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.He rushed back upstairs to a bedroom at the front of the house to get a different view.It was a boy’s room.From the window, he looked past the garden and trees toward the distant wall.He heard nothing now out on the street.Saw nothing moving anywhere in the gardens below.Maybe he was wrong.Maybe she really was distraught and half drunk, running away because of her horror to some private sanctuary.Or to join her husband in death.He could not take the chance.He raced back upstairs, emptied the safe, and dumped the contents on one of the couch beds.There were jewels, letters, documents.There was no money and no manifest.He shook his head angrily, his disappointment raw.He searched through the letters and documents twice more, swearing to himself.The invoice manifest was definitely missing.There was one item that was interesting–a typed note on the letterhead of a Belgian company: Donk & Lapierre, S.A., Antwerp and Hong Kong.Written in French, it was addressed to Yu Yongfu at Flying Dragon Enterprises.It assured Yu the shipment would arrive in Shanghai on August 24 in plenty of time for The Dowager Empress to sail, and it expressed great optimism for “our joint venture.” It was signed by Jan Donk and listed a phone number in Hong Kong under the sender’s name.Relieved he might have found something solid at last, Smith jammed the letter into his backpack and hurried out of the bedroom.He was at the head of the stairs when he saw shadows flit across the moonlit windows on either side of the front door.His pulse accelerated as he forced himself to stay motionless, listening.Out in the night, quick footsteps ran close to the house.With a jolt of adrenaline, he sprinted back to the master bedroom and peered out the rear windows at the formal English garden.No one was in sight, but there were no trees and no other way down except to jump.He dashed to the windows on the other side of the room, which faced away from the driveway and garage.The manicured lawn was the color of tarnished copper in the moonlight.There were trees, but none close enough to reach.There was, however, a drainpipe that ran from the gutters at the edge of the roof above him down to the grass.As he studied the drainpipe, two figures ran around the front corner of the mansion close to the house.They tested each window for entry.If no trap had been intended when he arrived, it was a trap now.They would soon find the front door unlocked, if they had not already.He had seconds to get out of the house before they were inside, up the stairs, and on him.He waited until the figures vanished toward the rear.He opened the window, climbed out, sat on the sill with his legs dangling, and leaned to the drainpipe, which was sheet metal and looked well attached to the house.Holding it, he swung himself out.It groaned but held.Using the toes of his shoes, he literally walked down the side of the mansion.As soon as he touched grass, he bolted out across the moonlit lawn toward the stand of trees that had sheltered him when he first arrived.Angry shouts in Chinese carried across the night from the windows of the master bedroom.They had found the open safe and spotted his escape.As soon as he reached the trees, he began weaving, dodging the dark vegetation.Shouts followed across the distance, and then it was a single hushed version of a deep, harsh voice giving whispery orders like a drill sergeant instilling steadiness in his men.Smith had heard the voice before– from the leader of the attackers on Liuchiu Island.The big Chinese with the red-and-white hair that the treasurer of Flying Dragon had called Feng Dun.Suddenly an ominous silence filled the night.Smith guessed they had been ordered to spread out, to methodically force him toward the wall where it bordered the street and the gate.Feng Dun would have more of his people waiting there.It was the same pincer movement he had used in the attack on Liuchiu Island.Military minds tended to favor the same tactics–like Stonewall Jackson’s outflanking night marches.Smith turned and trotted softly toward the back wall.As he slipped through the shadows, he pulled his walkie-talkie from his pocket.“Andy?Come in, Andy.”“Shit, Colonel.Are you okay?”“You saw them?”“Sure did.Three cars.I got out of there fastest.”“Where are you now?”“Out front, like you said.I stashed the car and walked back.The three cars are right here on the street, too close for comfort.”“Did they leave men there, too?”“You bet.”“How many?”“Too many, as far as I’m concerned.Three drivers.And another five just came out through the gate to join them.”“Let’s skip their greeting party.Go back to the car fast and drive around to meet me at the back corner of the wall on the side street.Got that?”“Side street, rear corner.”“Get going.”Smith ended the transmission and resumed his race toward the rear.He was just beginning to think he had outwitted his pursuers when he heard a noise that meant danger.He spun and dropped flat, Beretta in hand.There it was again–the hard sound of metal striking wood.There was a low, muttered oath.From the ground, he strained to see anything that stirred.The little forest had turned quiet, and the only movement seemed to be caused by the wind rustling through branches and leaves.There was a thicket of bushes to his right, near the wall [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]