll be the one that people will watch."

"Suits me," said Craig. "Imagine. Old McLaren. On the old telly." His voice was mocking, and Grierson looked at him again. Craig didn't look angry; just mildly amused, mildly pitying.

"What's your name?" asked Grierson.

"John Reynolds."


"Company director," Craig said. "Big bass fiddle." "What's the name of the advertising company?" "Jansen, Caldecott and True."

"Roger," said Grierson. "There's a party on at McLaren's when it's all over. I've fixed it for us to go if you want to."

"I'll see."

"Let me know," said Grierson. "Now tell me all about your companies, you greedy bastard."

Express Television was a great, glass-fronted building, set among lawns and fountains and flowers. Enough Hertfordshire woodland had been spared to give it a frame that softened its angular opulence, and in the spring night its glass glowed with the warmth of many lights. There was a doorman with a uniform that compromised between that of an officer of the Blues and an R.A.C. patrolman, doors which were great, unblemished slabs of glass and opened of their own accord, elevators that smelled of carnations, and a studio executive so devoted, so absorbed, so happy just to serve the cathode ray tube that the two men felt ashamed to admit they knew nothing of TV.

The executive, Slatter, was there to enlighten them. He whipped them over the course in fifteen minutes, took them to his office for large pink gins, and from there to the studio, through the maze of cables and sound booms and cameras to the outcasts' corner from which, in reverent, utter silence, they might watch the creation of viewing time. Craig looked at the procession of performers: dancers dressed like birds of paradise; two comedians in football jerseys; four youths who were all teeth and electric guitars, and a Scotsman called Archie McPhee, who told Scots stories in a soft, Highland voice, and philosophized gently about the rush of urban life and how badly it compared with the ripple of a trout stream and the cry of whaups among the heather. The philosopher's real name was McLaren.

When the rehearsal ended, Slatter took them to his office for chicken sandwiches and Moselle, then back to the viewing room to watch in its entirety "Scotland the Brave," written by and starring Archie McPhee. Grierson had wanted to sit with the studio audience, but Craig, not yet ready for the substance, concentrated instead on the nickering shadow. First the company sign, a screaming diesel belting over a bridge, and then the pipers like guardsmen, the rattling side-drums, the roar of studio applause as Archie McPhee came on and told stories about the gnomic wisdom of the Hieland man, and rhapsodized about gray hills and purple heather. The dancers next, for hard-edged modernistic dancing, and then the comedians in football jerseys. Commercial break. More Archie. A Scots tenor, thinly disguised as Bonnie Prince Charlie. More comedians. Birds of Paradise chorus. Commercial break. The dentate youths with guitars. More Archie, singing, this time, the thin wailing mouth music for a team of dancers, the men all disguised as Bonnie Prince Charlie, the women as Flora Macdonald, but dancing this time the real stuff, the genuine hundred-proof that McLaren had called the fag-end of a culture that would die with the war. Then the orchestra took up the tune and turned it into a twist, and the chorus (Flora

Macdonalds all, halfway through a strip) were twisting too in the background, the stars came on and waved, and the music softened as Archie stepped forward, remembered again the cry of the curlew, the plash of water where the brown trout rose. And then it was over, and the audience yelped with laughter as two chorus girls tried to teach Archie to twist and his kilt turned skittish and the credits rolled.

"I think we've got a winner in Archie," said Slatter. "He's done well in the shows for the region of course, but on his own I think he's fabulous, don't you? He'll be networked next month. It's that little touch of philosophy that gets them. He's genuine, you see. Just one of the people, but educated too. And the audience knows it. You can't fool an audience." And there Slatter's face was religious in expression, for though he believed nothing else, he believed utterly that what he had just said was true.

"We'll just go and have a drink and give Archie time to change," he continued, "then we'll pop down and say hello and be off to the party. You are coming, aren't you?" Craig nodded. "Oh good. I'd like you to tell your people that we don't just give you a good show, we give you a good time too."

Then more Moselle, and a VIP trip to the star dressing room where Archie received them as an equal-for were they not important too?-and opened champagne for them, and the four youths in semi-dishabille, for now they had shed their guitars though their teeth still glowed, allowed themselves to be introduced. And everyone had been splendid, and in the relaxation of tension after sustained effort Craig, for the first time since he came into the studio, recognized an emotion he could share.

"Now don't forget the party," said Slatter. "Chelsea. Sure you can find your way?"

"We'll give you a lift," said Craig. "You can show us where it is."

The executive hesitated, then surrendered. The company which had sent Grierson had such satisfactory accounts. Such big ones. The Lagonda impressed him too, as it was meant to do.

Craig asked if he might drive, and Grierson reluctantly agreed. Slatter droned on about Tarn ratings and costs per minute, then settled down to find out what Grierson's interests were, and Grierson lied quite happily, for Craig's driving was worthy of the car, and the Lagonda roared in pleasure as it skimmed the empty moonlit roads. Only once was there any risk, when Craig squeezed between two vans, but he slowed down so gently, changed gear so rightly before he swooped away, that Grierson smiled his content as he wondered why Slatter had turned quiet. The executive said no more until they reached Cheyne Walk, and then was first out of the car.

McLaren's flat was on the ground floor, as big and beautifully furnished as a stage set. All light and airy and open; all Swedish, Danish, Finnish, except for the maid, who was a Spaniard. Slatter came back to life, sliced turkey and ham for them, mixed the dressing for the salad and poured them more champagne, until car by car the other guests arrived and he could introduce these influential madmen to two pretty girls, and tell Archie that he had been splendid and go home to his wife, who nagged him, and cocoa, and the works of Anthony Trol-lope.

Craig enjoyed the party. He had been drinking all day, and the drink had eased the tensions that the day had brought; the sight of Pucelli, Cadella's death, the tests Loomis had flung at him like bombs. Now he was John Reynolds again, this time with interests in machine tools, die-stamp machines, and nuts and bolts, dancing with pretty girls, now and then kissing one in the conservatory that seemed built for the purpose, playing Mutt to Grierson's Jeff, and waiting till the crowd thinned and he could get McLaren on his own and ask him what the hell he was playing at.

At the beginning of the party McLaren had been aloof, restrained, yet affable, a Lord Chesterfield among poets, but as time went on he had changed, first into a roaring boy, then to a surly Harry Lauder, loudly estimating the cost of turkey, ham, whisky, wine, and meaning every word. Most of his guests seemed as familiar with this act as with the current Top Ten, and talked on, over and around it until he retired to a sofa and lay with his head in a dancer's lap while she fed him whisky from a six-ounce glass.

Craig kissed one more girl, fed Grierson one more gag line, and walked over to the sofa.

"A very nice party, Mr. McLaren," he said.

"Ceid mil a jaildhe," said McLaren, "and call me Archie. I dropped the McLaren ten years ago."

"We met before that," said Craig. "Sicily, May 1943."

"My God, were you there too?" said McLaren and turned to the chorus girl. "You see how old I am? Where were you in May 1943? Did you exist?"

The girl poured more whisky into his mouth.

"You and I were in a rest camp," Craig said. "You had a botde of whisky and we shared it. It was very good whisky."

"Lord yes," said McLaren. "I remember. The night the soldiers danced."

"That's right," said Craig. "They were sad. A lot of their friends had been killed."

"So they had," said McLaren, "but the survivors danced very nicely."

"They were beautiful," said Craig.

"Of course. Under the circumstances they had to be. You weren't a soldier, were you?"

"Special Boat Service," said Craig. "My name's Reynolds."

"A Scot?"

"A Geordie," Craig said.

"That's right. I remember the accent. What happened to the accent?"

"You told me to lose it and turn myself into a gentleman."

"And you did? I'm very glad." "Are you?"

"Indeed I am. It's no crime to be poor, but it might as well be. I think I stole that line from somewhere. You aren't poor?"

"No," said Craig.

"Then I gave you good advice."

"I'm rich, really," said Craig. "Of course I ran a lot of risks-"

"You like risks," McLaren said. "I remember you telling me, in that funny accent of yours. You really enjoyed danger. That's why I told you to make danger work for you. You're lucky. There aren't many who can do that."

"Can you?"

"I fought to survive," said McLaren, "and I did survive. Then I went back to university philosophy because it amused me. I practiced the folk culture of my country because that amused me too. Then I worked-teacher, journalist, travel courier, salesman, and that didn't amuse me at all. So I prostituted my country's genius and made money. And that amused me more than anything else. Does that shock you?"

"No," Craig said.

"Those young men smelling of death, dancing in the ruins of a Greek temple-that's nineteenth-century romanticism, and German romanticism at that. It won't work any more. It's finished-er-"


"Excuse me. Reynolds. Everything's finished, including you and me."

"I don't think so," Craig said. "Nothing's finished as long as you can fight for what you want." McLaren shook his head.

"That's romanticism too," he said. "You're too late. We've reached the last full stop, son."

He said that rather smugly, and settled back on the dancer's long-muscled thighs, stroked her hip with the tips of his fingers.

"I beg your pardon," he said to Craig. Then, with fine old Highland courtesy: "Would you like one of these?"

"No, thanks," said Craig. "I roll my own."

McLaren laughed, shrilly, wheezingly, and the surviving guests looked on amazed.

"You have come on," he said. "If ever I want any sick stuff, I'll come to you."

Craig nodded, and went back to Grierson, who was memorizing telephone numbers. They found their coats, and went back to McLaren, who was asleep. The dancer hadn't moved.

"It's time we left," Craig said. "Tell him we had a nice time."

The girl nodded, then, as he turned away, called out to them. "Was he really in the war?" Craig nodded. "And he saw those men who were killed?"

"Yes," Craig said.

"Was he-in danger too?"

"Oh yes. He was a Commando."

"Archie?" She sounded incredulous. "He told me he was a clerk in the Pay Corps."

"No," said Craig. "He was a Commando sergeant."

"You mean he killed people?" She looked down at McLaren in awe. "He's wonderful, isn't he?"

"I should think he is," said Craig. "Good night."

In the Lagonda Grierson asked, "Did you want her?"

"No," Craig said. "I could have had one just like her. Archie's compliments. They come in packets of twenty. I'll stick to Tessa."

He leaned back, half asleep, till Grierson drove him to Hakagawa's house, then turned to face him.

"I'm sorry I had to hit you," he said.

"So am I," said Grierson.

"No. Listen. You do that again and I'll hit you again. I can't help it. What I mean is, I'm sorry Loomis made you do it."

"Loomis is a bastard," said Grierson, "but he knows what he's doing." "He'd better." "You're corning in then?" "Yes."

Be a gentleman, McLaren had told him, and he'd done his best, and he'd failed. Clothes right, table manners right, accent and idiom at least passable-but that was all. It would take him a million years to learn to behave like Sir Geoffrey, and even then he'd always fight back, and fight to win, with fists and feet, with anything that was handy. As a gentleman he wouldn't do at all. He'd failed. And he wouldn't do as a lone wolf either. His wife, his dead child, Tessa, even Sir Geoffrey, they were all responsibilities. His responsibilities. Sometimes he'd recognized them, and sometimes he'd tried to ignore them, but always they had been there, waiting for him to do something about them. They were his people, and when they needed protection, it was his business to provide it, as his father had protected him in the fishing boat, years ago. To protect them, he had to kill St. Briac.

"I'll kill him," Craig said. "I haven't any choice."

Tessa was awake, waiting for him in the guest room. As he undressed, she told him how kind the Hakagawas were, how beautiful their manners, for never once had they passed judgment on her, never once been surprised by what had happened.

Craig said, "You'll be safe here, Tessa."

"I will?"

"I may have to go away for a bit. There's something I've got to see to."

"Will it take long?"

"Not long. Maybe a week."

"Is it because of that Grierson man?"

"No," Craig said. "Because of you. If I don't attend to this, we'll never have any peace. If I do-we'll have nothing to worry about."

Carefully, pushing the words out of her mouth, Tessa said, "You are coming back to me then?"

"Of course," said Craig. "You do ask stupid questions."

And after that, even though Tessa was embarrassed because the Hakagawas were next door, she simply had to love him.

Next morning she woke early, and ate and gossiped with Sanuki while Craig slept. The two women were moving quickly toward friendship as they worked together in the kitchen. Shenju came in, and breakfasted on fruit and milk while Tessa grilled bacon and fried eggs.

"The wrong diet for me," Shenju said, "but perfect for John. He burns up energy so quickly." He peeled an apple, the peel a fine spiral, tissue-paper thin. "He is the best judoka I ever taught, and that makes him a very dangerous man."

"I don't think so," said Tessa.

"Oh yes. He is a man to trust, but he is also dangerous.

More dangerous than ever since I taught him to-since I taught him. He was very unhappy for a long time. I do not think he is unhappy now." He bowed to Tessa. Tessa said, "He's going away."

Shenju glanced at her sharply, though the hand that held the knife was rock-steady. "For long?" he asked. "He said about a week." He nodded. "Did he say why?"

"Some business he had to finish. Then he says we'll have some peace."

"You deserve it, both of you," Shenju said. "You mustn't worry, Tessa. He is a very good man. He will be quite safe."

She took Craig's breakfast into him then, and sipped coffee as he sat up in bed and ate.

"Is it ail right?" she asked.

"Marvelous," he said. "You know it is."

He pushed his tray away at last, and fit a cigarette, drew her down beside him.

"I wish you wouldn't," he said.


"Wait on me like that. I can get up and eat."

"You were tired-and anyway I like doing it. I won't be able to, while you're away." She turned to him then, and he could see the fear in her face. "Shenju says I mustn't worry. You'll be safe."

"Of course I will."

"But he didn't mean it. You're going into danger, aren't you?"

"No," said Craig. "He's just kidding you-" "You're lying," she said. "Do you think I don't know when you're lying?" Craig shrugged.

"It's no good, love," he said. "I have to go." "Where?" He shook his head. "What are you going to do?"

"I've told you," he said. "Get us both some peace."

"Or get killed? Is that it?"

"I haven't any choice. Believe me-"

"Oh yes you have," said Tessa. "We could run away. Now. Today."

"Yesterday," he said. "But not now. We can't run any more."

"It's Grierson, isn't it?" she asked. "It's you and me. I told you last night." "Darling," she said. "Please. Tell me what you're going to do."

He shook his head. "I can't," he said.

She drew away from him then, and sat in silence as he bathed and dressed, took out the Luger, checked it, strapped its holster over his shoulder, and put the gun in it. He emptied his wallet, pouring the money into her lap.

"I have to go," he said. "This should keep you till I get back."

She was still silent.

"It may be dangerous," he said. "I hope not-but it may be. Don't worry, love. You'll be all right."

"Will I?" she asked. "Will I really?"

"Sure." He nodded, very serious. "If I get knocked off, you'll be a rich woman. I've made a new will. My wife keeps all the Rose Line money. You get the rest."

She gasped, as if he'd hit her.

"But I mean to come back-for you. Do you believe that?"

Slowly, reluctantly, she nodded. "You'll be here?" "Yes," she whispered. "What's wrong then?"

"I'll wait for you because I have to," she said. "Because I haven't any choice. The way I feel-But I don't like it. It makes me frightened."

"I'm sorry," said Craig. "I told you what it would be like."

"Couldn't we just go away?" she asked. "Couldn't we?"

"I'll see you in a week," he said, and bent to kiss her, but she turned her head away.

Craig shrugged, and put on his coat. No sense in arguing that one again. And anyway, it was time to go.


Loomis's club was, inevitably, in St. James's, and there Craig went to lunch with him, on canned shrimps, cold beef and salad, apple pie, Cheddar cheese, and a pint of bitter. As food it was barely edible, but Loomis praised it for its modesty.

"You can get all the exotic fodder you want in Nice," he said. "This is the stuff to calm you down. Haute cuisine peps you up. This is grub."

"Do I need calming down?" Craig asked.

"Dunno. I do. I got a bit of news for you. Pucelli's on to the judo clubs. He's looking for Hakagawa."

"Go on," said Craig.

"We won't let him get far," Loomis said. "Don't worry. If he starts getting warm, we'll find something wrong with his passport and boot him off home. Unless-" he looked hard at Craig, "you'd like to attend to him yourself?"

"No," Craig said.

"Suit yourself." Loomis sawed savagely at his beef. "I take it you are going to do that other little job for us?"

"Yes," said Craig. "But just St. Briac. That's all."

"Grierson says you had quite a chat with McLaren last night. Has he been preaching at you?"

"He preaches at everybody," Craig said. "He has to. He doesn't believe his own gospel."

"Has he changed your mind?"

"No," said Craig. "He's a phony-like me. And he knows it. He couldn't have changed my mind, anyway. Now I've got Tessa into this, I have to do what you want. It's the only way she'll be safe."

"You could leave her," said Loomis.

"That's the one thing I couldn't do. Except go on like this. Once I've dealt with St. Briac, that's the lot."

"St. Briac is all I want," said Loomis. "But the others may want you. These boys are fanatics. They don't know where to stop. That's why I say they're mad, but when it comes to organization, they're as sane as you or me and as clever as monkeys.

"They work in cells, like the Communists. They're not proud, they'll steal ideas from anybody. Now St. Briac's is the murder cell. Five men. The 2-I-C is called La Valere. A bit of a nit, but good with a pistol. Duclos and Pucelli-I'll come to them in a minute-for the rough work. They used to have Cadella to help them, until you ran into him. Then there are two or three men acting as bodyguards for his nibs, and that's the lot. A self-sufficient unit. And they believe in vengeance, son. Pucelh's a Corsican, and so was Duclos's mother. Hurt one of them and they'll all be on your neck. Hurt their chief, and you may not find it all that easy to retire. They're what you might call devoted to him. Or so I've heard anyway."

"So I've heard too," said Craig. "I'll have to chance it."

Loomis took alternate bites at apple pie and cheese.

"You seem to hear a hell of lot," he said. "Where do you get it all from?"

"Arabs," Craig said. "They've got their own network. Pretty good too. And they had to keep me alive at the time. They needed the stuff I was bringing."

"Want to tell me about them?"

"No," Craig said.

"Suit yourself." Loomis pushed his plate away. Then, heedless of his own theories, he said loudly, "God, that was awful."

The elderly headwaiter, utterly deaf, said, "Thank you, sir," and Loomis led the way to the reading room, where three aged men slept noisily.

"They're deaf too," he said. "Still, we'd better not take any chances."

He rang for a waiter, and ordered coffee in the writing room.

This was huge, deserted, and crammed with Edwardian writing desks with great wads of club stationery on them, as if the committee had yet to learn that Edison had made enough of a breakthrough for the club to buy a telephone. The waiter poured out coffee, and Loomis groaned aloud.

"Terrible, terrible," he said.

"Why eat here?" asked Craig.

"I'm used to it and they're used to me," said Loomis. "When you get to my age, you get set. You aren't flexible any more. Not like you."

"When do you want me to go?" Craig asked.

"That's what I mean," Loomis grumbled. "You're always in a hurry. Now I like a bit of small talk. I can't stand bashing straight into things. But you won't adapt yourself to me. You're too selfish, son." He scowled. "You'll go as soon as I can fix it. Grierson will go with you."

"Don't you trust me?"

"How can I?" Loomis asked pettishly. "Anyway, he can be very useful, Grierson can. And he seems to like you, God knows why. That's Grierson's trouble, getting fond of people."

Craig lit a cigarette.

"You work hard at it-being nasty, I mean," he said. Loomis, unasked, helped himself from Craig's packet.

"I'll tell you something," he said. "I'm down on the books as a civil servant-assistant principal in the Ministry of Dither and Footle. Everybody thinks I've been shelved because I'm so bloody rude. There aren't thirty people in the world know as much about me as you do -and they're all like you. They can't give me away."

"They could be made to," said Craig.

"Sooner or later one of them will," Loomis said. "When he does I'll know, and I'll be ready for it. Till then it's all jolly fun. Only remember this, son. I'm anonymous because I'm good at my job."

"Having people killed?"

"Sometimes. Not often. Your bit of business happens to be one of the times, that's all. When there isn't any other way I use this one, if I think it's justified. That's what I'm for."

"Does it bother you?"

"No," said Loomis promptly. "Not unless I fail, and I don't fail all that often. I'm certainly not going to fail this time. If St. Briac doesn't die, a lot of other people will. And they'll be nicer people than he is. Now tell me about him again."

Craig repeated what Ben Bakr had told him, in the little restaurant near the Jardin du Pharo in Marseilles. It had been hot in the restaurant, he remembered, but the bouillabaisse had been good, and so had the Provencal wine. Mohammedan or not, Ben Bakr had drunk his litre. He needed something; twenty-four hours a day he was in danger. St. Briac hadn't yet found out who he was, but Ben Bakr had got on to Pucelli, and from him at last he had discovered the existence of St. Briac's cell and the character of its leader. St. Briac, inevitably, had been to St-Cyr, he had won the Croix de Guerre in Indochina for displaying exceptional courage where courage was a commonplace. He had been an Intelligence officer in the Atlas Department of Algeria, and had been removed for being too cruel, though in Algeria at that time cruelty was a commonplace too. And yet, Ben Bakr had insisted, he was not a sadist, like some of the men who worked for him. He was simply using cruelty because it was efficient. It produced the results he needed so urgently. St. Briac was determined, utterly determined, that Algeria should remain part of France, that the country and the army he adored should suffer no more defeats, no more humiliations. Measured against this tremendous aim, no human life, including his own, had any importance.

Slowly, patiently, at incredible risk, Ben Bakr had built up a dossier: modus operandi; personnel; financial aid; and some of this he had told to Craig. In the end St. Briac had caught him, but Ben Bakr had died too quickly, and for another year Craig was safe…

Loomis asked, "Did you see him after they finished with him?"

Craig shook his head. "I heard," he said. "He was a mess."

"You scared?"

"Of course," Craig said. "I wanted to get out as soon as I heard, but I couldn't. You were right about me. Partly right anyway. I don't enjoy killing people, whatever you may think, but I couldn't live without danger. I was an addict. I didn't enjoy it, you understand. I had to have it."

"Had to? You mean you don't need it any more?"

"I want the girl," Craig said. "So you don't have to worry, do you? If I don't do this job, we'll never find any peace."

"That's all right then," Loomis said. "I'll get you off in a couple of days. After that, you've got four days to do the job, and that's all. He could be off to Aden in a week. He's got plans for Aden. Big plans. Or so I'm told. Strikes, riots, massacres. We'll have to move in troops and kill a hell of a lot of Arabs, and even then the thing might spread, and if it does we'll have the Russians on our backs. He'd better not go to Aden. It's your business to see that he doesn't. If possible, I'd like you to get some more information about what he's up to. But that isn't important. The main thing is to see that he doesn't go. O.K.?"

Craig said, "He won't."

"Funny bloke," said Loomis. "Ruthless, treacherous, nasty with it. Yet he thinks of himself as a gentleman. His personal honor's important to him. You should bear that in mind. It might help you to reach him." He peered at Craig, assessing his strength, his skill, the speed of his reflexes, his ability to kill. At last he sat back. He was content. "That's about it then," he said. "Unless there's anything you want?"

"I want to work with Grierson for a bit. There are one or two things I can teach him."

"Use the gym in the cellars. Anything else?"

"Pucelli. When we go, I want him arrested. Not deported. Arrested. Keep him here till we get back."

"Will do," said Loomis, and grinned. "I wish I'd met you earlier, son. I really do."

Baumer had gone to Sao Paulo, not Rio de Janeiro. Rio could wait until things cooled off. He'd read about Rutter, and being a sentimental man he'd wept for him, but otherwise he had been happy in Sao Paulo. It was gay, noisy, brash, and the sun shone all day. In time

Baumer thought he might do business there. For the present he was enjoying a holiday: going to concerts, looking at pictures, loafing in the sun. It was very pleasant to be able to do that, after a childhood in Germany, a headlong flight to North Africa, and statelessness, then more Germans, more hiding, and for a while, prison in Spanish Morocco, before he managed to reach England, start a business, meet Lange, meet Craig.

He was not surprised to read that Craig had been killed. Craig was the strongest of them all, but he was also the most vulnerable. That was why he'd made the most money, and failed to five to enjoy it. Craig had had no talent for enjoyment. Baumer was sorry about that. He'd have liked Craig to five long enough to discover the value of pleasure, as he himself was doing. But Craig all his life had been at war. For him there was neither a public nor a private peace. For him Mozart and Velasquez were no more than names, a sunset the prelude to a night raid, a woman a few minutes of vulnerable relief. Baumer, for three weeks, enjoyed them all.

After that, Cavalho found him. A girl he knew had danced with Baumer in a Sao Paulo club and had remembered him because he was generous. In the end, Baumer had to tell Cavalho and his assistant where his money was, and they killed him. After that they got drunk, and smashed his records, ripped and tore his books. The girl Baumer had danced with was given a present. She chose a golden St. Christopher.

Loomis had final instructions for them. He came in and talked to them as they lay under a sunlamp, soaking up a tan that wouldn't disgrace them on beaches where to be pale was to be conspicuous, and hence to be discussed. Their contact, Ashford, would meet them in St. Tropez and tell them exactly when St. Briac would return to Nice. After that, he would keep out of their way.

"He's bitter, you see," Loomis said. "Bit of a fairy. That's how we got on to him. He's a friend of St. Briac's 2-I-C-that Valere feller I told you about. Chaps in our line shouldn't have friends, Craig."

"I'm not in your line," Craig said, "and I'm not sorry."

"It isn't all that fragrant, is it?" Loomis said. "But I had to think of the alternative, and I told you what that was. Certainly mass murder and very possibly war. So I put the squeeze on him, just like I did with you. I didn't have much choice, son."

"You've met him then?"

Loomis shook his head.

"Grierson arranged the details-and Grierson's going to tell Ashford he's working for you. This is an amateur's job. Grierson's just a gentleman crook you met in the old days in Tangier."

"You were very sure I'd help you," Craig said.

"It made very little difference," said Loomis. "We'd have done it in your name, whatever happened. Now I've promised Ashford that La Valere won't be touched, or rather you've promised him-unless it's absolutely unavoidable. La Valere's nothing without St. Briac, anyway. Just another barmy para officer. As I told you, he knows how to kill but he hasn't got much brains. And anyway he's in love. We needn't bother about him.

"Duclos now, he's another matter. Ex-Algerian police. Bit of a sadist, from all accounts, and a very single-minded lad. So long as someone's there to give him orders, Duclos's dangerous. So are the bodyguards. You'll have to get past them somehow, and it won't be by bribery.

"There are two places where you might get him. One's his villa in Villefranche, the other's the Association's offices in Nice itself. Ashford's briefed you on those." He looked at Grierson, who nodded. "If you can get any more about the organization, I'll be grateful, but the important thing is that St. Briac should die. Now what sort of stuff do you want?"

"It ought to be a bomb," Craig said, "but I'm not risking that. They kill too many people. Rifle?"

"We've had a good look at him," Grierson said. "A rifle might be possible, but he's on the lookout all the time-always has people around him. The only way we can be sure of him is to get in close, and if we do that we can't carry rifles."

"Target pistol then," Craig said. "Something like a Colt Woodsman. Can you get me one?" Loomis nodded.

"Grierson has the escape route," he said. "He'll brief you on that himself. There's just one more thing. If they get hold of you, you know what will happen, don't you?" Craig nodded. "We'll give you a pill for that. If you can't use it, they'll learn all about me." He shrugged. "It'll be a nuisance, but not the end of the world. According to Her Majesty's government, Loomis doesn't exist." Still seated, he bowed, very formally, to Craig.

"Good luck, son," he said. "All the good luck in the world."


Craig flew to Paris in an Air France Caravelle. He looked and acted like a very wealthy tourist. For one night he stayed in a hotel near the Rue de Rivoli, drank in bars in the Champs-Elysees, visited the Louvre and the Musee Rodin, the Deux-Magots, the Casino, and the Crazy Horse Saloon. He attracted girls, bought them drinks, danced with them, ditched them. When he was sure that no one followed him, he went to join Grierson and made him practice, over and over, the skills he had learned from Hakagawa. Then Grierson disappeared for a while, and came back with a case of worn black leather. Inside it were two Colt.38's, Craig's Luger, and the Colt Woodsman that Craig had asked for. The Woodsman is a long-barreled weapon, a target pistol of tremendous accuracy. It has to be. Its.22 bullets have very little stopping power unless they hit a vital spot. Craig had practiced with it continually before he had left London. He was beginning to know it well. He lifted it out of its case and weighed it in his hand. "Now we can go," he said.

"We have to get you a car first," Grierson said. "I've ordered an Alfa Romeo." "Aren't we using yours?"

"No. The Lagonda stays in London. It's too conspicuous for this kind of work. I've got myself a Mercedes. Fast, not too conspicuous, left-hand drive."

"Like the Alfa?"

Grierson nodded.

"He's planned this well," said Craig. "I like that."

The Alfa was black, and waxed till it glowed. It had been hired to Craig by an Englishman who lived in Paris, and the receipt was there too. So was the Englishman, who watched Craig handle his heart's joy in the Paris traffic, then sighed softly and asked to be let out, stroked the gleaming paintwork and disappeared. Craig went to the Port de Picpus, and left Paris by the N5 and drove to Sens, seventy miles in an hour and a quarter, and the car had scarcely drawn breath. Grierson, following him, cursed as he pressed his foot down. He lunched in Sens, and took the N6 through Auxerre and Macon to Lyons, another two hundred and fifty miles. Grierson had to work hard to keep him in view. In Lyons he stayed the night. By now he knew the car; he had taken it beyond the hundred, experimented with its handling on winding side roads, proved the assurance of its brakes. The car, like his guns, was the best Loomis could get.

He dined at a restaurant near the Fourviere Basilica, a hushed and dedicated place where serious men ate seriously-gras-double a la Lyonnaise, cervelas en brioche, poulet en chemise-and drank, with a decent respect, Beaujolais, Macon, Cotes du Rhone. Grierson, two tables away, marveled at his digestion. Next morning, after coffee and brioches, they left Lyons on the N7, the fast Riviera road, and kept on going. The sun was shining now, hard enough for them to wear sunglasses, and the air was warm.

After a while Grierson pulled out and passed him in a glorious thunder of power. Craig accelerated and held him. Grierson couldn't let the Mercedes go too fast-the road was busy and at anything below ninety the Alfa could pace him easily. Outside Valence, a couple of girl hitchhikers were thumbing a lift. Grierson kept on going, but Craig pulled over and eased to a stop. He could do with someone to talk to, and besides, the dark one seemed to be limping. The two girls came running toward him, and he saw that the dark one, who carried a guitar, was limping no longer. He grinned to himself. There was a technique for getting lifts, like everything else. Firmly he reminded himself that he was English; that the Wogs begin at Calais. It was no longer disgraceful to speak French, but one must still not speak it very well.

Both girls wore tartan shirts, blue jeans and espadrilles, and both were pretty. There the resemblance ended, for one was blond, plump, relaxed, and French, the other dark, intense, manic, and American. They were going to St. Tropez, the French girl said, but it had to be by way of Avignon, the American girl insisted. They had to see the Palace of the Popes.

"Just as you like," said Craig. "We might as well lunch in Avignon as anywhere else."

He squeezed the accelerator gently, and the Alfa moved forward in a joyous surge of power.

"Hey," said the American girl, "what kind of car is this?"

"Alfa Romeo," Craig said.

"It moves," said the American girl. "Man, does it move."

"It's supposed to," said Craig.

"I can see that. But it doesn't look much, does it?" "Doesn't look-" Craig choked. "I mean it's so small." "Big heart," said Craig.

The American girl offered around cigarettes, lit one for Craig, and put it in his mouth.

"You on vacation?" she asked. Craig nodded. "So are we-in a way, that is. My name's Sikorski-Maria Sikorski. This is Sophie Gourdun."

Craig said, "I'm John Reynolds."

"Hi," said Maria.

"Hi," said Sophie.

After that, all he had to do was listen and drive. The girls were singers, and hoped to work the Riviera through the season. Their entire assets were three hundred new francs, the contents of their rucksacks, and a work permit for Maria, and they hadn't a care in the world. They were twenty-one years old.

"I sing Western songs," Maria said. "I come from Detroit, but I worked in Las Vegas and I learned a few songs from the cowboys there. You ever been to Vegas?" She didn't wait for an answer. "Maddest place you ever saw. Ten thousand miles of nothing and a city full of slot machines in the middle. You know what Las Vegas means? It means the Open Country. Those Spaniards never saw anything more open than Vegas. You look around, you can still find a few cowboys. They've got good songs too. Sophie's nuts about cowboys."

"Do you sing Western songs too?" Craig asked.

"No," Sophie said. "I sing corny songs. Ballads. You know-late-at-night, sad songs."

"Hey, she's good too," said Maria. "She makes me cry every time. You know what? She used to be a dancer. Worked in striptease even." She looked at Sophie with pride, and Sophie tried but failed to look modest. Craig was intrigued.

"Did you like it?" he asked.

"Good money," said Sophie, "but very tiring work. Stupid too. On, off, on, off. Either one goes to bed or one does not."

"Have you been a stripper too?" Craig asked Maria.

"No," Maria said. "I haven't got the temperament for it. The lazy ones do best. They look more sexy or something. I couldn't make myself be lazy in a million years."

She talked all the way to Avignon, and Craig believed her.

Avignon enchanted her. She checked on the existence of the bridge in the song, and the fact that it was in ruins did not bother her at all. It had stood, once, and a song had been made, and that was enough. The cathedral and the view from the Promenade du Rocher were all that she had expected, and the sohd gray mass of the palace, austere and yet magnificent, the scented beauty of the hanging gardens, moved her for a brief while to silence.

"You see how lucky you are, giving us a lift," she said at last. "If you hadn't, you'd have missed all this."

"I'm very much in your debt," Craig said. "Perhaps you'll permit me to buy you lunch."

"Heavens, I should think so," said Maria severely. "I only hope it's good, that's all."

They went to a Provencal restaurant, and ate long and well, and when they had finished, Maria said, "I forgot to ask you. How near are you going to St. Trop?"

"I'm staying the night there," Craig said.

"Hey, that's great," said Maria.

"Tomorrow I'm going on to Cannes," Craig lied.

"You're going a very long way round," said Sophie.

"I may be meeting a friend in St. Tropez," Craig said, "and anyway I've never been there. I really think I ought to before I die."

Sophie said seriously, "You're not that old, surely?" and Craig laughed aloud. It seemed to him a long time since he had done that.

They drove on through Aix-en-Provence and Brig-noles to Cannet-des-Maures, leaving the N8 then, turning south to Grimaud, and so at last to St. Tropez. The girls left him at the port, and he promised to meet them for dinner. He drove up to the little hotel near the English church where he was to rendezvous with Grierson and wait with him for their next instructions. Already, at the end of May, the little town was crowded: twenty thousand people crammed in where in winter five thousand lived in no great luxury, but a room had been booked for Grierson and Craig, a cool, airy, spacious room, with french windows opening on to a garden, and a private shower. Madame la Proprietaire had been warned that the two Englishmen were wealthy, generous, and fussy about privacy. Moreover, she had been paid in advance. She was content.

Grierson was angry.

"You shouldn't have done it," he said. "We aren't here on holiday."

"We're supposed to be," said Craig, "and a couple of girls are the best cover there is. Anyway, they're healthy -and human. I needed to talk to people like that. They reminded me of Tessa. In any case, we'll be leaving tomorrow. I told them we were going to Cannes."

"You shouldn't have done it," said Grierson. "What's more, you know you shouldn't."

"I like them. You don't think I would let them get hurt, do you? After tomorrow, they'll never see us again."

Grierson sighed. "All right," he said. "I'll come and have a look at them. But Loomis won't like it."

"Loomis isn't invited," said Craig.

The two men showered and changed, and drank cold, white Burgundy while Grierson read aloud a letter from Ashford which was waiting for them. "Our friend is away still and won't be back for two days," it said. "I enclose a clipping which I've been asked to pass on to John. He may find it amusing-or so I'm told."

The clipping was from a New York newspaper, and the article marked said stern things about the Longshoremen's Union. Below it was a tiny squib that told of the torturing and murder of an unidentified man in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Grierson waited until Craig had read it, then burned the letter and the clipping.

"And then there was me," said Craig.

"Baumer?" Grierson asked.

"Yes. I don't find it amusing."

"Ashford's got to be careful," Grierson said.

Craig drank more wine. It would be Loomis who had sent the words that Ashford had used, knowing that they would make Craig angry. Loomis wanted St. Briac dead, and for that purpose no detail was too trivial, not even the use of the word "amusing."

They met Maria and Sophie in a bar by the port. Like every other male there, Craig and Grierson wore beach shirts and slacks, while the girls wore toreador pants and Provecnal blouses. So did every other girl. It reminded Grierson of his days in the marines. Craig wanted to drink more wine, and found that he had to have whisky: there wasn't any question of choice. Whisky was what he had to drink because whisky was what was drunk. In the face of such logic, he abandoned argument. Later he found that he had to eat grilled sardines in one of the only three possible restaurants, and later still that he had to dance by candlelight in a cellar strewn with nets. He also had to help carry Maria's guitar, and, at four in the morning, listen to her sing cowboy songs. She did this by the pier, sitting on an upturned boat, and in no time at all she had an audience. Her voice was hard and driving, her guitar-playing skillful, searching; sometimes with Negro overtones, sometimes with a hint of Mexico. Craig almost expected to be told to pass the hat around, but Sophie attended to that, wheedling, coaxing, demanding coins until it was her turn to sing, her voice a strong despair, while Maria played. They stopped when they'd made thirty new francs, enough to live on for tomorrow.

The crowd broke up, and Craig looked across the mole to the soft, moon-stroked sea, where the fishing boats bobbed like swans. Sophie leaned against him, and he put his arms around her shoulders.

"You sing well," he said.

"Well enough," said Sophie. "Listen. You and your friend-are you rich?"

"Nobody ever says yes to that," Craig said. "But we're not poor."

"That's what I thought," said Sophie. "Suppose Maria and I lived with you for a while?" Craig stared. "Well, why not? We like you."

"You're very kind," said Craig.

"I can be," Sophie said.

"No, but-" he hesitated. She was staring this time. "We're too old for you. I'm thirty-six."

"I like old men," Sophie said. "I think you are very clever, very serious, and when you make jokes, you are witty also. I feel very relaxed with you. I like to be relaxed." She touched his arm, feeling the hard muscles. "You are very strong, John. In your world it is important to be strong."

"My world?"

"Les affaires. Business," she said. "It is different for Maria and me. We don't need anything. We have so many friends. Do you know that eight of us share a room? It is true. In an hour it will be our turn to sleep. I would rather sleep with you."

"No," said Craig, and kissed her lightly. "I can't. I wish I could." He looked into her eyes. Very grave eyes she had, gray and serene.

"I'm sorry," said Craig. "I can't do it."

"Why not?"

He sighed, and looked at her again. Beneath the easy manner, the propositioning demands for four-star meals and a five-star bed, there was something else that he had no right to. This girl liked him, liked him so much that she was ready to love him. As Tessa had done. It would not be easy to turn her down. She knew well enough how desirable she was, how much men wanted her. If he said no, she would remember, and she would not forgive--

"Why did you pick on me?" he asked. "Grierson's the good-looking one. Your sight must be bad."

"I can see very well," she said. "Grierson is attractive, certainly. But you-you are far more interesting. You are much stronger than he is, and much more gentle."

"You're wrong," Craig said.

"No, I'm not. If you were fond of someone, they would always be safe. I know this."

How safe was Tessa? How safe would this girl be?

"You are also much more intense," said Sophie, and laughed at his bewilderment. "You five so much more than anyone else-every minute I have been with you, you have been eating up life. Avignon, the Alfa, me, sardines for dinner. You gobble it all up. You are so greedy, my dear."

Because I have so little time.

"Why won't you?" she asked.

"I'm sharing a room," he said.

"Couldn't you ask your friend to go somewhere else?"

"No," said Craig. "I couldn't. He would think he knew about us. He wouldn't-but he'd think he did. I'd never let him do that."

"You'd sooner do nothing?"

"Much sooner," Craig said. "You're a dream, Sophie. You come from somewhere unbelievable-" "A club called Venus," Sophie said.

"-and you'll disappear into somewhere beyond the stars."

"A club called La Ultima."

"The places dreams come from. If I can't have my dreams perfect, I don't want them at all."

"Where can we get some Scotch?" Sophie asked.

"At my hotel, I suppose. Do you want a drink?"

"It will be cold later," the girl said, and sighed. "I would have liked to sleep in a bed tonight. A big, warm, comfortable bed." Then she laughed. "I'm a very substantial dream, John. I weigh fifty kilos." She put her hands on his arms, and suddenly her nails dug into the long, smooth muscles.

"I may not be as strong as you are, but I bet I can scream much louder, and if you don't come with me I will, too. I mean it!"

And Craig knew that she did and went, telling himself that she would be suspicious if he didn't, and knowing that it wasn't for that at all. She was offering him life, perhaps for the last time, and he wasn't strong enough to refuse. Not like Grierson. Perhaps Grierson was the stronger, after all. And Tessa-perhaps he would not see Tessa again. Perhaps this would be the last time.

He drove to his hotel, and bought a bottle of Scotch, then went to Sophie's place and waited till she came out, bent under the weight of a vast sleeping bag, and put it in the car. He drove as she directed, along the moonlit road to the beach, until she told him to turn off, and the car jolted along a rutted track in second gear. She told him to pull over at last, and they climbed a fence, Craig struggling with the unwieldy mass of the sleeping bag, and found themselves in a vineyard. She led the way through the vines, and they were back by the road, with the sea below.

At last she let him put the sleeping bag down, and spread it out beneath an old, espaliered vine. Nearby, the tideless waves whispered, and slapped at the rocks. The thin, bitter scent of the vines was everywhere.

"I slept here last year," said Sophie. "By myself. Always. Nobody else knows this place. Only you. It is a strange place to make love. Strange enough for a dream."

He looked at her in the shadowed moonlight that turned her golden hair and skin to a delicate silver, and for a moment she belonged to a dream world, then frankly, without sophistication or teasing, she took off her clothes, folded them neatly by the sleeping bag, and stood naked before him, grave and patient as Craig looked at her strong, shapely body before he undressed and took her in his arms.

Her skin was cool as he touched her, and she gasped at his hard strength, and they kissed, her mouth soft, yielding under his, until, incredibly, she broke away.

"Now we swim," she said. "In the best dreams there is always swimming."

And Craig, cursing, wrapped the towel she gave him around his waist, put on his shoes, looked out for cars, then ran across the road and scrambled down the rocks to the sea. Naked they poised together on a ledge of rock, and dived into the dark water beyond the flurry of spray. Craig gasped at its coldness, surfaced, and struck out in a rapid crawl, swirling in the water toward the girl as she raced to meet him, her body silver in a nimbus of foam, white as the froth on champagne. He took her in his arms and they sank beneath the water, kissing, kissing, until they surfaced once more and swam back, side by side, scrambled up the rocks and back to the vineyard. The rubbed themselves dry and sipped the whisky until their bodies warmed to each other again, and she lay in his arms, shivering still, her skin smelling of the clean, salt smell of the sea as he possessed her. She was skilled, compassionate, eager for his pleasure as for her own, so that their love was demanding and complete. When they had done, they crawled inside the sleeping bag, luxuriating in its fleece-lined warmth, and drank once more.

Sophie took his hand in hers, kissed his fingers, drew the hand down to touch her body as she relaxed against him.

"You are very good-for an old man," she said. Craig pinched her and she squealed.

"You young people nowadays have no manners," he said.

Sophie said submissively, "Yes, monsieur. I'm very sorry, monsieur," and rolled over toward him, teasing him, willing him to want her again.

"I read about making love like this," she said. "It was in a book by Ernest Hemingway. The girl loved a man who was a soldier. He had come to kill his enemies." Craig tensed, and she moved closer to him, not understanding. "She had so little time. Like me… You've got a girl, haven't you? And you will go back to her, won't you, even after this?"

Craig began to say "I must," but she kissed him before he could answer, her body enfolding him, urging him to love.

At last they slept, and at dawn they bathed once more, then dressed and drove back to the hotel. Maria was there, with Grierson, who looked angry, and half asleep. Maria had been telling him all about Detroit.

"Hey, what happened to you two?" she asked.

"We went for a moonlight swim," said Sophie.

"We've just been talking. I propositioned him, but he turned me down." She seemed surprised.

Sophie looked at Craig. He shook his head.

"I think mine did too," she said.

Maria laughed, and swept her hand across the open strings of her guitar.


Ashford came in next day from Nice. He was tall, dark, elegant, and on edge. These two men, he knew, were very special, very tough. They looked it. The dark one, the one he'd met before, wasn't too bad, might even turn out to be sympathique in other circumstances, but the other one, the one with the beard, the one who was forcing him to do this terrible thing-an absolute iron man, brutal and determined. He would be glad to get away and leave things to these stormtroopers. His voice, as he talked to them, was bitter.

Grierson said, "Take it easy. You're supposed to be on our side. That's why John's paying you."

"I'm sorry," said Ashford. "The whole thing's been a terrible strain for me. They've nearly been on to me twice. I've been on this job for weeks."

"You'll be off it as soon as our mutual friend gets back," said Grierson.

"He's due back at his office tomorrow," Ashford said. "It's in the rue Desmoulins, that's off the Place Mas-sena. He'll go there first, then to the villa. That's almost in Villefranche. I'll know more or less what his movements will be by this evening. If you like, I'll stay on here till you've done-it."

"There's no need," said Craig.

"You may need me," said Ashford. "He's a very wicked man. If he weren't, I wouldn't be helping you. But he is. Absolutely evil. He destroys people. He's destroying my friend. I won't let him do that." He paused, then went on: "You promised me that Captain La Valere won't be hurt."

"He won't be," Craig said.

"He isn't wicked, not like the other one. But the things he has to do-they're destroying him. Turning him into a beast. It's awful to sit there and watch someone you love being degraded like that. Worked on-like so much clay. I won't let him do it." He shuddered. "I think you'd better drive into Nice today. I've booked you in at the Rialto. That's on the Promenade des Anglais. Drop around for drinks at the new Casino at nine o'clock. I'll try to have some news for you."

"We'll be there," Craig said.

"Good." Ashford stood up to go. "I really must get back. I've simply loads to do."

When he left, Craig asked, "What does he do?"

"He designs beach clothes," Grierson said, "for the fuller figure."

"That's a funny way to learn to be brave." Craig said.

Grierson wanted to leave but Craig wouldn't hurry. They had all day to go to Nice, he said. St. Briac's people didn't know they were there, and they had a lot of time to kill before they were due to see Ashford. They were safer in St. Tropez.

"You want to see that French girl again," Grierson said.

"I like her," Craig said. "Why shouldn't I be with someone I like for a little while?"

In his mind were the memories of his last meeting with McLaren, and, by contrast, the sense of responsibility he felt for Tessa, and now this new delight in Sophie's company. They didn't make it any easier for him to kill St. Briac. At one time they would have made no difference at all, but now the difference was there, and he could feel it. Now it was life he cared about, not death. Death was all he knew, his driving-force, his livelihood, his passion. He had killed quickly, neatly, as an animal kills; without remorse. That he would do so again he did not doubt, for St. Briac had to die; but this time would be the last. McLaren had been right about him that night in Sicily, but that was because McLaren had imagined him as a man alone, always alone.

He hadn't considered the possibility of women like Tessa and Sophie, enriching his life, yet endangering it too.

"It's not your business to like people," Grierson said.

"Look," said Craig, "when the job starts, I'll do what I have to do. Till then I'll make my own amusements. I'll even like a girl if I want to." He yawned and stretched in the sun-warmed room.

"They said they'd be at the Plage de Tahiti," he said to Grierson. "I'm going there too."

Grierson grumbled, but went with him.

On the beach the bodies of both men were rich and golden, among the golden riches of the sand. Row upon row the other bodies lay, like sardines waiting to be canned: fat, ungainly bodies; thin, unpadded bodies; and, infrequently, bodies elegant, proportioned, splendid. Craig saw a golden head moving parallel with the shore, and ran to the sea, waded, leaped in a flat, smacking dive, swam toward her in a fast crawl. Grierson watched him, and shook his head in angry admiration. Surely there must be something he couldn't do well.

Craig swam out to Sophie, dived beneath her, reappearing at her other side. The girl continued to swim with an unhurried elegance of movement.

"Have you changed your mind?" she asked.

"I can't," Craig said. "I'm sorry, Sophie."

"I'm sorry too," Sophie said, then turned to him, was in his arms, and the two, clinging together, sank beneath the surface of the sea, kissing, kissing, her nearly naked body pressed firmly to his. When they came up, she broke free, and swam toward the shore. He followed her slowly, lazily, and they waded in together.

"I don't think you'll forget me," she said.

He looked at her. She wore a blue and white bikini of a cloth that looked like gingham, and her skin glowed dark gold against the white gold of her hair. Her body was full to plumpness, rounded, feminine, the richness of her breasts disciplined by their perfect shape. She could not fail to satisfy, and even as she did so, create a new desire. Her body, like her mind, mirrored her utter content in being a woman. She took his hand and pressed it to her naked hip.

"No. You won't forget me," she said.

"I wouldn't want to," said Craig.

She came closer to him, looking into his eyes, and he looked back at her, telling her nothing, the eyes just eyes, no warmth in them at all.

"You've only just met me," he said. "I gave you a lift and we were together for one day. That's all. If things had been different-"

"But they're not," she said. "This other woman is too important."

Craig said nothing.

"If she ever leaves you, I want you to come and tell me, John. Will you promise that?" "I promise," Craig said.

Sophie said bitterly, "She won't leave you. Not unless she's a fool-and you wouldn't choose a fool."

She turned and took his arm, and led him up the beach.

"One thing is different this morning," she said. "We have a millionaire. An American millionaire. Come and see."

She took him to a stretch of beach that was almost empty when every other place was packed.

"He rented it all," said Sophie. "He doesn't like crowds. And yet he wants us to sleep with him, John. Isn't that strange?"

"Both of you?"

"I think so," said Sophie. "He's a very nice man. You'll like him."

This seemed to Craig to be improbable, but Sophie was right. Dan Turner was a very likable man.

He lay sprawled like a pasha, while Maria leaned over, teasing him, and he basked, porpoise-sleek, in the warmth of the sunshine and the girl's dark, shining-rounded body. Beside them Grierson stood, noble and aloof, and very English.

Sophie said, "Dan, I want you to meet John."

"Hi," said Turner, then sat up suddenly to look at Craig, his body tall, yet compact with muscle. Craig glanced down at him; a gross mountain of a man with a beet-red face and a superb beak of a Roman nose that had been broken and reset very badly.

"Sit down," Turner said. "Have a beer."

"There isn't any," said Maria.

"Sure there is. Hey, Larry. Larry," Turner bawled, in a voice that could crack concrete.

A very black Negro, built like a light-heavyweight, staggered up and plonked down a vast silver bucket on the sand. From inside it came the chilly tinkle of ice. Turner groped in it with a hand like a crab, extracted a bottle and threw it to Craig, who caught it neatly, then another for Sophie. Faster and faster Turner's hands flew, and dark bottles gleamed in the clear blue air and smacked into Grierson's hands, then Larry's; this last an impossible catch, high to his left. Yet the Negro picked it out of the air one-handed, as if it had been passed to him on a conveyor belt.

"Larry used to play baseball. Best third baseman in the business. Now he's my chauffeur." Turner drank beer from the bottle. "Believe me, that boy can drive. And I should know. I was in trucking. Big hauls. Anything- anywhere-any time. I made eighteen million bucks."

"Why?" asked Maria.

"So I could sit on the beach and drink beer," he said. "And proposition you two."

"Dan, we told you," said Sophie.

"Sure, baby. Sure," Turner said. "But I like asking. You get so steamed up about it." He turned to Craig. "You staying long?"

"No," Craig said. "I've got to get on to Cannes."

"Too bad." Turner said, then looked at Sophie and chuckled. "I mean it, kid. What the hell, there's plenty of girls. I just want to see you have a good time." He winked at Craig. "And you're her idea of a good time. Have another beer."

Again the great hand moved, and the air was full of flying bottles.

"I've got a villa in Cap Ferrat," said Turner. "Come and see me there if you've got time." "Thanks. I'd like to," Craig said.

"I want these two to come with me," Turner said. "A place as big as that needs a few women to fill it up." Sophie yawned, stretched, and lay down on a beach towel. Turner's red face turned redder than ever.

"I guess that's what we all need," he said, and waddled, massive and bear-like, to the sea. He could swim like a porpoise. Craig stretched out beside Sophie, the sun's heat as enervating as a tranquilizer, and watched him swim.

"He really does want us to go with him," said Sophie. "Why don't you come too?" "I wish I could," said Craig.

They left soon afterwards, and drove along the coast road to Nice. The air had an Alpine clarity, the vineyards and flowers, palms and pines, the villas and rocks, the purity of white stone and blue sea, were exactly what the travel agents say. They always will be. But for Craig and Grierson all this beauty was without relevance, without meaning. Their business was with death, and its setting was of no importance.

The Rialto is a luxury hotel that is very slowly going to seed, and is already a little frayed, a littie anxious about its future. It is a decaying Edwardian wedding cake stuffed with the memories of past splendors: the archdukes and millionaires and courtesans of la belle epoque, regretting that any motorcar, even an Alfa Romeo, should have supplanted the two-horse brougham.

Pages and doormen in gleaming gray swarmed around them, a vision in gold braid like a Bolivian admiral spoke words of command, and they were borne on a wave of opulence to a reception desk of mahogany and marble, an elevator of mahogany and red plush. On the second floor, two pages ran taps, raised blinds and palmed tips with a conjuror's deftness, and disappeared.

Craig examined his room, then sprawled on the hard-sprung bed, looking at the ceiling that was painted cool, pale blue. The walls had an embossed, creamy wallpaper, the bed linen was pink. The general effect was of a dispirited patriotism he did not share.

Grierson knocked and came in, carrying a bottle of whisky.

"Compliments of Mr. Ashford," he said, and poured two drinks.

"Hurray for Mr. Ashford."

"He's worried. I'm worried. How about you?"

Craig said, "I wish I was back in St. Tropez. I'm too old for it, but I liked it." He sipped his drink and looked at Grierson. "When we've done, how do we get out of here?"

"We go to the airport if we can," said Grierson. "If not, we go to Cap Ferrat."

"That's where Turner's villa is."

"I know. We've got a boat standing by there. It'll take us to Italy."

"Nice trip," said Craig. "Do you think we'll ever take it?"

"You worry too much," said Grierson.

"Too much before lunch," said Craig. "I think I'd better get some sleep."

And, incredibly, he did sleep, while Grierson prowled the hotel, lunched in a little restaurant by the gardens, took the lift to the castle ruins and looked out, from the shelter of the pines, toward Cap Ferrat and the swarm of glittering white boats. So many; surely one more would not be noticed?

Craig woke at six, bathed, showered, changed, and joined Grierson in the hotel bar. He looked calm by then, completely relaxed. The two men ate in the hotel, then walked to the Albert I gardens, the palm trees glowing blue, purple, red, under the festoons of colored lights. In the open-air theater an orchestra was playing Strauss. There should have been a grand duke or two, thought Grierson, with a girl from Maxim's on each arm. On the Quai des fitats Unis, near the opera house, is the new Casino, another ghttering wedding cake in a garden of palm trees, carnations, and roses. The great bar near the gaming rooms was already filling up, and Craig stared in frank delight at its marble floor, its tiny fountain and great curving bar covered with slabs of teak. Ashford was already there, drinking a champagne cocktail. He wore a white dinner jacket and maroon cummerbund; his heavy silk shirt was pleated. Craig and Grierson were wearing dark suits of lightweight silk and Dacron; beside Ashford, they looked like crows.

"He's due back tonight," he said at once. "So far as I can find out, it won't be till very late. Probably the early morning. He'll be at the Association's offices all day tomorrow. There's a conference on. The place will be packed. I should think you'd do better at the villa."

Craig said, "How accurate is this information?"

"It's accurate."

"You're sure? Who did you get it from?"

Ashford looked mulish, and Craig said brutally, "Look, gorgeous, it's our necks. We can't afford any mistakes. Who told you?"

Slowly, reluctantly, Ashford said, "It was Bobby-Captain La Valere. Honestly, I feel an absolute bitch. I'll never be able to face him after this."

"You'd better," said Grierson. "If you want to see anybody."

"Oh God," said Ashford. "What a dirty business this is." He finished his drink, and got up from the bar stool.

"I'm going now," he said. "Bobby's expecting me. I hope I don't have to see either of you again."

He shook hands with Grierson and left. "He likes you?" said Craig.

Grierson shook his head. In his hand was a tiny slip of paper.

On it he read. "Pucelli disappeared. Fear returned Nice." Craig said, "We'd better get a move on."


In the casino gardens, Ashford found Bobby waiting for him, as he'd promised. The poor boy looked terribly worried, but then he always did, particularly when St. Briac was in Nice. Ashford hated St. Briac. It really would be best to get Bobby away from him. Of course he could never tell Bobby what he'd done, but it would be nice to have him all to himself. He was making more than enough for both of them, churning out playsuits for those great cows.

Bobby's Citroen was waiting for them on the Pier. He had hardly spoken a word on the way to it, and he had a new chauffeur, a dark, squat man who drove off as soon as the car door slammed, heading toward Villefranche.

Ashford said, "My dear, I thought we were going to eat in that scrumptious place in the Promenade des Anglais." He was trembling, and when Bobby didn't answer, he trembled even more.

"Bobby, what's wrong?" he asked, and then, stupidly, "What have I done?"

The Citroen left the town behind, and in the darkness Bobby turned to him and hit him in the mouth with his fist, again and again. The car moved faster and the chauffeur, Pucelli, grinned. La Valere might be a queen, but he knew how to hit. Not that it would do him any good when the colonel got back. The colonel had no time for little friends, men or women. Things wouldn't look too good for La Valere when the colonel heard how he, Pucelli, had seen Ashford in the casino bar, talking to

Craig. Then Pucelli didn't grin any more. The bomb in Craig's car had been his responsibility, and Craig was still alive. He'd seen him, and he'd told La Valere.

Craig went back to the old town, through the Place Massena to the rue Desmoulins, and looked at the society's offices. They were of solid gray stone, the doors reinforced, the windows protected by steel grilles. As they stood, a gendarme appeared from a doorway lower down the street and moved toward them, and when they walked on, followed them until they went back to the Place Massena.

"Not a hope," said Grierson, "unless we can do something when he gets out of the car."

"There's the villa," said Craig. "Let's have a look at that."

They got out the Alfa, and drove along the Corniche toward Villefranche. Before Villefranche, they turned off, onto the quiet road on which St. Briac's villa stood, behind an eight-foot wall of granite setts. The whole place glowed with light, and Craig kept on going. Next to it, as Ashford had told him, was another villa, empty and in darkness. Craig drove past it and swung the car in to a narrow, rutted farm track that ran below its hedge of wildly soaring box. They climbed over the walls of the empty villa, and moved across its grounds. Pools stagnant, fountain dry. flowers growing wild and rank. The same high wall separated the two buudings, and an inch above the wall ran a wire.

"Electrified," said Grierson.

Craig nodded, and lobbed a dry twig on to the wall. There was a hiss, a crackle of sparks, a faint smell of woodsmoke. The two men moved silently back toward the empty house. It was padlocked at every window, every door, but Grierson broke in, using a picklock. They moved through the deserted house, past elegant furniture shrouded in gray dust sheets, up the staircase, higher, higher until fitted carpet and linoleum took its place. From a high, attic window they looked down into St. Briac's garden."

Batteries of fights hung from the trees showed it to them as bright as day. In all its expanse there was no protection; every approach could be covered from the house. At regular intervals a man with an automatic carbine walked through. With him were three Alsatians.

Grierson said, "You'd never get near."

Craig peered out again.

"We could try it from here if we can get hold of a rifle," he said.

Grierson shook his head.

"When St. Briac's here, they patrol this place too." he said.

They went to the other end of the house. Another attic window showed them St. Briac's sheds, garages, outhouses. One of them in particular looked interesting. A little wooden building that housed a generator.

"You'd have to find him in the dark," said Grierson.

"I mightn't have to," said Craig. "I could be with him already."

He began to talk, and Grierson listened, reluctantly at first, then with more eagerness.

"It's the only move we've got left," Craig said. "Either that or a V-bomber."

"You won't have a chance."

"Oh yes," Craig said. "I'll have one chance. I always do. If I hadn't, I wouldn't be doing it."

"What about a gun? They're bound to search you.rt

"I'll take two. Maybe they'll only find one. If not-" He looked at his hands; strong hands, carefully tended, the hands of a craftsman.

"When?" asked Grierson.

"Tomorrow night. Nine o'clock. The moon rises at ten. We ought to be in Cap Ferrat by then-if we're not on a plane."

As they watched, memorizing the layout of the house, they heard a high-pitched scream, a man's scream, that was choked off into silence.

"We ought to make it sooner," Grierson said.

Craig said, "We ought to, but we can't."

They drove back to the hotel, and Craig wrote a letter to Tessa, then another to Loomis, asking him to take care of her. He had already arranged to leave her all his gun-running money, if anything went wrong, but he wanted to be sure she lived to spend it. He wanted guarantees, where no guarantee was possible. As he wrote, Grierson tried to telephone Ashford. He would need tools, insulated stuff; and then there were the cars. The Alfa was all right, but the Mercedes was far too big. Each time he called the number, there was no answer. Grierson wasn't worried yet. It wasn't midnight, and Ashford had been going out. By one o'clock he began to worry. At two, he went in and woke Craig. He remembered the choked-off scream, so shrill and yet so obviously male. Craig agreed that it might be Ashford.

"You'd better get busy with that picklock of yours," he said. "I think we should move in next door."

The room across the hall was empty, and Grierson broke in, swift and silent, and the two men took turns resting and watching. At half past three, in the utter silence before dawn, they heard the elevator go past their floor, then the soft slither of feet coming downstairs, walking along a deep-piled carpet, stopping outside Craig's room. From the tiny gap of the door opposite, they watched as two men stood poised, one of them fumbling with a passkey. Grierson opened the door, the Colt in his hand, and Craig moved out from behind him like a cat.

"Don't move," said Grierson.

The man with the passkey started to turn, and Craig hit him once, catching him before he fell. The other man froze as Craig took his gun from him, then turned and leaped. Craig felt hands clawing for his throat, and struck at the other man's stomach, winding him, then grabbed his arm, spun him around, holding him in a hammer-lock until Grierson had dragged the unconscious man inside. Craig pushed him in, and looked at him. Tall, elegant, yellow hair close-cropped, a magnificent suntan.

"You must be Bobby," he said, and searched him for more weapons as Grierson searched the unconscious man. The elegant one groaned, as air forced itself back into his lungs.

"Captain La Valere?" Grierson asked.

"Tell us," said Craig, very softly, "or I'll make you."

"I'm La Valere," said the elegant one.

"You have Ashford, haven't you?" Craig asked. La Valere was silent.

"You must have," said Grierson. "He's the only one who could have told you we were here."

"What were you going to do?" asked Craig. "Kill me?"

"You've already been sentenced," La Valere said. "Whatever you do now, you will not survive for very long."

"I might take a bit of company with me," Craig said. La Valere shrugged.

"I don't matter now," he said. "That little swine-" He swayed a little, put his hand on the table. "I was very fond of Ricky Ashford," he said. "I loved him. I still do. That's stupid, isn't it? I know exactly what he has done to me, and yet I love him. Even though I know why he brought you here."

"Do you now?" said Craig.

"To get evidence against the society. To betray us to our own government. Ricky told me everything. I hate you for that. I never wanted to hurt Ricky. Never."

The unconscious man stirred and groaned, and La Valere was silent.

"All right," said Craig. "So I used Ricky, and you had to hurt him. That's too bad."

'TOM used him? He told me it was this man."

"I used Grierson too," said Craig. "He works for me. He hired Ricky Ashford, so Ashford works for me as well."

La Valere looked at Grierson.

"You must be very stupid," he said. "To work so hard for death."

"He's been paid," said Craig, "and he isn't dead yet. I want to make a deal, Captain."

"The colonel won't bargain with you."

"All the arms dealers I know. Everything I know about them. Don't you think he might make a deal for that?"

La Valere hesitated.

"What would you want in exchange?" he asked. "Just to be left alone. To keep what I have. And the same for Grierson." "And for Ricky?"

"For him, too. Of course."

"I can't promise anything, but I'll see what I can do," said La Valere.

Craig said, "Tell him I'll meet him anywhere-at his office if you like-"

"No," said La Valere, "that is rather too public. We will find a place to meet."

"Just as you like," said Craig. "I want to get this thing over with."

He bent then, and hauled the unconscious man to his feet. A stocky man, muscle running to fat, and a face that looked self-indulgent and cruel. The face of Duclos. Craig slapped him into consciousness and he left with La Valere. He'd wanted to say and do all sorts of things to Craig, but La Valere had barked an order and Duclos had left. The Society for the Solution of the Algerian Problem believed in discipline, that was obvious, and in the hierarchical principle. Duclos had far more brains than La Valere. It would have been better if La Valere had been a little brighter, just bright enough for St. Briac to listen to his suggestions.

It was impossible to walk in on St. Briac unannounced, there were no bufidings near his office where a man with a rifle might hide, and even if there had been, St. Briac was always in the middle of a group; a bomb was too dangerous, too mcfiscrirninate. Over and over again Craig and Grierson argued the possibilities.

"It's got to be the first time," said Grierson. "If he's on his guard, the odds are too big."

"Then I'll go to see him."

"I'll cover you as much as I can," said Grierson, "but it won't be easy to get you out." Craig shrugged.

"My job is to see that he dies. After that, we'll take what comes."

Grierson wanted to argue, but the phone rang. Craig picked it up.

"This is St. Briac," said the voice on the telephone. "I understand you wish to see me?" "I do," said Craig.

"Come and see me then," said St. Briac. "Will you walk into my parlor," Craig said. "I give you my word as a gentleman that you will not be hurt," said the voice. "I never break my word." "You like my offer then?"

"It sounds attractive. I will make no promises about your ultimate safety until we have talked. You understand that?"

"That suits me," Craig said.

"And my safe conduct? You will accept that too?" "Yes," said Craig. "You do everything else, but you don't he."

"Very well. I have given you my word. Tonight at eight o'clock. At my villa. Bring Grierson with you." "Do you want him?"

"No," said the voice. "I don't want him, or that other young man, the pretty one. But you will bring Grierson with you. I don't trust you, Craig. I will send a car for you both at seven-thirty."

"I've got my own car," Craig said.

"So I hear. An Italian machine, and very expensive. Mine is French, and much more trustworthy. You will ride in mine."

He hung up, and Craig turned to face Grierson.

"Now we'll have to do it my way," he said.

Grierson said, "I don't understand you. You seem almost happy about this."

"It's time we did something," Craig said. "I don't like hanging about. It makes me nervous."

That afternoon Craig and Grierson took the Mercedes and the Alfa Romeo out to the deserted villa. Craig watched while Grierson walked through the garden, pushed the Alfa inside, and hid it behind a hedge that blotted it out from view. They drove back to Nice in the Mercedes, certain that they had not been followed, yet with their nerves eroded by the tension of waiting.

"Suppose they find the Alfa?" Grierson asked.

"Then we're sunk," said Craig. "But you saw how that guard went through the garden. He's done it so many times that he knows there's nothing there, so he doesn't bother to look any more. I don't think they'll find it. What are you going to do with the Mercedes?"

"It'll be picked up," said Grierson, and Craig asked no more.

After that, they waited in Craig's room until the phone rang. Craig picked it up, listened for a second, nodded to Grierson, then put the receiver down, very slowly. The car was waiting. For the last time he checked the Woodsman, then put it in the soft leather holster under his arm. He checked the Luger, and put it in his trouser pocket. At the foot of the hotel steps, a black Citroen waited. Pucelli held open the rear door, and Duclos sat in the far corner seat, a light raincoat over his arm. He smiled very pleasantiy until the doorman had gone, then he said, "There is a gun under my coat. Get in-and no trouble."

They obeyed, and the door slammed behind them. "There's no need for this," Craig said. "We haven't forgotten Cadella," Duclos said. "Cadella tried to kill me."

"No more talk. And put your hands on your knees, both of you."

Craig shrugged and obeyed, waiting for Duclos to search him, but Duclos was far too well trained for that. The time for searching would come later, when he had help. The big car swept on toward the villa. There a guard waited, covering them both with an automatic carbine. They walked through the garden to the house, through what had once been an elegant hallway and now, though it was cleaned and polished every day, looked like part of a barracks. The room beyond it, where St. Briac waited for them, looked like a battalion H.Q. Their guard was still with them, his carbine covering them both. Very impartial, their guard. Craig thought that the opportunity was as good as it would ever be. He could take out the gun, shoot the man with the carbine, and then St. Briac. There was a fair chance that he would then be killed. Grierson certainly would be. He thought that if he were a Japanese, things would be a lot easier. Kamikaze solved everybody's problems, including your own. Then he thought of Tessa, and wondered if she was safe in Haka-gawa's house.

He said, "I don't know what all the fuss is about. I asked to come here."

St. Briac asked, "Have you got a gun?"

Craig nodded. "Here," he said, and his hand moved inside his coat.

The carbine swung toward him, and Craig stood still while Duclos searched him, took out the Woodsman, and laid it in front of his master; slowly, thoroughly, obscenely searched him again and produced the Luger, then repeated the process with Grierson.

"You lied," said St. Briac. "You had two guns. I think you will find that it is better to tell us the truth." He opened the Woodsman, to examine the long barrel and tiny cartridges. "You are a good shot?" Craig nodded. "I expected you would be."

He snapped the gun together then, and turned to the man with the carbine.

"Take Grierson away," he said. "Lock him up. We can talk with him later."

Craig sighed, and willed himself not to watch as Grierson was led away. He was on his own now. Three men here, and at least two more guards. And those three dogs. And there was something wrong. Something he should have noticed, and hadn't. Craig began to sweat.

"Now we can talk," St. Briac said. "But before we start there is something I must tell you. I didn't talk to you on the phone today. Pucelli did. That is why he said nothing to you in the car on the way here. You realize what I'm telling you, don't you, Craig? I promised you nothing."

St. Briac picked up the Woodsman and pointed it at him. "You will tell me what I need to know, and then you will be executed."


Grierson was taken to an outhouse built of stone, with barred windows. Ashford was there too, crouched in a corner. The man with the carbine was covering him once more, and again he was searched, this time by the jailer; a thorough, humiliating process. At last the man with the carbine left and the jailer produced a revolver, looked at its barrel, then struck at Grierson's neck. A great shock of pain ran through him.

"Discipline," said the jailer. "We must have discipline. Do you understand?"

"Yes," said Grierson.

Again the barrel struck; again the sick wave of pain. "Yes, sir," said the jailer. "Yes* sir," said Grierson.

"Good," said the jailer. "You will now attend to this degenerate in the corner. There is water in that bucket, and a towel. Clean him up."

Grierson walked over to the bucket and picked it up. It was half full of water, and he winced as its weight tugged at the spot where the jailer had struck.

The jailer went out and the door slammed behind him. Grierson began to clean Ashford's face, until the cold water acted and he could sit up and look about him.

"It didn't work," he said bitterly. "After all they've done to me, it didn't work."

"There's still a chance," said Grierson.

"They'll kill us," Ashford said. "You know that, don't you? They'll kill us all. Why couldn't you just have shot him and gone away?"

"We could never have got near enough," said Grierson.

"You're near enough now."

"Craig is. The colonel's interrogating him."

"Oh my God." Ashford hid his face in his hands. "I didn't tell them you'd come to kill him. Not even when

Bobby-when he hurt me. That was dreadful, but I didn't tell them. I said…"

"I know," said Grierson. "La Valere told us himself. You did very well. Don't worry. We'll get out. How badly are you hurt? Can you walk?"

Ashford took his hands from his face. After Grierson had wiped away the blood and tears, he could see how bruised it was, how far from its former prettiness.

"This is what Bobby did to me," said Ashford. "I hate you."

"Can you walk?" Grierson asked again.

"Yes," said Ashford, "but I won't have the chance to." Grierson looked at his watch. They had had Craig for half an hour already. He yelled for the guard.

"What are you doing?" Ashford said. "We'll be beaten for that. Anyway he won't hear you. He'll have gone sneaking off for a drink."

"How long?" Grierson asked.

"Sometimes ten minutes, sometimes half an hour." "Oh my God," Grierson said, and yelled again.

Duclos searched Craig again, and this time he found the cyanide pill Loomis had given him. It had been sewn into the lapel of his coat, and it told them a great deal. This might not be a private affair after all. Craig could have been sent for a purpose, and given the means of suicide instead of capture. St. Briac had never doubted that Craig had come to France to kill him, but now he wanted to know if someone else was behind it, and who that someone was. Before the pain started, he talked to Craig of those to whom he had sold death, and how right it was, how just, that Craig's turn to suffer had come at last. Perhaps they were right, Craig thought, but when the pain began it ceased to matter. Nothing in the world mattered but the pain…

When the jailer returned, Grierson was still yelling. He went in and looked at Ashford, crouched once more in the corner, then at Grierson, who was staring in horror at the bucket.

"What's going on?" he yelled.

"The water, sir. Just look at it," said Grierson.

He held out the bucket and the jailer peered into it. As he did so, Grierson rammed it into his face, the narrow rim bit into his throat. He dropped it and struck twice, as Craig had taught him to do. The guard fell and didn't move, and Ashford stirred in his corner, looking at him in horror.

"You idiot," he said. "Now it'll be worse than ever." Grierson took the guard's gun and dragged him over to Ashford, stripped off his shirt, pulled it on top of his own.

"I'm going out," he said. "I'm going to try for the generator. Now listen to what I'm saying. I haven't time to tell you twice. If I can do it, the lights will go off- all the power will go. You'll know it's going to happen because the lights outside will nicker first. When they do, you get yourself ready. When they go off, get over the wall as quick as you can-into the villa next door. There's a window open on the ground floor. Wait there for me."

"You'll be killed," said Ashford.

"I won't be tortured," said Grierson, and left.

Craig was tortured, systematically, and by experts. His body was kicked, burned, twisted, and in the end, almost drowned. They held his head down in a basinful of water until it was impossible for him to hold his breath any longer, then, when he was about to open his mouth, let the water into his lungs, they wrenched his head up, let him breathe again for a few aching minutes, then plunged him down again into agony. He had tried to buy them off with the names of Algerian Arabs, but they wanted the man who had sent him. At last they let him rest for a while, until he could regain enough strength to suffer again. St. Briac put the Woodsman's barrel under his chin, tilted back his head

"La Valere is a fool," he said. "Very brave, very patriotic, very loyal-but very foolish. You wouldn't risk your neck by coming here just to expose me, would you, Craig?"

The gun barrel tapped him lightly on the cheek. "No," Craig croaked.

"You came here to kill me, didn't you?"

The gun barrel tapped again, over and over, always on the same spot, until each successive tap felt like a hammer blow.

"Yes," Craig whispered.

"Who sent you?"

Tap-tap-tap-tap went the gun barrel, on and on until Craig could take no more. His head sagged forward, and St. Briac let the gun rest by his side.

"It won't be long," he said, and Duclos laughed.

St. Briac snapped at once, "If you find this amusing in the least, you had better leave now. You have no business here."

His voice seemed to come from very far away, but even then Craig knew that he was serious. A gun-whipping wasn't an indulgence in sadism, it was a political necessity. The lights in the room flickered once, then continued to burn steadily. Craig sagged forward, and summoned the last dregs of his strength, willing himself to be ready to move. For a moment his tormentors hesitated -they were as wary as rats-but when the lights went on burning they relaxed.

"You can put him back in the water," St. Briac said.

As he spoke, all the lights went out, and somehow Craig's mind dictated to his body what it must do. He twisted from his chair in an agony of bruises, and his good hand found St. Briac's wrist, levered, and pulled, until he held the Woodsman in the hand they had stamped on, and that hand moved across St. Briac's neck to his shoulder, and his forearm pressed into St. Briac's throat. The other men in the room heard the colonel groan, and they stood very still. Pucelli had already struck a match and as it flared they could see exactly what was happening.

"It's your move," said Craig, and hauled on St. Briac's wrist until he groaned again. There was no fight in him at all; the pressure on his throat was too intense.

"Duclos," Craig said, "do as I say and he might live. Is there a flashlight in here?" Duclos nodded. "Get it."

St. Briac shouted "No," but Craig increased the pressure and Duclos obeyed, fumbling his way to a desk, producing a light at last.

"Switch it on the others," said Craig, and again Duclos obeyed. "Now throw your guns on the floor." One by one the guns thudded down, and Craig struggled to resist the great waves of weakness that threatened to engulf him. Somewhere in the grounds was a man with a carbine and three killer dogs. That was up to Grierson. If he knew his stuff, they could still do the job they had come for. Meanwhile his business was to hold on to St. Briac.

The guard moved toward the villa, feeling his way through the unaccustomed blackness, his dogs ranging ahead of him. There was little chance that the generator had failed by accident. It was most probably the prelude to an attack. He had to go to the colonel for instructions. The dogs moved around the bole of a plane tree, a beautiful, flowing movement, and the guard swore at them, telling them to move on. Above him a branch rustled, a gun was stuck in his neck.

"They know their business," Grierson said. "No. Don't turn around. Stay still or I'll kill you."

The guard froze, and Grierson went on. "You can't reach me, so don't try it. Put down that carbine. I'll count three, and that's all. One-two-" The guard let it fall. "Tell the dogs to come closer." Again he was obeyed. The branch rustled once more, and Grierson was on the ground beside him.

"Now," he said, "we'll walk to the kennels."

The gun barrel pushed inexorably, and the guard walked, telling himself that he would turn and fight after five meters-ten-twenty. But he was too frightened to turn; his imagination snowed him too vividly how the heavy bullet would slam into him, smashing his spine before the noise of its firing could reach him. He walked to the kennels and told the dogs to go inside the wired enclosure, then the gun barrel left his neck, descending on his head as he tried at last to turn, and Grierson pushed him inside, sprawling among the bowls of dog food. Grierson locked the kennel, raced back to the plane tree, picked up the carbine, and moved toward the villa.

Craig still clung to St. Briac, while the other four men watched, waiting for him to fall.

Grierson called out softly, "This is Grierson, John."

"About time," said Craig. "Get rid of this lot, will you?"

Grierson gestured with the carbine, and they walked upstairs in front of him.

At the top of the stairs La Valere stopped, and the others stopped too.

"Ah right, La Valere," Grierson said, "If you want to be a hero, you can turn around. Just you." The others were still, and La Valere very slowly turned.

"Look at me," said Grierson. "If you try anything, anything at all, I'll kill the lot of you. With this thing," he hefted the carbine, "you couldn't even reach me. And I don't care whether you hve or die. Do you believe me?"

La Valere looked down into the black muzzle of the gun, knowing, hating the knowledge, that Grierson was beyond his reach. He was brave and he was stupid, but he did not want to die.

"Yes," he said, and the little procession moved on.

Grierson found a bathroom with one small, high window, locked them in, then wedged a chair under the door handle. When he went downstairs again, Craig still held St. Briac, in exactly the same position.

"All right," said Grierson. "I'll take him now."

"No," Craig whispered. "Just take the gun from my hand. He's mine."

They went out into the darkness of the gardens, up to the wall that separated the two villas. Grierson went first, and held the carbine on St. Briac until he climbed up too, then Grierson jumped down. It was Craig's turn. Slowly, nursing his damaged hand, he scrambled up the wall, when suddenly the lights came on again, a shattering gleam that made him sway as he knelt there. St. Briac kicked out at him, and even then Craig acted on reflex, grabbing the shoe, twisting, feeling the polished leather slide through his hand. St. Briac spun in the air and came down hard, his chest and arms slamming into the wire. His body arched and shook as the charge went through him, and Craig still knelt, swaying. Grierson yelled at him to come down, then clambered back onto the wall, lifted

Craig over the wire, and helped him down to safety. From the house a gun cracked, and a bullet spanged on the wall as Grierson jumped, hauled Craig to his feet, and pushed him toward the deserted villa. Somehow Craig worked up a shambling run until he reached the door of the villa and sprawled out, shivering. The door was locked.

Grierson yelled, "Ashford, are you there?"

Two men appeared on the wall, and he fired a burst from the carbine. They pitched back, not jumping; falling like men who have been badly hurt.

"Ashford," Grierson yelled.

The villa's door opened, and Ashford came out.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I had to be sure."

"All right," said Grierson. "Take this." He gave him the Woodsman. "Help Craig out of here."

Ashford grabbed the heavier man, and staggered off toward the far wall of the villa. Grierson followed, watching the rear. The lights in the villa went off again, and he heard the barking of dogs set free. The bathroom had not been strong enough to hold his captives; without tools, he had had time to do no more than switch off the generator. Somehow they got Craig to the box hedge, and Ashford followed. The first dog was almost on them, and again Grierson loosed off the carbine, and saw the dog fall. Then he reached the hedge and fumbled with the Alfa's door. Ashford heaved Craig into the back seat as the second dog leaped at Grierson. Ashford yelled and Grierson spun around, clubbing the dog with the gun butt. It snarled, and came at him again, and Grierson held the gun barrel in front of him. When the dog pawed at the barrel to bring it down, he kicked the animal under the jaw. Ashford wound down the window and fired as Duclos came running. Grierson jumped into the car and it started at once in a sweet surge of power, toward the Corniche road and Cap Ferrat.

"How is he?" Grierson asked.

"He's fainted," Ashford said. "It looks as if they've tortured him pretty badly."

"There's some brandy on the back window ledge," said Grierson. "Try him with that."

Craig coughed some down, and came back into consciousness, his whole body aware of pain as a spider's web of movement.

"We got away," said Craig. "Thanks."

"Thank yourself," said Grierson. "You grabbed St. Briac."

"That's right," said Craig. "I killed him, didn't I?" "He fell on the wire." "Where are we going now?"

"Cap Ferrat," answered Grierson. "We can't stay here any more."

"What about St. Briac? Weren't we supposed to find out what he was doing next?"

"I think we've done enough," said Grierson.

"He was going to Aden next week," Ashford said. "Bobby told me."

Grierson braked down sharply for a turn.

"That'll have to do," he said.

He slowed down through Villefranche, and became aware then of the black Citroen following them, which hung on as they turned on to the cape, past the superb white villas and the sheer cliffs with the sea boiling below. Grierson switched off his lights after they had passed through St. Jean, and pulled over beside a villa's gateway, a masterpiece of wrought iron, painted black and gold. They abandoned the car, and Grierson led the way to a tiny headland, then left them to make his way down the cliff and signal to a yacht in the bay.

Craig and Ashford lay face down in the dry, coarse grass by the roadside, and watched as the Citroen went past them. Ashford was shaking uncontrollably. The moon came out in a clear, cloudless sky, and Craig watched him shiver. He was unable to help in any way at all. Grierson came back to them, moving warily still.

"They've seen me," he said. "We'd better get down there quick. They're sending a boat."

"I can't," said Ashford. "I can't."

From farther down the road, the wheels of a car scraped as it turned.

"Come on," said Grierson.

Ashford said, "I can't. I get vertigo."

"We can't wait for you," said Grierson.

"You go then," said Ashford. "Just leave me the gun."

"No," said Craig. "We owe you a bit more than that."

Grierson ran down the cliff again to meet the boat that would come in from the yacht, making as much noise as he could, while Craig and Ashford raced to the car, scrambled on to its roof, and broke into their third villa of the night. This one was as trimmed and tidied as if it had just been delivered, cellophane-wrapped, the lawns shaved to a perfect symmetry, the roses scented by Chanel. In the shadow of a cypress tree, Craig examined the house. It seemed to be deserted. Together, he and Ashford worked their way toward it, seeking an open window. They found one at last and went into the lounge, stole a bottle of brandy and went upstairs, looking for a bathroom. From the yacht in the bay, an outboard motor spluttered, caught, then died.

They found a bathroom, and Ashford groaned aloud when he saw his face. Then it was Craig's turn to feel the gentle sting of soap, and Ashford's fingers peeling Band-Aid on to the open cuts on his cheek and back. He looked at his finger. That would have to be seen to soon, but Ashford was shaking too much to try it. Suddenly the bathroom door handle turned. Craig ran the tap harder, and listened for the soft sound of footsteps on the carpet, then slipped out of the bathroom. The corridor was lit now, and he turned off the switch. Light streamed from beneath a bedroom door. Craig took out the Woodsman and made no more noise than a shadow as he reached the door and turned the handle. It swung open without a sound. A girl was lying on the bed reading. She looked up to see him in the doorway, and was very still.

"Quiet now," said Craig. "Just stay quiet and you won't get hurt."

"Hey," said Maria. "You've got a gun."

"Hey," said Craig. "That's right, I have."

He lowered his arm and she ran toward him, looking up at his face.

"Jesus," she said. "You've taken a beating."

Craig nodded. "Where's Sophie?" he asked.

"In the bath. She practically lives there."

"That was me," said Craig.

"She's next door then. Shall I call her?". Craig nodded again. His head seemed piled with lead weights. He went to the door and waved Ashford in before Sophie came back with Maria. Sophie wore a baby-doll nightdress and a great deal of perfume, and she embraced Craig with enthusiasm, then leaned back to look at his face.

"My poor John," she said. "You should have stayed with us."

Craig put his arm around her; she felt strong, clean, and very feminine.

"This is a colleague of mine-Richard Ashford," he said. Sophie looked at him, said "My God" twice, ran back to her bedroom, and came back wearing a dressing gown.

"A colleague?" she said.

Craig said wearily, "We've been doing business together."

"Where's sexy Grierson?" asked Maria. "Taking a sea trip," said Craig. "He'll be back." From very far off, there came the sound of a shot, then another.

"Backfire?" Maria asked.

Craig ran to the veranda. The boat with the outboard now roaring again was zigzagging toward the yacht, and on the headland three men were firing into it. He went back to the bedroom.

"Trouble," he said. "Who owns this place?"

"Dan Turner," Sophie answered. "You remember. You met him in St. Trop."

"Where is he now?"

"He's gone to a poker game in Beaulieu. He's bringing a party back later. Darling, what's wrong? What is happening?"

"Just give me a minute," Craig said. "Where are all the servants? A place this size should be swarming with them."

"Jerks," said Maria. "They quit." "Maria, that's not fair," said Sophie. "Dan is a very amusing person, but he does get a littie drunk sometimes.

And he likes to fire his revolver. Even then I don't think they would have minded, but he's such a bad shot. So they left. All he's got now is a cook and a chauffeur." "Where are they?"

"With him," said Maria. "They play poker too. Better than he does."

"I'd like to stay here for a bit-" said Craig.

"Sure," Maria said. "There's scads of room, and Dan would love it. I mean it."

"Only it might not be too safe for you. The men I had a fight with are still following me. They may come here. If they do, they'll want to kill me. Just because you're here won't make any difference."

"That wasn't a backfire, was it?" asked Maria.

Ashford said, "We'd really better go."

"Ricky," Craig said, "you're marvelous, do you know that? And I'm very grateful to you. Let's go."

"No," said Sophie. "Wait!" She came to stand very close to Craig. "Have you held up a bank?"

"No," answered Craig. "Nothing like that. I'm sorry, but I can't tell you anything about it."

Ashford said, "He did something that had to be done. Something very brave."

Sophie touched Craig's upper arm, feeling the hard muscle in her own strong hand.

"Brave," she said. "Of course, brave. That is what he is made for-all muscles and guns and a good brain he doesn't use. My poor bloody fool. You can't go away yet. You can hardly walk. Let me have a look at your hand."

Carefully she set and bandaged the broken finger, and Craig's other hand squeezed on the arm of his chair as he willed himself not to cry out. When it was done, Sophie kissed him.

"You should have yelled," she said. "You should have called me a clumsy bitch."

A doorbell chimed the opening bars of "Sur le pont a" Avignon."

"That Turner," Maria said. "He's a nut."

"It'll be the people I told you about," Craig said.

Maria opened a drawer by tine bedside and took out a pistol, a police Positive.

"Guns all over the house," she said. "It's crazy."

Before Craig could say anything, she went downstairs, and he followed her. Ashford was right. They should have gone. He had no business to let a woman hide him, and yet he was doing it, for the second time in a few weeks.

"Who is it?" Maria yelled.

"Police," somebody yelled back. "Open the door." "If you're police, you'd better prove it," Maria said. "I'm not letting you in unless you are."

"There are criminals loose. Their car is at your gate." "They're not here," said Maria. "They're murderers."

Maria hesitated then, and it was Sophie who yelled, "They're still not here."

Maria said, "Shove your badge through the mail slot or I'll shoot. Police, huh? You think I'm crazy?"

Heavy shoulders pounded at the door. Then Maria lifted the gun in both hands and fired high up into the woodwork. The pounding ceased.

"Next time I'll aim lower," Maria said.

There was silence, then a leather wallet came through the mail slot.

"That is my warrant, mademoiselle," someone shouted.

"Jesus," said Maria. "They really are police."

Sophie raced upstairs with Craig and Ashford, and led them on to a loggia with a great trellis of vines. Craig and Ashford crouched down behind it as Sophie sped out again to help Maria open the doors. Maria stood at last in front of two policemen. She still held the police Positive.

"I'm terribly sorry," she said. "Honestly, I'd no idea. I mean, Sophie and I were all alone here and when you came pounding on the door like that, well-I mean, if I'd known-"

"Yes, of course," said the older policeman. "Now if you would just give me the gun-"

"Well, sure," said Maria. "I mean, I'm not very fond of them really."

"Who is?" said the policeman, and held out his hand. Reluctantiy Maria put the gun into it.

"Mr. Turner," she said, "he owns this place, and he just loves guns."

"Yes," said the inspector. "I've heard he does. We would like to look around the house, mademoiselle."

"But there's nobody here but us. Honestly," said Maria.

"It is a very big house," said the policeman. "There may be men here you know nothing about."

"My God, we could use them," said Maria, and looked at Sophie.

"Perhaps you'd better look around then," Sophie said.

"I think so. I am Inspector Segur. This is Sergeant Martini. We are worried about you two ladies. I told you the truth, you know. The men we seek-their car is at your gate."

"Mr. Turner's gate," said Maria.

"All three of these men-they are said to be very dangerous. They are also armed."

"Three?" asked Sophie.

"Does that surprise you?"

"No," Sophie said. "Except-what chance would we poor girls have against three armed men? I'm glad you came, Inspector."

"I also," said Segur, and bowed, then talked to Sophie in rapid Provencal French as they moved from room to room. When they had covered the whole house, Segur sent Martini downstairs with Maria and went back to the loggia, taking Sophie with him. They stood by its stone balcony and looked out to sea.

"That is a good vine," he said. "A remarkable plant to find two floors up."

"You can see St. Hospice from here," said Sophie. "Come and look."

"I am a Nicois," said Segur. "I have seen St. Hospice at least once a year for the last fifty-three years. But this is the first time I have seen a vine two floors up." He spoke in English. "A man could hide behind that vine. If he had a gun, he could kill me."

"If he were that sort of man," Sophie said.

"The man I am thinking of has already killed tonight. He has killed an ex-colonel in the French Army. A man called St. Briac. I am told that it was murder. I believe that it may have been self-defense. I was sent here to arrest this man and his friends, and yet I am forbidden to visit the scene of the crime. That is not the way a policeman should work. Did you know St. Briac?" "No," said Sophie.

"He supported the-what is the word-the extremists in Algeria. Do you do that?"

"No," said Sophie. "There aren't many of my generation who do. We're sick of Algeria. You should know that."

"I do know it," Segur said. "I am sick of it too. That is why I am glad this man is not here. You saw me look everywhere, didn't you?"

"Of course," said Sophie. "You were extremely thorough."

Segur said, "I'll tell you something about St. Briac. He was a murdering swine. Of course, you have only my word for it-"

"That is enough," said Sophie. "Obviously you are a man of honor."

"His followers are also murdering swine," said Segur. "And I'm sick of them. They are looking for the three men I spoke of, the three men who aren't here. I am very much afraid they want to kill them. I hope they won't succeed, but I can't stop them. I won't be allowed to stop them. I was once before in this very same situation. It was during the war. Only that time the killers were Germans, and the ones they hunted were Frenchmen." He shrugged. "I've done all I can. I wish it could be more-I remember I said that too, the last time." Suddenly the suave manner cracked, and he was a very angry man. "It ought to be more," he shouted.

"No," Sophie said. "You have been very kind to us. We are grateful."

Segur said, "I've been as kind as I dared. I don't think I deserve your gratitude, but I should like a drink, please."

"The brandy is downstairs," said Sophie.

The suavity came back; a hard protective shell against the orders he hated.

"Let us join it. I have a very singular habit, Miss Gourdun. When I drive away from a house, I always give two long blasts on the horn. I cannot think why."

He left, and a few minutes later Craig and Ashford heard the two long blasts and went downstairs, and followed Sophie into the kitchen, where she made them an omelet and a salad, and took cold chicken from the refrigerator. Craig ate enormously, and drank the rosi d'Anjou that Maria poured. Sophie looked at him adoringly.

"Isn't he gorgeous?" she asked. "Just look at him eat." "He's the cutest thing," said Maria. "But how about when he's eaten?"

"We'll go," Craig said.

"Darling, you can't," said Sophie. "Those men are still around here looking for you, the inspector says, and they've seen the car. They must know you're in here, and Segur says he's had orders to let them wait outside. I think you had better stay here with us."

She made coffee, and he drank it with brandy. Then she took him back to her bedroom and made him he down on the bed, took off her dressing gown, and got in beside him. Her arms came around him, strong and comforting, and she drew his head to her breast. He could feel her heartbeat, calm, untroubled, steady. Then she looked down at his face and laughed, and there was mockery in her laughter, and tenderness, and behind them both, despair.

"Don't worry," she said. "I can see how tired you are. I will try to control my terrible passion. But you are so delicious, you see. I want to bite you. All the time."

"Too lean," said Craig. "Old. Tough. Stringy."

"Not here," said Sophie. "Or here. Or here." She touched his neck, his ear, and, very gently, the strip of tape on his cheek. "Is it true what Segur said?"

Craig nodded. It was hard to stay awake.

"And he was a swine? Is that true too?"

"We all were," said Craig wearily. "I know that now." He fell asleep.


She woke him at two in the morning, seeing how, when she touched him, he awoke at once, eyes open, his good hand ready, perhaps to defend, more probably to strike.

"You must get up," she said. "Dan Turner is coming soon. There is to be a party."

He left the bed and went to a basin, washed one-handed, came back to the brandy bottle, and took a drink.

"Why are you here?" he asked.

"Because of Dan. It costs us nothing, and we like him. He likes to have us around, he says. I think he would still like to sleep with us but I do not find him attractive. Nor does Maria. It is a pity. Now you are altogether different. You attract me enormously. Especially since we camped out together."

Craig looked at once modest, delighted, and upset, and Sophie giggled.

"And you have your own little boyfriend. Such a pity," she said.

"Ashford?" He sounded so incredulous that she giggled again.

"Ashford's all right," he said. "Believe me. But we're just friends. Believe that too."

Sophie kissed him. "Poor John," she said. "Now listen. Maria and 1 will tell Dan that we went into Nice and met you there-at your hotel, and your little friend too. You and Ricky have been in a car accident, which is why you are both damaged."

"Thanks. Where's Ricky now?"

"Downstairs. He knows an awful lot about clothes. He told me exactly what this cost."

She touched the bodice of the dress she was wearing, a cool sheath of white linen that accentuated her golden tan, the paler gold of her hair.

"He's in the business," he said.

"I know. He told me. Poor Ricky. Some of his clients must hit very hard." She spun around; white linen lifted over a froth of white lace. "Dan bought me this. Do you like it?"

"Yes," said Craig, "but I ought to talk to Ricky."

Ricky was much more at his ease now, talking clothes with Maria, sketching, gesticulating, the epicene charm triumphing over the taped hps.

"It seems that Maria and I are old friends," he said. "That's nice."

"I'd like to get on to Grierson," said Craig. "Do you know where I can reach him?"

Ashford turned to Maria. "Darling, would you mind?" he asked.

Maria pouted and left. Ashford sighed.

"She knows," he said. "Sophie told her. It's all very awkward. I know perfecdy well that it's all my fault, but those two girls shouldn't know. They could tell anybody."

"We can hardly leave," said Craig.

"We'd be killed, I suppose," Ashford said. Craig looked at Ashford's hand. There was a glass in it, a tall one. "But what happens when this Dan person shows up? We can't very well just stay here."

"What about Grierson?"

"Oh yes. I was going to tell you, wasn't I? He'll go to Bordighera. I can telephone hirn there-but not till six at the earliest."

"You'd better give me the number."

"I'm sorry," said Ashford. "I can't do that."

"Why not?"

"He told me not to," Ashford said. "I suppose you could beat it out of me."

"Don't be a bloody fool," said Craig.

"I was only punched in the mouth a few times," said Ashford. "They did rather more to you, I suppose?"

"Yes," said Craig.

"You're brave of course. You don't get vertigo."

"You're brave, and you do."

"Don't make fun of me, please," Ashford said.

"I'm not. You told us to leave you."

"Because I've had enough. I want to go back to corsets. Isn't that kinky?"

"Why won't he let you give me the number?"

"Because-if worst comes to the worst-and it always does, doesn't it-you are going to be it, sweetie. The guilty party. That's what you get for being brave."

"Grierson told you this?" Craig asked.

"He told me something else too. You aren't in charge of this party. He is. He's a professional. It would make him awfully sad, to shop you, I mean-but he'd do it."

Craig shrugged. "They didn't hire me for my brains," he said. "But they haven't caught us yet, either."

"I'm rather afraid they will," Ashford said. "If I hadn't got vertigo, you'd be all done by now. You're better off without me. We'd better split up."

Craig shook his head. "No," he said.

Ashford wanted to argue and Craig cut in again.

"I can't get far with my hand like this," he said.

Ashford sighed. "You could go to the moon with two broken legs," he said. "You're an awfully considerate person, John."

Craig remembered the things that had been done to him. The broken finger, the burning, the beating, the drowning. He remembered the fight on the wall, the smell of St. Briac when he hit the wire, his body pulsing as the charge went through him. He felt no emotion at what he had done; St. Briac had been a dangerous madman who threatened many more fives than Craig's. Now he was a threat to no one. He had got into all this to protect himself, and to avenge those St. Briac had killed: all along he had believed that this was true. Yet in fact he had been no more than a weapon, a gun pointed, the trigger squeezed once, and then thrown away when its usefulness was over. It would be no good trying to betray Loomis either. By the time diplomatic notes had stopped flowing, it would be hard to prove that Loomis had even existed.

The doorbell chimed on as far as "Von y danse," and Maria hurried to open it to an engulfing roar of party noises.

"The gun-happy Mr. Turner," said Ashford. "I do hope he isn't in the mood tonight." Then: "Bordighera 06053," he added. "We can't all be professionals, can we?"

"Thanks," said Craig. "I won't forget this."

Turner came roaring in, and Ashford was swept to the wall. In one vast hand Turner carried two bottles of cognac by their necks; in the other sat a tiny Indochinese girl, her hands clutching his arm. She wore white silk trousers and a long, flowing robe of fine green silk, and seemed to bother him about as much as the two brandy bottles. Maria and Sophie stood one at each side of him, yelling explanations, as the rest of the party spilled into the room, routing out records and bottles and glasses. From time to time Turner nodded. Craig doubted if he'd heard a word the two girls shrieked into his ear. He had the monumental calm of a man who has been drunk for days.

"Great," he said. "Glad to see you. Here. Hold this." The Indochinese girl was swung neatly through the air on to Craig's good arm, where she perched like a monkey.

"Pleased to meet you," said Craig.

"Enchante," she said.

"Hey," said Turner. "Hey. I remember. I like you. Have a drink."

He opened one of the brandy bottles and poured five drinks, for himself, Craig, Sophie, Maria, and the tiny Indochinese. When he had finished, the bottle was empty. He let it swing moodily in his hands and said, "Watch this," and slung the bottle with enormous force over his shoulder. It was heading straight for a french window when the tall, lean Negro reached out an arm and it smacked into his hand.

"You still there, Larry?" Turner yelled.

"I'm here," the Negro said. He sounded angry about something.

"That Larry," Turner said. "Best third baseman you ever saw, and he wants to be a poet. He's from Tennessee."

Craig sipped his brandy. The Indochinese girl tugged delicately at his ear.

"She getting heavy for you?" Turner asked. She was very heavy, but Craig shook his head. Turner looked pleased. "Tennessee," he said. "That's where Larry's from. Makes him bitter. He wants to be friends with me, but he can't lick me. If he could, we'd be real buddy-buddy-him being black and all. But he can't. And I'm not doing him any favors. He doesn't want favors."

"Naturally not," said Craig, and Turner roared.

"I tell that story in Alabama and everybody turns green," he said. "It doesn't seem to me you come from Alabama. Put her down some place. You can't drink with a busted finger." Craig let the Indochinese girl slip through his fingers and she landed, smooth as a cat, on a divan, curling up with a feline self-sufficiency, her glass of brandy unspilled.

"I like you," said Turner again. "What do you do?"

"Machine tools, die-stamp machines, nuts and bolts."

"Great," said Turner. "I was in trucking. Now I fool around here. Better'n Florida," said Turner. "The people you meet."

He shook his head in simple wonderment, and looked around at the people he'd brought back with him: a couple of starlets, a pop singer, another millionaire, some count or other, and their attendant lords and ladies, bird-bright, gaudy as butterflies.

"Nobody cares who you are or what you do," he said. "All you need is enough dough and a place to drink and they come running. Come here."

He led Craig out into the garden, and Sophie and Maria went with them. It was cool now, and the scent of the night air was thin and sweet. They walked up a path of marble chips to a fountain of astonishing ugliness. Its bowl looked like a tin bath covered in stone, and above it a mermaid perched on a dolphin that looked like no sea mammal that ever was, a hammer-headed monster with a three-point tail. The mermaid, despite her tail, despite even her nakedness, looked like Mildred the Madcap of the Remove. Behind her was a great screen of stone, carved in the shape of an enormous oyster shell, its edges pocked and scarred.

"Target practice," said Turner. "I've been trying to hit that goddam mermaid for the last three weeks. Or that goddam dolphin even."

His hand groped in an enormous pocket and came up with a revolver. Behind him gravel crunched, and a squat, anxious Filipino appeared.

"Hey, Luis," said Turner. "Where you been hiding yourself?"

"I knew you'd be out here sooner or later," said Luis.

"This is Luis," Turner said. "He thinks he can cook."

"I know I can cook. I also know you shouldn't cut loose with that thing."

"That thing?" Turner yelled. "This is a.38. Damn good gun."

"Not the way you use it," Luis said. "Oh no?"

Turner aimed and fired at the mermaid. A chip of stone flew off the edge of the stone shell.

"There ain't enough light," said Luis. "Nobody shoots good by moonlight. Come back to the party. I'll make some chili con carne."

"No," said Turner, and fired again. A bullet slammed into a pine tree, six feet off target.

"Chicken a la king?"

"No." The.38 roared, and the pine took more punishment.

"How about a steak? Medium rare. French fried onions. Beans. Salad on the side. Apple pie. I got some beer on ice."


Turner lurched round and the.38's barrel made a black and shining arc in the moonlight. Craig took it from Turner, who said sternly, "Don't fool with that thing. It's loaded," then began a long wrangle with Luis on the depth of the apple pie. Craig lifted the gun and fired three times, and the smile was wiped forever from the mermaid's face. More important, the gun was empty.

"Hey," said Turner. "You're pretty good with that thing. Lemme reload it for you."

He took it from Craig, fumbled in his pocket, and produced a loose handful of.38 cartridges, punching them home one by one, then handed it back to Craig.

Craig said, "I could do with a steak myself."

"Great idea. We'll shoot later," Turner said. When he turned his back, Craig hid the gun under the rim of the fountain. There'd been enough shooting already.

They went back to the house, where Ashford sat, dead asleep even in that uproar of party screams and records at full blast. Turner said they would go into the kitchen and Craig hesitated, but left Ashford where he was. He needed a rest.

There was, it appeared, a hierarchy in Dan Turner's parties. Only those of the first rank were permitted to enter the kitchen, to watch Luis in priestly white, ministering at the electric altars as the aromatic incense rose. Craig, hungry again, went with Sophie and Maria, the Count, an Italian, spare and very tired, and Dan himself. They sat at a long curved bar and ate their steaks as Luis cooked them, and drank Provencal wine, while Turner drank beer. It was all very chic, the sort of thing that might have earned a double-page spread in a snob magazine, yet Craig doubted if anyone there except himself and the two girls had been sober for the last week. He ate the steak which Sophie cut up for him, and listened to Turner on road haulage, or the Count, whose name was Nono, on the expense of maintaining a villa in Tuscany. Once there was uproar from the lesser mortals, and Turner went out to investigate. Then cars screeched off as they left for another party, but after that it was all just very good food, until Luis made coffee, black and strong, and Turner poured brandy into it, and the Count turned pale.

The door behind them opened, and Luis looked shocked. Lesser people never invaded the kitchen at Dan Turner's. Larry walked in, and behind him was La Valere in uniform.

Larry said, "I'm sorry, Dan. This guy claims it's urgent." La Valere ignored Turner, and walked straight to Craig. He was pale and sweating.

"You are a cowardly pig," La Valere said. Craig grinned. "You are a bastard. You have no honor."

"Get the hell out of here," Turner bawled.

Very deliberately, La Valere struck Craig on the cheek. Craig winced, but the grin stayed where it was, and he motioned to Turner to be still.

"No," said La Valere. "I'll do it again. Swine." Again he struck, and Craig, one-handed, caught his wrist and pulled. La Valere began to sweat more than ever.

"Just tell me what you're after," Craig said.

"A duel," said La Valere. "I challenge you to a duel."

"The guy's nuts," said Turner. "Get him out of here."

La Valere tried to pull free, and Craig increased his pressure. La Valere stood still.

"It is ridiculous," Nono said. "The young man"-he gestured at La Valere-"is in no position to demand satisfaction. He has not been insulted."

"But you have," La Valere hissed at Craig. "I have insulted you publicly. It is up to you to challenge me."

"That is better," Nono said. "The gentleman holding your wrist in that painful manner must now demand satisfaction. If he does so, we can proceed to the choice of weapons-provided of course that you are both gentlemen."

"I am an officer in the French Army," La Valere said.

"Indeed?" said Nono. "I suppose that is adequate. And you, sir?"

"I'm a businessman," said Craig.

"You once held a commission in the British Navy," said La Valere.

Nono reflected. "I think that you might, with propriety, engage in a duel," he said at last. "Indeed, I think that you will have to, Reynolds. This Frenchman seems quite set on it."

Craig released La Valere's wrist.

"I'm not," he said.

"I've brought my seconds," La Valere said. "Duclos and Pucelli."

"What about weapons?" asked Nono. "He can hardly attempt to fight with a sword-even supposing one were available." He gestured at Craig's hand.

"Pistols," said La Valere, "will do admirably."

Turner put down his fork.

"You're crazy," he said. "I don't want any crazies here. Drunks yes-nuts no. You get out of here."

La Valere said, "I'm perfectly willing to leave, but I want a word with him first."

Craig shrugged, and walked to the door with La Valere. "This is your only chance," the Frenchman whispered. "If you do not agree, Pucelli will kill you." "Maybe," said Craig.

"He will also kill your girls," said La Valere, "and anyone else who gets in his way." Craig shrugged.

"It's an awful lot of people to kill," he said.

"Not really," said La Valere. "All the other guests have gone. We saw them. There is another party in Cannes. There is only a Negro here who was reciting Rimbaud, and a Tonkinese who is asleep. This is a very peculiar household," he added, severely.

Craig said, "You think you'll kill me?"

"I know I will," said La Valere. "At St-Cyr I was the best shot of my year. But if I should fall, Pucelli will kill you. I am offering you the chance to die like a gentleman."


"Because I wish to kill you myself. And also because I betrayed the greatest man I have ever known. I deserve to suffer for this. Facing you will be my suffering. You killed the only man who could save France. You have to die."

Craig saw that he was perfecdy serious.

"And Ashford? Is he to fight you too?"

"No," La Valere said, "his punishment is different from yours. He is going to watch." He looked toward Sophie. "Are you going to make another woman suffer?" he asked. "Make up your mind, pig. Pucelli is outside. He isn't a patient man."

Craig looked around at the people eating at the kitchen bar; cheerful, selfish, pleasure-loving people whom once again he'd had no business to involve.

"If I fight," he asked, "they don't get hurt?"

"Just you and Ashford. I give you my word," said La Valere.

Craig sighed and looked at Sophie. "All right," he said, and walked back to the kitchen bar.

"He really seems set on it," Craig said. "I think we'd better humor him."

"The hell we should," said Turner.

"He's a nut, all right, but he's got a gun. He's also got two friends, and they've got guns too. If we don't go through with it, they'll use them anyway."

"No," Sophie said. "No."

Craig put his hand gently on her mouth.

"Just why is he so mad at you, son?" asked Turner.

"I can't tell you," Craig said. "But he's got a right to be. And he means to use that right. Here and now."

"But he's a nut," said Turner. "I wouldn't fight any nuts."

"I'm afraid I shall have to. Just stay where you are, Mr. Turner, and whatever happens, don't interfere." "Why not?"

"You're much too bad a shot."

Craig grinned at him and went to La Valere.

"I'm ready," he said.

La Valere shouted, and Ashford, Pucelli, the Indochi-nese girl, and Duclos came in. Pucelli and Duclos both carried pistols, and pushed the girl toward the others at the kitchen bar. She looked sick, her pale-gold skin had turned olive, and her hand was at her mouth.

"Why's Ashford here?" Craig asked.

"He is your second," said La Valere, and Duclos laughed aloud.

"You share everything with this man, don't you, Ricky darling? The good times and the bad."

Ashford said nothing. He was weeping.

Sophie whimpered softly and Turner said, "What the hell goes on?"

La Valere said, "I am sorry to break up your party." Once again, his voice was completely serious. "But this must be done. You will all stay quite still until I return, please. This man"-he nodded at Duclos-"will be with you. If you try to overpower him, he has orders to shoot one of the women. You." He pointed at Sophie. "Come here." Slowly, reluctantly, she obeyed. Then she shivered as the muzzle of Duclos's revolver touched her neck. Pucelli opened Craig's coat, took the Woodsman from him, and put it on the table.

"This gun will not do," said La Valere. "You will be provided with a weapon when we get outside. It will be exacdy the same as mine. We will see that you are given every chance. Do you wish to say anything?" Craig shook his head.

"As you please," La Valere said. "We will go outside."

They went out into the moonlight, taking Ashford with them. Now was Craig's time to die. He had lived too long on other men's sufferings: even St. Briac, whose death he had caused, had suffered because of him. It was right that St. Briac should die, but it was right that Craig should die, too. Tessa and his wife were both provided for, and once he and Ashford had been killed, Sophie and the others would be safe. Ashford alone stayed on his mind. Ashford loved this Gothic madman.

La Valere stopped by the path of drippings.

"This should do admirably," he said.

Pucelli said, "Shall I give him the gun?"

"Of course," said La Valere. Pucelli laid a pistol in front of Craig, then stepped back, covering Ashford with a big Mauser automatic.

"Let me do it. We are wasting time," Pucelli said.

"No. This is my business. Do as I tell you."

Pucelli shrugged, but his gun stayed unwaveringly on Ashford.

It made no difference, Craig thought. He would- what was the word?-delope into the air.

"Pick up the pistol." Craig obeyed.

"Back to back," said La Valere, and again Craig obeyed. "Ten paces, then we turn and fire. We walk when I say go. I shall count the steps. Ready? Go. One- two-three-"

Craig heard the crunch of footsteps up the gravel path. Ashford would die next. Now it was his turn. Grierson would not come looking for vengeance; Grierson was a professional. Less good with a gun, but infinitely more amenable to orders. Four-five-six-Tessa would weep for him; his wife might soon die. If she lived, she would have more than enough. And Tessa-he had left her everything the gun-running had brought. Money by the sackful; and sorrow. Too much sorrow to waste on Craig.

Seven-eight-he was by the fountain, where Turner had shot so badly. A nice man. Bored. Drank too much. But happy with a Negro chauffeur and a Filipino cook and the most expensive hangers-on in the Cote d'Azur. Nine-ten-There was something missing, Craig thought. He could hear no footsteps other than his own. A man's voice, Ashford's, screamed out in an agony of shame and love: "Bobby. No. You mustn't."

Craig swirled in a descending spiral, and a bullet whipped through the air, where a moment before his back had been. La Valere was already facing him, walking toward him, sighting for a second shot, as he rolled toward the cover of the fountain. From the corner of his eye, Craig could see Ashford watching them in horror. He reached the fountain's shadow, remembering the promise he had given that La Valere would not be hurt. He hadn't realized then what La Valere would do. Carefully, precisely, his finger squeezed the trigger of the gun La Valere had given him. It clicked emptily, and Ashford screamed out again, "No, Bobby! No!" and ran toward them. La Valere yelled to him to go back, but Ashford kept on running toward the only creature in the world he loved, the only one whose shame, whose betrayal of trust he could not bear.

Ashford's rush carried him between Craig and La Valere, and Craig rolled beneath the fountain's shell, gasping as his injured finger smashed into its base. Pucelli yelled a warning as Craig's hand clawed up, seeking, finding the gun he had hidden. His fingers curled to it as La Valere fired, and Ashford screamed for the last time, then fell like a tree at La Valere's feet. Craig watched him fall, but his mind refused to accept it. He could think of nothing except that La Valere had cheated him, given him an empty pistol. He reminded himself that madmen improvised their own rules as they went along. Then La Valere fired again, and a bullet spanged off the fountain's disastrous bowl, inches from his head. To his right, Pucelli was maneuvering for position, waiting to finish things off, and Pucelli had a Mauser automatic that could fire off a whole magazine of bullets like a miniature machine gun. Slowly, with extreme care, Craig aimed at La Valere and shot him through the heart. When he died, his face expressed intense astonishment.

Pucelli began firing as soon as La Valere dropped. Heavy-caliber bullets raked the fountain, and Craig crouched by the pedestal and heard them go by. He lay very still, and a minute passed so quietly that he could hear his watch tick. Pucelli shot once more, and again the bullet was close and Craig did not move. At last Pucelli stood up and came out from cover, moving warily, his hands on the twin butts of the Mauser. Craig fired as Pucelli reached the path. It was the best shot of his life. The bullet slammed into Pucelli's arm, and the big Mauser dropped to the ground. Craig got to his feet. Pucelli stood swaying in front of him and when Craig stooped and picked up the gun, he just continued to sway. Craig could feel the great waves of weakness flowing over him as he willed himself to go on.

"You're a fool," he croaked. "An idiot. If you'd played fair, I was going to die. You stupid bastards. Why did you have to cheat me?"

Pucelli held his hand to his arm.

"I didn't want this," he said. "I was going to kill you myself. The duel was La Valere's idea. He was a gentleman." He spat the word.

Craig said, "We'll go to the house and you'll talk to Duclos. Don't argue about it. Just do it."

Pucelli looked into Craig's eyes, and obeyed. The alternative was death.

Duclos felt wonderful. Pretty girls, important men, were at her mercy. A black man and a brown man were humble and obedient, as was right and proper. His gun was his symbol of power, his sceptor, and so long as he held it everyone obeyed him. That was good; wonderful. And he held it pointed at a girl. That was even more wonderful. When the shots came and everyone looked up, all Duclos had to do was lift the gun a couple of centimeters, and they were still, obedient once more. The gun was a wonderful thing. And La Valere's idea of a duel, maybe that wasn't so stupid after all. The gun had been used with dignity, with an awareness of form and ritual. Surely a ritual was needed when a man as wicked as Craig came to die. Duclos's hand moved, and the gun muzzle touched Sophie's throat, ran along her shoulder, traced the round, right outline of her breast. Life could be very kind to him sometimes.

Behind him, Pucelli's voice said, "All right, Duclos. You can come out now. The captain wants you."

Duclos sighed, and backed away from the girl very carefully. The good times never lasted very long. Suddenly the girl's face changed: there was amazement in it, and a rising happiness. Far too late, Duclos began to turn. Something hard exploded on the back of his neck and he fell, twitched once, and was still.

Turner said, "You've bought me, son. Any time, anywhere. Just name it."

Sophie ran to Craig's arms and stood there, shivering uncontrollably until the strength of his touch made her safe enough for the luxury of tears, and she could bear to look at Duclos slumped on the floor, and Pucelli shivering in a chair.

Larry picked up Duclos's gun. "Where's the other guy?" he asked.

"He's dead," Craig said, and told them what had happened. Nono was outraged.

"But this was banditry," he said. "This was assassination."

"Of course it was," said Craig.

"But the code," Nono screamed. "He dishonored the code."

"If he hadn't," Craig said, "I mightn't have killed him."

Larry swung around on Turner. "He should give you lessons, Dan."

"Yeah." Turner came forward, looked at Duclos, turned him over with his foot.

"You saw how he hit him, Larry? He could give you lessons too, but not now, son. Now we got problems."

Nono said, "I would have thought our problems were over, thanks to Mr. Reynolds here." He poured out brandy, and Craig drank.

"We've had the parade," Turner said. "Now we got to clean up after it. There's a dead man in my garden.

There's these two mugs here. I hate to say it, John, but I've got to call the cops."

"Two dead men," said Craig. "There's Ashford. I told you-they killed him too. He loved La Valere, right to the end. He tried to stop him from cheating-because he loved him, and he knew that cheating was the worst crime in his code. And La Valere killed him."

"John, I'm sorry," Turner said again, "but I've got to call the law."

Craig shrugged. "Go ahead," he said. "Only I'd like to get away first."

"Sure," said Turner. "Anywhere you say." He looked hard at Craig. "I'm not asking questions, son, because I don't want to embarrass you by making you tell lies, but if you're nuts and bolts, I'm Annie Oakley."

Craig said, "I'd like to borrow a car too."

"You can't drive. Not with your ringer like that," Turner said. "Take the Caddy. Larry'll drive you."

"Thanks," said Craig. "About the police. If I were you, I'd call a bloke named Segur. He was here earlier. A very considerate sort of chap."

"O.K. What do I tell him?"

"Tell him what happened. Some nut broke in and murdered Ashford and made me fight a duel. Say you met me in Nice and invited me here. Ashford too. I don't want Sophie mixed up in this."

"Nor do I, son. I'll do what you say. You want to go now?"

Craig nodded.

"Where do I reach you?" Turner asked.

"You don't," Craig said. 'Til call you-if I can."

He picked up the Woodsman from the table and went back to Sophie. She saw the farewell in his eyes, and wept. He whispered to her softly as she clung to him, and soothed her as best he could. But there wasn't much time. For all their sakes, and for hers most of all, he had to go.

Sophie said, "All the time I was teasing you, I told you the truth. Always it was because I made jokes that I could be so honest. Some time I'll see you again, won't I?" He hesitated, and she said, "That isn't a question,

John. I will see you again. I mean it." He smiled and kissed her, and went to the waiting Cadillac. Behind him, Turner and the others were already discussing their story. He had an hour, no more, before Turner called the police, and left it to them to decide who told the truth: a couple of assassins or a millionaire in good standing, oozing dollars like sweat. It would be a hell of a battle. Craig was sorry to miss it.

"Where to?" asked Larry, and Craig told him and lay back on the powder-blue seats as the big car whispered its way back to Villefranche, through the town, and off to St. Briac's villa, and Larry talked about baseball and karate and the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay.


The villa was quiet, still, deserted, and in the dead hour before dawn there was no sound but the soft wash of the sea. Craig sat in the car and looked at the high wall, the electrified wire. There was no sound of dogs, no fight in the garden.

"Do you want me to come with you?" asked Larry.

Craig said, "I don't want you to do anything except help me over that wall-then disappear."

Larry shrugged. "You're the boss," he said.

Craig said, "Don't be like that. It has to be done this way. There may be police in there-and I've brought you people enough trouble as it is."

"You've been beaten up," Larry said. "You've been nearly murdered, chased, threatened, tortured. You must have a damn good reason for going back in there."

"I have," Craig said. "The same reason that says I can't take you."

The wire was dead, so it was easy for Larry to heave him over the wall, and this time he landed well, his finger unhurt. He stood there swaying in the garden, dizzy with fatigue and overstrain, then slowly felt his way toward the house, telling himself as he willed his body forward that it is always possible to take just one more step, do just one more job. A guard with a carbine lay dead on the path. Nearby, in the kennels, an Alsatian howled once and he stiffened, then moved on again to the house. Suddenly a policeman came out of the shelter of the house, and Craig froze. Carefully he worked around to the back of the house. Pucelli had said there would only be one, and he hadn't bed. St. Briac's death was too important for men like Segur. Big men, sympathetic men had been sent for from Paris, and until they arrived, nothing was to be touched. La Valere and the rest were to have guarded the villa, until the big men, the sympathetic men arrived.

No lights showed anywhere in the empty house. Craig took out Pucelli's key ring. The third key fitted, and he went in, back to the office where St. Briac had questioned him so carefully. The wall cabinets were locked, but Pucelli's keys worked them too. There were new francs inside,?. 10,000 worth, and a briefcase full of documents. Craig put them both to one side and examined the other drawers and desks. Lists of names, fists of places, of funds, of soldiers, of enemies, all visible in the moonlight. He sorted out what he thought was needed, and left the rest-all except one. That was a list with his name on it, and Baumer's, and Rutter's, and Lange's, each one carefully ticked off. He burned that one; there were other names on it too.

In one of the bedrooms he found a suitcase and stuffed it full of the paper and documents he had found, then went out into the hall, carrying the suitcase. A dog howled again, and Craig moved into the shadow of the staircase, put down the bag and took out the Woodsman, as the dog barked once more.

There were a series of clicks at the door, and at last it opened. The gun in Craig's hand was rock-steady as he waited in the shadowed darkness, watching the newcomer outlined in the moonlight. Suddenly a dog yelped and a second man dashed forward, cannoned into the first, and brought him down. The first man squirmed like a cat and the two men rolled over and over, and suddenly Craig laughed aloud, laughed till he wept, till his stomach ached, till he was so weak he could do nothing but sit on the stairs and groan his laughter, and the two fighting men stopped in bewilderment and came to stand before him, hurt and indignant that Craig should laugh when he might have helped.

"Oh, Grierson," Craig moaned, "why didn't you stay in Bordighera. And you, Larry. Why didn't you go home?"

Larry said, "I was covering for you. I saw this guy break in. I thought maybe he was after you. You mean he's a friend of yours?"

Craig stopped laughing.

"We're on the same side," he said, and turned to Grierson. "Where do you want to go now?"

"Baie des Anges," Grierson said. "The boat's waiting there."

"Am I supposed to be coming too?" Grierson nodded.

"Maybe Larry would take us," Craig said. "Sure," said Larry. "I'm sorry I went for you. I thought you were after Mr. Reynolds." "That's all right," Grierson said.

"I mean, Mr. Reynolds is a friend of mine. I wouldn't want him to get hurt."

"So I noticed," Grierson said. "You're pretty good."

"Reflexes," said Larry. "I think that's the most important thing. If you're born with good ones, you can't miss." Then aggrieved: "This whole business is driving me nuts. If I knew who was on whose side, maybe I could help somebody-"

"You can," said Craig. "Take us to the Baie des Anges." "Ashford-" Grierson began. "Ashford's dead," said Craig.

"O.K.," said Larry. "O.K. As long as somebody knows what they're doing-And what about the gendarme?"

"Yes," said Craig. "What about him?"

"I'm awfully sorry, I'm afraid I clobbered him," said Grierson.

They went out, taking the suitcase with them, and Craig and Grierson waited while Larry walked back down the road and returned with the Cadillac. The great car moved off, swift and sweet. Craig said nothing, and Grierson, beside him, was stiff and awkward in silence. Larry began to talk about the works of Carl Sandburg; there were enough to take them past the airport to the little bay where the white yacht waited close inshore. Run up on the shingle beach was a dinghy, its outboard motor already stepped and ready. They pushed it into the sea and Grierson pulled the cord and the engine fired at once. Larry shook hands with Craig and watched him climb aboard, then handed the suitcase to Grierson. He didn't speak to Grierson. The dinghy chugged out to the yacht, which was already weighing anchor, its diesels throbbing more loudly as they came alongside and scrambled aboard. From its deck, Craig watched the tailhghts of the Cadillac as it moved back toward Nice, toward Cap Ferrat. Larry would have a lot of explaining to do after he had put the car away.

The yacht set out to sea at once, the skipper and crew moving about their work, ignoring the two men who stood on deck and stared with such intensity at the receding French coastline, until dawn came up a bright and glowing red. Grierson said, "We'd better go below. You aren't exactly invisible."

Craig went down to a bath, and breakfast in a cool saloon where a deft-handed steward served eggs and bacon and coffee, and Craig at last could think about sleep when he moved into a deep armchair and the sound of twin diesels was a monotonous lullaby. He wanted to think about Sophie-and St. Briac, Ashford, La Valere, and Grierson too. Where did he stand with Grierson now, and that fat, sloppy, brilliant bastard Loomis? It was important to think about these things. Important for him, but Grierson kept out of bis way, and he was tired. Craig slept.

It was four o'clock when Grierson woke him, and he showered, put on a change of clothes, and sat down to another meal. There was wine this time, and brandy afterwards. Craig considered getting drunk, and rejected the idea. It wasn't time; not yet. Grierson sat and watched him eat. Neither of them spoke until Craig had finished and moved once more to the easy chair, yawned, and stretched. It would be so easy, so delightful, to sleep again.

Grierson said, "Are you sending me to Coventry?"

"No," said Craig. "I'm waiting for you to tell me what I have to do."

"All right," Grierson sighed. "Make your report."

Craig told him; about S6gur, about Ashford, La Valere and the duel, and Turner phoning the police. It was hard to put into words how the duel had affected him; for a while he'd been so weary, so ready to die, but instead he'd killed again, in a farce that had turned into melodrama, and Sophie and Maria might have died in his place. He let it all drift by.

"When it was time to get out," he said, "I started to think about the job and what Loomis had told us to do. You were out, and Ashford was dead. That left me. I knew there was a chance I could get into St. Briac's villa and look through his papers. So I did. Then you turned up."

"If I hadn't" Grierson asked, "what would you have done?"

Craig said, "I'd have got out. I had friends and money and a gun. I'd have got out. When I die, it'll be for myself-or the things I believe in. It won't be for Loomis."

Grierson said, "When you work with this organization, you agree to carry out orders. Any orders-no matter who's involved. That's the way it has to be. I knew Loomis was wrong about you; I knew he underestimated you-but he wouldn't listen. He told me what I had to do, and I did it."

"Why did you come back?"

"I had to try for St. Briac's papers," Grierson said. "You left it a bit late, didn't you?" Grierson sighed. "I had orders to take Ashford off too -if I could. But I couldn't get near. And anyway-" "He was dead," said Craig. "You're sure?"

"I saw him," Craig said. "Believe me, he was dead." "You didn't have a chance to help him then?" "Not even as much as you had to help me," said Craig, and Grierson winced. "What do you want anyway? The skin off my back? St. Briac's had some. I'm the one who got done over, and I'm the one who killed St. Briac. And La Valere. And I'm the one who's getting out with you. I mean that, sport. You try leaving me behind again and I'll kill you."

"You're coming out," Grierson said. "I've had orders."

"You have. From me," said Craig, and again Grierson winced, and sat in silence as the yacht moved smoothly on, and anchored at last off Diano Marina. They went ashore to a little cove above the town. There was a Fiat waiting for them, an Italian hired car. Grierson had the ignition key. The back of the car was strewn with luggage and cameras, bottles of Chianti and Italian knitwear; the booty of the returning tourist. Grierson pressed the starter and they moved off on the fast road to Savona, then the autostrada that took them to Genoa. For an hour, neither man spoke. At last Grierson said, "Oh, for God's sake. I like you. It was a pleasure working with you. Do you think I wanted to leave you behind?"

"No," said Craig, "I don't suppose you did. But I had my problems too. That fellow Turner. He was a good friend. And Sophie and Maria-they were locked up with a gun-happy sadist, to make sure I behaved. They've got two dead men to explain-and those two men had friends. Important friends. All that trouble because of me. And I was there because of you-and you left me there because of Loomis. And I suppose he only did it because he thought it was necessary. All right. It's the system. But don't expect me to feel happy about it." He sank lower in his seat. "I liked you too," he said. "That's why I trusted you. I haven't trusted anybody in years. Ah well. It all goes to show."

"Hell," said Grierson. "Bloody hell."

Craig didn't answer. A few miles farther on, Grierson said, "There's something else you ought to know."

But Craig didn't answer. He was asleep.

Grierson drove to the airport at Genoa. Craig had slept soundly all the way, but as soon as the city noises reached them he awoke completely and at once, and listened in silence as Grierson told him what they had to do.

It was night, the half-completed airport was almost empty, and Grierson handed over the passports and they followed the courier to face the customs and emigration people, who nodded sleepily and stamped whatever was necessary. Craig tried to look miserable because his holiday was over, and keep his broken finger out of sight.

The phone call came and they walked out to the Britannia and the brightly welcoming smile of a hostess in a bottle-green uniform. "Grierson and Lovegrove," said Grierson, and the hostess smiled, took their boarding cards, and made small, neat ticks against two names.

"Lovegrove," said Craig. "Why didn't you make it Win-terbottom?"

"It was the best one I could get in the time," said Grierson. "Anyway, what could be more respectable?" "What do I do?"

"You're a chartered surveyor," said Grierson. "Doing very nicely. In a few years' time they'll make you a partner."

The plane took off, climbing into the gleaming Mediterranean night, and below, the lights of each separate village on the coast glowed and dwindled into a great chain looped about Genoa before they mounted the clouds and Grierson took out cigarettes and ordered gin. They talked and dozed and read the magazines Grierson had bought, while the Britannia moved on inexorably, over the Alps, across France and the Channel to England, and at last to Manchester. No joy at the customs this time, no yawning acceptance of the fact that it was late and everybody was tired. Austere in their uniforms, white shirts and collars gleaming, the officers chanted like priests whose business it is to recite a liturgy, and patiendy listened to the halting, mumbled responses of laymen.

It was a very senior customs officer who examined Craig's and Grierson's luggage, and the suitcase with the papers in it sailed through untouched, but he charged them four pounds on brandy and sweaters, and they knew they were back in England. They drank tea and were driven out to a waiting Rapide, to be husded back to Gatwick airport in a busy roar of sound as the cabin monoplane scurried through mist and rain to the tenderness of another sunrise, and they knew once more they were in England, so delicate was its coloring.


Someone had brought Grierson's Lagonda to the airport, and in the stillness of dawn they raced toward London, past the works buses and heavy trucks, the streets of yawning men hunched against the chill of waking, into the quiet of the West End, first to a doctor, who treated Craig's injuries and said nothing at all, then to Queen Anne's Gate, where a blackbird shattered the silence with unending song.

"We're supposed to have breakfast with him," Grierson said. "I hope you're hungry. He always is. We'd better wash and shave first."

They went to a bathroom, and used an electric razor, then into a dining room with an oval table, where a butler like a failed middleweight was arranging chafing dishes on the sideboard. Tea and coffee stood ready, but Grierson was too well drilled to start before Loomis appeared. Craig lit a cigarette, and the butler's eyebrows twitched. When Craig poured himself a cup of tea as well, the butler looked ready to swoon.

"You're supposed to wait for Loomis," Grierson said.

"How was I supposed to know?" asked Craig. "I'm only a lousy amateur. And anyway I'm thirsty."

Grierson had known all along that this wouldn't be an easy meeting. If Craig was prepared for war, that was his privilege after all that had happened. All the same, he knew who would be in the middle.

Loomis bustled in for breakfast, brisk and breezy, in squirearchical tweeds, a Brigade of Guards tie, and very grubby shirt. He looked like a con man overacting. The great ridges of his eyebrows shot up as he saw Craig already smoking, but he mastered his anger and helped himself liberally to kedgeree, and began to eat. Grierson groaned inside, and took kedgeree too, and eggs and bacon, and deviled kidneys. It would be nice just this once to have Loomis in a good mood. Craig had another cup of tea and a thin slice of toast, and watched Loomis eat. The man was gross, greedy, and overwhelniingly, incredibly rude, but he had a tremendous, crude force and a gusto in success that had driven him to the top like a rocket. No doubt the government and civil service department chiefs deplored him; and no doubt too they needed him and put up with him because nobody else could do his job: gangster, judge, detective; and all in one fat, messy parcel.

Breakfast was finished at last, and the three men moved in procession to the great study where they first sat down together. Loomis hummed gently to himself, sinking into the vast chair with a contented sigh that the chair echoed as it accepted his weight.

"Tell me," said Loomis, "everything."

Grierson spoke first, calmly, dispassionately, leaving out no detail that had validity. Craig listened and admired a man's mind functioning with such clinical, detached logic, about Sophie and Maria, about Ashford, about himself. The horror in St. Briac's villa, the mnning chase in the garden, the duel, the escape, they were all reduced to the calmness and deliberation of chess moves, as if the body had not sweated in struggle or cringed in pain: as if death were no more than a piece taken from a board. Yet he was honest about it too. Craig had killed St. Briac, Craig had broken into the villa. The praise flowed as easily as the blame, and as coolly, so detached that there could be no embarrassment. When Grierson had finished, Loomis nodded happily a couple of times and turned to Craig.

"Good. Now you tell it. I want two versions. I want to find out if they tally. Tell me yours, son. And take your time. We've got all day."

Craig sat still for a moment, reviewing all that had happened. At last he said, "You great, fat, greedy bastard, what else can I do for you? I killed the men you wanted killed, I stole the papers you wanted stolen. I tried to rescue Ashford for you, I taught Grierson how to fight. About the only thing I didn't do was give myself up, and you didn't expect that anyway. You thought I was dim enough to get myself caught. And you were wrong. You told Grierson to ditch me-and he did-and when we met again I told him I'd kill him if he tried it again. Maybe I would have-I don't know. But you-you bastard, I'd have killed you all right."

He stopped and waited for the explosion, but Loomis was perfectly calm and relaxed. "If you'd got out alive," he said.

"I'd have got out," Craig said. "And I'd have come here for you. And while we're telling vulgar truths, let me ask you something. What happened to Pucelli? I thought you were going to keep him here."

"Now there I owe you an apology," said Loomis. "I really do. I admit it. The trouble with Pucelli is he's such a hard man to watch. Our chaps lost him." For a moment the good humor vanished, and he snarled, "I've had a word with them about that." Then he reverted to urbanity. "But it didn't make all that much difference, did it? I understand that you coped with Pucelli without much trouble?"

"Oh yes," said Craig bitterly. "I coped with him. I put a thirty-eight bullet in his arm."

"There you are then," Loomis said.

"The hell I am," said Craig. "He and his sadist friend might have killed innocent people."

"Innocent," Loomis said dreamily. "What a nice word that is. So quaint. So old-fashioned. A bit stupid, though -in your mouth. They were all your contacts, weren't they? You picked up the two girls; you broke into their house; you were the one who made friends with Turner -firing off guns to let La Valere know where you were."

"Lucky for me I did," said Craig. "They got me out."

"You picked 'em, all right," Loomis said. "I'll admit that. A couple of sexy birds and a brandy-happy millionaire. Between them they had everything you wanted -except discretion."

"They got me out," Craig said again.

"And you got them in," said Loomis. "If they were in danger, it was your fault. Grierson knew better. He wanted to go on alone. He wanted to leave them."

"They were good cover," said Craig. "And anyway Grierson was going to ditch me."

"One fight at a time," Loomis said cheerfully. "Let's stick to your friends for now. Would you have picked them if they'd been fatter-or skinnier? Would you have stayed at Turner's villa if they hadn't been so sympathetic? You didn't have to stay, you know. Grierson didn't. And as you never tire of telling me, you're such a bloody marvel you could have got out all by yourself- broken finger and all. Which brings you to Grierson's desertion. All right, he did leave you-because I ordered him to-and now I'm going to tell you why. I think you would have got out on your own-and I wanted you to -and what's more I wanted you to make a hell of a noise doing it-because this had to look like an amateur's job. And you were the best amateur we could find. You had the, means, and the motive, and we gave you the opportunity. When it was all over and you got out-"

"If I did," said Craig.

"You would have," Loomis said. "We weren't going to leave you for them to play with indefinitely-when you got out, you were going to disappear. The French would ask for Reynolds and we'd have said he didn't exist. And all the time you'd be living happily ever after in the Bahamas or somewhere."

"Suppose they'd asked for me as Craig?"

Loomis leered at him. "How could they? Just imagine them asking for Craig. I ask them why they want him and they say for killing St. Briac and I say we've got proof St. Briac killed Craig weeks ago and ask them if they believe in ghosts. They'd feel foolish. The French hate feeling foolish."

"So everything's all right?" Craig said.

"Is it? I can explain Grierson. He's just another gunman you hired for the job-but what about Ashford? When I planned the thing, Ashford was just La Valere's little friend. I got Ashford into this the same way I got you. He wasn't a professional-he just happened to be fond of La Valere-and La Valere adored him. I made him work for us. I blackmailed him. And now he's dead -because you let La Valere find him-and that association is known. We'll deny it of course, and they won't be able to prove anything-but it's known all right. There's a man in Paris this minute who realizes I set up a murder. Maybe by now he understands why, too-and it's a damn good reason. It has to be. You don't think I do it every week, do you? When I kill, it's because there's no other way-and St. Briac was one I had to kill. If I hadn't he'd have killed a hell of a lot of people and maybe started a war as well. So I picked you. You were tailor-made. And anyway I know how to pick 'em. I'm never wrong."

"There has to be a first time, I suppose," Craig said. "I'm sorry it had to be me."

"When I say never, I mean never. Not once. Not even with you. I just don't make mistakes. You do, and I've explained them to you. They're things you should know about, and I'll tell you why you make them if you like. But I don't. I daren't. Your mistakes were all provided for. Look. The fact that you picked girls up shows you weren't my agents. Then there's the money you took from the safe. That shows you were both crooks."

"And Ashford?"

"Ashford was just a man who stumbled on something too big for him. He loved somebody who was trying to do his country in. He found out-and it was too much for him. It killed him. When we get down to arguing the toss, our people will admit he had tried to contact British Intelligence, and we'll say he had every right to. We won't admit we contacted him. The other side'll know it, but they won't be able to prove it.

"Anyway, they're most of them decent men. Algeria's a madhouse for them with the door wide open. And they're trying to shut it. The trouble is, some of the madmen are pretty well placed-well enough to protect St. Briac and his kind; if it hadn't been for that, we'd have asked for his removal long ago. But the madmen wouldn't hear of it; and they're strong enough to bring down the government. Now he's dead and they can't do a thing about it-except ask for you. And if you're Craig you're dead, and if you're Reynolds you don't exist. We can prove it."

"What about Inspector Marshall's bright idea?"

"It's been dropped," said Loomis. "We're ignoring it."

"And Duclos and Pucelli?"

"They ought to be in prison by now," Loomis said, "if that chum of yours-Turner-is as rich as he says he is. Anything else?"

"You said you know why I make mistakes."

Loomis said, "It's easy. You've been alone too long. All these years you've lived sealed off from everyone- trusting nobody but yourself. And now you're trying to get back, to rely on other people; have them rely on you. That makes you vulnerable, Craig. It also makes you human."

Craig nodded. "I'm not grambling," he said. "It's better the way it is. How's my wife?"

"No change," said Loomis. "But she's hardly likely to recover-not now."

"We used each other all the time," said Craig. "And it was my fault, most of it. I could have changed her if I'd tried. I didn't want to try." He stood up. "I'd like to see Tessa," he said.

"Of course," said Loomis. "We've had her moved. She's in a flat in Regent's Park. You get on up there. We'll call you when we need you. Here's your address." He handed Craig a piece of paper. "You had it rough, son," he added. "I realize that. People like St. Briac know how to hurt. And I'm certain you didn't tell them anything either. If you had, you wouldn't have come back here. I'm grateful to you for that."

Craig nodded and went out.

"He's a good man," Loomis said.

"The best," Grierson agreed.

"Liked him, did you? I'm not surprised. He does a good job. It's too bad we didn't meet him years ago. It's too late now. He doesn't want to be alone any more, and that's the way he has to be if he's going to be any use to us."

The flat in Regent's Park was big, airy, and furnished with an expert's calm good taste: the right rugs on the hardwood floor, the right blend of furniture, traditional and modern; the television set discreetly shuttered away; copies of three prescribed paintings-Van Gogh, Claude, and Canaletto-hung to the best advantage. When Craig got there, it was empty. He looked in cupboards and closets and saw how neatly his clothes had been stored, he admired the tranquil view of the park, the stern efficiency of the kitchen, poured himself a drink, and settled down to wait. It didn't take long.

There was the sound of a key in the lock, and Craig sat where he was, sipping his drink, smug and content. High heels tapped into the kitchen, the door of the refrigerator slammed, there was the sound of tap water running into a kettle. When Tessa came in at last, she looked tall and elegant in a dark blue suit, a shopping bag of white straw over her arm, and when she saw him the bag fell softly to the floor, her elegance vanished.

"My God," she said. "Oh my God."

She ran to him as he rose to greet her, and he crushed her to him, bent to kiss her, but her face was burrowing into his shoulder, and she would not look up at him until he cupped his hand under her chin and tilted back her head.

"Tessa," he said, "what's wrong?"

"I thought you were never coming back," she said breathlessly. "I thought it was all over. And you've hurt your finger. What happened? Have you been in an accident? Darling, you should look after yourself better. And please forgive me. We had a fight-don't you remember? I know it's stupid but I feel so embarrassed and I can't help it."

He had forgotten everything, except that he needed her, and she must live. When he kissed her, her lips were hard and thin and unyielding, but they softened at last, and her tongue fluttered between his teeth. When he let her go, she leaned back in the circle of his arms.

"I'm sorry," Tessa said. "I know I was being stupid, but oh darling I'm so happy, and what on earth have you got under your coat?"

She loosed its buttons and the coat feff open. He was still wearing the Woodsman. "Oh," she said.

Craig removed his coat, loosed the straps of the soft leather holster and took it off, then opened the gun and looked down the barrel. It needed cleaning. Then he searched her face, and saw the agony of fear and love im her eyes.

"All right," he said. "I used it. That's what I went away for. You know that." "Did you-kill somebody?"

He nodded. "Somebody was trying to kill me. He very nearly did." He put the gun down on the table. "You knew all that. I warned you myself. This was the only chance I had, Tessa. For both of us. It was either that or wait for him to find me." Still she was silent. "Look," he shouted. "There were four of us involved in a deal- selling guns to Arabs. The other three are dead. Bang. Bang. Bang. Because of him. My wife's dying, my brother-in-law's dead. Because of him. He caught me for a while. You'd better know that, too. I was nearly drowned, over and over again, I was beaten, and burned, and my finger was broken. Because of him. Everything because of him."

With his good hand he ripped open his shirt, showed her the crisscross of bandage on his chest and back. "He did all this to me-and then he tried to kill me-but he slipped up-just once-but once is enough. And now he's dead. Do you think I care? He very nearly killed you, too. He put the bomb in your flat-remember? Or he told somebody to do it. What's the difference? He's dead now. They'll leave us alone-both of us."

She came to him, her hands gcntie on his torn body, and was all sweet willingness and care. And Craig loved her completely, with a tenderness he had never known for any other woman, so that when they had done she wept, and there were tears in his eyes too, for wonder that two people should so possess each other, so intertwine their hearts' and bodies' needs. He kissed her very gently, wondering that he should ever have thought that he had pitied her. Where there was such a need as his, there was no room for pity.

For Tessa, the next twenty-four hours were by far the best in her life. She knew, knew beyond doubt, the depth of his love for her, knew too that the risks and agonies he had taken had been, in part at least, for her. And now he showed his love for her in every possible way. He took her to a restaurant, a jeweler's, a furrier's, buying for her any and everything that came into his mind, as if each new thing should be another symbol, not of purchase, but of trust. In the evening he took her to the theater, then a restaurant, and a club. He even asked her if she'd hke to go back to the Lucky Seven, the most foolish and therefore the most wonderful offer that he could have made, and when she said no, he took her instead to the most expensive places, one after the other, and when they were home, made love to her all over again, and it was more wonderful even than before, and afterward they lay in the dark and whispered softly about where they would go, and he told her about the Greek island that he knew, and how happy they would be there, and fell asleep in the telling, his head on her naked breast, and Tessa lay very still, and stroked his harsh brown hair, and wondered if twenty-four hours could cancel out, just like that, ten years of drifting misery.


Mrs. Craig died and Marshall willed himself to see Brady. The visit had to be made, but Marshall knew it wouldn't be easy. It would look better if he took Hoskins too, and in any case Hoskins was entitled to go, he'd been on the Craig case all along, and Marshall was not the man to ignore that sort of etiquette. Nevertheless, he dreaded taking Hoskins, as he dreaded facing Brady. There was no doubt in his mind that Brady would make a fool of him, and Marshall had climbed too far and too fast to be able to cope with being made foolish.

They went in a Humber, big and black and discreet, as if it too were a special kind of policeman. If only he could have talked to him in the car, Marshall thought, everything would have been fine, but in the end they had to go to the hospital, and drink coffee with Brady, who was having a violent argument with an Indian ophthalmologist. And even when the row was over and Brady and Mr. Gopalachari were friends, it still seemed all wrong, and awkwardly wrong at that, to Marshall. People ought to have rows in private. Married people, he supposed, weren't so fussy, and Brady had been married three times. Marshall felt a bachelor's awe for the hero who had three times set sail into the great uncharted waters. Brady took them to his office, and sprawled back in bis chair, his feet on his desk.

"You'll want to see the death certificate, I suppose," he said, and hooked a drawer open with his foot, lunged, and threw a sheet of paper over to Marshall.

"Usual abracadabra," he said. "It means she got a bash on the head and it took its time. But it killed her all right. Inquest?"

"Yes," said Marshall.

"Ah. She came around just before she went. Did they tell you that?"

"Yes," said Marshall. "Did she say anything?"

Brady nodded and began to search his pockets.

"I wrote it down. Can't be too careful, when you fellows are on the job. Where in hell did I put it?" A pile of assorted oddments grew on the desk in front of him. "Ah. I knew I had it somewhere." He picked up a crumpled form, unrolled it, and began to read in a flat voice.

"Poor Charlie was backing out the car. Was there something wrong with it? He was in the orchard. He would be."

He looked at Marshall. "I suppose he meant Craig," he said.

"Possibly," said Marshall. "We can't be sure."

"Dammit all, man, no one else was there."

"Not as far as we know. No," Marshall said unhappily.

"Anyway, it proves you were right about the body in the car," Brady said. "Amazing, my dear Holmes."

"When Mrs. Craig said these things, who else was there?" Marshall asked.

"Nobody," answered Brady. "At least, there was a nurse about," he added vaguely, "but she didn't hear anything."

"Are you sure?" asked Marshall.

"Positive. That's why I wrote it all down. And she died pretty soon after. Mrs. C, I mean. Nurse was too busy to chat with the likes of me."

"And you haven't told anybody else? Not even your wife?"

"No. After the last lot, I thought I'd better not risk it. What's it all about anyway?"

"She mightn't have been referring to Craig. We can't be absolutely sure," Marshall said. "So we don't want her words used at the inquest."

"Who doesn't?" Marshall was silent. "Orders from up top? Too bad, son. You had a bright idea. Never mind. Fiat justitia." Marshall blushed scarlet. "But I've got my code as well, you know. The Hippocratic oath. Don't you ever watch the telly? There's nothing but doctors-and they all have their code. Suppose I get up there and tell the truth? Who's going to stop me?"

"The coroner," said Marshall.

"Old Slingsby? He wouldn't dare," Brady said. "He's scared of me. Did you know that? Doesn't seem possible, does it?"

"I don't know," Hoskins said. "You could scare a lot of people if you were in the mood."

"That's right," said Brady. "Now why shouldn't I tell the truth?" Marshall opened his mouth, and Brady held up his hand.

"No," he said. "Let's hear from your apprentice."

"You liked Craig," Hoskins said, and Brady nodded. "If you go shouting your mouth off again that he isn't dead, you're going to make things rough for him. Very rough."

"How?" asked Brady.

"I don't know," answered Hoskins. "If I did, I couldn't tell you. But I know it's true."

"Let me get this straight," said Brady. "I'm to keep my mouth shut because somebody you won't tell me about said it would be rough, in some way you can't specify, if I didn't. Is that right?"

Marshall sighed aloud.

"That's right," said Hoskins.

"All right," said Brady. "I'll do it." He swiveled in his chair and leered at Marshall. "You're strong on duty, Marshall, and I'm strong on pals. Somewhere between us there's a human being. Have a drink."

"We're on duty."

"So am I," said Brady. "But I don't boast about it." He reached into the desk again, and produced a bottie and glasses, then poured out three good ones. "Sweethearts and wives," he said. "May they never meet."

The telephone was shrill and complaining. Craig groaned into consciousness and looked down at Tessa, naked, vulnerable beside him, then padded into the lounge and picked up the phone.

"I'm sorry to disturb you," Grierson said, "but the Demon King wants you. Now."

"Why?" said Craig.

"He didn't say, he never does. I'll be over in twenty minutes. Wait at the corner."

The phone clicked and Craig went to the bathroom, mixed Alka-Seltzer, held his head under the tap. He showered and dressed, then walked into the kitchen. Tessa was already there, making coffee. She wore the dressing gown he had bought her the day before.

"Very nice," said Craig. "Sexy."

He slipped his hand into the V of her neckline, and touched her body, still warm and moist from bed.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"I don't know. Maybe nothing," he said. "Somebody wants to see me."

He took a cup of coffee and sipped cautiously. Hot and strong, the way he liked it. His hand curved on her body again, and he kissed her.

"I'll have to go," he said. "It's the big boy. I'm not supposed to keep him waiting." He looked at her face. Already she was afraid. "Don't worry," he said. "The job's over. You know that. There are always a few loose ends. I'll be back soon. Get yourself dolled up and we'll go out for lunch somewhere."

He reached for his coat and she held it for him, then drew it away.

"You haven't got your gun," she said.

"This bloke's on my side," said Craig. "I don't need a gun."

"Please," she said. Please. I'll worry if you don't." His finger was clumsy, and she had to buckle the straps in place for him. He took out the Woodsman, opened it, checked the ammunition, then put it into the holster and let her help him on with his coat.

"Am I properly dressed now?" he asked, and she moved into his arms, wincing as the gun pressed into her, but clinging to him even so. He left her and went down the stairs. Grierson's Lagonda was waiting, the engine running. Loomis might be worried after all.

"She died without any pain," Loomis said. "I'm not flanneling you, son. If it had been otherwise, I would have told you. You have a right to know." "Go on," Craig said.

"She came to just before she died. She said something about her brother being in the car. Only one bloke heard her. The surgeon. He's a gabby bastard, but he'll keep his mouth shut this time. You feel bad about it?"

"Rotten," said Craig. "It was my fault."

"That's right," said Loomis. "And now you've got another one to worry about."

"Nobody's touching her," said Craig, and the other two men looked at him quickly.

"Ah," Loomis said. "I hope not, son. Trouble is, I've got a bit more news for you, and it isn't all that good."

"It never is," Craig said. "Let's have it."

"Pucelli and Duclos got away," said Loomis. "There was a right cock-up at Turner's place, and we haven't got it all sorted out yet, but as far as I can gather it went something like this:

"Turner called that copper, Segur, and he got there first. Turner told him about the duel and claimed he didn't know why La Valere did it, except he was barmy. Said he must have meant to kill Ashford. So Segur pinched the two of them for murder and took them off. Then somebody else stepped in-never mind who-and Segur was taken off the case. They decided that you killed Ashford, and Turner and those two birds yelled bloody murder you didn't but by that time Pucelli and Duclos had been released. The last I heard, they'd disappeared. My guess is, they're looking for you, son."

Craig nodded.

"If they are, they'll come to London. Bound to. But they'll have a rough time finding you. We'll see to that. They've only got one lead. Your girl. They might trace her to Hakagawa's, but beyond that they'll never reach her because nobody knows where she is. Anyway, we'll keep an eye on her and you can stay here till we get them. It shouldn't take long."

"She'll have to stay here too," Craig said. Loomis shook his head.

"I can't do that," he said. "Sorry."

"Why not?" asked Craig. "Regulations? Are you running a monastery or something?"

"I'm tied hand and foot," said Loomis.

"You want her for bait," Craig yelled. "You lying bastard. You want her out in the open where they can see her."

"Suppose I did? She won't get hurt," Loomis said. "My wife did." "That was different."

"Was it? She was my responsibility too, remember. I'm going back to Tessa. If anybody's going to be bait, it'll be me."

"You'll only make it more dangerous for her," Grierson said. "Use your head, man. Nobody wants to hurt her. You're the only one they're interested in. If they do get to her, it'll only be to find out where you are."

"Yes," said Craig. "And Duclos has such a delightful way of finding out." He stood up. "Maybe I'm risking her life," he said. "All right. But I'll tell you something. I'm not a vain man, and I don't think I'm a boastful one, but I know this. Tessa would rather take her chances with me than be safe by herself. If I went to her and asked her she'd send me away, because she'd think it would be safer for me. So I'm not going to ask her. I'm going back to her. Now." He looked hard at the other two. "I've got a broken finger," he said. "But you'd better not try to stop me."

His good hand disappeared inside his coat.

"John. For Christ's sake," said Grierson.

Loomis chuckled, a fat, comfortable sound. "You really brought a gun with you?"

Craig brought it out, pointed it at the floor, at a spot halfway between the other two.

"You know, Craig, you're almost too good," said Loomis.

"Tessa made me carry it," Craig said, and Loomis chuckled again.

"That's better," he said. "Shows you're human. Like the way you worry about your girl. You've gone and got yourself involved-just like I told you. You have to draw up a balance sheet. All right. Go and see her. If you get yourself killed, it won't make things any worse for us. It may even make them better. The only reason I asked you to stay here was that I didn't want it to happen."

Craig's gun disappeared under his arm and he went out.

"He didn't even wait to say goodbye," Loomis said and chuckled again.

The red telephone on his desk shrilled out, and he picked it up, still chuckling. A voice quacked urgently, and his chuckling ceased. He swore vilely into the mouthpiece and banged down the phone.

"She's gone," he said. "Bolted down the tube like a rabbit down a burrow. We've got a woman tailing her. That Sanderson person. You'd better get after Craig quick. Got a gun?"

"In the car," said Grierson.

"All right. Get him-and stay with him. Keep calling in. Sanderson's pretty good. She should stay with the girl all right."

Grierson nodded, and ran for it, leaving Loomis to sit back in his chair and swear aloud. If Pucelli had got to her, he would kill without mercy, without caring who died, so long as Craig was among them.


Sanuki Hakagawa knew very well where Tessa was. The two women had become friends in a short time, and when Tessa had been moved to Regent's Park it had been unthinkable that Sanuki should not be told. Not many people, and few of them are women, can bear to be alone as Loomis was alone. If Grierson had been in London when Loomis had moved Tessa to Regent's Park he would have told Loomis so, and asked for another woman, Sanderson perhaps, to go with her. But Grierson had been in Provence, and Loomis had had her moved out with dire warnings of what would happen to her if she told a living soul where she was. And of course she had told a living soul, just one. Sanuki. The only friend she had. Sanuki had to be told so that she could call Tessa up and Tessa could talk about Craig and how wonderful it all was.

When Sanuki telephoned that day, it was no surprise. Tessa had been going to call her anyway, to tell her that Craig was back and life was more wonderful than ever. Then suddenly it wasn't. Sanuki had news of the men who were hunting Craig. But she had hung up, and when Tessa had tried to call back, the line was busy. She had grabbed a coat, missed a taxi and run for the tube, and Sanderson had gone with her. Sanderson was good; a placid matron who exuded an air of domestic success, as if Yorkshire puddings rose for her at a snap of her capable fingers. She could follow anywhere because she belonged anywhere, and Tessa should have been easy. Yet she missed"her.

Tessa stood by the tube door throughout the journey and was out at South Kensington and running before Sanderson could move, and when Sanderson tried to follow, everything went wrong. The place was jammed solid, a fat man got in her way at the barrier, and she wasted seconds dancing around him, and Tessa caught the last taxi. It raced up the Cromwell Road and Sanderson went to a phone booth to hear Loomis swear.

When Craig went back to the flat in Regent's Park and found Tessa was gone, he told himself that it was stupid to worry. She might have gone shopping after all. When the phone rang, he scowled. He didn't want to talk to Loomis any more. He had enough on his mind. On the other hand, Loomis might have news. He picked up the receiver.

Duclos said, "She's here with us, Craig. Listen!"

And then Tessa's voice, shrill, hysterical, saying, "Don't listen to them, darling. Don't do anything-" The sound of a blow, a gasp of pain, and silence.

"You believe it was her?" Duclos asked.

"Yes," said Craig.

"We don't want her, we want you," Duclos said. Craig was silent. "If you don't do as we tell you, she will suffer," Duclos went on. "I promise you she will suffer. It all depends on how much you like her."

"I like her enough," said Craig.

"That's good. I have two other friends of yours too. Japanese friends. They would suffer too-if you-"

"What do you want?"

"Come and see us," Duclos said. "At your Japanese friend's house. Bring with you the money you stole from us. Come alone-or the girl will die. You realize that?"


"There are other things also that you must pay for. You know that, too?"

"Yes," said Craig. "But the girl has to go."

"You're all we want," Duclos said. "You and the money. Come now."

Craig hung up, then stiffened as the doorbell rang. He went to the door, unlocked it without opening it, and went into the bedroom. After a moment, he saw Grierson come in and look around the hall, then go into the dining room. Slowly, silently, Craig bent and put down the Woodsman on the bedroom carpet, where Grierson could see it. When he came into the bedroom, Grierson went to the gun at once, and stooped to pick it up. Craig struck, hard and accurate, with the edge of his hand. Grierson pitched forward on his face and Craig looked at him for a moment, took the suitcase containing the money, and left. Grierson would have been useful, but he was more interested in capturing Duclos and Pucelli than in saving Tessa. Grierson was a risk he could not justify. In the flat the phone rang seven times, then stopped. The caller was satisfied. Craig was on his way.

He took a cab, and got out at the end of Hakagawa's street. He walked down its quiet opulence, without thinking of anything at all except how to get Tessa out. What would follow, the torment and eventual death, was something that he had known would come. For a while once more there would be pain, searing, appalling pain, then nothing. Ever since he had started gun-running, there had been that possibility, and now it was fact. The taste of fear was like metal in his mouth, but he thought still only of Tessa and walked on. By his enemies' standards, he was a criminal coming at last to receive judgment; by their standards they themselves were righteous judges, punishing without bias and without hate. Yet of the two who thought themselves gentlemen, the two St-Cyriens, one had broken his pledged word, the other had cheated in a duel-they had failed the codes that bound them most strongly. And the two who survived were gangsters, sadists who wanted a Corsican revenge, and money. Always in the end they wanted money. Well, he had that for them at any rate. Ten thousand pounds. His own money, not theirs, but that wouldn't matter. It was what they wanted, and they wouldn't question its origins. The door was open. Craig looked around once at the street, then went inside. He was sweating with fear…

When Sanderson called, Loomis had no time to waste in swearing. Grierson had failed, that was obvious; otherwise he would have phoned in. It was equally obvious that Tessa was going to Hakagawa's. He sent Sanderson to watch there for Craig, and then called Linton at Scotland Yard. He didn't want to, but he had no choice; his own people weren't available. There were never enough of them. For aU its excellences, the Welfare State didn't produce many Craigs. Grierson, for instance. Careful, competent, marvelous with women, perhaps the best Loomis had, but even he lacked the iron drive that had kept Craig going for so long. Then there was his inside knowledge too. The poacher turned gamekeeper, the expert who'd seen his job from every angle. He couldn't let Craig be killed. He'd have to get him away from his woman, of course…

Tessa wasn't in Hakagawa's house, nor was Sanuki. Shenju was there, tied viciously to a chair, and Craig cut htm free, using the samurai knife, razor sharp and five hundred years old.

"They kept a gun on Sanuki," Shenju said. "Otherwise I would have killed them. But with a gun pointed at her – Then they made her phone Tessa-or, they said, they would kill me. You have a pistol. You must leave it with me, then I will tell you where to meet them."

"No pistol," said Craig.

"I'm sorry. I must search you."

Craig raised his arms and Shenju patted his body, slowly, carefully. Craig had put the Woodsman in the waistband of his trousers, at the back, where the bulge wouldn't show, but Shenju was thorough. His fingers touched the hard metal, and he sighed. Then he sensed the tightness in Craig's body, and sprang away, poised.

Shenju said, "No, John, you can't beat me. Not with a broken finger."

Slowly Craig relaxed, and there was an overwhleming agony in his face.

"Do you want me to beg?" he asked. "I'll beg. On my knees if you like."

Shenju said, "You have seen these men before-with women?" Craig nodded. "If Sanuki dies, I shall die too.

People always think that death is not important to a Japanese. They are wrong, John. It is very important… But I cannot allow myself to live if I fail her. And I cannot allow those men to harm her"

Craig said, "They may do that anyway. One of them enjoys it."

"There is always a chance that they may not," Shenju said, "if I do exactly what I am told."

"I want my girl to have a chance too," Craig said. He looked into the dark, fathomless eyes of the Japanese, waiting his fate, and Tessa's.

"All right," Shenju said. "Go to Knightsbridge station. They will be waiting for you there. They know this house has been watched."

Craig stood up.

"When you go to them, Tessa will be allowed to walk away. If you try to cheat them, she will die."

"I won't risk her," Craig said. "They know that. Thanks, Shenju. I'm sorry I had to get you mixed up in this. I don't bring my friends much joy, do I?"

"In a year or so, you would have beaten me," the Japanese said. "The man who could do that and remain my friend has a right to what I have." His hand touched Craig's arm. "Remember all I taught you," he said. "I gave you great skill. Use it."

"If I can," said Craig. "But I'll have to wait until the women are out of it. Goodbye, Shenju."

For the only time since Craig had known him, the Japanese hissed and bowed in ceremony.

Craig went to look for a taxi, and Linton, his sergeant, and Sanderson followed him to Knightsbridge. It wasn't easy; Craig was as wary as a cat, but Sanderson was more alert this time. It was impossible, it was downright unnatural, to think of Sanderson as a secret agent.

Craig went into the station. Duclos was there, standing very close to Tessa, and Pucelli waited a little farther off. He looked pale, and moved his shoulder stiffly. Both men had their right hands in their pockets. When he saw Craig, Duclos signaled to Pucelli to watch Tessa, then walked over to him and took the case containing the money.

"You will follow us down," he said. "We have your ticket."

Craig followed them on to the escalator, past Berlei and Little X and Jantzen and Gossard; all the aloof and gorgeous girls in impeccable foundations, following another girl who looked ill and sloppy and needed him so much that he had to die. In the taxi he had transferred the Woodsman back to his shoulder holster. He needn't have bothered. There was no hope of using it if Tessa was to be freed.

Pucelli and Duclos took her to the westbound platform and stood at its farthest end, waiting. Slowly Craig followed, his hands open, by his sides.

Pucelli said, "You can go now."

Behind her, Tessa could hear the distant rumble of a train, the train that would take him away from her to torment and death. They had told her in detail what was going to happen to Craig. Duclos had enjoyed that, very much. The rumble of the train grew to a muted roar.

"Go," said Pucelli.

She still didn't move, and Craig stopped, waiting, wary. Behind him, Linton and the sergeant waited also.

Pucelli said again, "Go!" and pushed her from him. Tessa grabbed his arm and swung him with all her strength into Duclos. For a moment the two men had Craig unmarked. Tessa screamed "John! Run!" and hung on to Pucelli. He struck at her, and still she hung on. She could see Craig coming toward her and her heart leaped with love for him even as she screamed for him to go. Duclos hit her and she screamed for the last time as she fell into the path of the oncoming train and there was nothing in the world but its roar and the jarring squeal of its brakes.

Duclos ran, clutching the case, and Pucelli hesitated, torn by the need to get away and the need to kill Craig. The gun was half out of his pocket when Craig hit him the terrible once-only blow that Shenju had made him swear never to use unless the enemy were so evil and so strong that nothing else would do. There was a thin crack as Pucelh's spine snapped. Then his body slammed against the train and Craig was running after Duclos, the

Woodsman in bis hand. Linton swore aloud and ran after him as Duclos dodged through the maze of archways and leaped the barrier to the escalator, racing up its empty steps. Craig seemed to shrug off the porter who tried to hold him. Then he too was at the bottom of the steps. Duclos turned and fired at him, and the bullet slammed into the barrier. Craig didn't move. He stood, feet apart, weight evenly balanced, arm extended, the way he had been taught at pistol practice. Up, up went Duclos, racing to where the escalator's climb crested into a straight step to freedom. He had almost reached it when Craig shot him. His body arched and twisted under the impact of the bullet, and he seemed to fling the case into the air. It burst open and banknotes fluttered down like leaves as Duclos slid face downwards-until the momentum of the escalator caught and held him, bore him back up toward the top, and the silent, terrified people who watched as his toes bump-bumped into the metal slots, and his body recoiled each time and each time was borne in again as the escalator rolled.

"What I'd like to know," Loomis snarled, "is what the hell you were playing at-and you-and you."

He swiveled around in his chair and glared separately at Sanderson, at Linton, at Grierson, then pushed the chair back so that he could glare at them collectively.

"Don't tell me," he said. "I've heard all about it. Well, at least you can find the Japanese fellow's wife."

"We've done that, sir," Linton said.

"So I should bloody well think," said Loomis. "Was she hurt?"

"No, sir."

Loomis grunted. "No thanks to you," he said. "Well, what are we going to do now? You stand by like stone images and watch a girl shoved under a train and Craig fighting a private war. What are you going to do?"

"I take it they're both dead, sir?" Linton asked.

"What do you think?" Loomis snarled. "They killed his girl. Bloody fools. Just like that duel business. If they'd let well enough alone, he was going to give himself up. Did you know that? He must have been very fond of her."

"Yes, sir," said Grierson, and rubbed bis neck.

"That's why he clobbered you," Loomis said, "and I don't blame him. He did better on his own. Trouble is, he killed a couple of blokes. One might be self-defense. The other was murder."

"No, sir," said Linton. "Duclos was shooting at him."

"Ah," said Loomis. "Was he now? A bloke running amok, shoving girls under trains, charging at the great British public with a loaded pistol, and along comes a hero and knocks him off. Very public-spirited."

"It was his girl who was killed," said Linton.


Sanderson said, "Craig's, of course." She sounded bewildered.;

"Craig's'dead," said Loomis. "I keep telling you. I've seen the death certificate. This bloke's name is Jameson. He's in nuts and bolts. Doesn't go in for girls. His hobby's pistol-shooting. He's got a gun licence too. I saw it made out myself."

"You're going to let him go then?"

"He's gone," said Loomis. "Visiting a pal in Corfu. Another businessman. An American. Name of Turner. He met fiim on the Riviera. Got a couple of girls with him. Singers or something. Very interested in culture is Jameson." He glared for the last time at Linton and Sanderson.

"You can shove now," he said.

They shoved.

"We've had word from France. Officially, they take a dim view. Unofficially, they're grateful-and so they should be. St. Briac and his pals were raving loonies, and they knew it. Well, it's nice to know they owe us a favor."

He settled back in his chair and leered at Grierson.

"I sent Craig to Corfu myself," he said. "I thought he was entided to a bit of a holiday. I don't want him to overdo it."

"You mean he's coming back to us?" Grierson asked. "Well of course he's coming back to us," said Loomis. "He's got nowhere else to go."