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Concluding instalment of our absorbing three-part serial
By JON CLEARY
OPECIALLY selected by LEEDS, the Commis ^ «oner of Police, DETECTIVE-SERGEANT
MALONE is sent to London to arrest JOHN QUENTIN, the Australian High Commissioner, for murder. This has been ordered by FLANNERY, the Premier of New South Wales, who hopes to score a victory in his fend with the Prime Minister because he has always treated Quentin as his protege.
Quentin, known then as JOHN CORLISS, had disappeared 23 years before, when his wife, FREDA, was found murdered. Later he had joined the Navy at Perth under the name of Quentin and then had married SHEILA
Now presiding over a cease-fire conference on Vietnam, Quentin begs for five days' grace before Malone takes him back to Sydney, and Malone finds himself installed in the Quentin household, where LISA PRETORIOUS, Quen- tin's secretary, and JOSEPH, the butler, accept
The first night Malone accompanies the Quentin» and Lisa to a reception, where an American negro, JAMAICA, warns him against MADAME CHOLON, a Vietnamese. On the way home an attempt to assassinate Quentin is made by PALLAIN, PHAM CHINH, and TRUONG THO, who are in league with Madame Cholon. SUPERINTENDENT DENZIL and SERGEANT CORURN, from Scotland Yard, Special Hranch, are called to investigate.
Madame Cholon then arranges for a bomb to be delivered to Quentin, but Malone inter- venes and it explodes, killing Truong Tho. Later Malone gets a tip from Jamaica that Madame Cholon will be at Fothergill's gaming rooms and takes Lisa there with him. However, Madame Cholon does not arrive, but Malone is very nearly killed in a parking area by Pham Chinh, who tries to run him down.
Next day, Madame Cholon has an unex- pected visit from two Chinese observers at the conference, who tell her they know she is responsible for the attempts on Quentin's life and that she must stop - or else. She decides Jamaica must die, as she thinks he has in-
formed on her. NOW READ ON:
ALONE lay on his bed. The curtains were open and there was a distant hum of traffic, the breath- ing, sighing, occasional shrieking of the city; but it was not disturbing. Dead silence would have been worse, would have made him more aware of the people in the house. One of whom had tried to open his briefcase
in which was locked the file on Quentin and the warrant
for his arrest.
It had been a long day and not a good one. The conference, he knew, had gone badly again. He had become concerned for the success of the conference as were Quentin, Larter, and Edgar; he had become a silent, unacknowledged member of the delegation. He wanted the conference to succeed in its main purpose, to achieve some sort of peace, no matter how fragile; he also wanted it to succeed for Quentin's sake. The man would want to take something with him into the dark
years ahead in jail.
At the afternoon break in the discussions Quentin had
come along to where Malone had stood by himself on
one of the balconies.
"Thinking of buying the place, Scobie?" Quentin said. Malone had been gazing admiringly at the staircase and the big hall below him. "I'm going to find it tough going back to my flat in Kings Cross. No marble walls
and chandeliers there."
"The marble is imitation. Like the attitudes of some of the delegates here today."
Quentin sounded bitter and disappointed, but he man- aged a confident smile and went on to speak over Malone's shoulder. "Mr. Chen, Mr. Pai. Enjoying yourselves?"
Malone was introduced to the two Chinese, one thin and young, the other fat and middle-aged. "Our stay has been enjoyable, but we are looking forward to going home," said the young man, Chen. "We do not make very good observers. We prefer to work."
"I thought you had been working all the time you were here." The look of sour depression had gone from Quentin's face; he smiled with frank good humor. "Win- ning friends and influencing people."
"Dale Carnegie is required reading in Peking. And Norman Vincent Peale and Godfrey Winn." Chen was not without a sense of humor; he had learned that outside China propaganda had to be more subtle than at home.
"Get out!" Quentin said to Malone as he held his wife close to him.
"How else can we understand the West unless we read" their philosophers?"
"You should not neglect Dorothy Dix."
"Women have never made good philosophers," said Chen, still smiling, and looked at the fat man. "Wc know, that, don't we?"
"Too emotional," said Pai. "We are fortunate there are no women here at the conference trying to influence decisions. Do you not think so, Mr. Quentin?"
Quentin looked at Malone, then back at the two Chinese. "Perhaps they are in the background. One never knows. Most of the delegates here are married
"Wives are not the women to be wary of," said Chen, still unmarried and still innocent. "Wives do not have
ambitions for power, except perhaps over their husbands. At least I understand that it is like that in the West."
"I must ask my wife what power she has over me, said Quentin, still smiling.
"I did not mean to offend," said Chen: the revolution had not killed all politeness.
Then Chen and Pai excused themselves and went
"What do you make of those two?" Quentin said. "D° you think Madame Cholon would be working for them?"
"I doubt it."
"It's a pity your friend Jamaica won't tell you what he seems to know about her. Have you seen him here
Malone shook his head. "He seems to have blown through. Denzil is trying to find out what he can about him. I gather he's up at the American Embassy now making a nuisance of himself." Malone hesitated, then said, "Sergeant Coburn will see you home this evening.
"Where are you going?"
"Up to book our seats for Saturday. There's a flight out at five-thirty in the afternoon. Shall I book Mrs.
Quentin on it, too?"
Quentin drew a deep breath and his brows came down as if he were trying to concentrate on a problem he had
for the moment forgotten.
"Make it for the three of us. First class. I may a* well have the comfort while I can. I'll pay the extra.
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE M
half an hour before Malone had returned. Sheila? She would have had all day. Or Joseph ? Or even Lisa ?
He reached for the case again and took out the file. He began to read it again from the beginning. It now read like another story; or at least the story of another
man . . .
". . . Corliss kept very much to himself while working for the Water Board. He seems to have been incapable of communicating with other people. He had no friends there and belonged to none of the social clubs. He played golf at Moore Park,
months before he disappeared, those working closely with him in survey parties noticed a change in him. He still did not join them out of work hours in any social functions. But he was gayer, seemed to be enjoying life more . . ."
Why? Malone asked him- self. Had the relationship be- tween Quentin (he could not bring himself to think of him as Corliss) and his wife, Freda, improved? But if so, why had he killed her so soon afterward? Or had the kill- ing, as Quentin had claimed, really been an accident?
". . . Two weeks before the murder Corliss took his
"There's no need. They authorised first class for you and me. But I'm afraid you'll have to pay for Mrs. Quen-
He had left Lancaster House late in the afternoon, when Coburn had come to relieve him, and gone up to the airline offices to book seats for Saturday's flight.
He handed the girl two ticket vouchers. "For yourself and Mr. Corliss, is that right? And the name of the third person ?"
"Mrs. John Corliss." The voucher for Quentin's ticket had been made out in the name that was on his warrant for arrest. Malone wondered how Sheila Quentin would re- act to hearing the name of another woman, a woman now
"And the address in case we want to get in touch with you?"
He gave the number of the house in Belgrave Square; the girl did not seem to attach any significance to it. "That will be another three hun- dred and ninety pounds, sir."
XlE took out his traveller's cheques and the money he had won last night. He laid down the notes and wrote out cheques for the balance. "What time will we reach Sydney?"
"Seven - twenty Monday morning. Rather early, I'm
But not too early for may-
"Enjoy your trip," said the girl, safe in the heart of Piccadilly.
Then he had come back to the house in Belgravia, come up to his room, taken off his jacket and shoes, picked up his briefcase and at once seen the scratches on the lock. Whoever had been in his room had not succeeded in opening the lock, but they had dam- aged it; it had taken him some time to open it and he had bent his key in the pro- cess. Now he lay on his bed wondering who had made the crude attempt to open the briefcase. Quentin himself? He had been home at least
which is a public course, and even there had no friends; he played either alone or would join a pick-up four- some. None of. his workmates had ever met his wife or been invited to his home. Their neighbors in Coogee remem- ber him as a shy, morose man who never did more than pass the time of day with them; the wife, Freda, was also shy,
but one or two women re- member her as pleasant; she would not talk about her life before she came to Australia
". . . Certain of Corliss' workmates remember think- ing of him as unhappy. He appeared to be a man with- out ambition or interest, liv- ing only from day to day. Then, roughly three to four
annual holidays. He went away for a week. He did not take his wife with him nor is it known where he went. He returned to work on Mon- day, December 8, 1941. His workmates noticed that he seemed troubled and unhappy again, but put it down to the news about Pearl Harbor. He was asked if he was going to enlist. He made one of his few confidences, of his private life; he said he would have to
see how his wife felt.
"Up till then, he said, she had been against his joining up; she had lost her parents to the Nazis and she did not want to lose her husband. But now the Japanese were in the war, he said, things might be different. He left work early that afternoon . ..."
Where had Quentin gone for that week alone? Why had he not taken his wife? Had they had an argument on December 8 about his en- listing, an argument that had blown up into a fierce row, which had come to blows and in which she had been fatally
". . . There is another gap in Corliss' movements. From leaving the head office of the Water Board at 3.30 p.m. on December 8, 1941, till he enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy at HMÀS Leeuwin, the Navy depot in Perth, Western Australia, on May 12, 1942 . . ."
Where had he been for those five months? Had he been going through torture that was only to be assuaged
when he met Sheila Red-
mond ? Malone flipped through several more pages.
". .. . On July 10, 1942, he married Sheila, daughter
of Leslie and Elizabeth Cous- ins Redmond, at the Registry Office, Perth. Nothing can be traced of Sheila Redmond's history prior to her marriage. When Corliss (now Quentin) became Minister Without Portfolio, Mrs. Quentin was interviewed by several news- papers. But all the articles written about her are vague about her beginnings. All that emerges is that she grew up on a farm in northern Queensland . '. "
Malone sat up. Northern Queensland ?
Then there was a knock
at the door and Sheik rv,
tin said, "Mr. Malone? fe you care to join «, ^ drink before dinner? Mv h
band has something he wT5" to discuss with you?"
"Sherry? Whisky? Beer) Sheila was pouring the drU.
I don t know your tas tr U Malone." ^Mr
"He's not a sherry nu»,» said Quentin and smiled
Malone. "That's one thin. 1 have in common. Give h
whisky. But where's Joseph?»
"It's his afternoon 0ff" Sheila looked at Quentin h» eyes darkening with conten. "Have you lost track of the days? It's Thursday."
Quentin nodded his head sharply, as if annoyed with his own abstraction. "QI course. He's lucky, havuu; a afternoon off. Did he take that clock of mine to hr
"He had it with him whet he went out." Sheila hand«) Malone his drink. "HWi
Malone tasted the drink and coughed. He looked up at her, thinking how beautiful she looked even through the tem in his eyes, wondering what she had hoped to achieve by finding out what was in his briefcase. "Are you trying to
knock me out?"
She smiled. "Whisky is sup- posed to be medicinal. [ thought it might help you forget your bruises."
Which ones? he wanted to ask. The physical ones or thc bruises to his trust He had trusted her husband, gene much further than he should have as a policeman, and Quentin had rewarded him with lies. He looked at Quen- tin and said, "You wanted to see me about something?"
"How much do I owe you for Mrs. Quentin's air ticket? You got us on Saturday's plane ?"
Malone nodded. "You ow me seventy pounds."
Both the Quentins looked at him curiously. "Seventy pounds for "a first-class air ticket to Sydney?" Quentin smiled. "What is it, bargain
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE **
«Í already had three hun- dred »nd twenty pounds of
ffl0ney!''Quentin had stopped
any «nore," said Malone stubbornly.
«What's the matter Mr. Malone?" Sheila stood be- hind Quentin's chair Some £'s troubling you?"
He took another taste ot hi, drink, coughed because he Sd drunk it too fast then ^d, "Which one of you
Then there was a knock at the door and Lisa opened it «Superintendent Denzil and Sergeant Coburn are here,
Quentin had been staring at Malone. They both looked suddenly old; and just as suddenly Malone was stricken with pity again for them. He turned away from them, un- able to go on looking at them, and said to Lisa, You d better bring them in," he said, and for the second time m this house sounded authorita- tive. The first time had also been with Lisa and she seemed to remember it. She looked at him with the be- ginning of resentment; then she smiled and nodded. She pushed the door wide open and looked into the hall.
"Would you come in, Superintendent?"
AlIE first thing that Malone noticed was how tired Denzil looked. Behind him Coburn, also tired, looked as if he did not believe what Denzil was telling Malone and
"We've found your Mr. Jamaica. His body was in a rented car outside the Chinese Government's office in Portland Place. He'd been garrotted." Denzil realised his mistake and looked at the two women. "Sorry, ladies. I didn't mean to be so blunt."
"I think my wife and Miss Pretorious should be ex- cused." Quentin had stood up when Denzil and Coburn had come into the room. He ush- ered the two women toward the door,, gently pushing Sheila, who said nothing but was reluctant to go. Then Quentin turned back into the
"Do the Chinese know about this?"
"If they do, sir, they haven't told us," said Denzil. "We were very lucky - the Wy was found by a uni- formed man on the beat there. Sergeant Coburn went up there and took the car and the body back to the Yard."
"Do you think the Chin- ese did it?" Quentin asked.
"Hardly, sir. Not rieht outside their own place. Ño, he was planted there. And 1 think you can guess bv whom. Why. I don't know" ne was tired enough to admit some Ignorance: "I don't understand women too well at ne best of times. I'm afraid we working of an oriental woman s mind is beyond me." Pt,T0li're surc Madame
photon i responsible?"
"Do vou have any other nominations?» Denzil sounded h^l J101 Mrcastic. Malone
then sh<** his
'«O- Denzil went on, "We ??v.ent even been to see the Uunese sir. l ulked h °Xer. wah the Assistant Com w*°"er'told him what yo« outoefd'tut0 keeP everything j« of the pape. He doesn't ut» rt? canr8° on covering 1 ^ngs for too long - 2*««»y in a case of plain m^fder like this."
kn^ ^ey a"11'1 already fa td° you ^ve to tell
jT- 1 mean immediately?"
'Strictly speaking, no. The a« " L ?und in the street,' speak . L ProPerty. If we
o«W ti° them at »». « will
Í oe out of courtesy or
curiosity. I think we can con- tain ourselves on those two counts for the time being, sir. How long do you want?"
"Twenty-four hours will do. The conference will be over tomorrow, Saturday morning
at the latest."
"How's it going*, sir?"
"Not too well, I'm afraid. But one keeps hoping -" But his voice was already that of a hopeless man: he was slowly turning blind to the
"Well, sir, we can keep this quiet till Saturday, if you wish. It might give us more time to find out who Jamaica really was. I wonder if I might borrow Mr. Malone for
"Of course. I'm not going out tonight. I'm expecting one or two delegates to drop in
to see me."
"Sergeant Coburn will stay here. Just in case."
"You think there might be another attempt on my life?"
"I think we have you pretty well sheltered now, sir. If you don't go out, other than going to the conference tomorrow, they'll have to get into the house to get at you. And there's no chance of that, short of them putting
on a commando raid. You won't mind if Sergeant Coburn looks over your visi- tors tonight? Discreetly, of course." He looked at Coburn and managed a smile that, though weary, had some warmth in it. "He doesn't wear very discreet ties, but otherwise he's very circum- spect."
Malone led the way out of the room into the hall, won- dering why Denzil wanted to take him out of the house to- night. He glanced up and saw a movement of yellow at the top of the stairs: Sheila had been wearing a yellow dress. But ' when he stopped and looked steadily up at the landing he saw nothing; he could feel Sheila Quentin watching him, but he could not see her. It dis- turbed him, suddenly reduced her to an ordinary criminal level. He turned back, saw that Coburn was standing alone as Denzil had a last word with Quentin. He moved toward the sergeant. *
"Keep an eye on Mrs. Quentin, too." He kept his voice low. "See she doesn't go out of the house. If she tries it, tell her you're act- ing on my orders."
Coburn was either tired or conditioned: he showed no surprise. "You think they might try getting at her?"
"They could. Everyone's a target now."
"What about the secre- tary ?"
He might as well go the whole way with the interpre- tation Coburn had put on his words. "Yes, they might even try it with her. Keep 'em
all in the house."
"What if Quentin wants to go out?"
"Tell him the same. He can't go out until I get back."
Malone then followed Denzil out of the house. A police car was parked by the kerb and the uniformed policeman from the beat was talking to the driver. Den- zil stopped on the steps of the house and looked at Malone.
"I had to get you out of the house. Didn't want to talk in front of Quentin. I'm afraid I had to spill your little secret to the Assistant Commissioner tonight. I mean why you're really here."
Malone stopped smiling. "What did he say?"
"Shocked, naturally. He's a bit old-fashioned," said Den- zil, and Malone almost smiled again.
"I'm taking both of them. Quentin and his wife, out of here Saturday afternoon.
We'll be back in Sydney Mon- day morning. Can the Assist-
ant Commissioner control his 1
shock till then?" j
"Don't be rude about him, ( son," said Denzil. "We've <
been leaning over backwards ] for you two Aussies all the < week. <
"But now I'm on my way | up to the American Embassy, i I think they may be able to 1 help us about Jamaica. I \ thought you might be inter- i
ested ?" 1
"Thanks, sir. I'd like to ¡
The uniformed policeman 1 saluted as they got into the ! car. "This American is a new man, haven't met him yet. Just hope he isn't a Southerner. Can't understand them at all."
"Maybe he won't want to talk at all. Presuming, of course, that he knows some- thing about Jamaica."
"That's quite possible. That he won't talk, I mean. I'm afraid the Americans still trust anyone but themselves."
The car drew up outside the huge embassy in Gros- venor Square.
Most of the embassy staff had gone home, but the man Denzil wanted to see was still in his office. A porter checked them in and they were led through a maze of corridors till they came to a door that said: Investment Counsellor.
The man in the office was not a Soudierner and spoke English that had only a faint transatlantic accent. "I'm Ed Royston," he said, rising to meet them. "I got your phone message, Superintend- ent. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Denzil came straight to the point. "I understand you are the new CIA man here, Mr. Royston."
Royston obviously thought that was not a very polite re- mark. "I'm afraid you're in the wrong office, sir. All I do is advise Americans where and how to invest their money in Europe."
Denzil looked around the office, at the charts on the walls, the leather-bound books on the shelves, the stacks of the "Wall Street Journal" and the "Financial Times" on a tilted reading . bench against one wall. "You have a neat cover here. Your predecessor was a telecommunications en- gineer. I had a little trouble communicating with him, too." He smiled and looked back at Royston. "Don't let's waste time, Mr. Royston. I'd like some information about a man named Jamaica, first
Royston shook his head. "I'm afraid I've never heard of him."
"We have his body down at the morgue." Denzil was matter-of-fact and patient. "We found it in a car parked outside the Chinese, the Red Chinese, offices in Portland
Royston picked up a pen and began to doodle on the blotter on his desk. He looked at Malone. "May I ask who you are. Mr. Malone ?"
"I'm from the New South Wales Police Force." said Malone, inventing his own cover. "Attached to the Aus- tralian High Commissioner for special duty."
"Why are you so interested in Jamaica?" Royston ad- dressed the question to both of them; then sat silent while Denzil told him everything they knew about the dead man. At last he said. "He didn't tell you much, did he?"
"Was he working for you ?" Denzil asked.
Royston shook his head. He seemed no longer interested in keeping up the pretence of being an investment counsel- lor. "We knew he was here,
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u t hr wasn't under our con bU The ambassador knew tt0ïl about him and n0îherg did the rest of the tfí ThaTwas why theyf told ' they'd never heard of him It" i checked on him last ^He was working direct
"He told you.no*ing?t. " Cysten hesitated, then threw down the pen and sat r ZrJ "I can't tell you
Superintendent, because fdon't have the author,^ You'd have to get on to Washington for that All I
" tel1 vou is what he told
£e1Lut this Madame
Cholon. He rang me this
!L>;n<r made an appoint
ST?« « tonight. That's X I'm here now waiting for him. How much do you know about this Cholon
woman ?" . _
"Nothing," said Denzil.
"Well, he got on to her about three months ago. She used to be one of the fav öriTes of Bay Vien - he had no proof that she was one of Bay's mistresses, but she knew him pretty well."
"Who was Bay Vien? Malone asked.
"Bay Vien ran the Binh Xuyen sect in Saigon during the time of Bao Dai, the last Emperor. The Binh Xuyen had everything wrapped up in Saigon - the brothels, the dope traffic, the gambling, the lot. Bay Vien ran the police and no one could do any- thing in Saigon without his
"How many were in the
ged. "About half a million. But their influence spread much wider than that. Then Ngo Dinh Diem became President and he got to work on them. Whatever else he was Diem was a moralist. He wasn't interested in any rake off from the brothels or any- thing else that the Binh Xuyen ran. He set his troops on them and wiped them out."
"All half a million of
"Not all of them. You can't find and kill half a million people, especially when they are out of uniform and look just like everyone else. There are still a lot of the Binh Xuyen people around. In- cluding Madame Cholon."
"There's a man named Pal lain, too. What about him?"
"He knew Cholon in Viet- nam, but Jamaica had no proof he was working for
"What does Cholon want here in London?" Malone
"Jamaica was only guessing, but he thought she wanted to revive all the old rackets in Saigon. There's millions in il for anyone who could get them going again. But she couldn't do it if there is evei a stable government put ir Power. Either one backed b}
¡if or," he smiled, "by th«
So if this conferenci reached a stalemate, was ad journed," Denzil said, "she'e be in a position at least t<
"Not on a big scale, bu enough to be profitable. Am « things are allowed to drift get worse out there, she'd b '"Ung pretty. Especially if sh could get one or two of th ?ni* ,Senerals on her payrol i ney re not all on our sid< you know, even though we'i Paying them now."
j ,W,nat bad Jamaica inter Qed doing to stop Cholon?
im not sure, but I thin °e was going to turn her ove io you when he knew exactl *nat she was up to. Whe hp Ck J íhu raorning he sai
e had something importai ^ Tented to talk about
^ybe he'd finally got som
wing on her."
Denzil nodded. "D 0l,m?1Ca teU y°u where tl
^nolon woman could I
"I'm sorry-no." He stood up. "I'll get on to Washing- ton, find out if Jamaica had filed anything else on her."
"Who was Jamaica?" Malone was curious. Despite their antagonism, the man had tried to help him. "Where did he come from?"
"He was from some small
town in Georgia. He got out of the Army right after Korea finished, never went back to the States. I gather he was pretty bitter then about con- ditions for negroes down South, said he never wanted to go home again to being kicked around. He could have turned Communist, he had enough provocation, I guess.
But he didn't."
"What happened ?"
"He got this silk business going in Bangkok, did pretty
well out of it. But though he didn't want to go home, he never stopped being an Ameri- can. We approached him about three years ago. He re- fused at first, then one day he came to our control out there and said he'd work for us. He became one of our best men. His mother still lives in Georgia. I guess he's going to go home after all."
"Will you take care of his body?" Denzil said.
"We'll attend to it. How was he killed ?"
"Better make it a heart attack. We'll accept that if you will."
"If we catch up with this Cholon woman, we might want to charge her with his murder. But I'll get a death certificate for you and you can ship the body back to America. We'd appreciate it if you kept all this as quiet as possible."
Outside on the embassy steps, Denzil looked at Malone. "Well, now all we have to do is find her."
"I'll have her watched so closely she won't be able to turn round without our know- ing it." They got into the waiting car and he flopped back against the seat. "Women! They're always the
worst of the lot."
"I wouldn't know," said Malone, thinking not of Madame Cholon but of Sheila Quentin. "I've still got to find
When Malone let himself into the house, with the key he had been given, Edgar was standing in the hall examin- ing his jowels in the big mir- ror. "I'm putting on weight. The harder I work and the more I worry, the fatter I get. What's new on the security front?"
Malone didn't feel in the mood for long expositions. "We're progressing. Where's
"In the library watching TV." Edgar turned away from the mirror. "The boss told us about the dead negro out- side the Chinese office. He's in there with some of the Yanks now." He nodded to- ward the closed door of the drawing-room.
"Has he told them about Jamaica ?"
"I don't know. He's got more on his mind right now than a dead Yank. He's got
three very hot-tempered live ones in there blowing their tops that everyone seems to know their business. They've been giving some of us in- side information on what they're planning and now some of it is getting back to them. They want to know where the leak is."
"Where do you think it is?"
"It could have been a
dozen piaces. Someone from their own delegation got care- less - though I doubt that. Someone from the British crowd - they've never trusted British security after the Burgess-Maclean business. It could be a leak in the South Vietnamese lot. There's
so much rivalry inside that lot, everyone wanting to be the next boss in Saigon, I wouldn't lay any bets against a little bit of skulduggery
"Who else is on the list?" "Us."
"Who'd give away any in- formation in our delegation ?" Malone realised it was an embarrassing question.
"Well, Phil Larter and I didn't, for a start," Edgar said with a grin. "And the boss is not the sort who makes ' unguarded remarks. We've had papers from the Yanks, but they've had top classifi- cation. Only the boss, Phil, and myself, oh, and our mili- tary adviser - we're the only
ones who've seen them."
"Where are they kept?"
"In a safe at Australia House. The boss probably brought them home to study,
but he has a safe here that only he knows the combin-
"I've seen it."
"I'm sorry for the boss." Edgar looked at the closed door of the drawing-room. "They shouldn't be accusing him. He's done more to keep this conference going than any half a dozen other men. And he's not well, have you noticed that? In the past week - why, only since you arrived - he looks as if he's aged ten years. He needs a rest. He was on the phone to the PM at lunchtime, I caught the tail-end of the conversation as I went into his office. Sounded as if he wanted to go back home. Has he mentioned anything to you ?"
Malone stood up as the door to the drawing-room
opened. "Just casually, that's
Quentin and Larter came out with three men. There were formal good nights and Edgar ushered the Americans to the front door. Quentin nodded at Malone and the latter took the hint: he said good night to Larter. and walked along the hall to the library.
Coburn rose from one of the leather armchairs and turned off the television set in one corner of the room. "Well, how did it go?"'
Malone told him everything they had learned at the American Embassy. "Now all
you blokes have to do is pick up Madame Cholon.7'
"When are you going back ?"
"Is Quentin going with you? I heard his wife say to him that she would have to start packing."
"Not that I know of," Malone lied; he was instinct- ively still protecting Quentin. "Where is Mrs. Quentin?"
"Upstairs in her room."
"Joseph back yet?" Coburn shook his head. "Lisa?"
"I gather she's working
late at Australia House."
Good, Malone thought, I'm going to get that hour alone with the Quentins. He opened the library door and looked out; Larter and Edgar had gone and Quentin was slowly climbing the stairs. "OK. I'll take over now. You can go and have a word with
your bird about purple ties."
Coburn went out, closing the door after him, a young man whose only trouble was a bird who was too much with it.
Malone knocked at the door of the Quentins' bedroom. He would rather have talked to them downstairs: but Lisa or
Joseph might be home any
Quentin opened the door and said, "Come in, Scobie."
He hesitated, then he stepped into the big room. Quentin closed the door and stood with his back to it for a moment; Malone felt trapped and looked back over his shoulder defensively. Then Quentin moved away from the door, sat down beside Sheila on the wide four-poster
There was a chair beside the door covered in yellow Thai silk. Malone sat down on it. felt the Thai silk with his rough palm, thought of the dead Jamaica. Then he looked across at the Quen tins and made himself think of the dead Freda. "I'm re- peating my question," he said in his best formal police- man's voice, "which of you killed Freda Corliss?"
"I don't think we have to answer that," Quentin said after a moment. "I have ad- mitted causing the death of my first wife and you have a warrant for my arrest. I'll reserve my plea till we get back to Sydney and I'm charged in court."
"When I get up in court to give evidence against you, I'm going to have to tell everything that is in the file on you."
"I don't know what is in the file. But if there is any- thing that implicates my wife, they would have issued a war- rant for her, too."
Malone looked at Sheila. "You must have been afraid that there was something in it that implicated you. Other- wise why did you try to open my briefcase?"
She did not even attempt to deny it. Quentin raised an arm and put it about her trembling shoulders. He glared at Malone and almost shouted. "Leave us alone! Get out and leave us alone!"
"Can't you see I'm trying to help you!" His own voice was as anguished as Quen-
tin's had been.
"How can you help me. trying to bring Sheila into this?" He held her closer to him; her trembling communi- cated itself to him. "I tell you she had nothing to do with it! I killed Freda - it was an accident - but I killed her! You understand, it was me! Me!"
Malone stood up, began to walk about the room. Then Quentin seemed to realise that Malone was not going to be dismissed. He slumped a little, still keeping his arm around Sheila. "What is in that file?"
"It's not so much what's in it but what's not in it. The omissions." Malone looked at Sheila. "You were not careful enough, Mrs. Quentin. I wasn't trying to trap you, I didn't even sus
pect you. But you gave your- self away.''
Sheila spoke for the first time, her voice no more than
a croak. "How?"
"You told me about the coolibah tree when you were a child. You tried to cover that up by saying your grand- father had brought it over from the eastern States. And I swallowed it - I guess there are some coolibahs. in the West. But in the file on you they say you were brought up in northern Queensland. There are coolibahs there, at least as far north as Towns- ville."
"None of that proves any- thing," said Quentin. "What if my wife did come from Queensland instead of West-
"Why tell lies about it?
There was one other thing. This morning at breakfast, just before that man from the American Embassy was an- nounced, Mrs. Quentin said something that didn't register with me right then. She said,
'We knew it couldn't last.' We. You told me the night I arrived here she knew noth- ing about it, that she didn't even know about your first
"We three will be on that plane for home on Saturday, and the conference and every- thing else that's occupied you for the past twenty years will be behind you. You're not go- ing to be any hero when you get into the dock. AH that's going to help you is the truth."
Sheila was the first to move. She stood up, moved to the window.
"Are you prepared to listen to the truth, Sergeant ? You can take it all down if you like," said Sheila. "And I'll sign it."
"I'll see. Tell me what you have to say first."
"I killed Freda, but it was an accident. I had gone to see her that day to ask her to give John a divorce-"
Malone interrupted: "How long had you known each other before that ?"
"Three months, perhaps a little longer. I did come from Queensland, from Charters Towers. My parents were dead and I came down to Sydney to work. I worked as a Council typist and I met John one day when he came
into the Town Hall on busi-
ness. We started meeting each other secretly-I had no friends and neither did he, so there was no one to recognise use when we were together. There was only Freda." She turned to Quentin.
"I was never in love with Freda nor she with me," Quentin said. "I realised that a month after we were mar-
ried. I was young and lonely, a boy from the bush. She was a good-looking girl and, well, I suppose you could say she had the attraction of being foreign. She didn't love me, she told me that a couple of years after we were married. Our marriage was just some sort of haven for her. And she never wanted to leave it. When I told her about Sheila, she just didn't want to know. She'd lock herself in her bed- room and not talk to me for days."
He looked at Sheila and she nodded sympathetically. Then she took up the story again: "John and I decided we'd go away together for good. I'm not trying to excuse ourselves when I say we were truly in love, which John and Freda never were. I'm just giving it as the reason. If I hadn't gone to see her, tried to be-well, decent, I suppose -she'd still be alive. John was at work, he didn't know anything about my being there. I pleaded with Freda to give John- a divorce, but
she wouldn't listen.
"She called me names--and I got angry then, told her we were going away anyway. She had been sewing when I called on her and she had a sewing
basket on the couch beside her. When I got angry, so did she. She picked up the scissors, threatened me with them, and told me to get out of the house, to leave John alone and not break up her mar- riage. I don't even know now if she intended hurting me with the scissors. She might even only have been trying to frighten me. All I know is that I grabbed them and we struggled and the next thing-"
Quentin moved across the room and took her in his arms. She buried her face against his chest and sobbed quietly. He held her to him and looked over her head at Malone.
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THE HIGH COMMISSIONER
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 69
"She sat there with Freda till I came home a couple of hours later. Both of us wanted to go to the police and each of us talked the other out of
"But maybe you wouldn't understand that, Sergeant," Sheila added bitterly. "Police- men never have much time for charity, have they?"
Malone looked at Quentin, not defensively but sardoni- cally. He was surprised when Quentin said, "Don't say that, Sheila. Not about him."
Malone said with real regret, "There's nothing I can do to help you now."
"You can," Quentin said quietly; he seemed to realise that all of Malone's antag- onism had now gone. "Just forget everything my wife has told youj'
"No!" Sheila pushed her- self away from him. "We've got to tell them everything. It's the only way, tell them
Quentin said firmly, "The warrant is for me and that's the way it's going to remain."
Sheila was weeping now,
beyond words. There was nothing left of the beautiful poised woman Malone had first met only three nights ago.
"Would you leave us alone, please, Scobie?"
Malone went to the door, opened it. He turned and said hesitatingly, "You won't try anything foolish?"
"Suicide ?" Quentin didn't even sound shocked by the question. "No. I've been waiting twenty-three years to pay this debt. I'm not going to run away again."
Lisa said, "I got the cook to take them up something on a tray. What's going on, Scobie? Is there something wrong between them?"
"It's personal, I think. They've had some bad news. He said something about going back to Australia on Satur- day."
They were dining alone in the big dining-room, sitting
together at one end of the long table.
"But I'll have to get them tickets - are they both go- ing?"
He nodded. "He's got the tickets. You don't have to worry about those." Quen- tin's cheque was in his pocket. The envelope had been lying sealed on his bed when he had gone upstairs to wash his hands just before dinner. He was not going to argue about it any more. "They're on the five-thirty plane Saturday."
"And you, too?" He nod- ded. "Scobie, what is going on? You know more than you're telling me."
He didn't reply at once, dodged behind a mouthful of food. He was hungry, but he had no taste; Lisa had told him he was eating Osso Buceo, but it could have been dog's meat. At last he said, "I can't tell you anything, Lisa. Not yet, anyway."
"They're not going to sack him, are they?"
"I don't think so." Quentin would resign before they sacked him. He turned the conversation. "If he does go back - for good, I mean -will you stay on here?"
"Stay at Australia House or stay in London? I don't think I'd want to work for any other High Commis- sioner, not after him. I might go back to Australia for a visit, see my parents. Why?"
"They're in Melbourne, aren't they? Would you come to Sydney?"
"Why Sydney? I thought you worked in Canberra."
He was getting careless. "We have a branch office in Sydney. I work out of there
most of the time."
When they heard the front door open, Lisa put down her bone, wiped her chin, and looked over her shoulder at the door that led into the hall. "Is that you, Joseph?"
The butler, in dark suit, his homburg held in his hand, came to the door.
"You wanted something,
Lisa shook her head. "No, it's all right, Joseph. Have
a nice afternoon?"
"Yes, thank you." It had been one of the worst after- noons of his life; nothing in Budapest had been worse. "Good night, miss. Good night, sir."
Joseph withdrew and they heard him going down the
lower stairs that led to his room in the basement. Lisa turned back to the table, but Malone said, "What was the matter with him, I wonder? He looked ill. Or anyway un- happy."
"He might have personal problems, too. Butlers do, I suppose."
for a moment at the top of the stairs that led up from the basement. Quentin was say- ing goodbye to Sheila. Both of them looked tired and wor- ried; Quentin kissed his wife comfortingly on the cheek. Sheila raised both hands and seemed to clutch at him through the shoulders of his jacket; she said something, and Quentin shook his head sadly. Joseph stood studying them, and for the first time since they had come to this house he began to have some feeling for them.
Then the front-door-bell
rang and he walked along past the Quentins and opened the door. Larter stood there; the Rolls was at the kerb.
"Coming," said Quentin, and looked up at Malone as the latter came down the stairs. "You'd better cash that cheque today. There may not be time tomorrow."
Malone nodded reluctantly. "This reception tonight, sir
what's the dress?"
"I've already told Joseph to lay out my extra tails for you. I'm afraid it's full dress again. Decorations if you have any."
Malone grinned, but his joking was an effort this morning. "I have my Bondi surf club's bronze medal."
"I'd wear it, Mr. Malone," said Sheila. "It means as much as some of the other decorations you'll see to- night."
Joseph was aware of some sort of atmosphere between the Quentins and Malone; you could not live in other people's houses and remain insensitive to currents in re- lationships. Quentin kissed his wife again, then led Malone out of the house. Joseph closed the front door and turned back as Sheila spoke to
him. "Joseph, would you ' bring up the three large suit- cases from the storeroom?"
He hid his surprise. "You're going away, madame?"
"Just a short holiday. My
husband needs a rest."
"He does look tired. And
you, too madame. When win
you be leaving?"
"Tomorrow if the conJ
She began to move up ,L stairs. "Bring the cases un my room."
Joseph went down to th basement and then pm K*' suitcases in his own room then took three large ones »
stairs. He knocked on tL door of the Quentins' bed room and went past Sheik into the room, set down 4 suitcases. "Will that be alf
"The clock, Joseph - wi,,,
will it be fixed?"
"I am to pick it up today " "It's getting old and it wasn't expensive to begin with. Perhaps I should get a
"I shouldn't do that madame," Joseph said, and tried not to sound too em- phatic. "The watchmaker thought it a very good clod It was just a minor fault"
Sheila nodded carelessly as if the clock no longer interested her. Joseph studied her for a moment, then closed the door and wenr back downstairs and down to the basement. He went through the kitchen, ignoring
the three women still there and into his own room. He locked the door and sat down on the bed and took the cheque from his pocket. It wasn't riches, but it was a good price for murder. Especially when the alterna- tive was a sort of bankruptcy.
He hadn't quite believed it when the small oriental man had come up beside him yes- terday in Knightsbridge and said, "Would you come wiá me, sir? I have a gun in my pocket -"
He had looked down and saw that the man had one hand in the pocket of his cheap, ill-fitting jacket.
"Avenue Road, St. John's Wood," said Pham Chinh to the driver of a taxi which stopped right by them.
Joseph showed no sign of being afraid, but his hand was clutched tightly on the clock in its brown-paper bag. It was a poor weapon, but it was the only one he had. "Are you from one of the embassies?"
"Mr. Chen wants to iee
you," said Pham Chinh.
Joseph pursed his lips, went to say something, then sat back. "Why the gun, then ? Did he think I wouldn't come ?"
Pham Chinh shrugged and
smiled. "One never knows. We had to see if you were the man we wanted. You have just proved you are."
Joseph was puzzled, but said nothing. The two mei sat in silence all the way to St. John's Wood. Pham Chinh gave the number of the house in Avenue Road to the driver and the taxi pulled into a gravelled courtyard in front or a large neo-Georgian house Joseph got out and waited while the man paid the driver. Up till now he had always met Chen and Pa» m shabby restaurants at various mainline railway stations around London; the Russians had chosen slightly better meeting places, such as we restaurant at Festival Hail Neither of them had ever asked him to meet them a' such a stylish rendezvous a» this. He was impressed though still puzzled.
The taxi driver drove away Pham Chinh led the way
a large drawing-room, bu
stood aside as soon as ne entered the door. Joseph wa* one step past him when be realised he had been tricked He stopped and half-turne/1. but the woman standing °y the window said, "Sit down, Joseph, unless you want to "t hurt. Pham Chinh's gun has * silencer on it and silencers do ruin the accuracy - but 1 hardly think he could nu« you at that distance." spe
To page 74
THE HIGH COMMISSIONER
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 72
looked at Priam Chinh. "Is he the man we wanted?"
Pham Chinh nodded. "As soon as I mentioned Chen's name, he knew who I meant. He's the one, all right."
Madame Cholon introduced herself, then sat down and waved Joseph to a chair. "Do I call you Joseph, or have you
"Liszt," said Joseph. But Madame Cholon made no comment: she knew little of Western music, and Hun- garian rhapsodies were as nothing compared to what had been practised in the Hall of Mirrors brothel in Saigon. But Joseph made his own com- ment on Madame Cholon: "I've heard your name men-
"Where - at the High Commissioner's house?" She was interested, but not alarmed. Pallain had told her that Scotland Yard were curious about her. But the years with Bay Vien had taught her nothing but con- tempt for the police. "How much have you heard about
JOSEPH looked at
Pham Chinh, still standing with his hand in his jacket pocket. "If we are going to talk, does he have to stand there like that all the time? I'm not used to discussion under the nose of a gun."
Madame Cholon smiled. "You have a certain sang- froid, Monsieur Liszt. I won- der if you have enough to do what I want you to do?"
"Kill your employer."
Joseph's sang-froid deserted him for the moment; he heard himself say, "Which one?"
Her smile widened. "An understandable question, mon- sieur. You have several, haven't you? It must be con- fusing at times. But I'm only interested in one of them. Mr. Quentin."
"Definitely not. I'm not a murderer, madame."
"But you're several other things, aren't you? A double agent, for instance. Working for the Russians and also the / Chinese."
Again his poise slipped: "Who told you that?"
"An American friend." She thought of Jamaica lying dead on the bed upstairs; he had proved to be useful after all.
"This American-" He wondered who it could be. "How much did he tell you ?"
"Everything he knew. We -er-persuaded him." She had been surprised Jamaica had told her as much as he had; but perhaps at that stage he had still hoped to leave the house alive and thought
that thc information about Joseph wa* a small price to pay. After all, as he had said, he had stumbled on Joseph's activities only by accident. He had been watching Chen to see if she would meet him, and instead Joseph had turned up. Then he had fol- lowed Joseph and seen him meet a Russian. "Do you want me to tell you what I know?"
"Since you are evidently going to make a proposition to me, I'd like to know how much you have to bargain
"I do admire you, monsieur. I can see why you have lasted as long as you have. Well, your history. Our American friend knew nothing of your early life, but that really doesn't interest us. You were working for the Russians in Budapest before 1956. You got out of Hungary, ostensibly as a refugee, and came here in December, 1956. You worked for two years for Lord Porthleven, another eighteen months for the Duke of Isis, then you went to work for the previous Australian High Commissioner, Sir James Gable. You can't have had much to pass on to the Rus- sians up till this conference.
"Some time in the past month the Chinese found out you were working for the Russians. When it became apparent that Quentin was to be one of the leading men at this conference they ap- proached you. I don't know whether they blackmailed you or bribed you, perhaps both. In any case, you began to work for them. I don't know what you were able to tell them-our American friend hadn't got on to that."
"So his information on me must have been very recent?"
"I gather it was. He may not even have transmitted it to his superiors. I don't know." She smiled again. "But that's your worry, mon- sieur, not mine. All I can tell you is that if you don't do as I ask, then someone will be told about you. It would be very awkward for you, wouldn't it, if the Australians, the Russians, and the Chinese were all disillusioned about you? Traitor to three coun- tries, not counting Hungary. That would be some sort of record, wouldn't it?"
Joseph sat for a while in silence. He remembered all the years of training, at the Marx-Engels school at Gorky, then at Verkhovnoye, and, finally, at Gaczyna. They had taught him all the uses of guns and explosives, but no amount of teaching and propaganda could make one a killer unless the urge to kill was already there, like a seed waiting to be nurtured. They had never recognised that the
seed was not in him and he had never told them. His primary use was as an agent, at which, up till now, he had been good; and an agent, if he is really good, should never be in a situation where he has to kill. But now the situa- tion had at last arrived.
"I couldn't kill him in cold blood," he said.
"It would be best if we could devise some way that wouldn't implicate you. Just in case we want to use you again."
"You're very sure I shan't doublecross you," said Joseph, with a side glance at Pham Chinh. "What if I should go to the Chinese - or the Rus- sians - and tell them what you've just proposed? It mightn't fit in with their plans. And they might decide
"Kill me?" The thought seemed to amuse Madame Cholon; she was afraid of nothing, not even death. "Are you threatening me?"
"No, madame. I'm just stating my side of the bar- gain. Whatever way Mr. Quentin is disposed of, I don't think either of my other em- ployers is going to have much use for me in the future. I'll be, to say the least, suspect. Not only to Moscow and Peking but to Scotland Yard, the CIA, the FBI, and any other security organisation you care to mention. In other words, I shall have to look around for a new life. And for that I shall need what the Americans call a stake."
Well, he thought, if I'm going to die I may as well do so with dreams of wealth. "Twenty - five thousand pounds."
"Out of the question!"
"Had you intended paying me at all?" She hesitated, then nodded. "How much ?"
"Perhaps five thousand pounds."
Joseph smiled. He had be- come fatalistic; he was going to be killed, anyway, if not by this woman, then by the Rus- sians or the Chinese. "That, too, is out of the question. I've become accustomed to good living, madame. And even though I was to go on being a butler, according to my employers' plans, I should have been living in a beauti- ful house, eating the best of food, drinking the best of wine and whisky. If I have to vanish - as seems probable - after Mr. Quentin has been, er, disposed of, I don't want to spend the rest of my life in a shabby room in some remote South American
village exchanging reminis- cences with some ex-Nazi."
"Where would you go - Australia ?"
He wrinkled his nose. "Hardly, madame. No, I have several retreats in mind. One always has them in mind, just in case. I shall need a mini- mum of fifteen thousand pounds. Payable in cash on a Swiss bank ?- I take it you have money there?" She nodded, just as he had guessed she would. The Russians and the Chinese paid him through Switzerland: neutrality had its uses. "I'll take the cheque with me today."
"And if I refuse?"
He sat back, playing his
biggest bluff. "Then you will
have to find someone else to do your dirty work. And you will have the trouble and in- convenience of disposing of
"It would be no trouble at all," said Madame Cholon, thinking of the dead man up- stairs. It would be no more difficult to dispose of two corpses than to dispose of one. She wondered if the Chinese would appreciate the joke if she planted a Russian spy, as well as an American one, on their doorstep. She studied Joseph, tempted by the idea of the vengeful joke on Chen and Pai; then she dismissed it, she hadn't come all this way to play jokes. 'Tifteen thousand, then," she said. "But how will you kill Quentin ?"
"I thought you would have had that planned," said Joseph. "You seem to have command of so much else. How did you first get on to me? Did the American prof- fer the information volun- tarily ?"
"No." Madame Cholon could not help boasting: "I had a visit this morning from your Chinese employers. They did not give their names, but it wasn't difficult to find out who they were. All I had to do was call a friend in another embassy, describe them, and he gave me their names. They told me, though not in so many words, that they had some- one working for them. It was not hard to guess where that someone was. They knew all about the attempts on Quen- tin's life - What's the mat- ter?"
"I just hope I am more successful than you have been," Joseph said. "The attempts so far don't seem to have been very profes- sional."
"Oh, they were made by professionals," said Madame Cholon with a contemptuous glance at Pham Chinh. "But as you say, they were not successful. Where was I? Oh, yes. It was not hard to guess that they must be getting their information from some- one inside Quentin's house. There were not many to
choose from. We eliminated Malone, the cooks, the housemaid, the members of the delegation. It could have been Mrs. Quentin, but why should she want to betray her husband? That left either you or the secretary. Then Mr. Jamaica paid us a visit and we questioned him about
"It was not difficult to contact you. Pham Chinh has been watching the Quen- tin house for the past two weeks. You are a man of habit. Every afternoon, even on your afternoons off, you emerge from the house at the same time and go for a walk. Pham Chinh* has never bothered to follow you until today. I hope bringing you 'here has not kept you from some appointment ? Perhaps
with one of your other employers ?"
"I had no appointment," said Joseph, and held up the brown-paper bag. "I was just taking this alarm clock to be fixed. It belongs to Mr. Quentin."
Madame Cholon held out her hand and after a moment's puzzlement Joseph handed her the bag. She took out the small clock in its blue leather case and studied it.
"Leave the clock with me. It will be mended. Pham Chinh will meet you to- morrow and return it with instructions. I shall phone yow
at ten o'clock."
Joseph stood up. "There is one more thing. I shall take the cheque now."
She stared at him for a long moment, as if debating whether the gamble she was taking on him was too big. Then she moved to a desk in one corner of the room, wrote out a cheque, and brought it back to him. "There has to be a certain amount of trust in this, monsieur. I must con- fess it is not a condition I usually accept."
"Nor I, madame," said Joseph. "We are each in a position of being able to doublecross the other. But each of us, I think, could soon repay the other. I think you have become desperate. That's why you need me. And I" - he kissed the cheque. "I need this. Goodbye,
His poise had left him as soon as he had left the house. He had noted the address, then walked down Avenue Road to Regent's Park. He had sat in the park all after- noon, taking out the cheque time and again to look at it, not with appreciation but with something like fear, as if the cheque itself might blow up in his face. He had come to like England and its way of life; the English amused him with their self deception, but at least they were civilised. He would have been sorry to leave London when the order came for him to move on to Washington.
It had been a lone-range plan, this planting of him as
an "illegal." The three ye«, as a waiter in the Hotel thua doing the occasional small ¡¿¡J for Western espionage ajrent but always letting his jtV sian bosses know; the maim factured "escape" dunn* t£
1956 rebellion; the ¿¿Z years with the innocent lord and duke; then the position with the Australian HJ2 Commissioner. The eventual aim was for him to be taken on at one of the principal embassies in Washington, thc British, French or German- « might take years, but Mosco* had been prepared to wait that long. And he, too, had
been prepared to wait
But now all the Ri*^ plans for him were inuihed even if Moscow did not yet know. In two days' time, for he had now made up his mind, he would be on his way
to South Africa.
Now this morning he wai waiting for Madame Cholon's telephone call. He got up be- gan to take some of* his clothes out of a closet He already had a new name and a new passport. They were a precaution the Russians had known nothing about
Then the cook knocked on the door and snapped, "You're wanted on the phone. Some
The Rolls-Royce, the small Australian flag fluttering from its tiny mast on one fender, sailed majestically through the traffic. Malone, utting in the back seat, looked at his watch: seven o'clock. In a little over sixty hours from now the man beside him would be stepping" into a police car in Sydney:
"Something troubling you?" Quentin said.
The two men were alone in the back of the, car and the division separating them from Ferguson was closed. Malone nodded and said, "Yes. You. Are you going to persist in leaving your wife out of this altogether?"
"Don't let's discuss it, Scobie. I've made up my mind; You're not going to tell them in court what you heard last night ?"
Malone shrugged. "Depends what questions they ask me."
"But you won't proffer the information voluntarily ?"
"I don't know. I like to iee justice done, that's all."
"You mean you want to ste my wife punished?. ;That you don't believe what she did was an accident?"
"No, I believe her. And I don't want her to ht punished - I mean I'm not vindictive. All I mean is; I don't think you should chuck your life away. Tell- them the truth. They might believe it"
"The way you say that proves you don't think they
Malone sat farther back m
the seat and changed the «h; ject: "How did it go today?
Quentin was not accus- tomed to having younger junior men turn the conver- sation on him. There was »
momentary spark of anger, but it died quickly. He, too, »' farther back in the seat, al
most slumping. His time oj authority was over; he and Malone were not even equals He spoke listlessly:
finished. We meet tomorrow morning, but it's just a form- ality to draw up the com- munique."
"Did it turn out the way you wanted?" "
"Couldn't have gone worse
Lisa took Malone's arm and they began to : move 00 through the crowd. Her tan- ing of his arm had a natural intimacy about it, was mo1* than the gesture - of a
identifying herself with h* escort for the night. Theu relationship was easy an
warm now. It might all end
"I'm going tc miss you>
To page 76
THE HIGH COMMISSIONER
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 74
she »aid, as if reading his thoughts.
"I don't think I'll ever get back this way again. You'll have to come home."
"I might, if-"
"If your boss doesn't come back here?" He won't, he said silently; but he couldn't tell her that just yet.
She nodded and looked around the crowded room for Quentin. They were in the Great Gallery of Lancaster House and the long, high ceilinged room was burning with color. It was impossible to imagine that the conference had failed; the soldiers in the paddy-fields of Vietnam still had their hopes. Lisa looked
back at Malone.
"I can't see him or Mrs. Quentin."
"He's over there. Sergeant Coburn is keeping an eye on him. I'm having a breather."
"You still don't expect-?" She didn't finish the sentence.
"No." He shifted his arm, conscious of the holster; guns had never been meant to be worn beneath tight-fitting tailcoats. "But just in case-"
THEN he looked
over her shoulder straight at Madame Cholon. She came out of the crowd on the arm of the portly African ambassa- dor, lisa saw the surprise on
Malone's face and she turned as the ambassador spoke to him.
"Just on our way to supper."
"May we join you?" Malone said, and took Lisa's arm as he introduced her to the ambassador and Madame Cholon. "I remember you set me a fine example the other night, sir, on what to choose at the table."
The ambassador laughed, shaking hugely. "What he means is I showed him how to overload a plate without spilling any."
He led them through into the music room. Lisa, holding Malone's arm tighdy, whisp- ered, "What is she doing
As if she had heard the question Madame Cholon turned to them as they
reached the supper tables. "His Excellency's wife is back home in his country-"
"Always goes home for the English summer," said the ambassador. "She can't stand it."
"I happened to mention to His Excellency how much I'd enjoyed his reception-"
"So here we are." The ambassador turned back with two loaded plates. Madame Cholon took her without protest, but bad to hold it with two hands. "Cementing Afro - Asian relations, eh,
Madame Cholon smiled in agreement, and Malone won- dered what had happened to her color bar: the ambassador was much darker than Jamaica had been. "Have you seen Mr. Jamaica tonight?"
The smile froze on her face, but only for a moment. "Mr. Jamaica? Oh, the American gentleman. No."
"Nice fellow," said the am- bassador, eating heartily. "Told me his great-great- grandfather came from my country. Must have been my great-great-grandfather who sold him." He laughed again, almost choking on his food.
Malone handed Lisa a plate and began to eat from his own. Other guests had come into the room, and suddenly the Quentins stood beside him. The ambassador greeted Quentin; then, despite his bulk, bowed with grace to Sheila. "May I present Madame Cholon?"
The polite smiles on the faces of both Quentins did not alter; they were locked in behind their diplomatic facade tonight. They exchanged greetings with Madame Cho- lon, whose own smile was as polite and unrevealing as theirs.
"I've heard a lot about you, Your Excellency."
"Oh?" Quentin seemed to be watching with dry amuse- ment this woman who had been trying to kill him. She had failed in her aim and now he seemed able to look
at her with cool detachment. "All good, I hope."
She nodded, then said, "Has the conference been a suc- cess?"
Quentin looked at the am- bassador and the latter said, "There is one more session to go, my dear. We still have hopes, eh, Quentin ?"
Malone looked at the am- bassador with new respect. He was not the buffoon he played; that was his facade. The conference was dead, but the delegates were keeping their bad news to themselves till they had agreed on the communique. Something might still be salvaged, some- thing to keep alive, no mat- ter how faindy, the hopes of the men who had to fight
"You are quiet tonight, Mr. Malone." Madame Cho- lon had put down her plate
Out of the comer of his eye Malone saw Sheila Quen- tin watching Madame Cholon with a sort of horrified fas- cination: her eyes never left the Vietnamese woman's face.
"Just tired," he said. "London is an exhausting city."
"How true. I'll be glad to return home."
"When are you going?"
Madame Cholon turned her head, seemed to look at Sheila for the first time. "To- morrow afternoon."
"Sheila glanced at Malone, then said. "Not on the plane through Singapore?" Madame Cholon nodded, a slight crease of puzzlement spoiling the smoothness of her brow. "Then you'll have Mr. Malone as a travelling com- panion."
Madame Cholon looked at Malone, turning away from Sheila, dismissing her. "How pleasant! And how coinci- dental. Ah, good evening, Mr. Chen. And Mr. Pai. too."
The two Chinese, in hired dress suits that did not fit them, had come to the table. Malone was aware of a cer
tain tenison on Madame Cholon's part toward the two Chinese, but Chen did not seem to reciprocate it. He was completely at ease, ex- cept for the inconvenience of his dress coat, which was at least a size too big for him. Pai, for his part, stood ner- vously in the background, staring steadily at Madame
Sheila drew Malone aside. "Do you think she plans-?"
Malone ' shook his head. "Not here. She's shot her bolt, I think. Otherwise she wouldn't have come our into the open."
"Isn't there something you
"What? Arrest her? On what grounds? Suspicion isn't enough. I've had a little lec- ture from Sergeant Coburn on that." He saw Coburn standing in the doorway and nodded to him. "Here he comes now. Maybe he is go- ing to arrest her, after all."
Coburn came up to them. "There is a phone call for you, Mrs. Quentin."
Sheila was puzzled. 'Tor
me ? Here ?"
"One of the waiters brought the message. He's over there." Sheila, still looking puzzled, excused herself and went over to the waiter standing in the doorway. When she had gone Coburn turned to Malone, jerking his head discreedy toward Madame Cholon. "She's quite a dish, isn't she ?"
"Yes. Is Pal lain here to- night ?"
"He's around somewhere." "Do you think one of us hid better stick with Mrs. Quentin?"
"You mean the phone call? He wasn't the one who called her-I saw him just before I came in' here. But I'll go down and keep close to her. What about Quentin?"
"I'll look after him. I think we're OK now. but you never know. Denzil would chop our heads off if something did happen this late in the piece. Where is he tonight?"
"At the Yard. He never comes to these sort of dos. I'm always the mug for this sort of game."
He moved toward the door
and was stopped bv P,ii .
as the latter came inuTÍk1 room. Pallain said tome*
to him and the two men T"J talking for a couplé minutes, Coburn lookino " , he were impatient to brt»v away. At hst he nodSJ abruptly to Pallain andW out of the door, Tushing u way through the guests no» flowing m for supper, Pa|]k! saw Malone across the room gave an exaggerated bowj his head, and moved aur» to another supper table.
Just in case the butler should be caught and should talk, he had already bought his air ticket and would be leaving London tonight. But he had not mentioned that precaution to Madame Cho
Malone watched him for i moment or two, then turned back to Quentin and the
"Where is my wife?» Qu^.
"She's gone downstairs. There was a phone call for her. Sergeant Coburn hu gone down to keep an eye«
Madame Cholon and the ambassador had been caught up in the whirlpool of guest! and swept away; Chen and Pai were trapped in another current and they, too, «ere gone. Quentin, Liss, and Malone, sticking cloie to- gether, fought their way out of the room on to one of the balconies. They looked down into the Staircase Hall and saw Coburn moving aimlessly about He crossed from one side of the wide hall to the other, then disappeared into one of the side galleries.
"I don't think m Har long," Quentin said. Tm
"What time is the session in the morning?" Lisa asked
"Ten-thirty- I dunk It sleep late, forget about set- ting my alarm. Would you wake me at nine, Lia?"
They saw Coburn reappear from the side gallery, tooting worried and puzzled. He stood for a moment, then looked up and saw the three of them
To page 77
THE HIGH COMMISSIONER
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7b
», .untiing on the balcony ' m up the stairs to the t »rm sorry, sir, but t ^ seems to have ' appeared!"
I dentin stood stock ; hi» hands gripping the DJ li trade. Then he drew a ( K breath, collected him L «perhaps she is in the la«
"I'll go and see," said I and went quickly.
"We'll look around, tc. jaid Malone.
Quentin nodded, his f > ashen. 'TH »Uy here. F » her, Scobie." It wa» a cry ¡ help. , " .
i Malone and Coburn mo\ i away from him along I
balcony. "Try everywhi down»tair»," Malone sa "And check with Fergust ,1 He's outside with the a
' I'll scout around up here."
j Coburn went down t
»taint at a run.
Malone went round tl ' balcony and back into tl
Great Gallery. He passed clo ? by Madame Cholon and tl
1 "You look worried, M ' Malone," said Madame Ch«
i Tm looking for Mr j Quentin. You haven't see:
i Her expression was almo? » too innocent. "Should
JLHEN she turnee
i away from him, excused her 1 self from the ambassador, and a slid away. The ambassador i looked after her, then at i Malone, "Never trust the « Orient, my father used to i tay." He was not laughing I "I wonder how right he
was? What do you know about that woman, Mr
it "Enough not to have any ¡j trust in her at all, sir."
Î u "£lrc to teU »bout
i . "Could I iee you later, s mi l must find Mrs. Quen.
j, »ut he didn't find her. , When he got back outside to ' 7t COnI LL,Sa and C°burn
were already there with Quen
"She's nowhere do stairs," Coburn said. "J the car has gone. The no sign of Ferguson."
"Perhaps she's gone hon Lisa said. "She might h felt ill - she didn't 1<
"But who phoned hei
"Call the house." Quen moved down the stairs and i others followed him. "Jose
should be there."
Lisa went away to te phone the house. Cobu went out through the vej bule toward the front do« again, and Malone and Que tin were left alone. Quern said, "What I can't und« stand is why she just d appeared without a wot They've harmed her-"
"They are still here Malone said. "Cholon ai Pallain - if he's connect« with her. I checked on the both before we rame dow stairs."
Lisa and Coburn returne Lisa said, "The phone's ei gaged."
"She's all right!" Cobui said. "Ferguson's just corr back. He took your wife hon*
Quentin managed t smile. "Lisa, will you go u and tell Mr. Latter I've gon home. Tell him I felt a bit ofl color."
Lisa stared at him. "Hadn' I better rome home with you In case Mrs. Quentin-"
"We'll be all right, Lisa.' "I'll go with you," sai< Malone; and Quentin looket at him as if to protest. " have to, sir."
Quentin hesitated, thei nodded reluctantly. He look« at Lisa and smiled wearily resignedly. "You see, Lisa: Mr. Malone won't let any- thing happen to us. Go up- stairs and enjoy yourself There are a dozen Second Secretaries wanting to talk tc
She looked at Malone. "Call me if you think I'm
Malone said to Coburn, "I'll go back with His Excellency. You'd better stay here and keep an eye on Madame Cho- lon and our mate Pallain."
"Be a pleasure," said
Malone and Quentin went out through the vestibule and met Denzil as he came up the front steps. "I've just come from the American Embassy, sir. I'm afraid I have some bad news-"
"This is the day for it, Superintendent. Can't it wait ? I have to get home to my
wife at once."
Denzil said, "Could I ride with you, sir? This is im-
He gestured to the police car that had brought him to follow the Rolls-Royce. The three men then walked across to the Rolls and Ferguson opened the door for them. "Mrs. Quentin is at home, sir. She's all right. Just a bit up-
"Better hurry then, Fergu- son." Quentin jumped into the car and gestured im- patiently for Malone and Den- zil to follow him. "You'll have to forgive me, Superin- tendent, but I'm worried about my wife-" Denzil mur- mured but seemed abstracted. Quentin for the first time seemed to become aware that Denzil, too, was worried.
"What is it?"
"It's your butler, sir. Joseph Liszt." Denzil suddenly seemed embarrassed; it was not easy to tell an ambassador his security arrangements were lax. "I'm afraid he is an agent. For both the Russians
and the Chinese."
"Joseph? Both the Russians and Chinese? Where did you get this information?"
"From Royston at thc American Embassy. It had just come in from Washington. Evidently Jamaica had cabled it to CIA headquarters yes- terday. They decoded it, took some time about their decision, then sent it back to Royston to pass on to us."
"But why all the rig- marole ?" Malone asked. "Why didn't Jamaica come straight to you? Or go to Royston direct?"
Denzil shrugged. "In the spy game nobody trusts any- body else, even your allies. Anyhow, the delay has been only something over twenty four hours. We can still pick up this man Liszt. Is he at the house tonight?"
"He should be," Quentin
"I don't like him being there alone with Mrs. Quen- tin," Malone said. "I wonder if he made the phone call?"
Quentin shook his head. "Why would he call her?"
Then the car was drawing in hefore the house in Bel- grave Square. Malone was tirst out. Quentin was next, hurrying across the pavement and up to the front door. Malone and Denzil heard him calling for Sheila, his voice echoing in the hall.
"I don't have a warrant for this fellow," Denzil said to Malone. "I'll have to phone the Yard and have one sent. But do you have your gun?"
Malone patted his armpit. "I don't think he's the violent type."
"You never know. When a man's faced with years in prison, he might try any- thing."
Yes, thought Malone. And a woman, too: if she were faced with years in prison, would she try suicide? He felt suddenly cold inside. He crossed the pavement on the run, went up the steps and into the hall as Quentin came stumbling toward him.
"She's not here! And neither is Joseph!"
Madame Cholon dismissed the car that had brought her home and let herself in the front door. She felt appre- hensive, and the unaccus- tomed anxiety began to mani- fest itself as a rising fury. When Pham Chinh came into the hall to meet her she snarled at him. "Is she here?"
He nodded toward the drawing-room. "In there. I didn't know whether to let her in-"
Madame Cholon waved a curt hand of dismissal' and went by him and into the drawing-room. The two women stared at each other for a while in silence.
Then Madame Cholon snapped, "I hope what you have to say, Mrs. Quentin, is important. I was enjoying myself at the reception-"
"What I have to say won't take ten minutes," said Sheila, and drew back the sleeve of her coat to look at her watch. "A little less."
Madame Cholon turned to Pham Chinh, who stood in the doorway. "You may go,
"I'd rather he stayed with us," said Sheila. "If he was concerned with you in the attempts on my husband's life, then he must stay."
Madame Cholon stood half turned away; she stiffened and looked over her shoulder at Sheila. "Accusations like that can get you into trouble. Your country has laws-"
"And yours doesn't ?" Sheila smiled, but there was no humor in her. "From what Joseph told me, I don't think you care about the laws of any country."
"Joseph ?" Madame Cho lon's voice was icy. "Who is
"Our butler. Our ex-butler
now. When he called me at the reception he didn't say where he was, just that he was leaving the country. So I think he must have been at the airport then."
"I don't know what you are talking about." She would phone the bank in Zurich first thing in the morning, have them stop the cheque. But the money was not the important thing. Another attempt on Quentin's life had failed, this time through treachery.
Sheila shook her head wearily. "Don't waste our time. He told me everything. It's hard to forgive him for going as far as he did. But m the end he couldn't go through with it. You see, madame, you overlooked one thing. There are people who have respect, even affection, for my husband. I don't know what it is that Joseph feels, but it stopped him from mur- dering my husband. And me, too, 1 suppose. Because the bomb would have killed both of us there in the bedroom.
"It was ingenious, having it in the alarm clock. My hus- band would have set the time of his own death. And you would have been miles away, safe from suspicion. I just wish I had had your fore- thought. No, I don't," she said, and sounded horrified at what she had heard herself say. "I never meant to kill anyone. Not Freda."
"Who is Freda?"
"No one you'll ever know." Sheila regained some control. She smiled again, once more without any humor. "You didn't have to kill my hus- band, you know. That's the irony of it. The conference is a failure, didn't you know
"I don't believe it!"
Sheila bent down and picked up a black handbag from the couch beside her. It was a large bag, one that did not go with her evening wear. "I went home when Joseph phoned me. Somehow I couldn't believe him. But 1 found the clock, took the back off it to make sure."
"Weren't you afraid of be- ing killed ?"
Sheila shook her head. "That intrigues you, doesn't it? No, I didn't care. If it had gone off, it would have solved a lot of things. But it didn't. And then I got my idea If I had died you would
still be alive. I believe in justice, Madame Cholon - perhaps Fm a little late-"
Outside in Avenue Road Coburn sat in the police car that had followed Madame Cholon from Lancaster House. "I wish I knew why she left the reception in such a hurry. Try the Yard again, get them to phone the Super at the Australian High Com- missioner's house, ask him does he want me to barge in
The detective beside the driver got through to Scot- land Yard on the radio. Coburn sat in the back of the car, frustrated and worried by a sense that something was about to happen that could and should be stopped. He looked at his watch: Ten twenty-four . . .
Sheila opened the black bag. "My one regret is I did not say goodbye to my hus- band. But that would have ruined everything-"
Madame Cholon lunged toward Sheila, screaming at the top of her voice for Pham Chinh to help her. Sheila now had her hand in the bag; she snatched it out and showed the small leather-cased clock. She fell away from Madame Cholon, wrenched the case open, and fumbled with thc
Coburn heard the scream. He was halfway across the road when the windows of the
front roora of the house blew i
To page jß
-i^-lum MU.i II Billilli i II -
THE HIGH COMMISSIONER
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 77
"The shock will wear off,
Quentin said. "But I'll always go on missing her."
Malone said nothing, having only awkward words that would have embarrassed both himself and Quentin. The small res- taurant, dark and a little shabby, in which they sat, was a long way from the glittering style of Lancaster House; but Quentin himself had suggested it.
"I'm going to Malaysia," Quen- tin said. "There are several Colombo Plan teams there and I'm joining one of them."
"What will you do?"
"You forget I was once a sur- veyor. I'm qualified, and I was a good one. At least I thought I was," he added. The old air of confidence had gone, and with it gone he looked older. "I'll need some toughening up to plod up and down some of those jungle
roads. But it should do me good."
"Have you seen the Prime Minister - since that time when you first got back?"
"No. I think it would have been too painful for both of us. I wrote him and he was the one who fixed this Malaysia job for me. But I don't think we'll meet again. He's an old man - too o'd to have time to forget recent disappointments."
Flannery had been disappointed, too, but for different reasons. The morning after Sheila's death Malone had phoned Leeds, told him what had happened and asked for a few more days. Quen- tin would be wanted by Scotland Yard for routine questioning on
the attempts on his life and the death of his wife, Madame Cholon, and Pham Chinh.
Malone had also told Leeds about Sheila's confession. "I be- lieved her, sir. It may or may not have been an accident, but I
do believe she was the one who killed Freda Corliss. Quentin had nothing to do with it, except as an accessory after."
"Do you have any sworn state-
"No, sir. It was just verbal." "This could solve a lot of things, Sergeant."
"I've thought of that, sir." Malone was relieved that the Commissioner had suggested it.
"All right, tell Quentin we'd
like him home by next weekend. But stick close by him, Scobie."
"I'll do that, sir," said Malone, thinking not as a policeman but
as a friend.
"In the meantime I'll see the Premier," Leeds said. "He's going to be disappointed if it works out the way I hope."
A week after that Quentin and Malone left London for Sydney. Among others, Denzil had come to the airport to see them off. He took Malone aside. "We've found no trace of that butler chap, Joseph. He could be anywhere."
"What about Pallain?"
"We had nothing on him. All we could do was offer him a polite hint to leave the country."
"I hate the thought of both of them getting away."
"You can't catch them all." He looked around to make sure they wouldn't be overheard, then said,
"I had a call from your Com .
sioner. Sounds a decent K*" Asked me if I could forget C^P' you had told me about the W i Commissioner and that busine
twenty-odd years ago. Evidemf they are going to forget it ^
"That's the idea, sir -n
accept now that Mrs. Quemin «J the one who killed the first Wf
There are very few people Ae' know why I came to London Th warrant I have is made out in * name of John Corliss, so even th' records will show nothing."
"What about your Stat.
"I gather he didn't like the id« at first. But he's too shrewd to
through with bringing it out int! the open now. The papers back home have made Mrs. Quentin into something of a heroine."
"As I said, you can't catch then all. And sometimes it's for the best." He smiled and put out hil hand. "Goodbye, Sergeant Sergeant Coburn sent you his best Said to tell you his girl n¿ called her his bird - she's just given him a present to celebrate his escape from that bomb. A
purple weskit to go with bis purp|t
Malone grinned. "He'll look good in that at the Yard."
^"Over my dead body he will," said Denzil, with a final wave.'
.*-'ISA was the last to say goodbye to Malone. "I'm com. ing home," she said. "But not for a few months. Mr. Quentin his asked me to stay on till the new High Commissioner is appointed. I'll be training a new girl."
She walked toward the passen- ger's entrance with him. "I think I'd like to try Sydney for a while," she said, and lifted her face and kissed him for the first time. "Will you write me each week till I
"Every day," he said, and re- turned her kiss. "I like that per-
"I'll douse myself in it just be- fore I get off the plane." She gazed at him for a moment, then turned away and went across to say goodbye to Quentin.
Now Quentin, in the small restaurant in Sydney, said, "Are you ever going to tell Lisa the
Malone waited while Quentin paid the bill, then they walked out into the bright spring sunlight of Macquarie Street.
"No, I'm not going to tell her. I told her I'm a policeman, I W on special duty. But that's alL"
"I don't know. When I was in London I thought the truth would help you and Mrs. Quentin.,Nov» I don't know that it's going to help anybody. It won't help L«a
She had-has a lot of time wi you. Why disillusion her?"
Quentin said, "Are you goin?
to marry her?"
"I'm going to ask her. »t! another thing whether she'll
"She wants her head read u she doesn't. And if you don't ever tell her the truth about me-well, thank you. But you don't owe mt anything, you know."
"Well, let's say I owe it to my- self," said Malone.
They came to a corner. Que"' tin stopped and put out his hand "I have a doctor's appointment. I have some vaccinations to j* done. Goodbye, Scobie. If I
to you from Malaysia, will you- ?
Malone nodded. "I'm a P¡>° letter-writer, so Lisa tells me. B1" I'll write. And good luck.'
Quentin nodded his thanks, wen' to say something, then seemed^1*"
able to get the words out.
abruptly he turned and wal ked « up the street. Malone watched S go, a man who might have oe
great, till he disappeared, anonr mous and alone, into the carel I
The novel "The High
sioner," by Jon Cleary, is pub»»" by William Collins Ltd. a">d P