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.He cannot think about Violet.Not yet.The water slaps quietly against the canal walls.Lionel concentrates on the classical white facade before him, blue-luminous in the electrified Zurich night, and the exquisite creatures who stream in and out of its doors.Everyone is having a smashing time.Everyone is wearing black tailcoats or jewel-colored dresses.You would never guess that armies throughout Europe were mobilizing for war.A few bars of Strauss dance through an open doorway, and then the door closes again.Lionel leans his shoulder against the tree, smoking, waiting.His muscles ache from the abuse of the day, overcoming guards and leaping aboard moving trains, and he knows there is more to come.He holds himself still, hoarding every packet of energy, every kilojoule remaining to him.There is no human test quite akin to the certain expectation of pain.The last of the moon slips behind the rooftop.A dark figure crosses the porte cochère and enters the garden where Lionel waits.Lionel doesn’t move.The profile, the gait, the carriage: it’s Henry, all right, carrying Violet’s valise in his left hand, down the gravel path to the Schanzengraben canal.His right hand is shoved in his jacket pocket, either casually or warily.The young fellow is still an enigma.Was all that awkwardness part of his cover, or not? When Henry has nearly reached him, when the crunch of his leather soles on the gravel is close enough to touch, Lionel steps from under the shadow of the tree.“Good evening, young Mortimer,” he says.Surprise, surprise.The satisfaction of a good ambush never dims, does it?But Henry composes himself quickly.“Richardson! Thank God! You’ve made it!”“Miracle of miracles.I suppose you’d given up hope.”“On the contrary.I had every faith in you.” Henry’s hand moves in his jacket pocket.Lionel nods at the valise.“I presume you’re on your way to the consulate right now?”“Yes.Of course.I took it upon myself in your absence.Jane agreed I should be the one to do it.”“You’re going by boat, I take it?”“What’s that?”“You’re headed for the Schanzengraben.I presume you have a boat waiting for you?”“Oh, yes.Of course.” Henry’s weight shifts to the balls of his feet.“Well, then.” Lionel tosses his cigarette on the gravel.“I’ll come with you.”“There’s no need.You must be shattered.Go in and join the ladies.Let me handle this one.”“What? Let you take all the credit, after all my hard work?” Lionel shakes his head slowly.Tsk tsk.He reaches for the valise.“I’ll just take it from here, if you don’t mind.”Henry bolts with astonishing quickness, such quickness that Lionel, even prepared, loses a few precious instants as he turns and forces his twisted right ankle into pursuit.In the darkness, he can’t see Henry’s long black back ahead of him.He runs by instinct, by the shift in the shadows, by the certain direction of the Schanzengraben ahead of them, and the imperative that Henry must not be allowed to reach it.Henry runs fast and unhindered by the battering Lionel has taken that day.But Henry is burdened in turn by the valise in his two arms, and Lionel, catching a glimpse of the younger man’s white collar, closer, closer, shoves his limbs past all limit of endurance and launches himself into the air.He catches Henry by the waist and drags him into the ground with a marrow-loosening thud.For a second or two, both men lie stunned, and then Henry rolls over and kicks himself free.Lionel lunges and catches him, and together they roll in the gravel, shoving and elbowing like schoolboys, flailing for a clear strike with a fist, a knockout punch.But while Henry is agile, Lionel is thicker and stronger, massive as a young ox, experienced in the brutality of hand-to-hand combat.On the third attempt, he catches the young man’s shoulders in an oak-armed lock and places his knee against Henry’s kidneys.Dust fills his mouth.He spits it out and leans into Henry’s ear.“Now.I must beg you to satisfy my curiosity before we proceed.”“What the.bastard.” Henry gasps.He strains against Lionel’s arms.“Did you alert the police in Blumberg for the sole purpose of having me killed, or was it the papers you were after?”“I don’t know what you mean.”Lionel jerks back Henry’s head.He saws for air.“I think you owe me an explanation, don’t you? I was put to considerable hardship today.Had to kill poor von Engel, and I do dislike killing a Merton man.My temper is not at its best.So tell me.Who are you really working for? The Germans? The British? Yourself?”“Fuck yourself.”“I would have suggested the Americans, but then we recruited you, didn’t we? According to my information, you agreed because you wanted to help Britain, because your own country was enslaved to German interests.So you said.”“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”“Now, there is another possible motive.Violet.I’ve seen the way you look at her.Not that I blame you.” He says, in a silky voice, provocative: “Trust me, lad, she’s even better than you’ve dreamed.”A violent spasm of arms and legs.“Leave her out of this!”“Ah! So we have a confession of something, in any case.” Lionel digs a little deeper into the small of Henry’s back, wanting to punish him for his thoughts, for the images of Violet that must lie in his male imagination.The anguish of Henry’s cry soothes his rage.Just.“So.Now that we have your hopeless yearning for Violet sorted out, let’s discuss your plans for her suitcase.You were intending to deliver it to the consulate as planned, were you not?”“Of course!”“Because we are all on the same side, here.Americans and British.We both want to prevent a war, don’t we?”Henry mutters something into the dirt.“What’s that, Mortimer? I can’t quite hear you.”“I said, fucking pacifist.”“Ah! That’s better.What I thought you said.” Lionel’s mouth tastes of copper [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]