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NOT having the least idea of his next  

^ assignment, DETECTIVE-SERGEANT I SCOBIE MALONE has accompanied L POLICE COMMISSIONER LEEDS to a

meeting with FLANNERY, the Premier of », New South Wales. He is astounded when I told to fly to London and arrest the

Australian High Commissioner, JOHN QUENTIN, for murder. It is a known fact in political circles Flannery is fend- ing with the Prime Minister, and as Quentin is his protege the scandal would li give Flannery a great victory.

' A secret investigation shows that 23

years previously Quentin, known then lÄ-as JOHN CORLISS, had disappeared

after FREDA, his wife, was found mur- dered. Later he had enlisted in the Navy * in Perth as Quentin, and a few months I after that had married SHEILA RED-

MOND.

In London, Quentin begs five days' 5 grace as he is presiding over a cease-fire ,J conference on Vietnam. Malone gets per ct mission for this and finds himself living I in Quentin's household and becoming

friends with him and his wife. LISA

" PRETORIOUS, Quentin's secretary, and

JOSEPH, the Hungarian butler, are a little surprised, but accept his presence. I Accompanying the Quentins and Lisa

to a reception, Malone meets JAMAICA, an American negro, who warns him to be careful of MADAME CHOLON, an i -Oriental. Returning to the house, there I is an attempted assassination on Quentin,

and SUPERINTENDENT DENZIL and , SERGEANT COBURN, from Scotland ', Yard Special Branch, arrive to investi ; gate. Meanwhile PALLAIN and PHAM

CHINH, who are in league with Madame Cholon, have made their getaway.

Next morning, waiting for Quentin outside the conference room, Malone is II startled when Jamaica comes np behind \r him and speaks. NOW READ ON:

"She's not here yet," Jamaica said as he met Lisa and Malone at the tables.

"ÄÄALONE looked down at the dark hand still clutch

ing his arm. "You've got a pretty hefty grip there. Where did you get it? Shaking hands for the State Department? Or putting the squeeze on non-co-operative

countries?"

Jamaica's face stiffened and his grip tightened; then he dropped his hand and smiled. Negroes' smiles are a trap, Malone thought; they always look twice as bright and friendly as those of anyone else. "Like they say, if you want honest criticism, always ask your friends."

g "Are we friends?"

; "Maybe not on a personal level. But our countries are Í» supposed to be."

1 Malone was guilty of the gift of too much charity. 1* Now all at once he forgot his antágonism toward Jamaica »'and said, "Look, Jamaica, what can I do for you?"

f Jamaica recognised the change of tone in Malone's '' voice. He seemed to relax; his eyes came alive again. *'"I saw you talking to Madame Cholon last night at the i'1 reception. What do you know about her?"

"Nothing at all. She latched on to me, not the other ^way around."

t "She seemed to know a lot about you. I'd be careful, ¡"Malone."

rji "You said that last night. What's going on? What do

, you know about her?"

c. Jamaica said nothing for a moment, his dark face

stiff as if he were debating with himself; then he shrug- ged and appeared to relax'. "Nothing, nothing at all." He modded across the room toward Quentin, now turning > "to go back up the stairs with Larter, Edgar, and his ; Sther advisers. "How's it going in the conference room?" ^ "The High Commissioner doesn't confide in me."

"He's the top boy here, the one with all the influence, i rif anything happened to him, where would we be? I c0heard one of the Africans say he wasn't on his best ,1, form this morning. He doesn't look well, does he?"

ii1 "Is there such a thing as conference virus? If there is, nine's probably got it."

IC' "You don't give much away, do you, Malone? You

tever hear much about Australian security. Are you all v(that good?"

tb'

Second instalment of our three-part serial

"Isn't that the ideal security set-up, the one you never hear about? Anyway, who told you I was a security

man?"

It was Jamaica's turn to grin. "Madame Cholon. I told you she seemed to know a lot about you."

The crowd had begun to move toward the stairs, like a tide flowing uphill. Africans and Indians in their native dress mingled with the black jackets and striped trousers; Malone wondered if his light grey suit would have been so conspicuous after all. Anyone could be lost in this crowd, even an assassin.

Then Jamaica said, "I'd stay away from Madame Cholon if I were you."

He turned and walked away, disappearing out the front door. Malone went to follow him, then stopped. Up on one of the balconies Quentin had stopped to talk to a man whose face was vaguely familiar. Malone stared hard, trying to remember where he had seen the swarthy oriental-looking face before. Then he remem- bered the man had been sitting in the car parked in the street off Belgrave Square last night. He started toward the stairs, feeling the sweat already breaking on him. By the time he had made the first landing of the stairs, he saw that Quentin was still alive, had gone on into the conference room. The swarthy man said something to Edgar, standing beside him, then turned and walked back along the balcony.

"What's the matter?" Coburn, suddenly alert, no longer unhappy looking, came up on to the landing beside

Malone.

"Find out who that bloke is." Malone nodded up to- ward the man now about to descend the flight of stairs on the west side of the hall. "Keep an eye on him

till I come down."

Then hurrying, but trying not to attract too much attention to himself, he went up the east flight of stairs and along the balcony, just in time to intercept Edgar as the latter was about to enter the tall doorway of the conference room. Edgar looked back in surprise as his arm was grabbed.

To page 32

Second instalment of our three-part serial by JON CLEARY

THE HIGH COMMISSIONER

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 31

"Who was that bloke just spoke to His Excellency?"

Edgar shrugged. "Some news- paperman, I think."

"What did he want?"

"An interview, I suppose. He wanted to know if Quentin would be going back to Australia House at lunchtime. Look, I've got to go -" He nodded toward the doors, where an attendant stood waiting impatiently to close them.

"Tell Mr. Quentin not to move out of here without Sergeant Coburn," he said to Edgar, and went hack along the balcony and

down the stairs at a run.

Coburn met him at the foot of the stairs. "I've checked on that cove. His name's Pallain. He's a correspondent, works for the East Asia News Agency."

"Is that a Communist agency?"

"I shouldn't think so. There's a list of all the newspapers and agencies covering the conference. The East Asia is based in Saigon,

not Hanoi."

"Where is he now?"

"He was in the Press room making a phone call. There he is now!" Coburn jerked his head across toward one of the side galleries, then he looked back at Malone. "What's going on?"

Malone watched Pallain move toward the front entrance. "I think he was in Belgrave Square last night. If Quentin goes back to Australia House at lunchtime, make sure you ride in the car with him. Even if you have to

kick out Larter to get in." He grinned. "Kick him out, anyway."

"Where are you going?"

Malone nodded after Pallain, now almost out the front door. "Pm going to stick with our mate for a while. I may just be heading up a blind alley, but it won't be

the first time."

When Malone got out into the yard he saw Pallain just getting

into a small red car.

Then he saw Ferguson get out of the Rolls and look inquiringly at him. Malone ran toward him.

"Get in quick!" He jumped into the front seat, slamming the door after him. "Follow that red car."

Ferguson asked no questions. He

swunif thc Rolls out of if,

into Cleveland Row. /U* N them the car, a bright ¡w| * ing target, was just tum».111* into St. James' Street. T "Í

Truong Tho gingerly foM bomb into the black leathen case. He was experienced i« making, but this, he knew

a better job than anything h Vt ever been able to manufactu^ti

He closed the top 0f the K

case and turned the key J* lock. "You have to be im,

of Quentin's staff can opeB

Pallain said.

"They can't open it withou, key," Truong Tho said,

the key in his pocket. He ra/ hands over the gold initiait 4 the lock: J.Q. "But you are t ' they won't know the differen«

"It's exactly the same ai tin's case," Pallain said

checked on the time (W should be back at Australia H I One-fifteen at the latest. Hi f lunch in his office, so he \»or

moving about the building - has his own washroom and ; When you see him arrive ai

trali :a House, give him ten min.. before you go in. Just hand

the porter, tell him Quentin

it at Lancaster House, and uV should be taken up to him

once. If the porter asks whi | are, you are from the South Vi nam delegation, a secretary."

TRUONG T

nodded, but Madame Cholon a "I wonder if we are taking ci

precautions? What if the p doesn't take it up at once? fuse is set for one-thirty."

"We'll have to take chance," said Pallain. "li

takes it up himself, he's likely bump into that security

Malone, or the Special Bra man who's with him."

"I should like shorter odds

this offers us," Madame Ch said, "but what is there? Wk pity Western ambassadors

such dull, blameless lives! B

mail would have been so rc easier and cleaner."

"Blackmail leads to too m.

complications," said Pallain,

had tried several experiment! that direction.

Pham Chinh looked at

watch. "Time we were going

Pallain nodded. "Drop Thc Aldwych, just as you turn oui the Strand - it will be bettet

he walks from there. Drive on I

Aldwych, down Fleet Street the

down Bouverie Street to " Embankment. Wait for Tho f opposite the ship moored there, c Discovery. If you see a polices coming along to move you :I you'd better drive on, swing * into Temple Place and come M down again. The important tM is, you pick up Tho at the DI covery. Have you memorised *

the streets?"

Pham Chinh smiled. *J

memorised every track in th*«? kong Delta. This is nothing. »

we come back here?"

"No!" Madame Cholon'i *\

was like the snap of a trap,

the bomb does what we hoptj don't want to see you again, jj have your tickets. Drive stj*jj to the airport. You know *»l to go in Paris. I'll phone you tM

this evening."

Truong Tho picked up the M case. He was wearing a "ll jacket, striped trousers, andi homburg; he had worn manyi

guises, but none in which he J so uncomfortable. "If som<£ goes wrong, what do we do.

All three men looked at Vf ame Cholon. Even Pallain, I most imaginative of the men, not contemplated how she * react if their mission prove* failure. The thought was too rible; he would not be surpr if she tried to kill them all in fury. He had never met a *'v like her, ene who frightened

and excited him so much. No * der Bay Vien had been sut" admirer of her. i ,,

"We shall try açain," ' '

wondered how the little-girl ^

could have so much menace

she ever been innocent? "J Pierre will phone you at the

To page 35

THE HIGH COMMISSIONER

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 32

ance desk at the airport, li the Pi mb hasn't worked, he will tell J u where to go and wait for n rther orders. But do not come

ck here or try to get in touch il lith me. Understand?"

, Truong Tho and Pham Chinh if jdded, bowing their heads like

I rvants.

I They went out through the ser- pee dcor of the apartment.

adame Cholon never let them e the front door; they were still !" rvants, even in this conspiracy

murder. Both men resented the Inunction, especially since Pallain

s allowed the privilege of the %nt door. But neither of them

y .iced his resentment, not even

* each other: each of them knew

[that Madame Cholon was capable

?'. You did not insist on your "i;mocratic rights with a mur

';ress.

fr Rather than work in the ' amped confines of the car, where K might be seen by the inquisi- tive passer-by, Truong Tho had H t the mechanism of the bomb be- ak-re leaving the apartment. Now lie got into the front seat beside ! ham Chinh and carefully set the ipriefcase on his knees. He looked

; his watch, it was twelve-fifty, ham Chinh caught his nervous ess and impatience, and, without ¿ word, started up the car, swung

cut from the small red car

jarked in front of it, and pulled

.ito the stream of traffic.

' Intent now on losing no more lime, neither of them had seen

Malone come out of the entrance

[o the apartments building after

Item, swiftly cross the road and 'et into the waiting Rolls-Royce. Hör did they see the Rolls ease out 'rom the kerb and begin to follow

hem.

T

AHE lunchtime

raffir was thick and their pro

ress was slow. At the entrance to

lyde Park from Kensington Gore hey were held up by the traffic Ughts. Both men stared at the red ?ight, cursing it, and willing it to urn green, and again they didn't

lotice what went on behind them:

vlalone jumped out of the Rolls nd got into an empty taxi right >ehind their car.

"We'll make it," said Pham jhinh, cheerful again now that hey were on the move.

"We'd better," said Truong

Tho.

Suddenly, the lights ahead of hem turned red and a car in ront pulled up sharply. Pham jhinh slammed on the brakes and Tho was flung forward. His body napped shut over the briefcase ind he felt his rib cage come down tard on the case. He held his >reath, waiting to be blown to bits; :hen he relaxed, letting out his

>reath with a hiss. He looked at .^ham Chinh, but the latter only

hook his head.

j At last Pham Chinh pulled the

ar into the kerb in Aldwych. Tho ;ot out, holding the briefcase as ,if he expected it to shatter apart n his hand. He nodded to Pham ^hinh, walked back down Ald- wych, waited for the traffic to

>ass, then crossed the road and «egan to walk along the Strand oward Australia House. Walking ruefully like a man in a minefield, he briefcase held primly away »rom his leg, he looked what he

.as su posed to be: a timid junior

^fficial from a foreign embassy.

He glanced again at his watch: ii:n minutes before the bomb was itue to go oft".

jj He walked quicky round the

urve in front of Bush House, puli-

ng up sharply and catching his

Breath as he saw the Australian allec.urity man, the first man to get

ut of the Rolls-Royce last night, ollowing him.

H He blinked, blinded by sweat

. ind shock.

( Suddenly he lunged across the

oad, dodging the shriekine. hoot » ig traffic, the briefcase still held

primly in his hand. He made the apposite side of the road, flung , elance back over his shoulder nd saw Malone running through

pme traffic after him.

I He ran down a side street, ^vhead of him he could see the

iver and the tall masts of a ship: V wondered if it was the Dis- covery, if Pham Chinh would be , lmost there yet. The narrow " lavement was busy with people joining up from the Embankment;

he darted out between two parked cars and ran down the middle of the road. The briefcase was a great weight, almost breaking his wrist, but he daren't drop it. He was less than a hundred yards from the river; he would fling it far out into the water, let it ex- plode harmlessly there. He darted another look back over his shoulder, saw that Malone was gaining on him and increased his speed.

He swung right at the bottom of the street, down a sloping cres- cent. The sbip on the other side

of the Embankment was the Dis- covery. Pham Chinh had to be there! He hurtled down the slope, desperate now. the muscles in his

arms were already flexed for the throw that would get rid of the briefcase. He came out on to the Embankment, still on the run, was half-way across the busy road when he saw the black car a hun- dred yards away coming toward

him.

He drew in a sigh of relief at the moment the other car, coming from the opposite direction, hit him. He felt the sharp pain in his back, then he went up in the air. He seemed to fall slowly, taking an age; he saw the briefcase still held in his hand below him, the gold initials, J.Q., flashing like the igniting spark of an explosion.

To page 36

THE HIGH COMMISSIONER

CONTINUED FROM PAGE JS

Then he hit thc ground on top of the briefcase.

"They seem to getting des- perate." Quentin drummed his fingers nervously on thc desk in front of him. "But who the hell are they?"

"There was no way of identifying him. He was blown to smithereens. It was just sheer luck no one else

was hurt."

"You were lucky VDU weren't closer. Don't get hurt on my account, Scobie. That's the prospect that worries me as much as any. You didn't come to London for that."

Malone grinned. "I'm already hurt. These new shoes are killing me." He eased his feet out of them and wiggled his toes. "All right?"

Quentin nodded, then smiled, relaxing a little. "Do you have a lot of friends ?"

Malone looked puzzled. "Quite a lot. Too many, maybe. Then they become acquaintances more than friends. You spread yourself too thin, never spend enough time with one or two of them to get to know them properly."

Quentin considered what Malone had said, then slowly nodded his head in agreement. "I've never had a close friend. Before the war I was too well, shy, I suppose. A real bushwhacker, thinking every- one in Sydney was out to take me down. Then after-after what happened to *^reda-I couldn't risk having iriends."

"You didn't need them. You had Mrs. Quentin."

{QUENTIN nod-

ded. "But sometimes a man needs more than a wife. But you can't have everything. Not many men have a wile like I have."

"You must have fallen for her quickly. How soon did you get to Perth, after you'd left Sydney?"

"A week, maybe a little more. I went across by train."

"When did you meet Mrs. Quentin ?"

"About a week after I arrived in Perth, I think it was."

"When did you think of marrying her?"

Quentin had been answer- ing the questions as if he were only half-hearing them; but now his brows came down and he looked sharply at Malone. "Why?"

"I'm just trying to under- stand you, that's all. Why you murdered your wife, why you married a stranger only six months later, why you went into politics-you must have known that going into politics, sooner or later you were going to get your photo in the papers, especially in federal politics. Were you shoving your neck out, hop- ing someone would recognise you and give you away ?"

"Are you an amateur psychologist, too? You mean 1 hadn't thc courage to give myself up, but I wanted to be caught?" He shook his head. "If that was thc inten- tion, Scobie, it was all sub- conscious. No, I just drifted into politics. Then I guess ambition took over. First, I was asked to bc a spokes- man for cx-serviccmen. Then I was asked to run for a State scat. A little while after that they spoke to me about Federal politics. I thought about thc risks, but bv then Pd begun to like public life When you've been shy all your life and suddenly neoole start taking notice of you, listening to you, and asking your advice, it well, it goes to v>ur head."

"What about Mrs Quentin? She looks as if she enjoys public life now-did she then?"

"She has always liked it.

Without hei I wouldn't have got as far as this."

Quentin looked about him. They were in his office at Australia House. It was now seven o'clock and Malone and Quentin had come back here half and hour ago from thc afternoon session at Lancaster I louse

Malone waited for Quentin to go on; but the latter seemed to have decided that he had done enough confid- ing. Quentin picked up the newspaper. "One thing we can be thankful for, the papers haven't connected the l omb with me. Not yet, any- way."

"V en thc bomb went off and I saw there was nothing left of whoever he was, I made myself scarce. I got to a phone as fast as I could and rang Denzil at thc Yard. He had a man along there within ten minutes." Malone nodded at the newspaper Quentin held. "You'll see there that one or two people said the bloke was being chased by another man, but none of them was able to describe me. It pays to be nondescript."

"If Mrs. Quentin makes any comment on this, we know nothing."

There was a knock on the door and Lisa put her head round it. "Superintendent Denzil is here, sir."

Quentin stood up as Den- zil and Coburn came in, their faces stiff and slightly dis- torted with strain. Malone bent down, looking for his shoes; then decided against putting them on and stood up in his stockinged feet. Denzil looked at him, but said nothing; Malone knew Denzil would let gangrene set in before he would remove his own shoes in front of an am- bassador.

"We've made a little pro- gress, sir," he said to Quen- tin. "We still don't know who the dead man was. But thanks

to Mr. Malone's tip, we've picked up Pallain. We're holding him at the Yard

now."

"What's he got to say?"

Malone asked.

"He's all indignation and threats. He's half-French, half Vietnamese, I gather, and we're getting the worst of

both."

"Who was he visiting at those flats?" Malone asked "I went into the foyer, but there was no porter there and more than half the flat numbers had no names against them on the board. I watched the lift in-

dicator-he went up to the sixth floor. Then I saw it coming down again and I ducked to the back of the foyer. Then the two Asians came out."

"Why did you decide to follow them instead of wait- ing for Pallain to come down again ?"

Malone shrugged. "I don't know. Instinct, I guess."

"We don't know who the dead man was, nor his mate. But Pallain was visiting some- one named Madame Cholon."

Malone's eyebrows went up. "Cholon ?"

'You know her?"

"Let's say I've met her."

Malone went on to tell of "his encounter last night with Madame Cholon. "She keeps ( rapping up all the time. I was talking about her this morning with a feller named Jamaica."

"Who's he?"

"I don't know for sure. He's at the American Embassy."

"We'll ( heck with him He might know something about

her."

"Why not check with her?" Quentin asked.

"She'd gone; sir, when we got back there. Baggage and all She could be anywhere. But we're having the Channel ports and the airports watched. We got a good de

smption of mm

perter. He. wai [J¡'l when we got the,,. '

"She's Viet«!,

think," said Malo^"

"Of course!" nodded his head

"It's probably no,",

name. Cholon ¡j a j twin city of Saigon»

"I'd like Mr. k. come back to the VJ me. Sergeant CobiJ: cort you home, tir" "

Malone stood ^ i after putting on LI "You want me to haw!

at Pallain?"

"If you can

identify him ai tne,

saw in Belgrave

night, we can holiu

while longer. Perhip,)

conference finishes."

Malone looked at (J who said, "We'll sqjj for you. I'll tell j you've met an old . |

been delayed." He

Coburn. "We're kn

from Mrs. Quentin [

bomb was intended | I'd appreciate it il i

that in mind, Sergent

"I don't think

troubled again, tir," ( said. "There's onlyali

days till the conferer*;!

then you can relax."

"Yes," said Quentii

this time Malone

ironical glance. TEsI

Denzil also caught ?: \

denly went red.

Malone went

Denzil. As they pastedij

the outer office she i

His Excellency gouts |

now, Mr. Malone?

Quentin has been t

phone. She sounds »-J

"What about?"

"She saw the newsi vision about thc

plosion down on the I

ment." She had been) on her make-up whi had come out of

office ; a new lip prenctj

on an old lip, but it v an expression of

"That had nothing to 4 Mr. Quentin, did it?"

"Nothing at all, |

Malone.

The two men went «I out of the building. Al police car was drawn í thc kerb, its uniformed! jumped out and opt» door as Denzil and f approached.

Denzil's room at

Yard was not a bill Denzil waved Malo« chair, picked up a pM asked for Pallain to '

in. .

"Oh, and have »»1 check with the A«* Embassy on one of tte" His name's Jamaica. FBJ all you can about him' there, ask him if hi! mind coming over here"

To page 37

THE HIGH COMMISSIONER

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 36

. I

*! ght be able to help us with -? s chap Pallain."

' By the time Pallain came

i he had got over his in * ..nation or whatever had Í ;n exciting him. He came i i sat down, and nodded "I iably at both men.

3 Oenzil ignored Pallain,

ked at the plainclothes man l.o had brought him in. i- as he changed his tune, a géant?"

'Why not ask me?" Pallain ' i before the sergeant could 1 ly. "No, I haven't changed

tune. All I've done is to ise my opinion of British I ' and justice."

Tve heard the police in gon are much worse. Or 4 that just propaganda?"

"nzil asked.

fl wouldn't know, Super

>ndent. I have never been ked up by the police in gon. Out there I'm ac

¡ .ted for what I am, a

sectable newspaperman. I Hi haven't been told why I L'S brought here."

'We just want some in mation." Denzil was ite, patient. "We are in ^ ligating a bomb explosion,

you are a good reporter, ; i must have heard about

m

-'I've been in custody most

the afternoon. How would '*tave heard about it? What Opened - someone killed? - d how do you connect me =<h it?"

JL/ENZIL ignored questions and put one of n own: "Why were you Fiting Madame Cholon at

ichtime ?"

«'Tve already told you. I l.nted to interview her." i'Why? Who is she?"

» T was told she was a very ;h woman from Singapore."

llain's voice was calm ' lin, almost bored. "I was .it going to do a gossip

ce on her."

c:"You leave an important Somatic conference to go ? d write a gossip piece on woman you know nothing ¿»ut ?"

¡pl work for an agency,

perintendent," Pallain ex tined patiently. "An .ency man does every

Jjg."

'"What's so special about .adame Cholon, apart from

r being rich?"

Pallain hesitated; for a jment it looked as if he

"ght tell Denzil to go to JL Then he said, "I ;.ght ask you the same ques

>n. Why are you so in- fested in her?"

ft"TlI ask the questions. Mr.

Hain. Where does Madame inion get her money?"

""I was told she had big

-siness interests."

Malone asked, "Gambling f|i;erests?"

Pallain's face showed thing. He looked at 'alone, then at' Denzil.

Vho is this man, Superin

mident?"

ffi'This is Mr. Malone."

?nzil then glanced at )(alone. "Is this the man you

last night in Belgrave

,uare?"

P Before Malone could «swer, Pallain said, "Saw

ft where?"

"Xu" ,Were sittinS in a car ke Chesham Street, just off

e square," said Denzil.

What was I supposed to

j doing then?"

V Suddenly Malone knew 1 ey were trapped: they ,:'uld have to let this man |(; He looked at Denzil and

íá> "He's not the man,

, :'Perintendent."

he: Denzil nodded at the . unclothes man. "Take jn outside, Sergeant. But s »nt let him go just yet."

H As soon as the door closed y Pallain and the plain r Hhes man, Denzil looked at

Malone. "It was you, Ser- geant, who suggested we pick him up. We don't like being made to look fools here at Special Branch."

"If we had told him what we suspected him of doing last night, that he drove the car in which that bloke with the gun got away - we for- got he was a newspaperman, Superintendent. Suppose we hadn't been able to hold him, he'd have gone out and in tomorrow morning's papers the story would have been right across the front pages. That's what Quentin is try- ing to avoid."

The phone rang and Den- zil reached for it. "Yes?" he said.

Malone suddenly longed for the weekend and the plane trip home. Fate was really piling it on Quentin: Malone wondered if he, too, was now longing for the plane back to Sydney.

Then Denzil put down the phone and said, "They know nothing about your man Jamaica at the American Em- bassy. They've never heard of

him."

"Some walnut torte, sir?" asked Joseph.

"My husband has a very sweet tooth, Mr. Malone," said Sheila Quentin. "He is the despair of our cook. Every night she has to dream up something exotic for dessert."

Malone, enjoying the torte, watched Quentin covertly. The High Commissioner was as relaxed as if the confer- ence were already over and a great success. All through the meal he had been joking, keeping the conversation going. There had been no sign of strain, not even when Sheila had asked how today's session of the conference had

gone.

"Not as well as yesterday," Quentin had said, then chew- ing with relish on stuffed chicken breast; whatever had happened today it had not affected his appetite. "I don't know whether I'm telegraph- ing my punches or something, but one man there today, one of the Africans, had an im- mediate answer to everything I proposed. That hasn't hap- pened before. All these dele- gates, maybe because they're inexperienced, I don't know, but they're great ones for say- ing nothing till the next day. As if they have to go home at night and get instructions. But not today. This chap was on the ball all day."

Then dinner was finished and Joseph said, "Shall I serve coffee in the drawing room, ma'am?"

Sheila nodded, but Quen- tin said, "I think Mr. Malone and I will have ours in here. Dring us a brandy, too, Joseph."

The two wemen rose; and Sheila, suddenly grave now after the enjoyment of the last hour, said, "What are you going to talk about?"

Quentin shook his head, smiling. "About something that I know would bore you and Lisa stiff. Cricket."

Sheila hesitated, staring at Quentin as if she were still not reassured, then she turned and followed Lisa out of the room. Quentin watched them go and as soon as their backs were turned on him the color seemed to drain out of his face. Even as Malone watched him he aged visibly.

Quentin made an effort to regain control of himself. He sat back, taking in a deep breath. "Sorry, Scobie. It's been a rough day."

"I think we ought to go out to the airport tonight and see if there's a plane for

home."

To page 38

THE HIGH COMMISSIONER

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 37

"It would bc thc easiset way, wouldn't it?" Then he shook his head and said, "Did you wonder how I knew you were interested in cricket ? I remembered seeing you play, oh, eight or ten years ago. You played for New South Wales, Sheffield Shield."

Malone grinned. "Just the once. They belted me all over the field."

"Golf is my game - when I

have the time."

"I know. That was where they traced the one photo of you that still existed, at Moore Park. You'd won some trophy."

"I'd forgotten that one. I burned ali the photos we had in

the house."

"You were planning even then to go into smoke, take up a new

identity ?"

"Yes. Why?"

Malone shrugged. "You told me

the killing of your wife was an accident. Then you do a systematic thing like that. Burning photos, getting rid of all the means of identifying you. That looks pretty much like premeditation. You'll have a hard job convincing a jury

it wasn't."

"I'm just naturally systematic. Once it was done -

"Once it was done, why didn't you call the police?"

"I - I told you last night. Basically I'm a coward. I just ran

away."

"You're not a coward and I don't think you're systematic. I've only known you twenty-four hours, but the last thing I'd say about you is that you're systematic.

You're cool and you know what you're doing, but you're not the sort who goes in for systematic detail. Not like burning photos of yourself after you've accidentally killed your wife."

"Stop it! Who the hell are you

_?"

Malone sat silent, knowing he had gone too far.

Quentin breathed deeply, then he said. "I'm sorry. Actually, I think you're trying to help me, aren't you ?" Malone nodded slowly. "I should be grateful foi any help I can get. Sorry," he repeated.

The door opened and Joseph came in with a tray. He poured coffee and brandy, and set the

cups and goblets before the two men. Then he said, "That bomb explosion today, sir. Did it have any connection with what hap- pened last night?"

Malone looked up suspiciously, but Quentin just said, "Yes, Joseph. But don't mention it to

Madame."

"No, sir. May I say I'm glad they didn't succeed in their pur-

pose ?"

"Thank vou, Joseph." Quentin waited till the butler had gone, then he looked at Malone. "Joseph suspects something."

"About me, you mean ? I thought he'd accepted me now I've got out of my grey suit."

"You don't know what he was like before you came. Ice cold. He set the central heating back ten degrees every time he came

into a room."

"What do you kncn

I mean, is there ever k on blokes like him in 1

this?"

"I gather he was Vtlte Bf predecessor. He'd WorUflT couple of years for sota?!

fore he came here. 'flj ' this job just over five jflj»

He's O.K." Quentin wflr'

coffee, then said, "H(¿^B|f you get at Scotland YB

evening ?"

Malone told him fl thing we're sure of j, ?

Madame Cholon is ma^W" it somehow. But who's sht

"And who's this chap vmv name, Jamaica? Who'<k.Ji for?" Quentin sipped ¿Mf but he might have bee- K water: he showed no >npjjr of it. "I expected !on|Äi shenanigans to go on dtgV' conference. But nothing üflL

"Has Mrs. Quent ?

thing to you about the etpA.

Quentin nodded. "I I( fl had no connection with I doesn't believe me, I hiW, but I've got to keep up -m tence." He took a deep r»-B

the brandy. "That's been « of my life too long now iM up a pretence. I'm tire» Scobie. I think, sefishly, w most welcome jail when W back home."

"Selfishly?"

"It will be over for -fl what about my wife? WI fl shut the door on me. it .1 shut on her, too. What I do? Change her name, , fl somewhere and start anodi I

Malone said, "Did youl have ambition - I mea: fl you killed your wife?" fl

Quentin was silent fl moment, trying to rememfl emotions of a man he bl buried; then he shook I I "None at all. I think Frtfl the one with ambition. I she wanted security, and I things go together sometí

"People who think, about « are usually the ones wk I

bition."

"Not Freda. After the ttl had-she was Jewish, yal German Jewish."

"I thought she'd corni

Vienna?"

"You really .know all titi don't you? Or nearly all. I tin smiled drily, without i but the smile also held a I secret. "Vienna was her 14 before she went out to Aw But she came from Germa: I Nazis, some Hitler Yoi I stoned her parents to d* front of her. She landed i ney with two pounds in be and her mother's gold * ring. You understar

security was such an ar»

"Why did vou kill Malone asked quietlv.

Pain darkened Quentin

then he blinked and îooktçj zically at Malone. "You  

warned me about anything say-"

To page 39

THE HIGH COMMISSIONER

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 38

"Forget it." Malone put '¡down his goblet and straight-

ened up his chair. "I wasn't ^being a policeman then.

1 "What were you being?"

Malone chewed his bottom

jip. "I don't know. I think 'maybe I was trying to be your

f/iend. Does that annoy you?" I "On the contrary." He took i cigar from the humidor tjoseph had brought in with

the brandy, looked at it, then propped it back into the con- tainer. 'Tve lost my taste."

"I don't have much taste ..nyself right now."

Quentin nodded sympa - ihetically. "What would you De doing back home now - ;? mean, if you hadn't been

ent here to arrest me?"

I Malone shrugged. "Arrest- ing someone else, I suppose." II "Do you sometimes have ioubts that you might have Arrested the wrong man?"

1 "Am I arresting the wrong nan now?"

; Quentin shook his head Quickly, almost too quickly, as ¡f he wanted to reassure Vfalone and not offend him: \e was like a lonely man who

lad suddenly found a new riend whom he didn't want to ose. "No. Fm your man."

, Well. I have doubts about /ou. Malone thought; but jlidn't say it. Instead, he said, .'Well, I'll just have to make .ure you're on that plane at çhe weekend."

i Quentin realised the subject :iad been changed. He was

ilent for a moment, as if ifraid that he had offended ?Vfalone; then he said, "What ;lo you want me to do then ?

mean about keeping out 4 range of these people, who- ever they are."

M

ITXALONE was

irm. "Don't move a yard ¡vithout either Coburn or my elf being right beside you. '.t would be a good idea if ,'ou could cancel all the func

ions you've been asked to."

"That may be difficult. It viii raise awkward questions, ^nd it's bound to cause

sffence to .some people I'm jcrying to influence."

"What about the Chinese?" "In theory they are sup- posed to be only observers. The Americans wouldn't have ? :hem at the table as delegates. ïBut though they just sit there, »you can feel them pulling the «rings. They've got their Stooges working for them."

"Do you think Madame Cholon is working for them?" i Quentin mused a moment, ;then he shook his head. "I'd be surprised if she is. But 11 d like to know whom she is working for!"

"Well, you'd better play it as safe as you can."

* Quentin nodded, took an- other sip of brandy he "couldn't taste: his whole life had lost its flavor for ever. "The only thing I can't get .out of is the reception at

|" nc?ster House Friday night. If the conference runs to ;5chedule, that's supposed to

be the farewell party."

'Will the conference run ,to schedule?"

t "H we haven't got some T^of terms by Friday Schedules aren't going to mear A* thmg. Everyone will gc /home and the war will drat Jon and we'll get the blame.'

mt sighed. "I don't thinl gp a mind dying very much i -my death meant there wa ^going to be some sort o |peace. Oh. I'm not being

pero-" He looked at Malone

embarrassed by his ow words. "All I'd be offerin J* a life that's over anywai I hat's not much of a sacrifia IjjBut if a man has to die by a

assassin's bullet, he would lil

"jj** to be in a good cause. Nt Ho a war will be prolonged )t < "How many assassins ha\

killed in a good cause?"

p0¡ "They might have be*

good causes in the killer's own mind. Who knows-." Then he stopped.

"Who knows what is in a killer's mind ?" Malone said quietly; not cruelly but curi- ously. "Yes, I've often won-

dered."

Then there was a tap at the door and Lisa looked in. "Someone on the phone for you, Mr. Malone. Local

call."

Malone followed Lisa out of the dining-room and down the hall to the study. He picked up the phone, waited till Lisa had gone out of-the room, then said cautiously, "Malone here. Who's that?"

"Speaking on an interna- tional level, your friend and ally." Jamaica's voice was soft and hoarse over the wire; Malone had to strain to hear

it. "I understand you're interested in Madame Cholon."

"Not just me. Scotland Yard are, too."

"You're working together, aren't you ?"

"I guess so. But why call me and not them? It's their country."

"Put it down to shyness. I know you. Well, are you interested in the Cholon dame or not?"

Malone hesitated, but he had been a policeman too long: he couldn't deny an interest in any suspect. "OK, where is she ?"

"Right now, I don't know. But she's to meet me tonight at Fothergill's. She may or may not turn up. But you might reckon it's worth a try."

"Where's Fothergill's?" But Jamaica had hung up. The door opened and Lisa came back in, and he heard himself say, "Do you know a place called Fothergill's?"

"It's the gambling club. A sort of millionaires' Crock ford's."

"How do you know about it?"

"I've been there a couple of times. If you want to go there, would you like me to go with you? You have to be introduced."

He looked at her, brows creased in puzzlement.

"How is it you're so wel- come at this joint?"

"It's no joint, I assure you. As for your question-well, sometimes my duties here call for being more than just a secretary. Sometimes I have to stand in as a dinner partner. One night I was partner to an oil sheik-and afterwards he wanted to go to Fothergill's. I've been there a couple of times since -with a grazier from back home and with a Chinese businessman from Hong Kong. Fothergill's seem to think I brought them there. I'm just waiting for them to offer me commission."

"Your commission on me tonight won't break them."

"How do you bet?"

"When I do it's usually two bob each way on a horse." He grinned. "I'm

sort of reckless."

"They wouldn't know what a two-shilling piece is at FothergilTs. If you aren't rich enough to have your bank-books cross-indexed, they don't want to know you."

Malone laughed, suddenly

liking hjer. "Will you take me there?"

"Take you where ?" Quen- tin stood in the doorway.

"I've just had a call from that feller Jamaica," Malone said. "He's expecting

Madame Cholon at a club

called Fothergill's tonight. I might need an introduction to get in."

"Lisa's not going with you," Quentin said firmly.

Lisa looked in puzzlement

from one man to the other. "What is all this? Who's Madame Cholon?"

Each man hesitated, wait- ing on the other to reply. Finally it was Malone who

said, "We think she might have had something to do with that bomb explosion this afternoon."

Lisa looked quickly at Quentin, her eyes opening wide in shock. "That bomb was meant for you!"

Quentin looked over his shoulder, then he came into the room, closing the door after him. "Please, Lisa." He patted her arm: one might have thought she was the one in danger. "I don't want my

wife to know."

She looked up at him, said gently, "She does know. Oh, she hasn't said anything, but since dinner she's just been sitting in the drawing-room, not saying anything - she knows. I should have known, too," she said. Then she turned to Malone. "Do you want me to take you to Fothergill's?"

"You're not to go near the place!" Quentin looked at Malone, spoke with authority. "Call Superintendent Denzil. He can pick up this woman."

Malone hesitated, then he picked up the phone. While he waited to be connected to Denzil's office he said, "I'm going there, anyway. She's my pigeon as much as his." Then he spoke into the phone: "Not there? Could you give me his home num-

ber?"

He rang Denzil at his home in Bromley. "Anything wrong?" Denzil asked curtly.

Malone told him.

"I'll meet you there in half an hour. No, three-quarters. I'll have to come in my own

car."

Malone hung up. "He'll meet us there. I'm going

now."

"Then you'll need me. They won't let you inside the door without an introduction. I'll get my coat." Lisa brushed

past Quentin and went quickly out of the room.

Quentin moved to one of the bookshelves and pulled on it; a section of the shelf of books swung out, revealing a wall safe. He opened the safe, took out some money from among the papers there, closed the safe and swung the books back into place.

"Now you know where the papers are kept. Just as well you're not a spy." He held out five five-pound notes. "You may have to spend some money at Fothergill's."

"Tbere's no need-"

"Go on, take it. If you lose it, I'll put it down to ex

penses. If you win-" He tried to smile again, but the effort was too much. "But our luck hasn't been very good, has

it?"

"You're still alive," said Malone, and tried not to

sound unkind.

As they closed the front door behind them, Lisa said, "We'll go in my car." She opened the door of her car and got in behind the wheel. "After riding the Rolls all day, I like to get the wind in my face occasionally. Do you mind women drivers?"

When he had been on the Traffic Squad he had hated them, but that was long, long ago. "I love "em."

"Liar," she said, and took the car away from the kerb with a rush that jerked his head back. But she handled the car well, weaving it through the late-night traffic.

"Do you want to tell me

what this is all about?" she asked.

He told her about Jamaica,

Pallain, and Madame Cholon.

There were no parking spaces in Park Lane and she turned down into the under- ground garage beneath the park. "We'll leave it here. Fothergill's is just down the

street."'

She parked the car in the vast grey cavern. They walked back past the rows of other cars, through the subway and up into Park Lane. "I don't know whether I'm glad or not that you've told me all this. Ignorance is bliss sometimes."

"Do you want to go back home ?"

"No. Once I start some- thing I like to finish it. That's the Dutch in me." She looked up at him and smiled.

They came to a halt in front of a four-storeyed house with a patrician front and a

doorman who had been chopped whole out of some

quarry.

He opened the heavy front

door with its coat of arms and wished them luck. "Thanks." said Malone, and wondered if Madame Cholon was already inside.

He had thought the house in Belgrave Square was luxurious enough, but this made the High Commis- sioner's home look like a council house. "It belonged to a duke," said Lisa, noticing his roving eye. "One of the more hedonistic ones. He rec- ognised the end of an era when he saw one, so he com- mitted suicide. Shot himself wi:h a silver pistol."

The manager of the club squeezed himself out of a tiny office under the stairs. Every- thing in this mansion was designed for the comfort of the guests; the club manage- ment had the old duke's ideas about the proper place for staff. Lisa introduced Malone, and the manager looked Malone up and down. His eyes rested for a moment on

the old brown shoes with the dark blue suit, and Malone did his best to look like an eccentric millionaire.

"Mr. Malone is just over from Australia," said Lisa, recognising the doubt in the manager's face. "He's here to buy cattle. And to enjoy him- self. He lives a very lonely life on his cattle station. How big is it, Mr. Malone?"

"Just a manageable size. Three million acres. I sold off most of it last year." He looked at the manager. "Labor shortage. You prob- ably have the same trouble."

"It's the same all over, sir." said the manager, lead- ing them up the curving flight of stairs into the main room on the first floor. He wished them luck and left them.

Malone patted the twenty five pounds in his wallet, won- dering how many minutes they would buy him at the tables. He looked around the room. It was still too early for the serious gamblers and

only a few players were at the '

tables.

Lisa was also looking around. "Do you see your Madame Cholon?"

"She's not here yet," said Jamaica, as he came up be- side them, and Malone and Lisa turned round. He looked expressionlessly at Lisa and said, "You're Miss Pretorious, aren't you?"

"How did you know?"

"He seems to know every- thing," said Malone.

Jamaica smiled. "Not everything, Mr. Malone. It would make my job so much

easier if I did."

"What is your job? You're -iot at the Embassy."

"Who said I was ?" You've been jumping to conclusions. I export Thai silk. From Bangkok. A harmless busi- ness, but profitable."

"Who do you sell to - diplomats? I didn't think blokes in the rag trade hung around embassies and inter- national conferences."

Jamaica shook his head sadly. "Thai silk isn't rag."

"Mr. Malone is no fashion expert," said Lisa truthfully. "But if you were at Lancaster House this morning, it does

seem an odd place for you to be. I mean, you wouldn't expect Hardy Amies or Mary Quant to hang about the

United Nations in New York.

"What is your place in this set-up, Miss Pretorious?"

"Which set-up is that, Mr. Jamaica?"

They were both too polite for Malone's liking; im- patiently he said, "What's your place, Jamaica? That's more to the point."

The players and the croupiers at the tables were staring at them: gaming clubs were not for gossiping. Jam- aica said, "We're making our- selves conspicuous. What are you going to play? Baccarat, roulette, chemin de fer?"

"I'll take roulette," said Malone, acutely aware that he would be playing with someone else's money. "I've got no memory for cards."

Jamaica led the way into a side room where the fat horn-rimmed cashier sat like a giant panda behind his cage. "You're not a gambler?" Jamaica asked.

"No."

"Madame Cholon seemed disappointed in you. I think she really wanted you to bring her here last night."

"Did you bring her?"

Jamaica nodded. "Had a very disappointing night. How much do you want to change ?"

Malone took out the five five-pound notes. The cashier looked pained and slid across five chips. "Is that all?" Malone said.

"The minimum stake is five pounds, sir. We have plenty more chips when you need

them."

"Thanks," said Malone, hoping Madame Cholon would make her appearance in the next two minutes.

Jamaica took fifty pounds' worth of chips and Lisa changed ten pounds. Malone looked warningly at her. "You don't have to go risk- ing your money."

"I'm in this with you," said Lisa, leading the way to

the roulette table. "Whatever it is."

"They play the French wheel here," Jamaica said, his voice low now that they were by the table. "It's illegal in this country because it has the zero. But I gather the police never come into this

club."

The croupier, a fleshless automaton with paper skin and marble eyes, waited for them to place their bets. Lisa put a chip on the red 8, Jamaica laid one on the black 9. Malone hesitated, aware of the icy impatience of the croupier. He had no feeling that tonight would be lucky for him, but he had to buy as much time as he could with his five chips. He remembered an explanation of roulette given him by a member of the Gaming Squad back home. He placed a chip at the top of the table, linking zero with 1. Then he straightened up and waited, watching the door to the room as closely as he watched the spinning

wheel.

The wheel spun its mes- merism, the silver centrepiece flashing a silent siren song, the black and red slots a blur that seemed to take the breath out of the watchers. Then the ivory ball began its slowly diminishing click click: a hollow sound, thought Malone, that no mug ever takes as a warning.

The ball came to rest, and Lisa said, "You've won! You get eight times your stake."

That buys me about an- other ten minutes, Malone thought.

"Your lucky night," said Jamaica.

Malone had four more bets and four more wins. Lisa won once and Jamaica lost all his five bets. He said. "Maybe I should follow you more, eh, Malone?"

I'm missing something

To page 42

THE HIGH COMMISSIONER

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 39

here. Malone thought. There was something he was sup-

posed to know: Jamaica had it last accepted him. but had forgotten to take him into rds confidence. He looked at his watch. "What time were you expecting her?"

Jamaica shrugged. "She's from Vietnam. Time doesn't mean a thing to them. She mightn't even come at all."

"If she doesn't. I'd like a talk with you." Malone grin- ned. "As an international friend and ally."

Jamaica nodded absently. He looked about the room, then at the door. And saw the manager, the smile gash- ing his face like a white wound, come in. Befide him was Superintendent Denzil.

"I need some more chips," Jamaica said to Malone, and noved toward the side room.

"There's Denzil now," Mal- me said.

He gathered up his sixth binning bet and he and Lisa moved across to where Den- zil and the manager stood looking as if they did not want to know each other.

"The gentleman says he is from Scotland Yard." The manager looked reproach- fully at Malone and Lisa.

Malone smiled reassuringly. "It's just a social call. Super- intendent Denzil and I are old friends. He used to be a stockman for my father on our station. A cowpuncher, as the Americans would call him." Malone was feeling a little lightheaded: he had three hundred and forty-five pounds' worth of chips, his luck was in tonight. Madame Cholon would walk in the door any minute.

T

_1_HE manager looked at Denzil. "I'm afraid I can't allow you to play, sir. It might look bad-for you and the club. You under- stand, of course ?"

Denzil's smile was as pain- ful as the manager's own. "I'll just watch. And I'll try not to look too much like a policeman." He glanced at Malone. "Or a cowpuncher."

The manager flinched the smile once more and went away. Then Denzil said, "We'll discuss the cow- puncher a bit later. Is our lady friend here?"

"Not yet," said Malone. "But Jamaica is. Maybe you'd like a word with him?"

But Jamaica had gone. Malone went into the side room, but there was no one there but the giant panda behind the bars. No, he hadn't seen the colored gentleman. There was another door just there that led to the men's room . . . Malone didn't bother to go looking for Jamaica; he knew he would be already out of the building. He went back to Denzil and Lisa. "I just hope he doesn't get in touch with Madame Cholon and tell her

not to come."

"Does he know where she is?" Denzil asked

Malone shrugged. "I don't know. But if he does, why all the rigmarole of turning up without her and having us here to meet her? Why didn't he just tell us where to find

her?"

"Perhaps he doesn't want her to know he's, turned in- former on her. If she had turned up here and we'd got on to her, he could have acted surprised What's his game anyway ?"

"That's a good question," said Lisa "He says he's an exporter of Thai silk, has his business in Bangkok I wonder how many successful negro businessmen there arc in the Far East?"

"He could have been an ex-C I ," Malone said. "Some of them stayed on around the Pacific after World War II and the Korean show."

"I prefer to be suspicious of him, said Denzil "He's

up to no good. Just as I sus- pect this Madame Cholon

is-"

"What are you going to do if she does turn up?"

"Ask her along to the Yard for a little chat." Denzil grimaced. "But I never enjoy questioning women. No offence. Miss Pretorious."

"Women never enjoy being questioned," said Lisa "Least of all by men. No offence, Superintendent."

Denzil looked at her out of the corner of his eye, but said nothing. He is not going to enjoy Madame Cholon, Malone thought; she will tear strips off him. Maybe we should enlist Lisa for the night as an interrogator.

They waited an hour for Madame Cholon, retiring to a small annex to nibble at the free caviar and smoked salmon: no patrons of this club would ever be allowed to collapse at the tables from starvation. The main room filled with people and smoke. But no Madame Cholon, the face Malone now knew he would recognise even in a stadium of oriental faces.

"She's not coming," Denzil said at last. "Either Jamaica got on to her or she never intended coming. At least not after this afternoon."

"How will you be able to prove she did have something to do with the bomb explo- sion?" Lisa asked.

"We won't be able to," Denzil said. "Our best witness against her went up with the

bomb."

"There's the other bloke," Malone said. "The one who drove him to Aldwych."

"He's probably with Madame Cholon, half-way

back to where she came from."

"If they are," said Lisa, "then our troubles are over, aren't they?"

"In Special Branch, Miss Pretorious, our troubles are never over. If it's not someone deadly serious like this crowd, it's a crank. The worst of it is that we have to treat them all as deadly serious until we prove otherwise."

Malone went away to cash his chips, then came back. "I won three hundred and twenty quid. The night hasn't been altogether unprofitable."

"I wonder what stakes Madame Cholon plays for?" Denzil said. "Can I give you a lift back to Belgravia?"

Malone told him Lisa's car was over in the underground garage. When they were out- side of the house Malone took the keys from Lisa. "Would you stay here with her, Superintendent, while I get the car? We'd curse our- selves if Madame Cholon turned up just as we'd both left."

"My pleasure." Denzil did his best to look gallant, at one o'clock in the morning and after only five hours' sleep in the past forty-eight.

Malone went under Park Lane through the subway, and when he walked into the garage he was struck for the first time by its vastness. Two hours ago it had been almost full of cars; now it was vir- tually empty. The low-roofed cavern seemed to stretch for

miles into shadows beyond the glow of the pale lights that

were still

switched on; the

grey concrete pillars stood like long, open ranks of head- less petrified men.

He paid the attendant, who went back to his magazine; he walked on down between thc widely spaced pillars. Lisa's car was parked at the far end of the garage beyond the shallow pools of light; he could sec the dim white shape of it He suddenly felt tired and he began to hurry to- ward it, wanting to get home

to bed.

He heard thc car start up somewhere over to one side of him. but he didn't look toward it: it was only a growling noise somewhere in

the shadows. He heard it com- ing toward him, the driver shifting up into second gear; he turned his head casually, just to make sure that the driver could see him in the grey gloom. Then suddenly he was Hooded in light and he heard the angry whine of the car as it accelerated. He stood for a moment blinded and stupefied; then he flung himself to one side as the car hurtled past.

As he lurched up against a pillar he saw the car stand almost on its nose as the driver slammed on the brakes. It was a small red one, and he remembered the car he had followed this morning from Lancaster House. It re- versed, swung round and came speeding back at him; he ducked behind the pillar as it scraped past with a screech of metal. It went round in a tight circle, engine snarling, tyres shrieking, and came back at him as he raced toward another pillar.

The car went by as he tried to swerve away from it; it caught him a glancing blow and he went tumbling along the concrete goor. He hit a pillar with a sickening thud and lay there for a moment.

Far away he could hear a

voice yelling. He heard the scream of tyres again, the clashing of gears, the protest of the engine as it was revved too quickly; then he was flooded in light again. He got up on one knee, crouching like a boxer who knows he can't beat the count, knowing he was about to die; he stared into the lights as they came toward him, trying to look beyond them into the face of

his killer.

He was aware of the pillar behind him and he got a swift peculiar satisfaction from it. When the car smashed him back against the pillar, the driver also was going to be hurt, might even be killed. If you had to die, it would be some negative compensation to take your murderer with

you.

But the instinct to survive was too strong, in both him- self and the driver of the car. As he flung himself to one side, rolling over and skidding along the floor in a pool of oil, the car went by on the other side of the pillar. It skidded and for a moment looked as if it was going to topple over; it scraped by another pillar and there was the sound of metal being crunched. The driver wrestled with it, steering it close by yet another of the concrete posts ; then it was speeding down the garage, nast the yelling attendant as he came running down from his office. Its sound died away and then there was only the liirht thump of the attendant's running feet.

Malone picked himself up

and stood trembling as the man, face as white as his over- alls, incoherently asked what the hell was going on.

"Some drunk showing off -" Malone was surprised at how calm his voice sounded. He had been involved in fights and brawls before and twice he had had to arrest a man at gunpoint; but no one had ever tried de- liberately to kill him before. He was still weak and sick, his legs quivering like an old man's but his voice was a stranger's, that of a good humored man who had tolerance toward drunken drivers. "Forget it."

"But how did he get in here? F ve checked out every- body who's come in in the last hour. He must have been sit- ting in his car all night, just getting drunker - you sure you're all right? Cripes, he's made a mess of your clothes."

Malone looked down at the new blue suit, covered in oil and dirt and with a gaping

hole in one knee.

"Did you get a look at

him?"

Malone shook his head ; but he knew what Pallain looked like. "No, nor his number,

either."

The attendant walked down

with Malone to Lisa's car. "You sure you don't want me to report this?"

"What's the use?"

The attendant shrugged. "OK, if that's the way you

want it."

"Yes." said Malone, and got into Lisa's car and drove it slowly and carefully out of the garage and up the ramp. He paused at the top, waiting to be ambushed; but the killer had gone home, the jungle was safe again. He eased the car out into the sparse traffic, drove up to the first turn-off and swung back down Park Lane. He had the feeling he was being watched, that he was still a target; but there was nothing he could do about it. His life, perhaps even his fate, was becoming more and more entwined with that of Quentin. He wondered why he should no longer feel any resentment of

the fact.

"I think we should wake up Mr. Quentin," Lisa said.

Malone shook his head and flinched as she bathed the cut on his knee. His trouser-leg was rolled up and he had taken off his shoe and his bloodstained sock. There were abrasions on both his elbows, the cut on his chin had been opened again and he felt as if his body were one great bruise. "Don't bother him. He'd stay awake the rest of the night. He's got enough on his mind without worrying

about me."

They were sitting in the big kitchen. A bowl of water stood on the table: beside it

were the bottle of antiseptic and the tin of sticking-plaster. The fluorescent ceiling light added to the antiseptic atmos- phere; they were in their own small casualty room. "This is getting to be a habit, mending your cuts and bruises. Whom have you got back home to miss you? I mean, if tonight-?"

"Just my mum and dad. And I suppose one or two mates."

"No girl?"

"No particular one."

She pressed sticking-plaster on to his chin, then stepped back. "There. Let's hope this is the last time I have to play nurse to you."

She had driven the car back from Fothergill's. She had not said much, as if shock had taken all the words from her, but by the time they had reached home she had got over her shock and become calm and efficient again. Den- zil had been angry rather than shocked and had promised to have Pallain in custody by morning; instead of going home to Bromley he had gone back to the Yard, and, for all Malone knew, was still there.

"Why isn't a man like you married? Is it because of your job?" Lisa asked.

He was about to say that most policemen married; then he remembered she did not know he was a policeman. In less than a week his life had become a masquerade; Quen- tin had endured such a situa- tion for twenty-three years, but already he was tired and frustrated by it. He wanted to talk frankly to this girl, tell her about himself and ask her abcut herself, but he couldn't.

"That's about it," he said. "But why isn't a girl like you married ?"

"I just haven't met the right man. No, that's a lie. I did meet him, but he pre- ferred someone else." She emptied the bowl of water into the sink, rinsed it, and wiped it. She did it .all with a brisk thoroughness as if she

were as much at home here in the kitchen as she was in an office, at an embassy re- ception, or in an expensive gambling club. Lisa put on some coffee, set out two cups and saucers, got out cream and sugar, then at last stood still and looked at Malone across the kitchen table. "I don't know why I told you that last bit. I've never told anyone else."

"Where did it happen? Here?" Was it Quentin, the man on whom all her concern was concentrated? He felt the stab of jealousy more than the wound in his knee.

"No, back in Australia," she said, and he was surprised at his own relief. "He was a lecturer at the university. He was looking for a girl he could read like a formula,

someone he could solve ?nd

pigeonhole. I wasn't her. Men can be rats, can't they ?"

"I wouldn't know," he said, and wondered what she would think of Quentin, who had killed the woman he did

not want.

"I don't think you'd be a rat." She put down her cup and looked at him across the table. Suddenly he wanted to kiss her. He went to lean to- ward her and pressed his bruised ribs against the table; he caught his breath, but she didn't seem to notice. She looked at him soberly and without coquetry; once again he cursed the fact that he could not read women. He did not want to read them like a formula, but it would be a help to have some inkling

of what thev meant when

they said. "I'm glad you weren't hurt tonight."

"Three hundred and twenty, plus the twenty-five stake money you gave me."

Malone laid the moni, glass table next toT malade "It wa, yo£ night, if it wasn't ^

Quentin took fo. I pound notes and p"f rest back to Maloo, yours, Scobie. N0^ held up a hand ai

went to protest, "j^1 ment, please. It't

compensation, if J*^ You ruined a good *J

night."

"That wasn't all ]

I had a good set 0[r

till I landed in this

Quentin didn't

didn't want you to

night, you know th¿|

you'd left it to Denn], broke off, began to

some toast with the ahn, air of a man who had tention of eating it

just something to do, i hands. "What did Do I when you told him *t I

happened ?"

"Told me to go hoc,l

the first available plant

"What about Lisa?"

Malone, too, began n 1 ter some toast; but u l chewed on it, manufacl

a long pause before fol "She was pretty upset j

your sake more than I think."

"That's not true,

have been concerned fot

"Well, all right, she He did not want to

too much of what had, between himself and Lis night, mainly because ht not sure if there had bett hint of committal a part. "But I was ind You're her real worry."

"Scobie, promise mt thing. From now on

this business to Denzil ar:| men. You stick to the jot came over for. Do that nothing else."

"If I were to do properly, you and I

be on our way to the air now. Is that what you

There was a swish of and Sheila, auburn hair

ing above her green hou*

came out on to the "I've just seen Lisa!

have you heard what pened last night?"

"Sit down, darling.'

tin pushed out a chair Sheila and she sank dow to it. The mornings treat her kindly,

thought; she turned to

at him and he saw the ti that had multiplied sin« terday. Quentin said, .

thinks we should get f plane right away for What do you think?"

"Scobie?" Sheila k from one man to the

Men always arrived ît ^

name terms ahead of

but this was an intimât? obviously hadn't expect« tween ber husband captor.

"We've become old ff" said Quentin. "A con« enemy does that."

Sheila looked as if «he'

about to weep; then si" up and poured herself » P of orange juice. She

ing a small green he* clock and she set it do*" the table. "I'll have M send this out." She loo»»

Malone. "I bought thu my husband on our first * ding anniversary. He » wears a wrist-watch

got tired of him wakiW

every morning to

time. It didn't go on morning. For the fin* in twenty-two years.

Everyone is telling «*. secrets, Malone thought ^

else in this house w*n° confide in me? Joseph cook, the daily help?

Sheila was regaining

trol of herself: *>men?"LB even seemed to smooth jj

of the lines out of her m.

She nodded at M»*f

grey suit, even managed

To page 43

THE HIGH

COMMISSIONER

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 42

.mile. "Joseph must be disappoin

;d in you, Scobie-may I call you

' cobie?"

"If you like," Malone said, and dished she would not. When it ame time to give evidence against Juentin he did not want to look round the court and have his bjectivity upset by the sight of 00 many people who called him "y his first name. "Joseph thinks

'-'ve reverted to type."

"You'd better wear one of my ark suits today," Quentin said.

"No, thanks-"

fc "I understand your feelings, pcobie," Quentin said, and Malone 1 ll at once realised that the other tian did understand. "But it's not li question of tying in your iden- tity too much with mine. I don't [want you to put yourself in my

iihoes, figuratively or otherwise. It's

. question of protection, your pro ection. The less you stand out in vhat crowd at Lancaster House Lhis morning the better for. you. And for me," he added unsmil I "sly

OHEILA had just Wticed the money on the table.

-What's all this?"

"Scobie's luck wasn't entirely Jut last night. He cleaned up at lä'othergill's."

t Then Lisa came to the door. j'Mr. Faber, from the American .¡¿mbassy, is here. He's in the g Irawing-room. And there's a phone

r,all for you, Mr. Malone. From ,..ydney."

Sd Quentin and Malone rose to- gether. "Each to get his instruc- tions," Quentin said with a dry

mile.

I! "Are the Americans instructing .on what to say?" Malone asked

;n surprise.

a "They're trying. So are the ,,$ntish, the French, the South ^/ietnamese. Even the Chinese have ¿tad a go at me. All very polite,

ubtle, and gentlemanly, though. e/our friend Mr- Flannery should ^ome over here for a couple of

^eeks. He might learn some

lung."

i( "I don't think he'd be interested

h politeness, subtlety, and being a gentleman. They've never been

' i "^".catchers, not in Australian

Politics."

To«, 3t % talking about the Premier >jl New South Wales, Lisa." Quen ¿m seemed to have forgotten that

.isa did not know Malone's real ^entity; she was his private sec ^/tary, privy to all his secrets. But

low that he realised he and 'i Aalo"e had made a slip by talk { ng about Flannery in front of her

¿e was not panicked into a fumb ing cover-up. "But don't quote

um in your memoirs."

i Lisa looked at Malone with a -jarm sympathy that surprised and

"leased him. The mood between I1T of last night still survived. [ úi Malone got into enough : rouble last night. I wouldn't want r»D make it worse for him."

,Malone smiled his thanks and k >Uowed Quentin into the house. ,eij hl" balding man was waiting In the drawing-room. Malone  

To page 44

THE HIGH COMMISSION^ j

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 43

could see him through the wide, open doors. Larter was with him and both of them had the pinched look of pessimists who had not slept well. The conference had started to go badly and they had no confidence that it would go well today. Quentin went in to them, closing the doors: the man with no future at all, he was the one with the air of confidence.

Malone went on to the study, closing the door after him. Leeds was on the line, sounding a little impatient. "Aren't you out of bed over there? How are things going?"

Malone was surprised to find himself hesitating. Forcibly he reminded himself he was working for Leeds, not for the patriotic man in the next room. "Not too well -" he said, and told Leeds of the bomb explosion and the attempt on his own life.

He heard the curse on the other side of the world. "The bomb explosion story is in all the morning papers here-but I didn't even connect you with it!'' That's good, Malone thought; then perhaps no one else has. "Get on the first plane. Scobie! I don't care what happens to him-it might be better all round if

he were assassinated, and don't you quote me to any- one!" There was silence for a moment, then in a much quieter voice Leeds said, "I don't want anything to hap- pen to you."

Malone was glad the line was so clear, he could *-nat have argued over ten thousand miles of static. "Believe me, Commissioner, I don't want anything to happen to me. But Mr. Quentin is the im- portant one. If I put him on a plane today the conference here would fold up to-

morrow."

Again Leeds cursed; he sounded as if he were at the end of a long and frustrating day. He's lucky, Malone thought: I'm just beginning mine. "International politics aren't our concern. We've been handed a murder war- rant and it's our job to see it's carried through."

"I'm doing that, sir. He isn't making any attempt to get away from me - and I don't think he will. Once this conference is over he'll come

back with me. It just means a few days' delay, that's all. A week after twenty-three years isn't much, sir."

"Don't start sounding like a defence lawyer pleading for an adjournment." Leeds' voice was tart. "And what happens to our case if he doesn't last till the end of the confer- ence?"

Malone took a risk, asked to be sent to a bush beat again. "You just said it, sir. If he is assassinated, won't that solve everything?"

There was a long silence over the line, then Leeds said, "Scobie, are you getting too friendly with this man?"

Malone hesitated. "I could

be, sir. But I'm doing my best to stay objective."

"You don't sound it."

Malone took another risk: "I'm not entirely convinced he did murder his wife."

"If you were back here, Sergeant, that would get you taken off the case right away! Damn it all. I hate the way this thing has been done, everything wrapped up and laid in our laps, but the facts are there, the farts are there!

You checked and reported on them before you left here."

"I know that, sir. And the facts could still be right. But I'd like to double-check."

Leeds' voice was firm. "Sergeant, you have a war- rant to bring him back for murder. See you do that -

and let the m , whether he's guilty' *J

"Do we »tay «¡VI

the conference U 'J?*tt

Leeds sighed, hi!* longer firm. "All "T1!

be careful. Of

mean."'

Malone put ^ phone. He could

the murmur of voic*

next room; someont J_ a little angry, butht^Bi» tell whose voice it J¿W

Then the door ope-F Joseph came in. ^vl

sorry, sir. I didn't-"!

"?;'« OK. Joseph. J

as if Im going to

borrow one of Mr. OJ suits today."

"Yes, sir. May I Jur the clock first?" He n to the mantelpiece, ba wind the ormolu clo? saw your dark suit i

room. I took the li*Mt laying out one of Mtfl tin's, just in case. Yn|

an accident, sir?"

"In a way. I wai.

knocked down by a ^

Joseph shook hu tut-tutted. "London it is a stampede now. I first came here,

were so polite. [ I

drivers occasionally p K

to allow one to - . street."

"How long ago wai j

"You mean when i

came here, sir? 1956.1

out of Budapest dunj

rebellion."

"Were you a Budapest ?"

«JOSEPH >

the first genuine look of J Malone had seen a I

bland sallow face,

went out when the | nists came in. No, st, I only a waiter." Tn pride came to the d

"But at one of tk-l hotels. The Dunif wouldn't know M|

sir?''

"No, I'm afraid

Malone grinned, uss4|

of his small world,

would have to buy ul when he got back to ty "Do you like it hw

Joseph finished

the clock, gently ckH glass face, .and looked ^

the room. "I like among good things,

was born poor, bul i

aristocratic tastes,

cannot be rich, the WI thing is to be a butte]

Malone grinned. Ht

out into the hall andC^ face stiffly set in its1 mould, was standing "

of the big mirror »»l the knot of his purpk' tie. Unexpectedly he f at Malone and said, "> is a very gear type,

bought this in Carnsby'

and insisted I wear

morning. If the SupeJ

me in it I'll be ba«r

Chelsea beat."

"Your girl's got

goes with your eyes.

"You mean the b*P\ them? What with her« Super. I never get

sleep." Malone led <*|

up to his bedroom. ^ showing a capacity f* ation that Malone b» suspected, spraw led in.

one leg hung over «" "They nearly got Y^

night ? Denzil P"0"*"!, morning at seven o'nOn me a rundown. *** lucky."

Malone nodded,

out of his grey trou* pulling on Quentin» blue ones. "What »bo'

lain ? Did Denzil

had checked on him

"He's staying at »

Queen's Gate. We've (

tail on him ever since

the Yard last night, He

To page 45

THE HIGH COMMISSIONER

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 44

.move out of his hotel all last

'-í' could have sworn that the car that tried to crumple *e was the one he drove yes-

terday morning.' .

"It was probably a rented Hob It'll never be returned ar.d some time next year or

RM year after it'll be found tn a quarry somewhere. By then this crowd will be out of the country. I don't understand vWhy they tried to do you. Do ,you know something you (shouldn't?"

Malone shrugged. 1 don t ? know I'm puzzled about this bloke Jamaica. Who's he forking for?"

< "We're still trying to check un him. So far we've got nothing other than what Denzil said he told you last night, that he exports Thai ¡ilk or something from Bang- kok The Old Man went back to the Yard last night after Ee left you and phoned our -mbassy in Bangkok. They checked for him. Jamaica has i registered business out

there."

Malone stood up, pulled on Quentin's jacket. "What about

Madame Cholon?"

VylOBURN stood ip, too, spreading his hands. Thin air. But one thing vorries me-what do we do vith her when we do find her ? This is supposed to be a free xmntry, a democracy and all hat. You can't deport foreign isitors because you think they night be up to something. If he has no record, if her visa 5 OK, now she's here there's lothing we can do about her."

"You can keep tabs on her, ee she stays out of mischief."

Coburn shook his head. You don't really think she's he one who's been taking pot hots at you and Quentin, .he might be running the how or mixed up in it some ow, but she's not the one oing the dirty work. Have ou considered the possibility lat Jamaica is working with er? He was the one who got ou to go out last night. She idn't turn up, and I gather i soon as the Old Man put i an appearance Jamaica dis apeared."

, ; "He didn't know where we

¡:ere going to park the car." ! "You could have been fol- ded from here. Maybe they idn't intended going for ni there in the garage-that , >uld have been just an im

. rovisation."

Malone smiled sourly. "I : dn't think assassins went in

r improvisation. But some ïw I don't know about imaica-he strikes me as a H.ner."

|( Coburn had been carrying

Parcel. Now he unwrapped and brought out a gun. i.Jo you have one of these?" e "No." Malone had left his

;stol behind in Sydney be ¡ '"se he had not wanted to

' ,Plam t0 British Customs 1 J ! Was brin«'ng a fire » ' "? mt0 their country. And f had never expected to have t.l 'Y use for a gun in London.

Denzil sent this It's a «mth and Wesson .38 Special

\ £«ght. We're not sup

Jigs** to carry them, but on

r «am job ^ ^T

r r ta a * l Sh0Ulder ho1" < ld n f u"h ¡t~the gun'« " } W»n by this spring.»

t ^ Malone took off Quentin's 1 a Ke PPed.0n the holster,

If- tighter'now'' fitWaS

»öjtVh 1-aded'"

tra am ' ?,nd here s some

tra ammo. If you have

'nemK 8Un' make SUr<= you

;^mr irallthe deta¡'s. The J Teni""^.will want a

o 1 report. In triplicate."

h i ten !? JUSt hope 1 can

, p ,the tlme comes."

-re JrPh Was standing h,i re- a pa«, of dark blue

socks in his hand. "I forgot the socks, sir-"

Malone pulled up a dark blue trouser-leg and showed a length of light brown sock. "I'll be OK, Joseph."

Joseph rocked slightly on his heels, but didn't fall over. "Perhaps if you didn't sit down, sir-?"

Malone grinned. "I'll stay on my feet all day. Don't worry, Joseph. I won't let the High Commissioner down."

He and Coburn went down

the stairs. On the landing Coburn stopped for a moment and looked at his tie in a mirror. "Why did I have to fall for a bird who has to be always with it?" .

Quentin, Larter, and Edgar were waiting for them in the hall. Malone looked around for the man from the Ameri- can Embassy, but he had gone. "We're late," said Lar- ter reproachfully; he was too aware of time ever to be a good diplomat. "It creates a bad impression if everyone has to wait on the chairman."

But Quentin's smile at Malone and Coburn brushed aside Larter's waspishness. "We'll try a little diplomatic immunity and get Ferguson to break the speed limit. That's a nice tie you're wear- ing, Sergeant."

Coburn's face crumpled in embarrassment. "I thought it might have been a bit bright, sir-"

"Nonsense. We can all do with some cheering up."

There was a black police car drawn up behind the Rolls-Royce at the kerb out- side. Coburn got into the police car beside the plain- clothes man driving it, and

Malone got into the front seat of the Rolls beside Fergu-

son.

"Relax, sir. I don't think they'll have a go at him again in broad daylight." The glass partition behind Fergu- son's head was closed; he and Malone rode in their own compartment. "But you were lucky yesterday, you know. I mean that you didn't catch up with that joker with the

bomb.''

Malone looked at him sharply. "How did you know I had anything to do with

that?"

"Put two and two together. You Were chasing a bloke when I dropped you off and you got into that taxi - twenty minutes later there was a bomb explosion not more than a quarter of a mile from Australia House-"

"You said anything to any-

one ?"

"Not a word, sir. You don't hold these sorta jobs very long if you can't keep your trap shut, you know. If Mr. Quentin wants me to keep mum, then mum I'm gunna be."

"You have a lot of time

for him, haven't you?'

"They don't come any better."

They pulled up in front of Lancaster House.

Quentin went on into the big mansion, nodding affably to the photographers, a man in control of himself and any situation he might have to face. Larter and Edgar fol- lowed him, and Malone and Coburn brought up the rear. "Our boy is safe for the next couple of hours. Shall we go and bait your mate ?"

Pallain, standing in the doorway of the Press room, smiled as they approached him. "Mr. Malone, how are you? You don't look well this morning. It's the Eng- lish climate. It doesn't agree with me, also."

Malone introduced Coburn, and the latter said. "I under- stand the climate in Saigon isn't too healthy just now."

Pallain's smile widened. His teeth were not good, uneven and slightly yellow, and the smile was not pleasant. "Eng- lish policemen are becoming sardonic, more like the French. I noticed it with your superintendent last night." He looked up at the doors of the conference room which were just being closed. "Well, there they go. The optimists."

"You don't think they'll get anywhere?" Malone said.

"Do you ?"

"Anything is worth a try. Or do you find war easier to write about?"

"Don't misunderstand me, Mr. Malone. I am all in favor of peace. But talk rarely achieves it. Only force. That's a nasty cut on your

chin."

"I'd like a little talk with the bloke who did it," said Malone. "A little forceful

talk."

"I'm afraid I couldn't help you." Pallain looked from one to the other. "I can't get out of my hotel for police- men watching me. They should watch you instead of

me."

He smiled again, bowed his head slightly, and turned and went into the Press room.

"I'd like to throttle him," said Coburn. "With my purple tie. What's the

matter?"

Malone had been looking about the now sparse crowd still in the vestibule and on the upper balconies. "I wonder where our mate Jamaica is this morning ?"

"I am expecting Mr. Jamaica any minute," said Madame Cholon. "But you should not be calling from Lancaster House, Jean-Pierre. It is too risky."

"I have the Press room to myself," said Pallain at the other end of the line. "I have been talking to your Austra- lian friend this morning, Mr. Malone. He doesn't look well. Pham Chinh must have upset him last night. Has the car been disposed of?"

"Yes. What about Quen-

tin?"

"Worried looking." There was a pause; then: "There isn't much time left. You must be worrying, too."

"Don't start analysing me, Monsieur Pallain!" But she was worried; there wasn't much time left. She slammed down the phone. Her hands were trembling and she could hardly see for fury. Even ai a child she had never taker kindly to criticism; she knew that when she had turnee fourteen her mother had beer only too relieved to let hei go to the brothel in Cholon

There, in her first year she had scratched the face: of several men who had com plained of her lack of tech nique; by the end of her firs year she had the best tech nique of any girl in the house but some of the men wen still afraid of her temper am chose more placid girls. Ii the 20 years since, she ha< improved her status and he fortune, had become sophis ticated, had learned to com mand. But the fury of th child was still in her and i would always be her weak

ness.

She walked to the windoy and looked out at the t raff i passing up and down Avenu Road. She had rented th;

house in St. John's Wood at the same time as she had rented the apartment in Ken- sington. Bay Vien had taught her that a good general always had a second prepared position in case of retreat; she had also learned from the Viet Cong that a good guerilla never operated from the same base all the time.

She wandered restlessly about the room, impatient for Jamaica to arrive. She had learned to control herself, but she had never mastered the art of relaxing; the quality of repose was to her often no more than a resignation, the bowing of a woman to a man's domination. And no man, not even Bay Vien, had ever dominated her. She picked up several of the morning news- papers, with their stories and pictures of the bomb explosion yesterday.

She threw down the papers with a curse of anger. If it had not been for that inter- fering Australian security man, Quentin would now be dead and the conference would already be crumbling into ruins of suspicion, charges, and counter-charges.

Pham Chinh opened the door. "There are two Chinese to see you," he said in French. "They won't give their

names."

Pham Chinh opened the door wider, jerked his head, and stood aside to let the two Chinese, both of them short, one fat, the other thin, to pass by him into the room. Then he came into the room behind them to stand beside the door.

She spoke to the Chinese in French. "What can I do for you, gentlemen ?"

The fat man said something

in Chinese, but Madame Cholon shook her head.

"Do you speak English?" he then said, and she nodded. The fat man appeared to speak without moving his lips. "Madame Cholon, whom are you working for?"

"Tell me first, whom are you working for?"

The two Chinese exchanged glances and the thin one smiled. "There is only one government that honorable Chinese work for," he said. "We trust you do not work for the Kuomintang?"

It was Madame Cholon'f turn to smile. "No. I am work- ing for no one."

"We do not choose to be- lieve that. Why were you at the reception the night before last? And why did you go after the reception to the gambling club with the American, Jamaica?"

Madame Cholon looked at Pham Chinh. "Would you show the gentlemen to the

door?"

She turned her back, took two paces toward the window, then stopped. She heard Pham Chinh hiss, but she did not hear him move. She turned her head and saw the thin Chinese was holding a small pistol aimed directly at Pham Chinh's stomach.

"Put the gun away," she said, and motioned to the thick-cushioned couch nearby. "Won't you sit down?"

Pham Chinh let out another hiss, then relaxed, leaning back now against the wall. Madame Cholon sat down in a chair, tensed inside but out- wardly calm, and waited for the two Chinese to sit down.

"Why are you concerned about Mr. Jamaica?" she

asked.

The two Chinese glanced at each other, then the fat man said, "What do you know

about him?"

"Nothing very much. He says he is a silk exporter from Bangkok, but I suspect he is

more than that."

"He works for the Ameri- can Central Intelligence   Agency," said the thin man, and smiled when he saw Madame Cholon bite her lip. "You did not know that?"

To page 46

THE HIGH COMMISSIONER

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 45

"No," said Madame Cholon. "I believe you are telling the truth. If you were not working with the Americans, whom are you working with ?"

"I am here on holiday. It is just coincidental that other people from our part of the world should also be here in London."

"We do not accept the coinci- dence, Madame. We know who you are, that you have not been to Europe for three years, that you have never been in London before. Such coincidences do not occur, Madame Cholon. We think you - we know you have had something to do with the attempts to kill the Australian High Com-

missioner."

Madame Cholon glanced at

Pham Chinh.

"No, I've told no one! I don't know anyone-"

"Who?" The fury was taking hold of her again. "Jean-Pierre?" Then she looked at the Chinese again. "Or was it Mr. Jamaica?"

The young, thin Chinese shook his head and smiled. "If ever we were going to employ a double agent, Madame, we should not have an American. One cannot trust them. Xo. we have our source. It is no one you know."

"The conference is going the way we want it to go," said the fat man. "We are achieving what we want without your help. You are spoiling our plans, ones we have taken great care and trouble with! Your stupid, crude methods are ruining everything we have arranged! Shooting, bombing, try

ing to kill the security man with a car - you will have to stop,

Madame Cholon!"

"You know what happened in the garage?" She could not con- tain her surprise.

"We know," said the young Chinese and looked at Pham Chinh. "Was it you who drove the car ? What made you try some- thing as stupid as that? Don't von know that you could have killed yourself?" He shook his head again: he just could not believe that so much stupidity existed.

Pham Chinh looked to Madame Cholon to answer for him. She said. "We hadn't planned to kill the security man."

"That was stupid, Madame.

Really stupid. Murder should never be done on the spur of the moment. You should always allow for the consequences."

Madame Cholon stared hard at the men: if she had the gun that the young man held, she would kill them both and to hell with consequences. "As you say, it was done on the spur of the moment. And perhaps that was stupid. But I thought the security man was proving dangerous, he kept getting in my way. And this was an ex- cellent opportunity."

"Go on, Madame. Tell us how you got yourself into this awkward

situation."

She hesitated again: then she went on to describe what had happened last night. Pham Chinh had been driving her to Fother gill's.

"It was just sheer ch

I saw Malone, the «tel

and the girl who work?'! M

High Commissioner. Ti, * & in an open car and the?'**' us at Hyde Park Corner W too, was sheer chance. Ph

missed the gambling clubT ^ went down Park Lane and JJ J to go right down-it ¡s J**:

ParkdC.orneer^Ck UP ^

"Luck seems to play a ,

part in your life, Madam-T hope you do not relv tnT'

on it."

"I am a gambler," ih,

"When luck presents itself *

don't turn away from it. ' H

"What happened when yo», Mr. Malone and the girl?"

"We followed them up w , I garage. I stayed in the caj u '

Chinh followed them on

came back and told me they-L gone to Fothergill's. I waito¿ Mr. Jamaica there. I «

thought Jamaica had got in ^

with Malone, was trying-how

they say?-to cook somethingJ

"And so you lost your te», and decided to kill one o

of them?"

Madame Cholon smiled da "I am not as crude as «JJ tn, I got a taxi and came backlit-. I left Pham Chinh in the pn. He was only to kill Malone if

got him alone. I left the met un to him. As it happened,

chose the wrong one. Nat tc

I shall name the method."

"There won't be a next tin I The young man looked at the J

man and both of them stood "We think you should catch

first plane back to Sait] Madame. How soon can v . | ready?"

]Vi ADAME CHOL

almost shouted, "I shall be rt.: in my own time!" The young:, pointed the gun at her. "We

even pay your fare, Madame, |

and your servant's. Can yan ready to leave tomorrow?"

"No! I tell you I am not lt ing here till-"

"Saturday, then. In thc I

time you will not go near :

Australian High Commissior near his residence, Australia Hon nor Lancaster House. Neither ' nor anyone you may hire,

eluding this stupid man here

"There is a plane

half-past five Saturday after»: You can change at Singan Your tickets will be here at to time today. First-class for |

self and tourist-class for your > vant. You will be on Satunt plane."

"And if I'm not?"

"Then I am afraid sometí, crude may happen to you," t the young Chinese. "The titi will be here at lunchtime. Gc morning, Madame."

They both bowed, rai««! ü> hats, the young man still hole the gun in front of him likr badge of office. Madame C» heard the front door close, I she looked at Pham Chinh.

don't have much time, Cto

"Do we catch the pla« Saturday?" Pham Chinh's f was hopeful, relieved: other enj other murders, lay ahead for ' but in Saigon, where the eli

was better and the chane« being caught were much, "

slimmer.

"We shall be on the plan* our work will be finished by »

She had no plans, but her fidence had begun to return first, certain obstructions ha be done away with. "When Jamaica arrives, show hint

"But if he is workins '°'

Americans-?" Pham Chinh' t°d no more mistakes. Let

play it safe, get on the pla"1

go home. He had already W ten his ambition to be rich

"Mr. Jamaica has finished   ing for the Americans. yr one else." The doorbell

"There he is now."

To be concluded

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