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Exocet ~ Jack Higgins

To Denise
For love, understanding and grace

FOREWORD

One of my personal favorite novels. Critics have been kind enough to say that the first
chapter, which involves the penetration of Buckingham Palace, is one of the best things of its
kind in the modern thriller. The idea for the book came to me during the Falklands conflict when
I met arms salesmen at a Jersey cocktail party who had just come in from Paris where, they told
me, there was an underground war going on between Argentinean agents trying to buy black
market Exocet missiles and members of British Intelligence trying to foil them. I took their word
for it and wrote the novel. Some critics thought the idea far-fetched at the time. However, the
book was a huge success, mainly because for once I included a strong love affair. In later years,
non-fiction books on the conflict have shown that the struggle, as I showed, between
Argentinean and British agents did actually take place.

JACK HIGGINS

October 1996

1

As the yellow Telecom truck turned the corner, Grosvenor Place was quiet in the rain.
There was not another vehicle in sight, hardly surprising in view of the weather and the fact that
it was three o'clock in the morning.
Harvey Jackson reduced speed, his hands slippery with sweat as he gripped the wheel. He
wore yellow oilskins: a large man in his late thirties, the dark hair long, framing a face that
seldom smiled, eyes bleak above high cheekbones.
The rain was so heavy that the windscreen wipers had difficulty in handling it. He pulled
in at the kerb and took a cigarette from a packet in the dashboard. He lit it and wound down the
window, looking across the road at the high brick perimeter wall topped with barbed wire that
enclosed the gardens at the rear of Buckingham Palace.
He rapped with his knuckles against the partition behind him. A panel opened instantly
and Villiers peered out. „Yes?‟
„We're here. Are you ready?‟
„Two minutes. Get us into position.‟
The panel was closed and Jackson moved into gear and drove away.
The interior of the truck was crowded with the paraphernalia of the telephone engineer
and brightly lit by a neon strip light. Tony Villiers braced himself against the workbench as the
truck swayed, and carefully blacked his face with camouflage cream, observing the effect in a
mirror propped up against a tool box.
He was thirty and of medium height with good shoulders. The eyes were dark and
without expression. At some time or other his nose had been broken. His hair was black and
tangled and almost shoulder-length. The black jump suit and French paratrooper's boots
combined to make him look a thoroughly dangerous man.
And there was a kind of weary bitterness to him as well; the face of someone who had got
to know the world and its inhabitants too well and did not care for what he had found.
He pulled a black woollen hood over his head, leaving only his eyes free and grabbed at
the bench as the truck swung across the road, mounted the pavement and pulled in beside the
wall.
A Smith & Wesson magnum revolver with a Carswell silencer screwed on to the barrel
lay on the bench beside a briefcase. He slipped it into the pouch on his right leg, opened the
briefcase and took out a large black and white photo. It had been taken late on the previous
afternoon with a telephoto lense and showed the Ambassador's Entrance at the side of
Buckingham Palace. There were workmen's ladders against the wall and under the portico. More
importantly, two or three windows above the flat roof were partially open.
Villiers replaced the photo and opened the panel again. „Twenty-five minutes, Harvey. If
I'm not back, get the hell out of it.‟
„Conversation, I don't need, not on a night like this,‟ Jackson said. „Just get it done so we
can go home.‟
Villiers closed the panel, clambered up on the bench and opened a trap. He pulled himself
up on the roof and closed it behind him, crouching in the rain. The wall was only a couple of
yards away. He slipped across the barbed wire, grabbed for the branch of a tree, worked his way
along it, hand-over-hand, then dropped into the darkness below.
* * *

The police officer on security duties at the Grosvenor Place end of the Palace gardens
that morning was thoroughly unhappy with life. Soaked to the skin, wet and miserable, he had
paused to shelter under a tree when the Alsatian at his side whined softly.
„What is it, boy?‟ he demanded, instantly alert, and slipped the lead. „Seek, boy! Seek!‟
The Alsatian departed silently, but Villiers, standing beside a tree twenty or thirty yards
away, was already alerted by that first whine and had reached for the aerosol spray he carried in
another pouch of his jumpsuit. The dog, specially trained to silent attack, launched itself at him,
and his left arm, padded against just such a situation, swung up. The Alsation chewed savagely at
the quilted material and Villiers sprayed the aerosol into its face. The animal collapsed without a
sound and lay still.
A moment later, the police officer approached cautiously. „Rex, where are you, boy?‟
Villiers' hand rose and fell against the back of the neck in one sharp, practiced blow. The
police officer groaned and keeled over. Villiers pinioned him, hands behind his back, with his
own handcuffs, took the officer's radio receiver from his pocket and slipped it into another pouch
of his jumpsuit. Then he started to run across the park through the darkness towards the rear of
the Palace.
* * *

Harvey Jackson got out of the truck and opened the door. He reached inside, found a
couple of grappling hooks, then bent down over the telephone manhole at his feet and removed
it. From the truck he took an inspection lamp on a long lead which he lowered into the darkness,
a red warning sign reading DANGER, MEN AT WORK, some canvas screens and an awning. He
dropped into the manhole, opened one of the inspection boxes, revealing a bewildering array of
multi-coloured leads and switches, and sat back and waited.
Perhaps five minutes later, there was the sound of a car and he stood up and peered over
the edge as a police patrol car pulled in at the kerb. The driver leaned out, a grin on his face.
„What a way to earn a living. Serves you right for joining.‟
„You, too,‟ Jackson said.
„Hope you're getting double time, this hour of the bloody morning.‟
„That'll be the day.‟
The policeman grinned again. „Watch yourself. If this rain keeps up you'll be swimming
in there by breakfast time.‟
He drove away and Jackson lit a cigarette and sat down again, whistling softly to himself,
wondering how Villiers was getting on.
* * *

Villiers, who had found the workmen's ladders still available under the portico, had
reached the flat roof over the Ambassador's Entrance with no difficulty. Two of the windows
shown on the photograph were still partially open. He worked his way along a ledge, raised the
nearest one and slid over the window sill into a small office. He opened the door cautiously and
slipped out into a dark corridor.
The Royal Apartments were on the other side of the palace. Completely familiar with the
layout from his study of the plans supplied to him, he now moved with considerable rapidity
through a maze of corridors, all deserted as he had expected at that time of the morning. Some
five minutes later he stood at the end of the corridor leading to the private quarters.
The Queen's apartment was only a few yards away - a dining room leading into a sitting
room, the bedroom beyond, he knew that. Further on, around another corner, was a room where
the corgis slept. In the page's vestibule opposite, a police constable sat reading a paperback book.
Villiers observed him carefully for a moment, then retreated down the corridor and took
out the radio transceiver he had taken from the policeman in the park. He pressed the channel
four button and waited.
There was a slight crackle. A voice said, „Jones here.‟
Villiers replied in a soft voice, „Security office. The picture gallery alarm seems to be
playing up again. We're getting an intermittent signal. Give it a quick check, will you?‟
„Okay,‟ Jones said.
Villiers moved to the corner again and peered round in time to see the police constable
moving away along the corridor in the other direction. He turned at the end and disappeared.
Villiers moved instantly to the door of the Queen's apartment. He paused for a moment, took a
deep breath and opened it.
* * *

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, was seated by the fire in her comfortable
sitting room reading a book. In spite of the early hour, she was perfectly groomed and wore a
pale blue twin-set and tweed skirt, pearls at her throat. A slight creaking from the door caused
her to raise her head. It opened and Villiers stepped into the room, closing the door behind him.
He looked extremely menacing in the black jumpsuit and hood, only the eyes showing.
There was a silence for a moment and then he reached up and pulled the hood over his head.
„Ah, Major Villiers,‟ the Queen said. „Was it difficult?‟
„I'm afraid not, ma'am.‟
The Queen frowned. „I see. Well, we'd better get on with it. You are on limited time, I
presume?‟
„Very, ma'am‟
She reached for a newspaper and held it up. „Last night's Standard. Will that do?‟
„I think, so, ma'am.‟
Villiers took a folding Polaroid camera from one of the pouches in his jumpsuit, moved
close and dropped to one knee. The queen raised the newspaper, there was a flash and he took
the picture, a soft whirring as it was discharged from the camera. He moved to the fire and held
the photo to the warmth. Her face started to appear.
„Excellent, ma'am.‟ He held it out to her.
„Good, then you'd better be off. Wouldn't do for them to catch you now. That really
would spoil everything.‟
Villiers pulled the hood back over his head and gave her a slight bow. The door clicked
behind him and he was gone. The Queen sat there for a while, thinking about it, debating
whether to go to bed. Rain drummed against the window. She shivered, picked up the book and
returned to her reading.
* * *

Ten minutes later, Tony Villiers came over the wall like a black wraith and landed on the
roof of the Telecom truck.
„Let's move it, Harvey,‟ he whispered, as he opened the trapdoor and dropped down on to
the bench.
Jackson was out of the manhole in an instant, opened the door, passed in the canvas
screens, the warning sign and the lamp and closed the door again. Villiers heard the manhole
clang into place, footsteps hurry round to the cab. He pulled off his hood, opened a jar of
theatrical cleansing cream and started on his face. A moment later, they drove away.
* * *

In 1972, the problem of international terrorism having reached epidemic proportions, the
Director General of D15, the British Secret Intelligence Service, authorised the setting up within
the organisation of a section known as Group Four which had powers held directly from the
Prime Minister, to co-ordinate the handling of all cases of terrorism, subversion and the like.
Brigadier Charles Ferguson had been placed in charge, still was, a large, kindly-looking
man whose crumpled suits always seemed a size too large. The Guards tie was the only military
aspect to him. The untidy grey hair, the double chin, combined to give him the appearance of
some minor professor.
Just now, he wore a greatcoat of the type favoured by officers of the Household Brigade,
the collar turned up against the early morning cold. The Bentley was parked off Eaton Square,
not too far from the Palace, and the only other occupant was the driver, Harry Fox, a slim,
elegant man of twenty-nine who until three years previously had been an acting captain in the
Blues and Royals. The neat leather glove he wore on the left hand concealed the fact that he had
lost the original in a bomb explosion during a tour of duty in Belfast.
He poured tea from a Thermos flask into plastic cups and handed Ferguson one. „I
wonder how he's getting on?‟
„Our Tony? Oh, with his usual appallingly ruthless efficiency. Never lets anything get in
his way, you see. Comes of having been head of his house at Eton.‟
„Nevertheless, sir, if he's caught, it will raise one hell of a stink and it won't do the SAS
image much good either.‟
„You worry too much, Harry,‟ Ferguson said. „Comes of having picked up the wrong
briefcase over there. Things could be worse.‟ He nodded across the square to a yellow Telecom
truck parked beside an open manhole, canvas screen around it. Two men in yellow oilskins
worked in the rain. „Just look at those two poor sods. What a way to earn your crust. Down a
hole at this ungodly hour in the morning in the pouring rain.‟
A dark Ford Granada saloon passed them, one man at the wheel, another at the rear. It
pulled in at the kerb and a bulky man in a dark raincoat and trilby hat came towards them,
opened the rear door and got in.
„Ah, Superintendent,‟ Ferguson said. „Harry, this is Detective Chief Superintendent
Carver of Special Branch, delegated by the powers-that-be at Scotland Yard to be official
observer this morning. You should beware, Superintendent.‟ Ferguson filled another plastic cup
with tea and offered it to him. „In the old days, messengers who brought bad news were usually
executed.‟
„Balls,‟ Carver said amiably. „He doesn't stand a chance, your man, and you know it.
How did he intend to try and get in anyway?‟
„I haven't the slightest idea,‟ Ferguson told him. „I never query methods, Superintendent,
only results.‟
„Just a minute, sir,‟ Fox said. „I think we've got company.‟
The two telephone engineers who had been working in the manhole at the far side of the
square had got out and were walking towards them, oilskins streaming with rain. Fox opened the
glove compartment and took out a Walther PPK.
Ferguson said, „How enterprising of them,‟ and wound down the window. „Good
morning, Tony. Morning, Sergeant Major.‟
„Sir,‟ Jackson said, bringing his heels together automatically.
Villiers leaned down and passed in the polaroid photo of the Queen. „Anything else, sir?‟
he asked.
Ferguson examined the photo without a word, then passed it to the Superintendent.
Carver sat up straight. „Good God!‟
Ferguson took the photo from him, produced a lighter and touched it to the edge. He
passed it to Villiers. „Wouldn't do to have that floating around. Better tell us the worst.‟
Villiers held the photo as it burned. „The alarm beam directly inside the grounds is
positioned only two feet from the wall. No problem in jumping over that. At the Palace itself, the
alarm system is in some cases old-fashioned or faulty. And to get in, you don't need to be a cat
burglar.‟ He passed over the photo taken the previous day. „Workmen leave ladders, housemaids
leave windows open - it's a farce.‟
Carver studied the photo glumly. Villiers said, „We'll take a walk. Leave you to it, sir.‟
He and Jackson walked to the nearest lamp and lit cigarettes. Carver said, „Who is he, for
Christ's sake? He talks like the Cavalry Club and looks like some East End hood.‟
„Actually he's a major in the Grenadier Guards attached to the SAS,‟ Ferguson said.
„With that hair? I mean, look at it.‟
„Special dispensation in the SAS, going without haircuts. Personal camouflage is very
important, Superintendent, if you're trying to pass yourself off as some back street yobbo on the
Belfast docks.‟
„And he's reliable?‟
„Oh, yes. Decorated twice. Military Cross for action against Marxist guerrillas in the
Oman and another for some nonsense or other in Ireland, details not for release.‟
Carver held up the photo. „This is bad. There will be hell to pay.‟
„We'll send you a full report.‟
„I bet you will.‟
Carver got out of the car and Villiers turned and came towards him, his face pale in the
street light.
„One thing I didn't mention, Superintendent. Your man on prowler guard at the
Grosvenor Place end of the Palace Gardens. I had to belt him. You'll find him under a tree by the
pond in his own handcuffs. He's okay, I checked him out on the way back. Tell him I'm sorry
about the dog.‟
„You bastard!‟ Carver said.
He hurried along to the Granada, the door slammed, it drove away.
Ferguson said, „Get in, Tony. I presume you can be relied upon to get rid of that truck,
Sergeant Major? I won't enquire where it came from.‟
„Sir.‟ Jackson clicked his heels and moved off across the square.
Villiers got into the Bentley beside Ferguson and Fox drove away. Ferguson said,
„You've another week of your leave to go?‟
„Officially.‟
Ferguson wound down the window and peered out as they rounded the Queen Victoria
Memorial at the front of the Palace and went down the Mall.
„Have you seen Gabrielle lately?‟
Villiers said calmly, „No.‟
„Is she still at the flat in Kensington Palace Gardens?‟
„Some of the time. That one belongs to me. She uses it by arrangement. She has her place
in Paris, of course.‟
„I was sorry to hear about the divorce.‟
„Don't be,‟ Villiers said flatly. „The best thing that ever happened to either of us.‟
„You really mean that?‟
„Oh, yes.‟
Ferguson shivered and pulled the collar of his coat up around his neck, and yet he
lowered the window even more so that the cold morning air rushed in.
„Sometimes I wonder what life's all about.‟
„Well, don't ask me,‟ Villiers told him. „I'm only passing through.‟
He folded his arms, leaned back in the corner, closed his eyes and was instantly asleep.

2


Brigadier Charles Ferguson preferred to work when possible from his Cavendish Square
flat. It was his especial joy. The Adam fireplace was real and so was the fire which burned there.
The rest was Georgian also. Everything matched to perfection, including the curtains. He was
sitting by the fire at ten o'clock in the morning after Villiers' exploit at the Palace, reading the
Financial Times, when the door opened and his manservant, Kim, an ex-Gurkha naik appeared.
„Mademoiselle Legrand, sir.‟
Ferguson removed his half-moon reading glasses, put them down with the paper and
stood up. „Show her in, Kim, and tea for three, please.‟
Kim departed and a moment later, Gabrielle Legrand entered the room.
She was, as always, Ferguson told himself, the most strikingly beautiful woman he had
ever seen in his life. She was dressed for riding in boots, faded jodhpurs, white shirt and an old
green jacket in Donegal tweed. The blonde hair was held back from the forehead by a scarlet
band and rolled up into a bun at the nape of the neck. She regarded him gravely, the wide green
eyes giving nothing away, the riding crop she carried in her left hand tapping her knee. She was
not small, almost five foot eight in her boots. Ferguson went towards her with a smile of
conscious pleasure, hands out-stretched.
„My lovely Gabrielle.‟ He kissed her cheek. „No longer Mrs Villiers, I see?‟
„No,‟ she said flatly. „I'm me again.‟
Her voice was English upper class, but with its own timbre that gave it a unique quality.
She dropped her crop on the table, went to the window and peered down into the square.
„Have you seen Tony lately?‟
„I should have thought you would have,‟ Ferguson said. „He's in town. Spot of leave, as I
understand it. Hasn't he called at the flat?‟
„No,‟ she said. „He wouldn't do that, not while I'm there.‟
She stayed at the window and Ferguson said gently, „What went wrong between you two,
my love?‟
„Everything,‟ she said, „and nothing. We thought we were in love one long hot summer
five years ago. I was beautiful, he was the best-looking thing in a uniform I ever saw.‟
„And then?‟
„We didn't gel - it never did. The chemistry was all wrong.‟ The voice was flat calm and
yet he sensed distress there. „I cared for Tony, still do, but I got angry with him too easily and I
never knew why.‟ She shrugged again. „Too many spaces we could never fill.‟
„I'm sorry,‟ Ferguson said.
The door opened and Kim entered with a silver tray which he placed by the fire. „Ah,
tea,‟ Ferguson said. „Get Captain Fox from the office, Kim.‟
The Gurkha went out and Gabrielle sat down by the fire. Ferguson sat opposite and
poured tea into a china cup for her.
She drank a little and smiled. „Excellent. The English half of me approves.‟
„Filthy stuff, coffee,‟ he told her.
He offered her a cigarette. She shook her head. „No thanks, I'd prefer to get down to
business. I have a luncheon appointment. What do you want?‟
At that moment the door opened and Harry Fox came in. He wore a Guards tie and light
grey flannel suit, and carried a file which he placed on the desk.
„Gabrielle, how nice.‟ He was genuinely pleased and leaned down to kiss her cheek.
„Harry.‟ She patted his face affectionately. „What's this boss of yours up to now?‟
Fox took the cup of tea Ferguson offered and looked at him enquiringly. Ferguson
nodded and the young Captain stood by the fire and carried on.
„What do you know about the Falkland Islands, Gabrielle?‟
„In the South Atlantic,‟ she said. „About four hundred miles off the Argentine coast. The
Argentine government has been claiming them for years.‟
„That's right. British Sovereign territory, of course, but a lousy place to defend eight
thousand miles away.‟
„As a matter of interest,‟ Ferguson said, „we have sixty-eight Royal Marines in the islands
at the moment, backed up by the local defence force and one ship of the Royal Navy. HMS
Endurance, an ice patrol vessel, armed with two 20 mm guns and a couple of Wasp helicopters.
Our masters in Parliament have been making it clear in public debate that they intend to scrap
her to save money.‟
„And just four hundred miles away is a superbly equipped airforce, a large army and
navy,‟ Fox said.
Gabrielle shrugged. „So what? You're not seriously suggesting that the Argentine
Government would invade?‟
„I'm afraid that's exactly what we are suggesting,‟ Ferguson said. „All the signs have
pointed that way since January and the CIA certainly think it's on the cards. It makes a lot of
sense. The country is run by a three-man junta. The President, General Galtieri, who is also
Commander-in-Chief of the Army, has a commitment to economic recovery. Unfortunately, the
country is almost bankrupt.‟
Fox said, „An invasion of the Falklands would prove a very welcome diversion. Take the
people's minds off other things.‟
„Just like the Romans,‟ Ferguson said. „Bread and circuses. Keep the mob happy.
Another cup?‟
He poured Gabrielle more tea. She said, „I still don't see where I come into this.‟
„Very simple really.‟
Ferguson nodded to Fox, who opened the file on the desk and took out an ornate
invitation card which he passed to her. In English and Spanish, His Excellency Carlos Ortiz de
Rozas, Argentine Ambassador to the Court of St James, invited Mademoiselle Gabrielle Simone
Legrand to a cocktail party and buffet, seven-thirty for eight at the Argentine Embassy in Wilton
Crescent.
„Just off Belgrave Square,‟ Fox said helpfully.
„This evening?‟ she said. „Impossible. I'm going to the theatre.‟
„This one's important, Gabrielle.‟ Ferguson nodded and Fox got the file, opened it and
took out a black and white photo which he put on the table in front of her.
Gabrielle picked it up. The man who stared out at her wore a military flying suit of the
kind used by jet pilots. He carried a flying helmet in his right hand and there was a scarf at his
throat. He was not young, at least forty, and like most pilots he was not particularly tall. He had
dark wavy hair, greying a little at the temples, calm eyes and there was a scar on his right cheek,
running up into the eye.
„Colonel Raul Carlos Montera,‟ Fox said. „Special Air Attache at the Embassy at the
present time.‟
Gabrielle stared down at the photo. It was like looking at an old friend, someone she
knew well, and yet she had never seen this man before in her life.
„Tell me about him.‟
„Age forty-five,‟ Fox said. „An aristocrat. His mother, Donna Elena, is very much a
leader of society in Buenos Aires. His father died last year. Family owns God knows how much
land and all the cows in the world. Very rich.‟
„And he's a pilot?‟
„Oh, yes, of the obsessional kind. Soloed at sixteen. He did a languages degree at
Harvard, then joined the Argentine air force. Trained with the RAF at Cranwell. Has also trained
with the South Africans and Israelis.‟
„Important point,‟ Ferguson said, moving to the window. „Not your usual South
American fascist. In 1967 he resigned his commission. Flew Dakotas for the Biafrans during the
Nigerian civil war. Night flights from Fernando Po to Port Harcourt. Rather a bad scene.‟
„Then he joined up with a Swedish aristocrat, Count Carl Gustaf von Rosen. The Biafrans
bought five Swedish training planes called Minicons. Had them fixed up with machine guns and
so on. Montera was one of those crazy enough to fly them against Russian Mig fighters flown by
Egyptian and East German pilots.‟ Fox passed her another photo. „Taken in Port Harcourt, just
before the end of the war.‟
He wore an old World War Two leather flying jacket, his hair was tousled, the eyes
shadowed, the face drawn with fatigue. The scar on the cheek looked raised and angry as if fresh.
She wanted to reach out and comfort him, this man she didn't even know. When she put the
photo down, her hand shook slightly.
„What exactly am I supposed to do?‟
„He'll be there tonight,‟ Ferguson said. „Let's face it, Gabrielle, few men can resist you at
the best of times, but when you take special pains…‟
The sentence hung in mid-air unfinished. She said, „I see. I'm to take him to bed, lie back,
think of England and hope he says something worth hearing about the Falklands?‟
„Put rather starkly, but close enough.‟
„What a bastard you are, Charles.‟ She got up and picked up her riding crop.
„Will you do it?‟ he asked.
„I think so,‟ she answered. „I'd seen the play before anyway, and to be honest, this Raul
Montera of yours looks much more interesting.‟
The door closed behind her and Fox poured himself more tea. „You think she'll do it, sir?‟
„Oh, yes,‟ Ferguson said. „She loves to take part in the theatre of life, our Gabrielle. How
much do you know about her background, Harry?‟
„Well, she and Tony were married for what, five years?‟
„That's right. French father and English mother. They were divorced when she was quite
young. She read politics and economics at the Sorbonne, then did a year at St Hugh's at Oxford.
Married Villiers after meeting him at a Cambridge May Ball. Should have known better than
attend a function at a second-rate university. How many times has she worked for us, Harry?‟
„Only once where I've had direct contact, sir. Four other occasions through you.‟
„Yes,‟ Ferguson said. „A truly brilliant linguist. No good where the rough stuff is
concerned, either physical or anything else. A genuine moralist, our Gabrielle. What family has
she got living now?‟
„Father in Marseilles. Her mother, sir, and step-father. He's English. They live in the Isle
of Wight. She has a half-brother, Richard, aged twenty-two, serving as a helicopter pilot in the
Royal Navy.‟
Ferguson lit a cigar and sat behind the desk. „I've met women, Harry, and so have you, of
beauty and considerable distinction, but Gabrielle is something special. For a woman like that,
only a special man will do.‟
„I think we're fresh out of those this year, sir,‟ Fox said.
„We usually are, Harry. We usually are. Now let's go through the Foreign Office tray.‟
Ferguson put on his half-moon spectacles.

3


The scene in the ballroom at the Argentine Embassy was splendid, crystal chandeliers
taking light to every comer, reflected again in the mirrored walls. Beautiful women, exquisitely
gowned; handsome men in dress uniforms; an occasional church dignitary in scarlet and purple.
It was all rather archaic, as if the mirrors were reflecting a dim memory of long ago, the dancers
turning endlessly to faint music.
The trio playing on a raised dais in one corner were good and the music was exactly the
kind Raul Montera liked. All the old favourites: Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin. And
yet he was bored. He excused himself from the small group around the Ambassador, took a glass
of Perrier water from the tray carried by a passing waiter and went and leaned negligently against
a pillar, smoking a cigarette.
His face was pale, the eyes a vivid blue, constantly in motion in spite of his apparent
calmness. The elegant dress uniform fitted him to perfection, the medals making a brave show on
his left breast. There was an energy to him, an eager restlessness, that seemed to say he found
such affairs trivial and longed for something more active.
The Majordomo's voice rose above the hubbub. „Mademoiselle Gabrielle Legrand.‟
Montera glanced up casually and saw her standing in the entrance, reflected in the gilt mirror in
front of him.
It was as if the breath went out of him for a moment. He stood there, transfixed, then
turned slowly to look at the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life.
Her hair, no longer banded and gathered up as it had been that morning at Ferguson's
office, was one of her most astonishing features: very blonde and cut in the French style known
as La Coupe Sauvage. It was long enough to hang between the shoulder blades, yet apparently
short at the front, layered and feathered at the sides, framing a face of considerable beauty.
The eyes were the most vivid green, the high cheekbones gave her a Scandinavian look
and the mouth was wide and beautifully formed. She was wearing an evening dress by Yves St
Laurant in silver thread and tambour beading, the uneven hemline well above the knee, for the
mini had returned to fashion that season. She balanced on silver high-heeled shoes, carrying
herself with a touch of arrogance that seemed to say Take me or leave me, I couldn't care less.
Raul Montera had never seen a woman who looked more capable of taking on the whole
world if needs be. She, in her tum, had seen him, and conscious of a strange, irrational
excitement, turned away as if looking for someone.
She was immediately accosted by a young Argentinean army captain who was obviously
the worse for drink. Montera gave him enough time to make a thorough nuisance of himself, then
moved through the crowd to her side.
„Ah, there you are, cherie,’ he said in excellent French. „I've been looking everywhere for
you.‟
Her reflexes were excellent. She turned smoothly, reached up and kissed him on the
cheek. „I was beginning to wonder if I‟d got the wrong night.‟
„At your orders, my colonel.‟ The captain retired in confusion. Montera looked at
Gabrielle wryly and they both burst into laughter.
He took her hands and held them lightly. „You get a lot of that, I suppose?‟
„Since I was about fourteen.‟
There was a shadow in the green eyes. He said, „Which has not improved your opinion of
my sex, I think?‟
„If you mean, do I like men, no, not very much.‟ She smiled. „In the generality, that is.‟
He examined her hands. „Ah, good.‟
„What is?‟ She was puzzled.
„No wedding ring.‟
He drew himself up and clicked his heels together. „Colonel Raul Carlos Montera, very
much at your orders and I would consider it a privilege and a joy to secure not only this dance,
but every other one available this evening.‟
He took her hand and drew her on to the floor, as the trio started to play in slow foxtrot
tempo Our Love is Here to Stay.
„How remarkably appropriate,‟ he said and drew her to him.
And to that, there could be no answer. They danced well together, his arm holding her
lightly around the waist.
She touched the scar on his cheek. „How did you get that?‟
„Cannon shell splinter,‟ he said. „Aerial combat.‟
She played her part well. „But when? Argentina hasn't been to war in my lifetime.‟
„Another man's war,‟ he said. „A thousand years ago. Too long a story.‟
She touched the scar again gently and he groaned and said in Spanish to himself, „I've
heard of love at first sight but this is ridiculous.‟
„Why?‟ she replied calmly in the same language. „Isn't it what the poets have been
assuring us for centuries now is the only kind worth having?‟
„Spanish as well?‟ he demanded. „Is there no end to this woman's marvels?‟
„Also English,‟ she said. „And German. My Russian isn't fluent, though. Only passable.‟
„Amazing.‟
„You mean, for a beautiful blonde with a good body?‟
He noted the bitterness in her voice and moved back to look into her face. There was
genuine tenderness in his own and a kind of authority.
„If I have hurt you, forgive me. It was not intended. I will learn, though, to mend my
manners. You must give me time.‟
And there was that breathlessness in her again as the music stopped and he drew her off
the floor. „Champagne?‟ he said. „Being French I would presume it to be your drink.‟
„But of course.‟
He snapped his fingers to a waiter, took a glass from the proffered tray and handed it to
her. „Dom Perignon - only the best. We're trying to make friends and influence people tonight.‟
„I should imagine you'd need to,‟ she said.
He frowned. „I don't understand?‟
„Oh, there was an item on the television news earlier this evening. Questions in the
British Parliament about the Falklands. Apparently your navy is about to go on manoeuvres in
the area.‟
„Not the Falklands,‟ he said. „To us, the Malvinas.‟ He shrugged. „An old quarrel, but not
worth arguing about. The politicians have it in hand. In my opinion, the British will do a deal
with us one of these days. Probably in the not too distant future.‟
She let it go, slipped a hand in his arm, and they crossed to an open French window and
moved out. On the way, he picked another glass of champagne off a passing tray for her.
„Don't you drink?‟ she asked.
„Not a great deal and certainly not champagne. It creates havoc with me. I'm getting old,
you see.‟
„Nonsense.‟
„Forty-five. And you?‟
„Twenty-seven.‟
„Dear God, that I should be so young again.‟
„Age,‟ she said, „is a state of mind. Herman Hesse said somewhere that, in reality, youth
and age exist only among ordinary people. All more talented and exceptional people are
sometimes young and sometimes old, just as they are sometimes happy and sometimes sad.‟
„Such wisdom,‟ he said. „Where does it all come from?‟
„I went to the Sorbonne and then Oxford,‟ she said. „A women's college, St Hugh's. Not a
man in sight and thank God for it. Now I'm a journalist. Freelance. Magazine work mainly.‟
Behind them the trio started to play A Foggy Day in London Town. „I was a stranger in
your city.‟ He started to sing the intro softly in English.
„Oh, no,‟ she said. „Paris is my city, but Fred Astaire had it right in the movie when he
sang that song. Everyone should walk along the Thames Embankment at least once, preferably
after midnight.‟
He smiled slowly and held her hands. „An excellent idea. But first, we eat. You look like
a girl with an appetite. A little more champagne and then, who knows?‟
* * *

It was raining hard and fog crouched at the end of the streets. The trenchcoat he had
found for her was soaked, as was the scarf she had bound around her hair. Montera was still in
uniform, his magnificence anonymous under a heavy officer's greatcoat. He wore a peaked cap.
They had walked for several miles in the pouring rain followed by his official car, patient
chauffeur at the wheel. She wore a pair of flat shoes he had borrowed for her from one of the
maids at the Embassy.
Birdcage Walk, the Palace, St James's Park. Montera had never enjoyed himself so much
in the company of another human being.
„Sure you haven't had enough?‟ he asked, as they moved down towards Westminster
Bridge.
„Not yet. I promised you something special, remember?‟
„Ah, I was forgetting.‟
They came to the bridge and she turned on to the Embankment. „Well, this is it. The most
romantic place in town. In that old movie, Fred Astaire would have held my arm and sung to me
as we strolled with the car following us, crawling along the kerb.‟
„Ah, but the traffic situation has changed since that, as you can see,‟ he told her. „Too
many cars parked at the kerb already.‟
Above them, Big Ben chimed the first stroke of midnight. „The witching hour,‟ she said.
„Have you enjoyed your guided tour?‟
He lit a cigarette and leaned on the parapet. „Oh, yes, I like London. A wonderful town.‟
„But the English not so much?‟
It was there again, that extraordinary perception. He shrugged. „They're all right. I trained
with the RAF at Cranwell and they were good - the best. The trouble is that to them we're all
dagos, we South Americans, so if the dago is a good flyer, it's because they've done a good job
on him.‟
„That's shit,‟ she said, coldly angry. „They don't owe you a thing. You're a great pilot.
The best.‟
„Am I?‟ he said curiously. „And how would you know that?‟
The rain increased into a solid drenching downpour and he turned and whistled to the car.
„I'd better get you home.‟
„Yes,‟ she said. „It would seem appropriate,‟ and she took his hand and they ran together
towards the car.
* * *

The Pissaro on the wall of the sitting room of the flat in Kensington Palace Gardems was
beautiful. Montera, standing before it, a brandy in his hand, examined it closely.
Gabrielle came out of the bedroom, brushing her hair. She wore an old bathrobe, a man's
obviously, several sizes too big for her.
Montera said, „Do my eyes deceive me or is the Pissaro an original?‟
„My father, I'm afraid, is disgustingly wealthy,‟ she said. „Electronics, armaments, things
like that. His headquarters are in Marseilles and he tends to indulge me.‟
He took in the robe and said gravely. „It was too much to expect that a girl like you could
have reached the ripe old age of twenty-seven without complication. You are married, I think? I
was wrong.‟
„Divorced,‟ she said.
„Ah, I see.‟
„And you?‟
„My wife died four years ago. Leukemia. I was always rather difficult to please so my
mother arranged things. She's like that. She was the daughter of a family friend.‟
„A suitable match for a Montera?‟
„Exactly. I have a ten-year-old daughter named Linda who lives contentedly with her
grandmother. I am not a good father. Too impatient.‟
„I can't believe that.‟
And then he was close and she was in his arms and his lips brushed her face. „I love you.
Don't ask me how, but it's true. I've never known anyone like you.‟
He kissed her and for a moment she responded; then she pushed him away and there was
something strangely like fear in her eyes.
„Please, Raul, no. Not now.‟
He took her hands gently and nodded. „Of course. I understand. I do, believe me. May I
call you in the morning?‟
„Yes, please do.‟
He released her, picked up his greatcoat, went to the door and opened it. He turned and
smiled, an inimitable, wry smile of such charm that she ran across the room and put her hands on
his shoulders.
„You're so damned nice to me. I'm not used to that. Not from men. Give me time.‟
„All you need.‟ He smiled again. „You made me feel so gentle. I amazed myself.‟
The door closed softly behind him, she leaned against it, filled with a delight that she had
never known in her life before.
* * *

Outside, Montera got into the back of the Embassy car, the driver drove away. A moment
later Tony Villiers stepped out of a nearby doorway. He lit a cigarette and watched the cargo,
then turned to look up at the windows of the flat. As he did so, the lights were turned out. He
stood there for a moment longer, then walked away.
* * *

Brigadier Charles Ferguson was sitting in bed, propped against pillows, working his way
through a mass of papers, when the red phone rang, the line that connected him directly with his
office at the Directorate-General of the Security Service in the large, anonymous white and red
brick building in the West End of London not far from the Hilton Hotel.
„Ferguson here.‟
Harry Fox said, „Coded message from the CIA in Washington, sir. They seem to think
that the Argentineans will hit the Falklands within the next few days.‟
„Do they indeed? What does the Foreign Office have to say?‟
„They think it's a load of cobblers, sir.‟
„They would, wouldn't they? Any word from Gabrielle?‟
„Not yet.‟
„An interesting point, Harry. Raul Montera is one of the few pilots in the Argentine Air
Force with genuine combat experience. If they were going to start anything, you'd think they'd
recall him.‟
„Even cleverer to leave him in London, sir.‟
„That's true. Anyway, I'll see you in the morning. If we haven't heard from Gabrielle by
noon I'll phone her.‟
He put down the receiver, picked up a file and went back to work.

4


When she admitted Montera the following morning, she was fresh from the bath and
wearing the same robe. He was wearing jeans and an old black leather flying jacket. He had rung
her at eight o'clock, unable to bear the waiting.
„You said to make it informal,‟ he said.
She kissed him on the cheek and fingered the gold crucifix on the chain that hung around
his neck. „You look gorgeous.‟
She had spoken in English and he replied in the same language. „Gorgeous? Is this a
word to apply to a man?‟
„Gorgeous,‟ she insisted. „Stop role-playing. I thought we'd go for a walk. Across
Kensington Gardens and down to Harrods. I've some shopping to do.‟
„Fine by me.‟
He lit a cigarette and sat reading the morning paper while she went to dress. There was an
account of yesterday's proceedings in Parliament and questions to the Prime Minister on the
Falklands. He read the Report with interest, only looking up when Gabrielle stepped back into
the room.
She was an astonishing sight in a yellow tee shirt which clearly outlined her breasts, a
tight white skirt that ended above the knee and a pair of high heeled cowboy boots. A pair of
sunglasses were perched on top of her blonde hair.
„Shall we go?‟ she said.
„Yes, of course,‟ he said, stood up and opened the door for her. He smiled. „You are a
woman of surprises. Did anyone ever tell you that?‟
„Often,‟ she said, and moved past him.
* * *

The crowd in Kensington Gardens was remarkably cosmopolitan; Arabs and Asians of
every variety mingling freely with the native British. People lounged on the grass, boys played
football in the bright sunshine, and Gabrielle drew admiring glances on every hand.
She took his arm. „Tell me something. Why do you fly?‟
„It's what I do.‟
„You're probably filthy rich. Everyone knows the Argentine Air Force is staffed by the
aristocracy. You could do anything you want.‟
„Perhaps I can explain,‟ he said. „When I was a boy, I had an uncle Juan, my mother's
brother, who lived in Mexico City. He was a fabulously wealthy man, a member of one of the
oldest families in Mexico, and yet from boyhood, he had room for only one passion.‟
„Women?‟
„No, I'm being serious. Bulls. In fact, he became a torero, a professional bullfighter, and a
great shame to the family because bullfighters are usually gypsies or poor boys, up from the
gutter.‟
„So?‟
„I sat with him while they dressed him in his suit of lights for a special appearance in the
Grand Plaza at Mexico City. I counted the scars of the horns on his body. Nine times he had been
gored. I said, “Uncle, you have everything - title, money, power - yet you go to the bulls. You
face, week by week, animals specifically trained to kill you. Why do you do this thing?”‟
„And what did he reply?‟
„He said, it's what I am. There's nothing else I want to do. Flying's like that with me.‟
She touched the scar. „Even when it almost gets you killed?‟
„Ah, but I was younger then. More foolish. I believed in causes, justice, freedom.
Beautiful nonsense. Now I am older. All used up.‟
„We'll have to see about that.‟
„Is that a promise?‟
„Never mind. What happened to your uncle?‟
„Oh, he finally went to the horns one time too many.‟
She shivered. „I don't like it.‟
She had tightened her grip on his arm as if to reassure herself. They crossed from the
gardens and started down Kensington Road.
He said, „I think I've done rather well to hold myself in this far, but I feel I ought to point
out that you look spectacularly tarty in that outfit. By intention, I presume?‟
„You swine,‟ she said amiably, and held his arm even tighter.
„Is one permitted to enquire the purpose?‟
She shrugged. „Does it matter? I don't really know. It's nice to play games occasionally,
don't you think?‟
He stopped and half-turned towards her as she still clung to his arm. „You are the most
beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life,‟ he said, „in spite of that appalling outfit.‟
„So kind.‟
„Think nothing of it.‟
He kissed her gently on the mouth. „Oh, my beautiful, glorious tart. Can't you see how
much I'm loving you? I don't have any choice in the business. It's like a moral imperative.‟
There were tears in her eyes. „Oh, God,‟ she said angrily. „I hate men and yet you're so
damn nice. I've never ever known a man like you.‟
He waved to a passing taxi. As it swung in to the kerb she said, „What is this? Where are
we going?‟
„Back to the flat,‟ he said. „Kensington Palace Gardens. Such a good address. Close to the
Russian Embassy.‟
* * *

Lying in bed, an arm about her, watching the white curtains rise and fall in the slight
breeze from the partly open window, he felt more content, more at peace with himself than he
had done for years.
There was a radio cassette player on the small table beside the bed. She reached to switch
it on and Ella Fitzgerald's unique and wonderful voice moved into Our Love is Here to Stay.
„Just for you,‟ she said.
„Very civil of you.‟
He kissed her lazily on the forehead. She gave a small grunt of infinite content, turned her
stomach into his thigh and sighed. „That was lovely. Can we do it again some time?‟
„Could you possibly give me time to catch my breath?‟
She smiled and ran a hand across his belly. „The poor old man. Just listen to him. Move
away a little. I want to look at you.‟
They lay a couple of feet apart, heads on the same pillow, the green eyes wide and starry
as if she was committing him to memory.
„The scar,‟ she said. „Tell me about it.‟
He shrugged. „I was flying from Fernando Po to Port Harcourt in Biafra during the
Nigerian civil war. We usually flew by night. Dakotas mostly, but they needed medical supplies
in a hurry.‟ His eyes stared back into the past. „It was raining like hell. A real thunderstorm. I got
a Russian Mig fighter on my tail. Egyptian pilot, I found out later. He started to shoot me out of
the sky, it was as simple as that. Within seconds the other three crew members were dead or
dying. That's when I got this.‟ He fingered the scar.
„What did you do?‟
„Took her down to five hundred feet. Next time he came in on my tail, I dropped the
Dakota's flaps. It was like stopping dead in mid-air. I almost stalled.‟
„And the Mig?‟
„No space left to work in. Overshot me and ploughed straight into the jungle.‟
„Clever boy.‟
She ran a finger along his lips. He said drowsily, „I want to be totally honest with you,
can you understand that? I've never felt so with any human being before. I want to give all of
myself that there is to give.‟
There was pain in her then because of her own deceit. She managed to smile. „Don't
worry about it. Go to sleep. We've got all day.‟
„You're wrong,‟ he said. „We have the rest of our lives.‟ He smiled. „I've always loved
cities by night. The feeling of the potential things. When I was a young man, walking by night in
Paris, London or Buenos Aires, there was always a magic, something bracing about the night air.
A feeling that at the end of the street, something marvellous was waiting just around the corner.‟
„What are you trying to tell me?‟ she asked.
„Forty-five,‟ he said. „Six in July. You've been a long time coming. Thank God you made
it. I didn't ask you your sign.‟
„Capricorn.‟ Her arms were about him now, her lips on his forehead.
„Dreadful combination, Leo and Capricorn,‟ he muttered. „No hope at all.‟
„Is that a fact?‟ She kissed him and a moment later he was asleep.
* * *

She was standing by the window, looking out across the gardens, thinking about him,
when the phone sounded in the sitting room. She went through quickly and picked it up.
Ferguson said, „Ah, there you are. Anything to report?‟
„Nothing,‟ she said.
„Is he with you now?‟
She took a deep breath. „Yes. Asleep in the other room.‟
„Things are hotting up,‟ he said. „All the signs point to an invasion down there. You're
sure he's staying in London?‟
„Yes,‟ she said. „Very sure.‟
„Fine. I'll be in touch.‟
She put down the phone, at that moment hating Ferguson more than she had ever hated
anyone in her life. There was a sudden sharp cry as Raul Montera called out and she turned and
ran into the bedroom.
* * *

The dream was more real than anything he had ever known. The plane was in a hell of a
state, he knew that, great holes ripped in the body, pieces of fuselage rattling in the turbulence.
He could smell smoke and burning oil. Panic gave him strength as he fought to release the plastic
canopy that enveloped him.
„Dear God, don't let me burn,‟ he thought and then the canopy swung away from him.
His fingers, warm with his own blood, groped for the quick release handle that would
eject him and then a shadow passed overhead. There was a beating of wings and he looked up to
find a great eagle, claws distended, dropping down on him. He screamed aloud in fear. He came
awake then, and found himself in Gabrielle's arms.
* * *

They sat in the large bath, facing each other, totally at ease, drinking tea from china
mugs, Montera smoking a cigarette.
„The tea is excellent,‟ he said.
„Much better for you than coffee.‟
„From now on, coffee no longer exists.‟
„An eagle descending,‟ she said. „Obviously only one thing to do.‟
„And what would that be?‟
„You told me yourself. Drop your flaps. Even eagles will overshoot.‟
„Brilliant,‟ he said. „What a pilot you would have made.‟ He stood up and reached a
towel. „What next?‟
„I'd like to see Cats again.‟
„But tickets are unobtainable,‟ he said as he started to dress.
„A challenge for you.‟
„Taken. And dinner afterwards?‟
„Daphne's, I think. I feel very Frenchy today. And make sure they give you a booth.‟
„At your orders, señorita,‟ he said formally in Spanish.
As he pulled on his flying jacket, his wallet fell to the floor. Amongst the items which
cascaded out was a small photo. She picked it up and examined it. The woman in the cane chair
was beautifully gowned, the hair groomed to perfection, all the arrogance of the true aristocrat in
her face. The child who stood beside her wore a formal white dress and was tall with wide dark
eyes.
„She's beautiful,‟ Gabrielle said. „A lot like you. But your mother looks as if she could be
difficult.‟
„Donna Elena Llorca de Montera difficult?‟ He laughed. „Only most of the time.‟
„Off you go,‟ she said. „I've things to do.‟
He smiled, moved to the door and paused. When he turned, he was no longer smiling, but
stood there looking extraordinarily vulnerable in the black opened-necked shirt and the old flying
jacket.
„You really do look gorgeous,‟ she said.
„I've been in the trenches a long time.‟
„You've got me now,‟ she said in a kind of reflex, without thinking.
„Good.‟ He kissed her gently, then picked up the photo which had fallen on the floor and
put it on the side. „You can have that.‟
The door closed behind him. She stared up at the ceiling, thinking of Ferguson, wishing
he were dead.
* * *

Ferguson was seated at his desk at Cavendish Place with Fox, going through various
papers, when the door opened and Villiers pushed past Kim before the Gurkha could announce
him.
„My dear Tony, you look quite agitated,‟ Ferguson said as Kim withdrew.
„What's going on between Gabrielle and this Argentinean, Montera?‟ Villiers asked. „I
followed him home last night, so don't attempt to deny it. She's on a job for you, isn't she?‟
„None of your business, Tony,‟ Ferguson said. „And neither is she any longer.‟
Villiers lit a cigarette and paced to the window. „All right, point taken. I can still show
concern, can't I? That last job she did for you in Berlin, she nearly ended up in the canal.‟
„But she didn't,‟ Ferguson said patiently, „because you, dear Tony, turned up in the nick
of time as usual. This Montera business is very small beer. She's simply out to extract what
useful information she can about the Falklands situation.‟
„How, by taking him to bed?‟
„Not your affair, Tony. And you have, if I may say so, more important things to worry
about.‟
Harry Fox passed a note across. „They've cancelled your leave, Tony. They want you
back in Hereford as soon as possible.‟
Bradbury Lines, Hereford, was the headquarters of the 22nd Special Air Service
Regiment.
„But why, for God's sake?‟ Villiers demanded.
Ferguson sighed and removed his reading glasses. „Quite simple really, Tony. I think you
may be going to war sooner than you think.‟
* * *

And at his flat off Belgrave Square, Raul Montera gripped the telephone tightly, listening
with horror to what the Military Attache at the Embassy was saying to him.
„There is a plane for Paris leaving in two hours, Raul. It is essential that you do not miss
it. The Air France flight for Buenos Aires leaves at ten-thirty this evening. They need you back
there, my friend. You mustn't fail. I'm sending a car round.‟
The Malvinas. That's all it could be. So many things fell into place now. Yet there was
Gabrielle. What was he going to do about her? My one real chance of happiness in this accursed
life, he thought, and the gods decide to screw it up for me.
He packed hurriedly, just one bag with essentials, and the doorbell rang as he was
finishing. The chauffeur was waiting on the step as Montera emerged, still wearing his jeans and
the old flying jacket.
„Heathrow, my colonel,‟ the chauffeur said as Montera got into the front seat beside him.
„By way of Kensington Palace Gardens,‟ Raul Montera said. „And step on it! We don't
have much time.‟
* * *

Gabrielle had not changed, was sitting at the mirror in the old robe and about to make
herself up, when the doorbell buzzed. She went and lifted the answer phone.
„It's me, Raul. Please hurry.‟
She half-opened the door and waited, conscious of a dreadful foreboding, heard the lift
door clang outside. He appeared, eyes wild, real pain on his face.
„Two minutes, that's all I've got. I've got a plane to catch to Paris. I've been recalled to
Buenos Aires.‟
„But why?‟ she cried.
„Does it matter?‟ He took her by the arms and kissed her savagely, all his anger and
frustration pouring out of him. „All I've got time for. Isn't life hell?‟
He turned and was gone. The lift doors clanged again. She stood there, frozen, then ran
into the bedroom and started to dress.
* * *

At Heathrow, Montera was just about to go through into the international departure
lounge when she called his name, high and clear. As he turned, she came running through the
crowd in a yellow cotton jumpsuit, hair tousled, face pale.
She ran into his arms. He held for a moment, then pushed her away. „You look
wonderful.‟
„Nonsense,‟ she said. „My hair's a mess, no make-up and wearing the first thing that came
to hand.‟
„Wonderful,‟ he said. „Did I find time to tell you that I've now discovered what joy is?
Thank you for that.‟
„Raul, I love you. I love you so much.‟
He smiled. „We have a saying. Love is a gift that must be returned fourfold. What a
burden you place on me. What a wonderful burden.‟
Above their heads the tannoy called his name.
„Will you write?‟ she demanded.
„It may be difficult. Don't worry, even if there is a gap for a while. There are good
reasons. I'll be back, I swear it. That's all that matters.‟
She moved with him to the gate, hanging on. He turned for the last time. „I'll make a
bargain with you. No more partings ever again. No more saying goodbye. This is the last time.
The only time.‟
And then he was gone and she turned her face into a pillar and wept. After a while, she
crossed to the telephones and dialed Ferguson's number, reversing the charge.
„He's gone,‟ she said. „Just left for Paris to make a connection with Buenos Aires.‟
„Rather sudden,‟ Ferguson said. „Did he explain?‟
„No.‟
„You sound upset, Gabrielle.‟
She told him what to do then, in French of the kind definitely not taught in any finishing
school, sharp, succinct and to the point, slammed down the receiver and walked away.
* * *

When she opened the door of the flat and went in, Villiers appeared from the bedroom.
„Sorry about this,‟ he said. „My leave's been cancelled and they want me back at
Hereford. I needed a few things.‟
He went back into the bedroom and returned to packing the bag which was open on the
bed. She followed him through, her rage and frustration focusing on him.
„A few more throats need cutting somewhere, is that it?‟
„I suppose so.‟
„How was Belfast this time?‟
„Pretty awful.‟
„Good - you deserve each other.‟
He closed the case and said calmly, „I used to think that had a special significance where
we were concerned.‟
„No, Tony,‟ she said. „Whatever else I may have deserved in this life, I didn't deserve
you.‟
„What did I do?‟ he said. „What terrible thing did I do that you should hate me so,
because you do, you know.‟
„I married a stranger,‟ she said. „Oh, you looked wonderful in uniform, Tony, and then it
started. Every rotten little war that came along, you had to volunteer. Borneo, the Oman, Ireland.
Even Vietnam, for Christ's sake. God, what I could say about that and you and your precious
SAS if it wasn't for the Official Secrets Act.‟
His face was bleak. „This isn't getting us anywhere.‟
„You're good at one thing, Tony. One thing only are you truly good at. Killing people.‟
He pointed at the bed, the pillows still crumpled from where she had lain with Raul
Montera, and picked up the white skirt and yellow tee shirt which still lay on the floor where she
had dropped them.
„I've heard of the line of duty, Gabrielle, but this does really seem to be taking it too far.‟
Her face crumpled like a little girl's, she slumped down on the bed. „I love him so much,
Tony. I never knew love could be like this. And he's gone. He's gone.‟
He picked up his bag and stood there, feeling helpless, conscious of the desolation in her
voice. He tried to speak, but there was nothing he could say. He turned and went out, leaving her
to her grief.
* * *

Ferguson, still at his desk, stretched wearily. Paper and yet more paper. It never seemed
to stop. He got up and went to the window and peered out into the square. Behind him, the door
opened from the office and Harry Fox rushed in.
„Signal just in, sir. Units of the Argentine fleet have detached themselves from
manoeuvres and are proceeding towards the Falkland Islands.‟ He handed the signal sheet to
Ferguson. „What do you think it means, sir?‟
„Well, I never thought to have to say this again in my lifetime, Harry, but believe it or
not, I think it means war.‟

5


A cold wind lifted across the Seine and dashed rain against the windows of the all-night
café by the bridge. It was a poor sort of place, usually much frequented by prostitutes, but not on
such a night or rather, morning, for it was almost five a.m.
The barman leaned on the zinc-topped counter reading a newspaper and Nikolai Belov
sat at a table in the corner drinking coffee, the only customer.
Belov was in his early fifties and for twelve of them had been Cultural Attache at the
Soviet Embassy in Paris. His dark suit was of English cut, as was the dark blue overcoat which
fitted him to perfection. He was a handsome, rather fleshy man with a mane of silver hair which
made him look more like a distinguished actor than what he was, a colonel in the KGB.
The coffee was good and he said to the barman, „I'll have another and a Cognac. Is that
the early edition you have there?‟
The barman nodded. „Hot off the press at four o'clock. Have a look if you like. The news
is all bad for the British down there in the Falklands.‟
Belov sipped his Cognac and read the front page. Argentine Skyhawks had continued to
bomb the British task force at San Carlos and Falkland Sound.
„Mind you, this Exocet missile is the thing,‟ the barman said. „What a weapon, and all
French. You fire it from forty miles away, it drops to the surface and skims the waves at ten feet,
just under the speed of sound. There was an article about it in Paris Match yesterday. The damn
thing can't miss.‟
Which wasn't quite true, but Belov wasn't prepared to argue. „A triumph for French
technology!‟ He raised his glass and the barman toasted him back.
The door opened in a flurry of wind and rain and a man entered. He was small,
dark-haired with thin features and a moustache. His raincoat was wet and he carried an umbrella
which he was experiencing difficulty in closing. His name was Juan Garcia and he was a First
Secretary in the Commercial Department of the Argentine Embassy in Paris. In reality, he was a
major in military intelligence.
„Nikolai.‟ He spoke in good French and held out his hand with genuine warmth. „It's
good to see you.‟
„And you,‟ Belov said. „Try the coffee. It's excellent and the Cognac will clear your
pipes.‟
He nodded to the barman and lit a cigarette, waiting for Garcia to take off his wet coat.
The barman brought the coffee and Cognac and departed to the back kitchen.
„You said it was urgent,‟ Belov said. „I certainly hope so. This is an appalling time in the
morning to be about.‟
„It is urgent,‟ Garcia said. „Of the utmost importance to my country. You've seen the
morning paper?‟
„Indeed I have. You seem to be giving our British friends a hard time. Another frigate
blown up, a destroyer damaged, The toll is mounting.‟
„Unfortunately there is another side to all this,‟ Garcia said. „So far, around half our
Skyhawk fighter bombers are not making it back to base. A quite unacceptable loss rate.‟
„To put it frankly, you'll be running out of pilots before you know where you are. On the
other hand, the British fleet does have to sit it out as best it can in Falkland Sound and San
Carlos Water and you still have the Exocet. The attack on the Sheffield speaks for itself.‟
„But we don't have enough,‟ Garcia said. „Two were launched against Sheffield, one
missed altogether. There have been other attacks where they've been launched unsuccessfully. It
takes time to get used to such a weapon. We think we've got it together now. We've had the right
kind of assistance.‟
„From French experts?‟
„President Mitterand would deny it, but yes, we have had French help with the missile
launchers and control systems. And we have, of course, a squadron of Super Etendard bombers
which are essential to the whole task. I'm no technician but apparently their radar system is
compatible with the Exocet, which can't be used with a Mirage, for example.‟
There was something he was holding back. Belov said gently, „Better tell me, Juan.‟
Garcia stirred his coffee, obviously under considerable stress. „A few days ago a Unit of
the British Special Air Service made a commando attack on our base at Rio Gallegos. They
managed to destroy six Super Etendards.‟
Belov, who had known of the incident to the smallest detail for some days, nodded
sympathetically. „That must really reduce your capability.‟
„Of course, we have dispersed the other Etendards to secret locations. And we still have
enough to do the job.‟
„Which is?‟
„The British have two aircraft carriers, Hermes and Invincible. Sink either one and the
effect on their air cover would be dramatic. They would be forced to withdraw the fleet.‟
„And you think this can be done?‟
„Our experts say, only a question of time, but we need more Exocets.‟ He hammered his
fist on the table.
„Which the French, under pressure from the European Community, won't give you.‟
„Exactly.‟
„I heard the Libyans were going to help.‟
„You know what Qadhafi is like. A hell of a lot of talk. Oh, he might do something
eventually, but by then it will be too late.‟
There was silence. Belov lit an American cigarette. „So what do you want from me, my
friend?‟ he asked gently.
„Your government has helped us already. Discreetly, it is true. Satellite information and
so on; all very useful. We know you're on our side in this.‟
„No, Juan,‟ Belov said. „On this one, we don't take sides.‟
Garcia was exasperated and showed it. „For God's sake, you want to see the British
defeated, don't pretend. It will suit your purposes very well; the psychological effect of such a
defeat on the Atlantic Alliance would be disastrous.‟
„So what do you want?‟
„Exocets. I have the money to pay. Ample funds in Geneva in gold or any currency you
like. All I want from you is the name, a contact. Don't tell me you can't do something.‟
Nikolai Belov sat looking at him for a moment, then glanced at his watch. „All right,
leave it with me. I'll be in touch later this morning. Not at the Embassy. Be at your flat.‟
„You mean you've got somebody?‟
„Perhaps. Go now. I'll follow later.‟
Garcia departed. The door closed behind him. A small wind drifted round the room,
lifting a paper on the floor in the corner. Belov shivered, looking around him at the squalor with
distaste and stood up.
The barman came in from the kitchen. „Anything else, Monsieur?‟
„I don't think so.‟ Belov dropped a note on the counter and buttoned his coat. „I wonder if
God really knew what he was doing when he made mornings like these?‟
He opened the door and departed.
* * *

Belov lived in an apartment on the top floor of a luxury building of some distinction on
the Boulevard St Germain. He went straight there from his assignation with Garcia. He was tired
and cold and the prospect of Irana Vronsky waiting for him filled him with conscious pleasure.
She was a handsome, full-bodied woman of thirty-five and undeniably attractive. She had been
Belov's secretary for ten years or more and he had seduced her within a month of her taking up
the appointment. She was totally devoted to him.
When she opened the door to him, she was wearing a superb black silk dressing gown
which gaped as she moved forward, revealing black stockings and the hint of a garter belt.
Belov took her in his arms. „You smell wonderful.‟
There was concern on her face. „Nikolai, you're frozen. Let me get you some coffee.
What was it all about?‟
„First the coffee,‟ he said. „We go to bed and you warm me up. Then, I tell you what
Garcia wanted and you can put that fine commonsense of yours to work.‟
* * *

Later, lying sideways in bed, watching him smoke a cigarette, she said, „Why bother,
Nikolai? They're a bunch of fascists down there in the Argentine. Under military rule, thousands
have disappeared. I'd rather have the British any day of the week.‟
„Keep that up, you'll have me defecting, just so you can live in Kensington and shop at
Harrods every day.‟ He smiled and then became serious. „There is more than one reason for
taking an interest in this business. A mini-war we are not involved in personally, is always
useful, especially when it sets two anti-communist countries at each other's throats. A great deal
of technical information can be derived from their use of weaponry and so on.‟
„Good point.‟
„An even better one is this, Irana. Exocets or no Exocets, the British are going to win this
war. Oh, the Argentine air force has performed magnificently, but their navy stays in harbour and
their army of occupation in the Falklands consists mainly of conscripts. I shudder to think what
British Marines and Paratroopers will do to them once they start rolling.‟
„What are you saying then? That you won't help Garcia?‟
„Not at all. I'm all in favour of giving him exactly what he wants, but what if one could
do it in such a way that it would discredit the ruling junta in Argentina? If we could only bring
down the military government, Irana, the opportunities of government by the people would be
limitless.‟
„My God,‟ she said. „What an imagination! You already see a Russian fleet installed in
Rio Gallegos, controlling the South Atlantic.‟
„I know; beautiful, isn't it?‟
He lay there for a while longer and she ran the fingers of her right hand up over his thigh
and across his belly. He grabbed her hand and pushed it away, a sudden excitement on his face.
„I have it. Donner. This should suit him down to the ground. Where is he?‟
„In London this week, I think.‟
„Get him on the phone now. Tell him to get the shuttle from Heathrow. I want to see him
here before noon.‟
She got out of bed and went to the phone while Belov lit another cigarette, thoroughly
pleased with himself.
* * *

Felix Donner was a magnificent figure of a man, at least six foot three in height with a
great breadth of shoulder and dark hair swept back over his ears. As chairman of the Donner
Development Corporation, he was a well-known and highly respected figure in London financial
circles.
Everyone knew his story. The Australian from Rum Jungle, south of Darwin, in the
Northern Territory, who had served with the Australian Army in Korea. He had been a prisoner
of the Chinese for two years, and then came to London, where he'd hacked his way up to his first
million in the property boom of the sixties. Since then he'd never looked back and his interests
were varied, from shipping to electronics.
He was a popular figure with the media and was often photographed mingling with the
stars at a film premiere, playing polo, shooting grouse, even shaking hands with royalty at a
charity dinner.
It was rather ironic when one considered that this benign and popular man was, in reality,
one Victor Marchuk, a Ukranian who had not seen his homeland for thirty years.
The Russians had a number of spy schools in the Soviet Union, each one with a
distinctive national flavour. In Glacyna agents were trained to work in English-speaking
countries in a replica of an English town, living exactly as they did in the west.
The original Felix Donner, an orphan with no relatives, had been specially selected from
a Chinese prison camp and transported to Glacyna where Marchuk could observe him as closely
as any prize specimen in a laboratory. It was Marchuk who was eventually returned to Chinese
custody to labour in a Manchurian coal mine. As by arrangement he was the only one of the six
members of his original unit captured to survive, there was no one to identify the gaunt
scarecrow almost four stone under weight, who was released the following year.
But he looked healthy enough as he stood up and stretched later that morning, just before
noon, and went to the window of Belov's apartment.
„Interesting possibilities.‟
„You think you might be able to do something?‟ Belov asked.
Donner shrugged. „I don't know. Let's have a talk with this Argentinean, Garcia. Tell him
to come round with everything he's got on this whole Exocet thing. Then we see.‟
„Good,‟ Belov said. „I knew I could rely on you. Excuse me I'll phone him from my
study.‟
He went out and Irana Vronsky came in with fresh coffee. Her hair was tied back with a
black bow and her neat grey skirt, white blouse, dark stockings, accentuated her charms.
Donner slid his arms round her waist and pulled her against him, savouring her.
„Is Nikolai looking after you all right?‟ he said in Russian. „If not, just let me know.
Always glad to help.‟
„Bastard,‟ she said.
„It's been said before,‟ he laughed, as she left the room.
* * *

Juan Garcia sat by the window with Nikolai Belov and drank coffee in silence, while on
the other side of the room Felix Donner sat in a wingback chair by the fire and worked his way
through the bulky file the Argentinean had provided.
After a while, the Australian closed the file and reached for a cigarette. „An extraordinary
business. The Etendard is manufactured by Dassault in which the French government has a 51%
holding.‟
„That's correct,‟ Garcia said.
„And the makers of the Exocet are the state-owned Aerospatiale Industries, the president
of which is General Jacques Mitterand, brother of the President of France? An intriguing
situation, in view of the fact that the French government has suspended all military aid to the
Argentine.‟
Garcia said, „On the other hand, we were lucky enough to have a team of French
technicians already in my country before the outbreak of hostilities. Based at Bahia Blanca they
have given invaluable assistance as regards testing and fitting the missile launchers and control
systems.‟
„And you have also had other help, I see from the file. This man Bernard, Dr Paul
Bernard, would seem to have supplied you with information crucial to the success of the
operation.‟
„A brilliant electronic engineer,‟ Garcia said. „At one time head of one of the research
sections at Aerospatiale. Now a professor at the Sorbonne.‟
„His motives interest me,‟ Donner said. „What are they exactly? Money?‟
„No, it seems he has no love for the English. He phoned the Embassy at the start of
things, when President Mitterand announced the embargo. He offered to help in any way he
could.‟
„Interesting,‟ Donner said.
„We have considerable sympathy here in many quarters,‟ Garcia added. „Traditionally,
France and Britain have never enjoyed what could be termed a warm relationship.‟
Donner opened the file and looked at it again, frowning. Belov waited, admiring the
performance.
Garcia said, „Can you help us?‟
„I think so. I can say no more than that at this stage. On a purely business footing, of
course. Frankly, I'm not interested in the rights and wrongs of this affair. If I can work something
out, find you a few Exocets, I should imagine it would cost you in the region of two to three
million.‟
„Dollars?‟ Garcia asked.
„My operations are based in the City of London, Señor Garcia,‟ Donner told him. „I only
deal in pounds sterling. And in gold. Do you have that much available?‟
Garcia swallowed hard. „No problem. The necessary funds are in Geneva now.‟
„Good.‟ Donner stood up. „I should like to speak to Professor Bernard.‟
„When?‟ Garcia asked.
„As soon as possible.‟ Donner looked at his watch. „Let's say at two o'clock this
afternoon. Somewhere nice and open.‟
„Two o'clock?‟ Garcia looked hunted. „I don't know. It's very short notice. It may not be
convenient.‟
„Then I suggest you make it convenient,‟ Donner told him. „After all, time is of the
essence in this affair. If we are to do anything, it must be within a week or ten days at the
outside. After that, I should have thought it would be too late. Wouldn't you agree?‟
„Of course,‟ Garcia said hurriedly, and turned to Belov. „May I use the phone?‟
„In the study.‟
Garcia went out. Belov said. „You have an idea, I think?‟
„Possibly,‟ Donner said. „Something in that file that could suit our purposes admirably.‟
„You'll be staying in your apartment in the Rue de Rivoli, I suppose?‟
„That's right. Wanda has gone ahead to make sure everything's in apple-pie order.‟
„How is she? As beautiful as ever?‟
„Did I ever settle for anything less?‟
Belov laughed. „I wonder what you'd do if they decided to recall you home to Moscow
after all these years?‟
„Home?‟ Donner said. „Where's that? And they wouldn't. I'm too valuable where I am.
I'm the best there is, you know that.‟
Belov shook his head. „I don't understand you, Felix. Why do you do it? You're certainly
no patriot and politics you find games for children, you've told me that often enough.‟
„It's the only game in town,‟ Donner said. „I enjoy every minute of it. I like beating them,
Nikolai, whoever they are. It's as simple as that.‟
Belov nodded. „I believe you. I really do. Is Stavrou with you?‟
„Downstairs in the car.‟
The study door opened and Garcia entered. „Fine,‟ he said. „All organised.‟
* * *

The meeting with Bernard took place on a tourist barge on the Seine, although because of
the heavy rain there were few tourists in evidence. Donner and Bernard sat at a table under an
awning in the stern, a bottle of Sancerre between them. At the rail, a few yards away, leaned a
man who was even taller than Donner, watching the passing scenery. He wore a raincoat over a
dark blue suit, black tie and white shirt. His grey hair was cropped to the skull and he had a
flat-boned face whose slanted eyes and open nostrils gave him a faintly Mongolian appearance.
This was Yanni Stavrou, half-Turkish, the other half anyone's guess. A French national
because of service in Algiers as a French Foreign Legion paratrooper, he was a supremely
dangerous man. He had been Donner's chauffeur, body-guard and strong right arm for ten years
now.
Professor Bernard said, „I thought Garcia would be here?‟
„Not necessary,‟ Donner said. „I've heard everything there is to be heard from him. They
need more Exocets desperately.‟
„I can imagine. What is your interest in this affair?‟
„They've asked me to find them some. You've helped them considerably already, to a
degree extremely dangerous for a man in your position. Why did you take such a risk?‟
„Because I didn't think the arms embargo was right. The government was wrong. We
shouldn't have taken sides.‟
„But you have done so. Why?‟
Bernard shrugged. „I don't like the English.‟
„Not good enough.‟
„Not good enough?‟ Bernard's voice rose angrily so that Stavrou turned from the rail,
watchful. „Let me tell you about the English. In 1940, they ran. Left us to the Germans. When
the Boche came to our village, my father and a few others tried to put up a fight. A handful of
farmers with First World War rifles. They shot them in the square. My mother and most of the
other women, they took into the village hall to make sport for the soldiers. I was ten years old. A
long time ago, but I can still hear the screaming.‟ He spat over the side. „So don't try to tell me
about the English.‟
Donner couldn't have been more delighted. „Terrible,‟ he said. „I understand perfectly.‟
„But you,‟ Bernard said. „You are English yourself. I don't understand.‟
„Australian,‟ Donner said. „A large difference. Also a citizen of the world and a business
man, so let's get down to business. Tell me about Ile de Roc.‟
„Ile de Roc?‟ Bernard looked bewildered.
„They're testing the latest Exocet there, aren't they? You told Garcia about that. It's in
your notes.‟
„Yes, of course. It's an island. A damn great rock really, about fifteen miles off the
Brittany coast, south from St Nazaire. If you look out to sea, all there is is the Atlantic and then
Newfoundland.‟
„How many people there?‟
„No more than thirty-five. A mixture of Aerospatiale technicians and army personnel
from missile regiments. In fact, it's officially a military installation.‟
„You've been there?‟
„Certainly. On a number of occasions.‟
„And how does one get to the island? By air?‟
„Oh, no, impossible. Nowhere to land. Mind you, that's not quite true. The Army Air
Corps managed to land light aircraft on one of the beaches when the tide was out. But it wasn't a
practical proposition. Even helicopters find it difficult because of the down-draughts from the
cliffs. The weather is frequently terrible, but of course the isolation of the place was a necessary
factor. Usually, the link with the mainland is by boat. The fishing port of St Martin.‟
Donner nodded. „Say I needed to know what was going on at Ile de Roc, for example
during the next week or ten days. Could you find out? Are your contacts still good?‟
„Excellent,‟ Bernard said. „I think I can guarantee to obtain any information you require
and at the shortest notice.‟
Donner refilled his glass. „This Sancerre is really very fine.‟ He looked at Stavrou. „I
think we'll have another bottle.‟ He lit a cigarette, leaned back in his chair and said to Bernard,
„Okay, fill me in on the island. For example, tell me in detail about your last trip there.‟
* * *

Wanda Brown was a graceful girl, the soft contours of whose body were accentuated by
her white silk blouse and black velvet skirt, but she was still small in spite of the high-heeled
shoes. Her hair was black, she had wide, almond-shaped eyes and a small, corrupt mouth. Her
appearance was one of extreme elegance, for she had learned the hard way, Donner's cardinal
rule, that less is always better.
She was one quarter negro, which showed in her skin, and, when she opened her mouth,
her London East End origin was plain.
Donner had picked her off a Soho Street one night, where her current boyfriend had been
attempting rather forcibly to introduce her into a life of prostitution. Stavrou had left him in a
doorway with two ribs and his left arm broken and Wanda had found herself plunged headlong
into a world of luxury and delight.
She had been all of sixteen, but then Donner had always liked his women young. Her one
fear was that he might discard her now that she had reached the magic age of twenty, an
appalling prospect in view of the fact that she genuinely loved him.
When she went into his study in the sumptuous apartment in the Rue de Rivoli, he had
turned the swivel chair behind the desk. He sat, arms folded, looking up at a large scale map he'd
had Stavrou procure that afternoon of Ile de Roc and the coastal area around St Martin. He had
already discussed the problem with her in bed after making love to her that afternoon. He had
never kept secrets from her and she clung to the belief that this was evidence of trust.
She set down the coffee and put an arm round his neck. He slipped a hand under her skirt
in an absent-minded way and stroked her thigh.
„You think there's a way?‟ she asked.
„Oh, yes, there's always a way, if one looks close enough.‟
„Nikolai and this man Garcia are here.‟
„Good.‟ He turned and kissed her neck, pulling her on to his knee. „I've told Stavrou to
hire a private plane. I want you to fly down here,‟ he pointed at the map, „to this St Martin place
first thing in the morning. See if you can find us a house in the area. Something substantial that's
immediately available. There's bound to be something. Always is in that kind of country area.‟
„Anything else?‟
„Maybe later. Now show Nikolai and Garcia in.‟
She went out and a moment later the two men entered. Donner got up and walked to the
window, stretching. The view of the city was panoramic and always delighted him.
„Thank God it's stopped raining.‟
Garcia said impatiently. „Please, Señor Donner. You said you would have news for me.‟
Donner turned. „But I do. It's all in hand, my friend. In fact I think I can guarantee you,
let's say, ten of the latest mark of Exocet missile by next Monday.‟
Garcia gazed at him in awe. „Can this be so, señor?‟
„Definitely. You can leave it all in my hands. Just one thing for you to do. I want an
Argentine air force officer to liaise with me on this one. No desk type either. Preferably a first
rate pilot. After all, it's only a fifteen hour flight from Buenos Aires to Paris. You get a message
off tonight and he could be here tomorrow or the next day.‟
„Of course, señor. I'll get a message off right away. And the financial arrangements?‟
„We'll settle all that later.‟
Garcia left and Donner went to the drinks cabinet and poured whisky into two glasses.
„What are you up to?‟ Belov demanded.
Donner handed him one of the glasses. „How would it suit you if, in getting these
Exocets, I dropped the Argentineans right in the manure, the French breaking off diplomatic
relations, a real international scandal? How would you like that?‟
„I think I'd like it immensely,‟ Belov said. „Tell me more.‟
So Donner did, in finest detail.

6


Ferguson worked late that evening at his office at the Directorate-General, for Group
Four more than had its hands full these days. In addition to exercising its normal anti-terrorist
role against the possibility of Argentine undercover units infiltrating London, Ferguson had been
given responsibility by the Director-General himself for handling and coordinating all operations
connected with Exocet.
Harry Fox came in, looking tired, shirt sleeves rolled up to the elbow. „I've just had the
good word in from Peru. Our people there in co-operation with anti-government guerrillas
destroyed a military convoy earlier today which was carrying five Exocets to a Peruvian air force
base near Lima for onward transportation to the Argentine.‟
„Thank God for that. What about the Libyans?‟
„Qadhafi seems to be having second thoughts. Both King Hussein and the Egyptian
government have asked him to keep out of it.‟
„Which really only leaves the manufacturers, Harry. All right, we know there's been a
certain amount of French technical assistance, but that, after all, has been mainly a product of
circumstance. The men involved were already there.‟
„An interesting question, sir. What would we do if we had trouble with our own Exocet
missiles? Expect the French to render technical assistance?‟
„We don't wish to know that, Harry. Get back to work.‟
Rain dashed against the window pane. He went and peered out and shivered, thinking of
the fleet down there in the South Atlantic and winter rolling in.
„God help sailors at sea on a night like this,‟ he said softly.
* * *

It was very quiet in the small study in the Residencia del Presidente at Olivos outside
Buenos Aires. The President himself, General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri, was in uniform, but
had taken off his tunic as he sat at the desk working his way through a mass of papers.
He was a bull of a man, plain spoken, a soldier's soldier, and had frequently been
compared to that most colourful of all American generals of the Second World War, George S.
Patton.
There was a knock at the door and a young army captain in dress uniform looked in.
The President glanced up. „What is it, Martinez?‟
„General Dozo is here, sir.‟
„Good, show him in. See that we are not disturbed. No phone calls for half-an-hour.‟ He
smiled, suddenly looking relaxed and charming. „Of course, if news comes in that either the
Hermes or Invincible has been sunk, disturb me all you like.‟
„At your orders, my President.‟
Martinez withdrew, and a moment later Brigadier General Basilio Lami Dozo,
commander of the Argentine Air Force, entered. He was an elegant, handsome man, whose
uniform fitted him to perfection, a natural aristocrat in total contrast to Galtieri who had been
born into a working class family and had come up the hard way. Which was perhaps as well for
they were compelled to work together, like it or not, together with the commander of the navy,
Admiral Jorge Anaya as members of the three man junta that ruled the country.
Lami Dozo took off his hat and lit a cigarette. „Isn't Anaya coming?‟
Galtieri was pouring Cognac into two glasses at the drinks cabinet. „What for? We might
as well not have a navy for all the good it does. Thank God for the air force. True heroes, all
those lads of yours.‟ He handed Lami Dozo a glass. „Here's to them.‟
„What's left of them,‟ Lami Dozo said bitterly and drank a little Cognac. „Things are so
bad down there at Gallegos that everyone who can fly is going up. Raul Montera, for God's sake!
Forty-six next birthday and he's flying Skyhawks to San Carlos Water.‟ He shook his head. „I
sometimes think I should be back in a cockpit myself.‟
„Don't be ridiculous,‟ Galtieri said. „Raul Montera is a romantic fool, always was.‟
„And a true hero.‟
„Oh, I'll give you that. Magnificent. I have every admiration for him.‟
„That's what the boys call him. El Magnifico. He can't last, of course. He's flown eleven
operations during the past week to my knowledge.‟ He shook his head. „God knows what I'll find
to say to his mother when he goes.‟
„Donna Elena?‟ Galtieri shuddered. „Keep her away from me, whatever you do. That
woman always makes me feel I should be herding cows, bare-footed. How was it today?‟
„We hit a frigate, HMS Antelope. When I last heard, there had been some sort of
explosion and it was on fire. We think we also damaged a destroyer, the Glasgow, but we can't
be sure. Six Mirages and two Skyhawks were shot down. Some made it back to base damaged.‟
He shook his head in wonder. „And in spite of that, the spirit of those boys is fantastic. But it
can't go on. We'll run out of pilots.‟
„Exactly,‟ Galtieri said. „Which is why we need more Exocets and according to this
report just in from our Embassy in Paris, we could have exactly what we need in a matter of
days. Read it.‟
He went to the window and looked out at the gardens, bright in the sunshine as he
finished his Cognac. Behind him, Lami Dozo said, „You could be right. But Garcia doesn't seem
to have any information as to how or where this man Donner intends to obtain Exocets.‟
„True, but he is convinced that Donner can supply and it's worth a try. You notice, of
course, that they ask for a top air force officer to liaise on this one, preferably a pilot.‟
„Yes.‟
„Does anyone spring to mind as being particularly suitable for the job?‟
He turned enquiringly. Lami Dozo smiled. „It would keep him alive, wouldn't it, and as a
matter of coincidence, he does speak excellent French.‟
„No time to lose. He should be on his way to Paris tomorrow.‟
Lami Dozo picked up his cap. „No problem. I'll fly down to Gallegos myself in the Lear
Jet. Bring him back with me.‟
„Good, I'd like a word with him before he goes.‟ As Lami Dozo moved towards the door,
Galtieri called, „You know what the day after tomorrow is?‟
„Of course.‟ It was Tuesday, 25th May and Argentina's national day.
„You've something special planned, I trust?‟
„We'll do our best.‟
Lami Dozo went out, the President sighed, sat down at his desk and resumed work.
* * *

In London, Gabrielle Legrand, shopping in Harrods, found herself walking through the
television department. A small crowd had gathered before a television set and the ITV news was
on. The screen was showing a series of pictures of San Carlos Water, ships scattered at anchor in
a cloud of smoke. Television film, as yet, was not available. An anonymous commentator was
describing a raid as it took place, presumably that morning, Argentinian Skyhawks racing in to
drop their bombs.
His voice lifted in excitement as he followed the track of a Rapier missile, there was the
sound of a violent explosion as a Skyhawk was destroyed.
Several people in the crowd applauded and one man said, „Got the bastard!‟ It was
understandable. This was the enemy they were looking at. Planes dedicated to destroying their
own boys. One of those boys was her half-brother, Richard. She knew he was on the aircraft
carriers two hundred miles to the west of San Carlos Water but that was not safety. Helicopter
pilots like Richard flew towards danger every day and their carriers were the constant targets of
the Argentine missiles. Gabrielle prayed that God would protect twenty-two-year-olds.
She turned away, physically sick, Raul in her mind.
Thank God he's too old to fly those things, she thought, and hurried out.
* * *

Raul Montera, at that moment, was fifty miles off the southern tip of Argentina, five
hundred feet above the sea, trying to nurse home a Skyhawk to port that had most of its tail
missing, a plume of smoke drifting gently behind it.
The boy in the cockpit was badly wounded; Montera knew that and had long since
abandoned any attempt at proper procedure.
„Hang on, Jose, not long now.‟
„No use, colonel.‟ The boy's voice was very tired. „She's going down. I can't hold her any
longer.‟
As the Skyhawk's nose dipped, Montera said, „Eject boy.‟
„And freeze to death?‟ The boy laughed faintly. „Why bother.‟
„Lieutenant Ortega,‟ Montera cried. „Eject now. That's an order.‟
A second later the canopy flew into space, the boy was catapulted out. Montera followed
him down, already giving base the position, watching the parachutes drift, hoping that the air sea
rescue launch would be in time.
He made a quick pass as Ortega hit the water, saw him break free of the chute. The small
yellow dinghy inflated and, as he watched, the boy tried to climb in.
There was a sudden warning buzz from the instrument panel that told him how low he
was on fuel. He made one more pass, waggled his wings and curled away towards the coast.
* * *

When Montera got out of the cockpit of the Skyhawk at the Gallegos base, Sergeant
Santerra, the technical crew chief, was already examining the plane and shaking his head.
„Look at the tail, for Christ's sake, colonel. Cannon shell, at least four. Holes all over the
place.‟
„I know. We had a couple of Harriers on our tails on the way out of San Carlos. They got
Santini. Young Ortega almost made it and ditched about fifty miles out.‟
„Your luck is good, colonel. Amazing. I can't understand it. You should have been dead
days ago.‟
„I put it all down to the love of a good woman myself.‟ Raul Montera reached up and
touched the legend Gabrielle which was painted on the side of the cockpit. „Thank you, my
love.‟
* * *

When he went into the Intelligence Room in the Operations building, it was empty except
for Major Pedro Munro, an Argentinean of Scots extraction, the senior intelligence officer.
„Ah, there are you, Raul. One of these days you won't walk through that door,‟ he said
cheerfully.
„Thanks very much,‟ Montera answered. „Any word on Ortega?‟
„Not yet. What have you got to tell me?‟
Montera helped himself to a cigarette from the pack on the desk. „That it was hell out
there, just like an old war movie on television, only this was real. Men died.‟
Munro said, „Very funny. Now, could I possibly have something concrete? Did you sink
anything?‟
„I don't think so,‟ Montera told him, „for the excellent reason that my bombs didn't
explode again. Could you possibly arrange for ordnance to get the blasted timing right on those
fuses?‟
Munro stopped trying to be amusing. „I'm damn sorry, Raul. Truly.‟
„So am I.‟ Montera told him, and went out.
He walked towards the officers' mess wearily, his flying boots drumming on the tarmac.
He felt depressed, stale, at the end of things. He was too old to be doing this sort of thing, and
that was a fact; then he remembered what Gabrielle had said to him about age being a state of
mind and smiled.
He thought a lot about her these days. In fact, all the time. She filled his heart and head,
flew with him, slept with him. He spoke aloud to her last thing each night.
He walked into the ante-room. The first person he saw was Lami Dozo, standing by the
fire, a circle of young officers about him.
The General excused himself and came to meet Montera, genuine pleasure on his face.
He gave him the abrazo, the formal hug.
„I saw your mother yesterday at a charity affair. Fundraising for the army. She looked
splendid.‟
„Was Linda with her?‟
„No, she was at school. As I say, your mother looked splendid. You, on the other hand,
look dreadful. It must stop, this foolishness, Raul. Eleven missions in a week.‟
„Twelve,‟ Montera said. „You forget today. And could you kindly get them to do
something about the bombs? They will persist in not going off a lot of the time. Very annoying,
when one has gone to such a great deal of trouble to deliver them.‟
„Have a drink,‟ Lami Dozo said.
„An excellent idea.‟ Montera called a mess waiter over. „Tea. My usual.‟ He turned to the
General. „Will you join me?‟
„Tea?‟ Lami Dozo said. „Good God, what's got into you?‟
Montera nodded to the waiter who departed. „Nothing. It's just that a friend of mine when
I was in London persuaded me that coffee wasn't good for me.‟
„Who is this Gabrielle whose name they tell me is painted on the nose of your Skyhawk?‟
„The woman I love,‟ Raul Montera said simply.
„Have I had the pleasure of meeting her?‟
„No. When she isn't living in London, she lives in Paris. Next question.‟
„Paris? How interesting. If you had time, you could look her up.‟
„I don't understand?‟
„You're flying to Paris tomorrow. I'm taking you back to Buenos Aires with me now. Oh,
and Galtieri would like a word before you leave.‟
„I think perhaps you'd better explain,‟ Montera said.
Which Lami Dozo did as briefly as possible. When he was finished he said, „Well, what
do you think?‟
„I think the world has gone mad,‟ Raul Montera told him. „But who am I to argue.‟
„It could win us the war, Raul.‟
„Win us the war?‟ Montera laughed harshly. „We're back with old movies on television,
General. We've lost this war already. It should never have started. But by all means send me off
to Paris to play games while these boys here continue to die.‟
The waiter returned with the tray at that moment and Montera poured himself a cup of tea
with hands that shook slightly.
He raised the cup to his lips and drank. „Much better for you than coffee,‟ he said and
smiled, remembering that morning in Kensington, a thousand years ago, in the bath with
Gabrielle.
Lami Dozo looked concerned. „You've done too much, old friend. You need a rest. Come
on, let's go.‟
„You think I'm going over the edge.‟ Montera swallowed the rest of his tea. „You're quite
wrong. I'm already there.‟
As they stood up, Major Munro came in. He glanced about the mess, saw Montera and
smiled. „Good news, Raul. Young Ortega - they've picked him up. Badly shot up, but he'll
survive. They say it was the coldness of the sea that saved him. Stopped him bleeding to death.‟
He recognised the General in the same moment and saluted.
„His luck is good,‟ Lami Dozo commented.
„Let's hope mine is,‟ said Raul Montera.
* * *

A little under four hours later, he was following Lami Dozo into Galtieri's private study
at the Residencia del Presidente.
Galtieri came round the desk to greet him warmly, hand outstretched. „My dear Montera,
a great pleasure. Your efforts on behalf of the cause have been heroic.‟
„I've done no more than any other pilot in my command, General.‟
„Very commendable, but not quite true. However, General Dozo has briefed you, I'm
sure, on the importance of this new mission. We're all counting on you.‟
„I'll do my best, General. May I have permission to visit my mother before I leave?‟
„But of course. Give Donna Elena my humble duty. And now, I'll detain you no longer.‟
He shook hands again and Montera and Lami Dozo departed. When they had gone,
Galtieri flicked the intercom and told Martinez to come in.
The young captain presented himself and Galtieri passed across the report from Garcia in
Paris. „This one is highly sensitive, Martinez. Get your book and I'll dictate a brief account of the
affair so far, my discussion with General Dozo and the action we have taken.‟
„Copies for General Dozo and Admiral Anaya, General, as usual?‟
Galtieri shook his head. „General Dozo knows already and the Admiral doesn't deserve to
know. One copy for my personal file.‟
„Very well, General.‟
* * *

Carmela Balbuena was a formidable lady in her fifties. Her husband, an army captain,
had been killed seven years previously during the so-called dirty war waged between the
government and the back-country guerrillas. She had been on the staff at the Presidential Palace
ever since and was now senior secretary.
The report on the Exocet affair was handed over to her by Martinez personally. „I think
you'd better do this one yourself, then straight into his personal file, no copy,‟ he said.
She took a pride in her work, typing it out meticulously on three sheets of paper, making
one carbon copy in spite of what Martinez had said. She took the report and showed it to him.
„Excellent, señora, you've excelled yourself. You can file it later when he's out.‟
„I'll put it into the office safe until morning,‟ she said. „May I go now? I don't think
there's anything else.‟
„Of course. See you tomorrow.‟
She went back into the other room, tidied her desk, took the copies of the three sheets she
had made, folded them neatly and put them into her handbag. Then she left, closing the door
behind her.
* * *

Carmela Balbuena had never been able to have children and had lavished all her affection
on her nephew, son of her only brother. A socialist in her ideas, but no communist, she disliked
Galtieri and the military regime that kept him in power, disliked a government that had caused so
much repression and had been instrumental in bringing about the disappearance of so many
thousands of ordinary people. Like her nephew, for example, who appeared to have been wiped
off the face of the earth since his arrest at a student rally three years previously.
And then she'd gone to a cultural evening at the French Embassy and had met Jack Daley,
a fresh-faced young American who reminded her so much of her nephew. Daley had been more
than attentive, taking her to concerts, the theatre, gradually drawing her out, encouraging her to
talk of her work at the Palace.
By the time she discovered he was a Commercial Attache at the American Embassy and
probably much more, she didn't really care. Anything he wanted she gave him, which included
any information of value from the office.
She phoned him at the Embassy from the first public phone box she came to on her way
home and met him an hour later in the Plaza de Mayo where Juan Peron had been so fond of
speech making in the old days.
They sat on a bench in one of the gardens and she passed him a newspaper containing the
copy of the report.
„I won't hold you,‟ she said. „I've read that thing and it's dynamite. I'll see you again.‟
Jack Daley, who was in reality an agent of the CIA, hurried back to the Embassy to read
the report in peace. Having read it, he didn't waste any time. Twenty minutes later it was being
encoded and forwarded to Washington. Within two hours of being received there, it was passed
on to Brigadier Charles Ferguson in London by order of the Director of the CIA himself.

7


Raul Montera moved out on to the terrace of the house at Vicente Lopez Floreda and took
in the gardens below with a conscious pleasure. Palm trees waved in the slight breeze, water
gurgled in the conduits and fountains, and the scent of mimosa was heavy on the air. Beyond the
perimeter wall the River Plate sparkled like silver in the evening sun.
His mother and Linda were sitting at a table beside a fountain on the lower terrace and it
was the child who saw him first. She cried out in delight and came running towards him, arms
outstretched, dressed for riding in jodhpurs and a yellow sweater, hair tied back in a ponytail.
„Papa, we didn't know! We didn't know.‟
She clutched him and he held her tightly and she smiled up at him, fierce and proud.
„You were on the television at Rio Gallegos with General Dozo. I saw you. So did all the girls at
school.‟
„Is that so?‟
„And the Skyhawks at Death Valley, we saw that too and I knew you must be flying one
of them.‟
„Death Valley?‟ He stopped short. „How did you know about that?‟
„Isn't that what the pilots call it, the place where they make their run on the British fleet?
Two girls in my class at school have lost brothers.‟ She hugged him again. „Oh, I'm so pleased
you're safe. Will you be going back?‟
„No, not to Gallegos, but I'm going to France in the morning.‟
They reached the table. His mother sat watching him calmly, cool, elegant, perfectly
groomed as usual, looking fifteen years younger than her seventy years.
„I'm supposed to be going riding,‟ Linda said. „I'll cancel it.‟
„Nonsense,‟ Donna Elena told her. „Run along now. Your father will be here when you
get back.‟
Linda turned to him. „Promise?‟
„On my honour.‟
She hurried up the steps and Montera turned and reached for Donna Elena's hands.
„Mother,‟ he said formally as he kissed them. „It's good to see you.‟
Her eyes took in every aspect of the face, so finely drawn, the haunted eyes. „Oh God,‟
she whispered. „My dearest boy, what have they done to you?‟
She was, by nature, self-sufficient, controlled, had learned many years before never to
give too much of herself away. The result was that they had always enjoyed a highly formalised
relationship.
She tossed all that out of the window now, jumped to her feet and flung her arms around
him. „It's so good to have you back safe and well, Raul. So good.‟
„Mama.‟ He hadn't used that term since he was a little boy and felt hot tears of emotion
cloud his eyes.
„Come, sit down. Talk to me.‟
He lit a cigarette and sprawled back, letting everything go. „This is wonderful.‟
„So, you're not going back?‟
„No.‟
„I must thank the Virgin for that in some suitable way. A man of your age flying jet
planes. What nonsense, Raul. A miracle you are here.‟
„Yes, it is, when you come to think of it,‟ Montera said. „I'd better light a few candles to
someone myself.‟
„To the Virgin or to Gabrielle?‟ He frowned warily, and she said, „Here, give me a
cigarette. I'm not a fool, you know. I've seen you on television three times now in that Skyhawk
of yours. One can hardly miss the inscription just below the cockpit. Who is she, Raul?‟
„The woman I love,‟ he said simply, repeating the words he had used to Lami Dozo.
„Tell me about her.‟
So he did, pacing up and down the terrace beside her restlessly. When he was finished,
she said, „She sounds a remarkable young woman.‟
„An understatement,‟ Montera told her. „The most extraordinary human being I have ever
met. Extraordinary for me, that is. I plunged head first in love with her the very first moment. It
isn't just her quite astonishing beauty; there's a joy to her that goes way beyond physical
passion.‟ He suddenly laughed out loud and the lines seemed to vanish from his face and he no
longer looked tired. „She's so bloody marvellous in every way, Mama. I always had faith that
there was something special about life and she's it.‟
Donna Elena Llorca de Montera took a deep breath. „There's no more to be said then, is
there? I presume I'll be introduced in your own good time. Now, tell me why you're going to
France.‟
„Sorry,‟ he told her. „Top secret. All I can say is that it's for what our President is pleased
to call the cause. He also believes that if I'm successful, it could win us the war.‟
„And will it?‟
„If he believes that, he'll believe anything. The cause.‟ He walked to the edge of the
terrace and looked out across the river. „We've lost half our pilots so far, Mama. Half. That's
what the newspapers don't tell you. The crowds cry out, wave flags; Galtieri makes speeches; but
the reality is the butchery at San Carlos Water.‟
She stood up and took his arm. „Come on, Raul, let's go inside now,‟ and together they
went up the steps.
* * *

At Cavendish Place, Ferguson was seated at the desk, working his way through the CIA
signal for the umpteenth time, when Harry Fox came in carrying a couple of files.
„All here, sir. Everything on Felix Donner.‟
„Tell me, is Gabrielle still in town or has she gone back to Paris?‟
„Still at Kensington Palace Gardens. I was having dinner at Langans last night and she
was there with some friends. Why?‟
„I should have thought it obvious, Harry. She was considerably smitten by Raul
Montera's charms and he with her. We can put that to good use.‟ He looked at Fox's face and
raised a hand. „Don't start getting moral on me, Harry. This is war we're playing at now, not patty
fingers.‟
„Yes, well there are days when I definitely would rather be doing something else.‟
„Never mind that now. Donner. Tell me about him. Just the salient facts.‟
„Multi-millionaire. The Donner Development Corporation has a vast range of interests.
Building, shipping, electronics, you name it.‟
„And Donner himself?‟
„Very popular media figure, as you can see from the file. Started in property development
in a very small way. Really took off in the boom of the sixties.‟
„And never looked back?‟
„That's it, sir. In the circumstances and considering the size of his bank balance, it seems
odd that he would involve himself in an affair like this, even for a couple of million pounds.‟
„Exactly.‟ Ferguson sat looking at the file for a while, frowning. „I really do smell
stinking fish here in a big way. First of all there's the Russian connection. How was Nikolai
Belov so certain after being approached by Garcia that Donner was the man who could help?‟
„True. So what are you saying, sir?‟
„That Felix Donner was an orphan which is very convenient. That every other man who
served with him and was taken prisoner in Korea died in captivity. Also very convenient.‟
There was a long silence. Fox asked, „Are you suggesting what I think you are, sir?‟
Ferguson got up and walked to the fire and stood there, looking down into the flames.
Fox said, „He's a highly respected businessman, sir. It doesn't make sense.‟
„Neither did the Gordon Lonsdale affair, remember? Also a highly respected business
man. A Canadian, to all intents and purposes. Even now, after all these years, there's some doubt
as to his real identity.‟
„Except that he was a Russian. A professional agent.‟
„Exactly.‟
„Are you suggesting that Donner could be another Lonsdale?‟
„It's a possibility, that's all we can say for the moment. All right, so he could just be a
thoroughly unscrupulous business man, out as our American friends would say, to make a buck.
We'll have to see.‟
„So what do we do, sir, pull him in?‟
Ferguson went back to his desk. „Difficult while he's in France. Oh, I could pull strings at
high levels, but if we went public it would create one hell of a stink and we might lose
considerable long–term advantages. If we could catch him properly, Harry, we might be able to
bring down one hell of a house of cards. All his KGB connections in this country. But only if he
is what I think he might be.‟
„That's right.‟
„And we don't even know what he's up to. Even Garcia has obviously been kept in the
dark there. All he can say is that Donner has guaranteed him Exocets by next week. No, what we
need now is someone right on his tail who can keep us informed day-by-day.‟
Fox said, „And how on earth can we do that?‟
„I should have thought it obvious. The key to this affair is Colonel Raul Montera and our
link with Montera is Gabrielle Legrand.‟
There was silence between them and then Fox said. „On the other hand, Gabrielle doesn't
like us very much, sir.‟
„We'll have to see, won't we? You'd better pull her in.‟
At that moment, the red phone buzzed. He picked it up quickly. „Ferguson here.‟ He
listened, face grave, then said, „Of course, sir,‟ and replaced the receiver.
Fox said, „Trouble?‟
„That was the Director-General. It seems the Prime Minister wants to see me.‟
* * *

Donner did not, as a rule, enjoy flying in small aircraft - they were noisy, uncomfortable
and lacking in the more obvious amenities - but he could find no fault with the plane Stavrou had
arranged. It was a Navajo Chieftain with an excellent cabin and tables that one could sit at in a
civilized way.
They took off from a small private airfield outside Paris at a place called
Brie-Comte-Robert. The pilot was a man called Rabier, a dark, thin-faced man in his early
thirties who, according to Stavrou's information, had left the French Air Force under a cloud. He
now ran a small air transport firm and didn't ask questions when the money was right. Exactly
what they were looking for.
They came in towards the coast over the Vendee, well south of St Nazaire. Donner had
moved up next to the pilot and Rabier said, „Here's where we land. Place called Lancy. It was a
Luftwaffe fighter base during the Second World War. Someone tried to run a flying school from
there which failed. Since then, it's been deserted.‟
Donner pointed to a notation on the map. „What's that mean?‟
„Restricted air space. There's an island out there off the coast, Ile de Roc. Some sort of
military testing range. All it means is keep away. Don't worry, navigation is my strong point.‟
They landed at Lancy twenty minutes later. There were four hangars and the watchtower
was still intact, but the grass between the runways was waist-high and there was an air of
desolation to everything.
A black Citroen was parked in front of the old operations building and Wanda Brown got
out as the Navajo taxied toward her. She wore jeans and a leather hunting jacket, her dark hair
tied back in place with a silk scarf.
Donner descended the airstair ladder, slipped an arm about her shoulders and kissed her.
„Where did you get the car?‟
„Hired it from a garage in St Martin. And I think I've found just the place you're looking
for. Five miles from here and about as far from the coast.‟ She took some keys from her pocket.
„The local estate agent entrusted them to me. I explained that my boss didn't like to be bothered
with such matters. I'm certain he thinks I'm setting up a love nest for weekends.‟
„Looking at you, what else would he think?‟ Donner asked her. „Anyway, let's get
moving. You drive, Yanni.‟
Stavrou sat behind the wheel and Wanda got into the rear. Donner turned to Rabier, who
was peering out from the Navajo.
„A couple of hours at the most, I think, then back to Paris.‟
„Fine by me, Monsieur.‟
Donner got in to the car beside the girl and they drove away.
* * *

The house was called Maison Blanche and nestled amongst beech trees in a hollow. It
was quite large and had obviously been imposing once, but now, there was an air of decay to
things.
Donner got out of the Citroen and stood at the bottom of the steps, looking up at the front
door under the portico with the green paint peeling rather noticeably.
„Fourteen bedrooms and a stable block at the rear,‟ Wanda said. „There's reasonably
modern central heating and the oil tanks are full. You could manage here for a few days, I think.‟
„What's the story?‟
„The owner is in the colonial service in the Pacific. His mother died two years ago and as
he wants to retire here eventually, he won't sell. It's fully furnished. The agent lets it off for
occasional holiday lets in the summer, otherwise it stands empty.‟
She unlocked the door and led the way in. There was a slight musty smell, typical of a
house not lived in for a long time, but also a kind of faded magnificence to everything:
mahogany paneling and furniture, and good Persian carpets on the floor.
They moved into a drawing-room with a huge fireplace and a chandelier hanging from
the ceiling. Wanda opened the French windows and then the shutters, allowing light to flood in.
„All the comforts of home. Imagine it with central heating going and a log fire. Haven't I
done well?‟
„Excellent,‟ Donner said. „Take it.‟
„I already have.‟
He pulled her into his arms. „You're a clever little bitch, aren't you?‟
„Some of the time. I aim to please.‟
As always, she stirred him physically, which wouldn't do at all for this was neither the
time or place. He kissed her once and turned away.
„Right, show me St Martin. Is it possible to see Ile de Roc?‟
„On the horizon and only if the weather's good.‟
„Let's get going then.‟
He went out. As she turned to follow, she was aware of Stavrou, watching her as he
always seemed to do, that enigmatic face, and the eyes, so cruel and with something in them
especially for her. She hurried past him quickly and he followed her out.
* * *

St Martin was a simple enough place. There were no more than five or six hundred
inhabitants, narrow cobbled streets, cottages roofed with red pantiles, a small harbour enclosed
by a single break-water in which thirty or forty fishing boats of the smaller variety were moored.
There was also an army landing craft painted olive green and moored to the jetty; little
more than a steel shell, with great steel bow doors as a beaching exit. An army truck stood inside
and, as they watched, the craft moved away from the jetty and out to sea.
„So that's their means of transportation to the island,‟ Donner said.
Wanda nodded. „Apparently.‟
„According to Paul Bernard, the commanding officer out there also has a fine motor
launch which is his pride and joy.‟
„That's right. It was moored down there for a while yesterday.‟
„Good. That's really excellent.‟
They drove on, up out of the town, following a narrow coast road until finally Stavrou,
under Wanda's direction, turned in through two stone pillars and bumped across a field track.
Donner and Wanda got out and she handed him a pair of Zeiss fieldglasses as they went
forward to the edge of the cliffs. There was a bay far below and the path down was no place for
the faint-hearted, zigzagging across the face of granite cliffs, splashed with lime, seabirds crying,
wheeling in great clouds, razorbills, shags, gulls, shearwaters and gannets - gannets everywhere.
Ile de Roc was a smudge on the horizon that came to life only when he focused the
glasses. It was well named, massive cliffs rising steeply from the sea, only a hint of green on top.
There were no installations to be seen, but he already knew they were on the western side of the
island.
He lowered the glasses. „Good, let's go.‟
They returned to the Citroen, got in, and Stavrou reversed and drove away.
* * *

On the way back, they passed Maison Blanche again. A few hundred yards on, as they
turned into the road leading to Lancy, Donner leaned forward and touched Stavrou on the
shoulder.
„Stop a minute. What have we got here?‟
In the meadow beside the trees, three wagons were parked around a fire. They were old
and battered with patched canvas tilts, and a depressing air of poverty hung over everything from
the clothes worn by the four women who squatted by the fire drinking coffee from old cans, to
the rags on the children, who played by the stream where three bony horses grazed.
„Gypsies?‟ Donner said.
„Yes, the agent said there were some in the neighbourhood. Claimed they were no
trouble.‟
„He would, wouldn't he?‟ Donner nodded to Stavrou. „Come on, Yanni, this may work
out quite well.‟
As they walked down into the hollow, the women looked up curiously, saying nothing.
Donner stood there, hands in pockets, then said in French, „Where's the head man?‟
„Here he is, Monsieur.‟
The man who had appeared from the trees was old, at least seventy. He had a shotgun
crooked in his right arm. He wore a tweed suit which had been patched many times, and white
hair showed beneath the blue beret. His face was the colour of oak, wrinkled and covered with
stubble.
„And who might you be?‟ Donner enquired.
„I am Paul Gaubert, Monsieur? Is it permitted to ask you the same question?‟
„My name is Donner. I'm the new tenant of Maison Blanche. I think I'm probably right in
saying you're camped on my land.‟
„But Monsieur, we stay here every year at this time. Never before have we had a
problem.‟
The young man with him was of medium height with a weak, sullen face. He badly
needed a shave. His clothes were as shabby as Gaubert's and black hair poked from beneath a
tweed cap. He not only carried a shotgun in his right hand, but a brace of hares in his left.
Donner looked him over and Gaubert said hastily, „My son, Paul.‟
„With my hares, I think? What would the local gendarmes in St Martin have to say about
you lot, I wonder?‟
Old Gaubert flung his arms wide. „Please, Monsieur, everywhere we go it is the same.
Filthy gypsies, they say. They spit on us while our children go hungry.‟
„All right.‟ Donner took out his wallet. „I don't need the sob story. You can stay.‟ He took
out a couple of thousand franc notes and stuffed them into Gaubert's breast pocket. „That's to be
going on with. I don't like strangers, understand?‟
The old man took out the notes, examined them and smiled broadly. „I think so,
Monsieur.‟
„Just keep an eye on things till I'm back down again, or Monsieur Stavrou here.‟
„You can rely on me, Monsieur.‟ Old Gaubert said, and kicked his son on the leg for
gawping at Wanda.
They went back to the Citroen, and as they drove away she said, „Now what?‟
„Paris. I've got to make arrangements about this Argentine pilot, Montera. Garcia tells me
he's flown twelve missions to the Falklands and survived.‟
„An authentic hero,‟ she said. „I thought they'd gone out of style.‟
„So did I, but this guy is for real and he's going to suit my purpose admirably. By the time
I'm finished with him, he'll be world-famous.‟
He slipped an arm about her shoulders and leaned back in the seat.

8


At that time, because of the Falklands situation, unusually large crowds had started to
congregate in Downing Street and the police had been compelled to take action, cordoning off
most of the street.
When Ferguson showed his special pass, his car was allowed through and dropped him
outside Number 10, five minutes early for his appointment with the Prime Minister. The
policeman on duty saluted, the door was opened even before Ferguson reached it, and he passed
inside.
The young aide who greeted him, said, „This way, Brigadier, the Prime Minister is
expecting you.‟
Ferguson followed him up the main staircase, not for the first time in his career, past the
portraits of previous Prime Ministers, Peel, Wellington, Disraeli, Gladstone. It always filled him
with an acute sense of history and he wondered whether the woman who held the most august
office in the land, was similarly affected. Probably so. If anyone had a sense of history and
destiny, she did. He doubted whether the Falklands venture could have gone forward without her
strength of purpose and courage behind it.
In the top corridor, the young man knocked on a door, opened it and ushered Ferguson
inside. „Brigadier Ferguson, Prime Minister,‟ he said and left, closing the door.
The study was just as elegant as when Ferguson had last seen it, with pale green walls
and gold curtains and comfortable furniture in excellent taste. But as always, nothing could have
been more elegant than the woman behind the desk in the neat blue suit and white blouse, the
blonde hair perfectly groomed.
She looked at him calmly. „The last time we had dealings, Brigadier, was in connection
with a possible attempt on my life.‟
„Yes, ma'am.‟
„Your efforts on that occasion were not conspicuously successful. If the would-be
assassin had not thought better of the matter here in this very room…‟
She let her words hang for a while and then carried on. „I see that the Director-General of
Intelligence has seen fit, in his wisdom, to place you in charge of all matters relating to the
Exocet question.‟
„Yes, ma'am.‟
„I understand that the Libyans had intended to provide the Argentinians with additional
supplies, but thanks to pressure from our friends in the Arab world, this is no longer likely?‟
„That is correct, Prime Minister.‟
„Is there any possibility that the Peruvians might try to help?‟
„That contingency has already been taken care of ma'am. We…‟
„Please, Brigadier, spare me the details. Which only leaves the French, and I have
Monsieur Mitterand's personal assurance that the arms embargo will stay in force.‟
„I'm pleased to hear it, ma'am.‟
She stood up, walked to the window and looked out. „Brigadier, if one Exocet hits either
Hermes or Invincible, the entire course of this conflict is changed. We would almost certainly
have to withdraw.‟ She turned. „Can you assure me that there is no possibility of further Exocets
reaching the Argentine from any source whatever?‟
„No, ma'am, I'm afraid I can't.‟
„Then I suggest you do something about that, Brigadier,‟ she said calmly. „Department
Four has full power - total authority from this office. Use it, Brigadier, use it any way you can,
for the sake of our men in the South Atlantic, for all our sakes.‟
„Thank you, Prime Minister. I'll do my best, I can assure you of that.‟
Ferguson got the door opened and went out. The eyes of those previous Prime Ministers
seemed to follow him as he went down the stairs. He wondered if he'd just secured himself a
small niche in history, but decided probably not. Even if it all works perfectly, it was the kind of
thing they'd all deny had happened. He chuckled to himself as the aide bowed him to the front
door and showed him out.
* * *

As Harry Fox and Ferguson went up in the lift at Kensington Palace Gardens, Fox said,
„We're wasting our time, sir. When I tried to speak to her on the phone, she just told me to get
lost.‟
„We'll see,‟ Ferguson said.
He pushed open the lift door, went around the corner to Gabrielle's flat and knocked.
After a while the door opened on the chain and she peered out.
„What do you want?‟
„To talk to you.‟
„Well I don't want to talk to you. Clear off!‟
She started to close the door and he pushed his foot in. „Not even about Raul Montera?‟
She stared blankly at him, then took off the chain and turned away. Ferguson followed
her in and Fox closed the door behind them.
She went and stood by the fire and lit one of her rare cigarettes. „Well, get on with it.‟
She looked magnificent in her anger, eyes full of hate, and Ferguson decided to go in
with both feet.
„Raul Montera arrives in Paris tomorrow to liaise with a man called Felix Donner who
the Argentine Government believes can procure them an additional supply of Exocet missiles. I
need to find out what they're up to and stop them. I want you to go to Paris, make contact with
Montera again, and do whatever is necessary to help us stop them cold.‟
„You must be crazy. I'll never work for you again. Never.‟
„It's your duty. You're still a British citizen.‟
„I am also a citizen of France. That makes me neutral.‟
„Impossible,‟ he said calmly. „Your half-brother, sublieutenant Richard Brindsley, is
serving as a helicopter pilot on board HMS Invincible, as you very well know.‟
„Stop it!‟ she said desperately. „I won't listen.‟
„He is serving with 820 Squadron,‟ Ferguson carried on relentlessly. „The same squadron
as Prince Andrew. Let me tell you what one of his more unpleasant duties is. The Sea Kings are
frequently used to act as decoys for Exocet missiles. Prince Andrew and your brother and their
comrades act in the belief that an Exocet cannot fly above twenty-seven feet. They hover, present
an attractive radar target, protecting the ship of the fleet. The idea is to gain height quickly at the
last moment possible, so that the missile passes beneath them. Unfortunately, rogue Exocets have
been known to exceed that height. I'll spare you a description of the possibilities.‟
She was almost beside herself with rage and fear. „I won't listen. Leave me alone.‟
„And then there's your friend, Montera. A gallant fool if ever I saw one, but the enemy in
this war, Gabrielle, make no mistake about that. A man who has flown a Skyhawk with a five
thousand pound bomb load to attack the British fleet in San Carlos Water on no fewer than
twelve occasions. I wonder which frigate he helped sink?‟
She turned away. Ferguson nodded to Fox and went out. Fox closed the door and found
him in the lift, his face strained.
„I told you it was a waste of time.‟
„Nonsense,‟ Ferguson said. „She'll go.‟ As the lift descended he said, „She'll need a man,
Harry, to back her up. Someone totally dependable and quite ruthless. Do you know where Tony
is at this moment?‟
„Operating behind Argentinian lines somewhere in the Falklands with the SAS.‟
„Exactly. I thought I might need him so I sent a signal last night, utmost priority. I want
him pulled out. Picked up by submarine and off-loaded into Uruguay. It's only fourteen hours by
plane from Montevideo to Paris. Our people at the Embassy in Montevideo can have the
necessary papers waiting for him.‟
They went out and down the steps towards the car. He said, „I know, Harry, don't bother
to say it. I'm the great original bastard of all time.‟
* * *

Belov and Garcia sat with Donner in the study of his apartment and waited while Wanda
poured coffee.
„That's fine,‟ Donner said to her. „Any business calls from the corporation in London, you
handle and tell Yanni to stand by. I may need him.‟
She went out and he said to Garcia, „So, Colonel Montera arrives tomorrow? You've
brought me that file on him I asked for, I trust? I like to know who I'm dealing with.‟
„Of course.‟ Garcia opened his briefcase and produced a small folder which he pushed
across.
Donner opened it, studied the photo it contained of Montera, and quickly scanned the
details on the sheets.
„Excellent,‟ he said at last. „What arrangements have you made as regards
accommodation?‟
„A hotel didn't seem like a good idea,‟ Garcia said, „and certainly not the Embassy. I've
leased a small service flat for him in an apartment block on the Avenue de Neuilly by the Bois de
Boulogne.‟ He passed a card across. „There's the address and telephone number.‟
„Good.‟ Donner nodded. „I'll make the necessary contact with him once he arrives.‟
Garcia said, „I was wondering when we might have some further details as to exactly
what you intend.‟ There was a kind of exasperation in his voice. „I mean, you've still given us not
the slightest hint where you expect to get the Exocets from.‟
„And I don't intend to,‟ Donner said. „Not until the very last moment. This is a matter of
the utmost delicacy. The fewer people who know my source, the better. I'm sorry but that's the
way I work.‟ He shrugged. „Of course if you're not satisfied, it would still be possible to pull
out.‟
„Good God, no,‟ Garcia said hastily. „I didn't mean that, not for a moment.‟
„I'm glad to hear it. Now, if you wouldn't mind leaving us alone for a moment. You can
wait in the next room. I'm sure Wanda can find you some more coffee.‟
Garcia went out. Belov said, „Amateurs. What on earth is one supposed to do with them?‟
„Keep them out of harm's way, that's what,‟ Donner said. „I've already made it plain to
Paul Bernard that under no circumstances does he discuss with Garcia his dealings with me.‟
„Who therefore knows nothing about your interest in Ile de Roc?‟
„Exactly.‟
„And can you trust Bernard?‟
„Oh, yes, the good professor has really got the bit between his teeth. Looks upon the
whole thing as a kind of crusade. I haven't been explicit, but he obviously thinks I intend to
hijack one of the Aerospatiale trucks which transport Exocets by road to the island every so
often. Mind you, if he knew my exact intentions, he might not be so pleased. But he has served
my purpose very well.‟
„And what happens to him afterwards?‟
„Something suitably dramatic, I think, like being found dead with a gun in one hand and a
suicide note, regretting his involvement in a conspiracy against his own country to obtain
Exocets for the Argentine Government. French Intelligence will have little difficulty in
establishing that he gave all that technical assistance early in the campaign. According to Garcia,
he was on the telephone to Buenos Aires answering queries for lengthy periods on a number of
occasions. It should all come out very satisfactorily. France is, after all, a democracy. Three
cheers for a free press.‟
„You really do think of everything, don't you?‟
„I try. Now to something you can help me with. I need an address where I can pick up
some muscle.‟
„How many men?‟
„I'd say about eight, which makes ten with me and Stavrou. Ample for my purposes if
they are the right breed. Thorough-going hoods. Nothing fancy about using their brains. The kind
of men who will kill if the price is right.‟
„There's always the Union Corse,‟ Belov said.
The Union Corse was the largest crime syndicate in France, a truly formidable
organisation whose tentacles reached out everywhere from the judiciary to the government itself.
Donner shook his head. „I don't think so. They may be gangsters, those boys, but they're
inclined to be patriotic. The curse of the French, Nikolai, or hadn't you noticed? Even the
communist variety look upon themselves as Frenchmen first.‟
„Point taken,‟ Belov said. „But we do have other contacts. You could really do with
mercenaries rather than ordinary gangsters.‟
„Or gangsters who've seen service in the army. God knows, there must still be plenty of
those around in France after all those years in Algiers.‟
„Leave it with me.‟
Donner opened a drawer, took out a sheet of paper and passed it across. „I'll also need the
items on there.‟
Belov examined the list and raised his eyebrows. „You intend to go to war, to judge by
this little lot?‟
„You could put it that way.‟
At that moment, the door opened and Juan Garcia entered. He was trembling with
excitement, eyes shining. „What is it, for God's sake?‟ Belov demanded.
„Today gentlemen, is the 25th of May, you know what that means in the Argentine?‟
„I can't say I do.‟
„It is our national day, a day which will go down in our history as one on which we dealt
the British navy the most crushing blow of the war. It's on now, a newsflash on television. Come
and see,‟ and he turned and hurried out.
* * *

In the office at Cavendish Place, Ferguson put down the red phone, his face grave.
Harry Fox said, „Is it bad, sir?‟
„You could say that. The destroyer, HMS Coventry, was attacked by Skyhawks while
protecting vessels landing supplies at San Carlos. She may also have been hit by an Exocet, we
aren't sure yet. At least twenty dead and many wounded. She capsized.‟
„My God,‟ Fox said.
„There's worse, Harry. The fifteen thousand ton container ship, Atlantic Conveyor, has
also been taken out. Two Exocet hits definitely confirmed.‟ He shook his head. „Because of her
size on the radar screen, they probably thought she was one of the aircraft carriers.‟
There was silence for a while, only the muted sounds of traffic from outside in the square.
Fox said, „What do we do now, sir?‟
„I think that's obvious,‟ Ferguson told him. „Don't you?‟
* * *

When he knocked at the door of the flat in Kensington Palace Gardens for the second
time that day, there was a delay before slow steps approached and the door opened on the chain.
Gabrielle looked out. She stared at them for a long moment, then opened the door and led
the way into the sitting room. She was wearing the old bathrobe and looked dreadful, her hair
tousled, eyes swollen.
„You've heard the news,‟ Ferguson asked gently.
She nodded. „Yes.‟
„And?‟
She took a deep breath and folded her arms as if holding herself together. „When do you
want me to go?‟
„Tomorrow, I think. You still have the apartment on the Avenue Victor Hugo?‟
„Yes.‟
„Good. Get yourself settled in. You'll be informed what to do by our man in Paris, or if
necessary Harry can go over on the shuttle to see you. And there is one more thing.‟
She looked incredibly weary now. „And what would that be?‟
„You'll need a back-up man. Someone totally reliable, to be on hand in case you get into
trouble.‟
It was as if she knew what was coming. Her eyes widened in a kind of horror. „You've
sent for Tony?‟
„That's right. He should be here in thirty-six hours at the outside.‟
She shook her head helplessly. „I'd like to kill you, Ferguson. I really would like to see
you dead and I've never wished that on any human being in my life. See what you've done to
me? You and people like you, corrupt everything you touch.‟
„Harry will make your travel arrangements,‟ he said. „He'll be in touch. Take a couple of
pills, get some sleep. You'll feel better for it.‟
When they went outside, it had started to rain. Ferguson paused to button up his coat and
Fox said, „Can she handle it, sir? It's expecting a hell of a lot. I mean, the impression I get is that
she's head over heels in love with Raul Montera.‟
„Yes, an interesting situation,‟ Ferguson said. „But we don't really have any choice, do
we?‟ He glanced up at the rain and raised his collar as he went down the steps. „All of a sudden I
feel old, Harry. What do you think about that? Very, very old.‟
* * *

In Buenos Aires, the Plaza in front of the National Congress Building was crammed with
thousands of excited people, hundreds of blue and white Argentinian flags waving everywhere.
The crowd roared, above the hooting of car horns: Argentina! Argentina! On a balcony in
full uniform, silver hair swept back, arm raised in salute like a Roman emperor, Galtieri took the
plaudits of the crowd.
And then the voices changed, became a chorus like the sea rushing in, carrying
everything before it and the word that they repeated over and over again like a litany, was
Exocet.
* * *

Ferguson was sitting by the fire in the flat toasting crumpets when Fox came in with a
signal in his hand.
„Oh, I wanted to see you, Harry. Who have we got at the Paris Embassy who isn't a
complete idiot?‟
Fox thought about it. „George Corwin is a possibility, sir. Was a captain in the Green
Howards when we recruited him. Did quite well in Ireland. His mother is French, that's why we
posted him to Paris.‟
„Excellent. He can pick Montera up when he arrives from Buenos Aires. Find out where
he's staying and liaise with Gabrielle till Tony gets in. Talking about Tony, what's happening
there?‟
„I was just bringing this signal to show you, sir. Text of a message from H.Q. at San
Carlos via SAS headquarters at Hereford.‟
„What's it say?‟
„Confirm Major Villiers and Sergeant Major Jackson en route as ordered.‟
„I wonder how Tony took it, being hauled out of the action like that.‟
„I shouldn't imagine he'd be too pleased,‟ Fox said.
„Well that would make sense, knowing our Tony,‟ Ferguson said. „After all, it's the only
war he's got.‟

9


On the day previously it had been quiet at first light in the mountains of north Falkland,
the only sound a dog barking from one of the hillside farms far, far below in a valley.
The four-man SAS reconnaissance team had been operating behind the Argentine lines
for ten days now, having been put ashore by submarine before the British landings at San Carlos
on the twenty-first.
The team consisted of Villiers, Harvey Jackson, the radio operator, Corporal Elliot of the
Royal Corps of Signals; and the fourth member of the group, a trooper named Jack Korda, a
volunteer to the SAS from the Grenadier Guards like Villiers and Jackson.
It was bitterly cold. When Villiers had first awakened he had found his sleeping poncho
covered in hoar frost. He stood now in the hollow beside a small cave, not much more than a
fissure in the rocks, inside which Korda was heating tea on a small chemical stove.
Villiers, like the others, wore a black woollen balaclava, more against the cold than
anything else. His camouflage uniform was soaking wet, his fingers numb with cold as he ate
from a mess can with a spoon. Jackson sat cross-legged on the ground, a guardsman to the end,
and scraped shaving foam from his chin with a plastic razor.
Villiers' spoon rattled against the bottom of the mess tin. He stowed it away in his pack
and accepted the mug of tea Korda passed him.
„I've had enough chicken supreme to last me a lifetime. How about you, Harvey?‟
„Oh, it keeps me going as well as anything else, ‟ Jackson said. „Food's not all that
important. When I was seventeen the food in the guardsmen's mess at the Depot was so awful,
I've never been able to take it seriously since.‟
Elliot was crouched by the radio and Villiers moved across. „Everything okay?‟
Elliot glanced up and nodded. „Through in a minute.‟
The patrol's task was simple enough: to pick up as much information as possible about
Argentinian troop movements in the area. The information would be of the utmost importance
when British forces broke out from the San Carlos beach-head.
The equipment Elliot carried was of the latest kind. There was a small typewriter-style
keyboard and through this system, messages could be entered and stored in code. When Elliot
was ready, the touch of a button was sufficient to send a message of a few hundred words in a
matter of seconds. They were on the air so briefly that it was impossible for the enemy to have
any hope of tracing them.
Elliot looked up and grinned. „That's it.‟ He started to pack his equipment.
Korda crawled out of the fissure with more tea. „When do we go in, sir? How much
longer?‟
„Rations for four more days,‟ Villiers reminded him.
„Which means we can last a week,‟ Harvey Jackson said. „Longer, if you don't mind raw
mutton. Sheep all over the place. The Argies have been doing very nicely on that diet.‟
Before Korda could reply, Villiers said, „Just a minute. Something coming.‟
There was a murmur in the distance that grew louder. Villiers and the others crawled
forward cautiously to the edge of the hollow and peered over. They each carried the same
weapon, a silenced sub-machine gun.
An Argentinian truck was approaching along the rough track about a hundred yards
away, its front wheels spinning on the frozen ground, only the half-tracks at the rear keeping it
going.
The driver and the man who sat beside him in the front seat with a rifle across his knees,
were muffled up to their ears against the intense cold, scarves bound around their faces.
„Sitting ducks,‟ Elliot said. „Even if there's somebody in the rear.‟
But the patrol's task was to seek information, not confrontation. Villiers said, „No, let
them go.‟
And then the truck slithered to a halt, half-slewed across the track directly below them.
„Watch it!‟ Villiers said.
They crouched low. The driver jumped down from behind the wheel and Villiers heard
him say in Spanish, „This stinking engine again with the stinking oil that isn't supposed to freeze
and turns into lumps instead. What are we doing in this place?‟
He raised the bonnet to examine the engine. His friend got out still holding his rifle, and
lit a cigarette.
„Okay, ease off,‟ Villiers whispered.
As they started to slide back from the rim, Korda put out a hand to steady himself. Rock
and soil broke away suddenly and slid down the slope to the track below, gathering momentum.
The two Argentine soldiers cried out in alarm. The one with the rifle swung round,
raising it instinctively and Harvey Jackson, having no choice, jumped up and cut him down with
the silenced sub-machine gun. The only sound was the bolt reciprocating. The Argentinian's rifle
flew into the air and he fell back against the truck.
The driver got his hands in the air fast and stood waiting as the four men went down the
slope. Korda banged him against the truck, legs spread, and Jackson searched him with ruthless
efficiency.
„Nothing,‟ he said to Villiers and turned the soldier round.
He was only a boy, no more than seventeen or eighteen and frightened to death.
„What's in the back?‟ Villiers demanded in Spanish.
„Supplies, equipment,‟ the boy said, eager to please. „Nothing more, señor, I swear it.
Please don't kill me.‟
„All right.‟ Villiers nodded to Jackson. „Take a look.‟
He lit a cigarette and gave one to the boy whose hand shook as he accepted a light. The
fear in him was so strong you could almost smell it.
Jackson came back. „Must be sappers. Lots of landmines in there, explosives and so on.‟
Villiers said to the Argentinian, „You're with an engineering unit?‟
„No,‟ the boy said. „Transport. The men I took to Bull Cove last night, I think they were
engineers.‟
Bull Cove was a place Villiers and the patrol knew well. One of their first tasks on arrival
had been to survey the area as a possible site to put more troops ashore behind the Argentinian
lines when the push started from San Carlos. The cove had proved an admirable choice; well
protected from the sea with a deep water channel through a narrow entrance above which stood a
disused lighthouse. Villiers had sent in a favourable report.
„How many of them were there?‟
„An officer and two men, señor. Captain Lopez. They unloaded a lot of equipment and
then the Captain decided he needed some special fuses.‟ He took a crumpled list from his pocket.
„See, here it is, señor. He was sending me back to base for these things.‟
Jackson looked over Villiers' shoulders. „Kaden Pencils. That's pretty heavy stuff. What
in the hell does he want that for?‟
To blow up the lighthouse, señor.‟ the boy said patiently. „And rocks, also, I think.‟
To blow up the lighthouse?‟ Jackson said.
The boy nodded, „Oh, yes, señor, I heard them discussing it.‟
„Rubbish,‟ Jackson said. „Why go to the trouble? It hasn't been used for thirty years.
Doesn't make sense.‟
„Oh, yes it does, Harvey,‟ Villiers said, „if you consider its position on the rocks above
the entrance. Bring it down, and you'll efficiently block the only deepwater channel into the
cove.‟
„Christ,‟ Jackson said. „Then we'd better do something about it and fast.‟ He said to the
boy in bad Spanish, „How far is it from here on this track.‟
„Fifteen or sixteen kilometres round the mountain.‟
„Only not in this, not any more.‟ Villiers kicked the half-track. There was a strong smell
of petrol and it dripped from the tank in a steady flow, melting the frozen ground. „You did a
pretty thorough job, Harvey.‟
Jackson swore savagely. „So what in the hell do we do?‟
Villiers turned and looked up at the mountain towering into the mist. „Bull Cove's
directly on the other side. Say six miles. We'll do it the hard way. You, me, Korda. Leave all
equipment behind. Sub-machine guns only. Now you'll find out what all that endurance testing
on the Brecons was about.‟
They went back to the hidden encampment, Jackson pushing the boy along in front of
him. As Villiers stripped his excess gear, he said to Elliot. „You follow with the boy. Don't
bother about this stuff. Just bring the radio and your own gear.‟
„Very well, sir.‟
„And the kid,‟ Villiers said. „I want him to arrive with you. No stories about how he made
a run for it and you had to cut him down, understand?‟
„Do I look as if I'd do a thing like that, sir?‟ Elliot demanded.
„Yes,‟ Jackson said sourly. „So don't. I'll give you two and a half hours to join us and let
you choose an easy route out of consideration to the kid. Five minutes over and I'll have your
guts for garters.‟
„All right,‟ Villiers said. „Let's go, you two,‟ and he turned, moved out of the hollow and
started to run across the hillside.
* * *

It has been said that out of every fifty soldiers who volunteer for transfer to the Special
Air Service Regiment, only one makes the grade. The culmination of a savage and punishing
selection procedure is the endurance march across the wilderness that is the Brecon Beacons.
The would-be recruit is required to march forty-five miles across some of the worst
country in Britain, loaded down with a pack of around eighty pounds and a belt kit weighing
another fifteen. His eighteen pound rifle has to be carried because SAS weapons are not allowed
slings, so that they are always available for instant use.
Scrambling up through the mist, Villiers was reminded of his own selection purgatory
when he'd first volunteered. Jackson came up beside him, panting.
„Just like sodding Brecon. All it has to do is rain and we'll be right at home. Why all the
rush? I mean if the kid was sent for more stuff, they must be taking their time.‟
„Bad feeling,‟ Villiers said. „Right down in the gut. You know me. Always right when I
get that.‟
„Enough said,‟ Jackson replied, and turned and called to Korda who was twenty yards
behind. „Come on, you lazy bastard, move it!‟
* * *

Instead of working his way diagonally up the steep hillside, Villiers went straight up and
the others followed him. The slope lifted until it was almost perpendicular with rough frozen
tussocks of grass sticking out of bare rock.
As they came to the foot of an apron of loose stone and shale, he paused and glanced
back at his companions.
„Okay?‟
„No, bloody awful, actually,‟ Jackson said.
Korda said, „The things I do for England. My old mum will be so proud.‟
„You never had one, son,‟ Jackson said and as they started forward, it began to rain a
little.
„Watch it,‟ Villiers said. „A bit treacherous from here on in.‟
He stuffed the sub-machine gun inside the tunic of his camouflage uniform and zipped it
up. Awkward, but it left his hands free. Once, he heaved strongly on a boulder and it tore free
and he swung quickly to one side, crying a warning. It bounced and crashed its way down the
mountainside, disappearing into the mist.
„You two all right?‟
„Only just,‟ Jackson called.
Villiers started to climb again and a moment later, found himself standing on the edge of
a broad plateau. Jackson and Korda joined him.
„Now what?‟ Jackson demanded.
Villiers pointed across the plateau to the great rock wall which faced them, draped in
mist. Fissures and cracks branched across it in dark fingers. He led the way over the plateau at a
jog-trot, picking his way between boulders. When they reached the base of the rock, it became
apparent that it wasn't actually perpendicular, but tilted back slightly in great slabs.
„Dear God,‟ Korda said, looking up.
„He helps those who help themselves,‟ Jackson said. „So let's get moving.‟
Villiers led the way, climbing strongly, concentrating on the rock in front of him, not
looking down, for a secret he had nursed to himself for years was his fear of heights. If the
selection board had known that, he would never have served in the 22 SAS, that was certain.
He paused at one point, braced against the rock and for a moment seemed to float in
space. It was as if a giant hand was trying to pull him away.
„You okay, sir?‟ Jackson called.
It broke the spell. Villiers nodded and started to climb again, forgetting his aching limbs,
the icy wind, his numbed hands. He moved at last over a tilted slab and found himself on a broad
ledge. Above him, a wall of rock lifted a hundred feet, no more, and beyond it was only grey sky.
He waited for the others to join him, which they did a couple of minutes later.
„Jesus, not some more,‟ Jackson said.
Villiers indicated a dark chimney that cut its way straight up through the solid rock.
„Looks bad, but it's the easiest part of the climb.‟
„I'll take your word for it,‟ Jackson said.
Villiers pulled himself up into the gloom, then turned and, using the common
mountaineering technique, braced his back against one wall and feet against the other, resting
every fifteen or twenty feet, his body firmly wedged.
After a while he found it was possible to climb properly and the handholds were good
and plentiful. Ten minutes later, he scrambled over the edge.
The wind cut like a knife and the rain, at that level, had turned to sleet. He pulled on his
gloves again, stamping his feet against the bitter cold. Eventually Jackson joined him and then
Korda. They looked tired and drawn and their balaclava helmets were covered in frost.
The mountains sloped down towards the sea, wrapped in grey mist and low cloud.
Suddenly, the wind tore a hole in the curtain and for a moment only they had a glimpse of the
Atlantic and far, far below, the tiny bay and the white finger of the old lighthouse standing at the
entrance.
„There she is - Bull Cove,‟ Villiers said as the curtain dropped back into place. „Let's get
moving.‟
He pulled the sub-machine gun out of his tunic, held it across his chest with both hands,
and started to run down the mountainside.
* * *

Captain Carlos Lopez carefully uncoiled the wire he had just taped to the charge he had
positioned on the second floor and paused to light a cigarette. All five floors linked now, which
left only the ground. It had progressed faster than he had anticipated and he was whistling
cheerfully as he started down the stairs, uncoiling the wire behind him.
Once at ground level, he ran the wire across to the centre of the floor where a large, blue
cylinder stood ready. He removed the lid very carefully. Inside there were various terminals and
two buttons, one yellow, the other red. Working with extreme precision, he clipped the wires into
position, sat back satisfied, then gently depressed the yellow button.
He glanced up and smiled. „One hour, baby, then the big bang.‟
There was a rattle of small arms fire close at hand, and as Lopez turned, Private Olivera
appeared in the doorway.
„British troops coming down the hill.‟
„How many?‟
„I counted three.‟
There was no sound and yet suddenly blood spurted as Olivera was driven forward
through the doorway in a mad dance to fall face down, his quilted parka starting to smoulder.
Lopez snatched up an Uzi sub-machine gun and ran to the door, crouching. Then he
waited.
* * *

It had been sheer bad luck that Carvallo, the third Argentinian, had been sitting in the
shelter of an old sheep pen some little way up the hillside, whose rusting corrugated iron roof
had afforded shelter from the rain while he smoked a cigarette and wrote a letter home to his
girlfriend in Bahia Blanca.
He stretched, stood up and walked out of the entrance and to his total astonishment, saw
the three SAS men approaching cautiously along the track, keeping to the wall.
They became aware of him in the same instant. He snatched up his machine pistol and
loosed off a wild burst that went skywards as Jackson and Korda fired together, driving him back
into the sheep pen.
„Now!‟ Villiers cried. „And fast!‟
Korda went straight down the track, Jackson to the left, Villiers to the right. They broke
from cover, running headlong, in time to see Olivera dart into the entrance of the lighthouse and
stand there for a moment. Villiers and Korda both fired, sending Olivera staggering inside.
Villiers dropped to one knee to reload and Korda kept right on going, straight down the
track into the open.
„No!‟ Villiers shouted, and Lopez fired a long burst round the edge of the door, knocking
Korda off his feet.
The boy lay there for a moment, then turned over and tried to crawl. Lopez fired round
the door again, the rounds kicking up fountains of dirt close to Korda's head.
Jackson ran to join Korda, loosing off a long burst that raked the doorway. Then his
sub-machine gun jammed.
Jackson grabbed the boy by the scruff of the neck and pulled him into the flimsy shelter
of an old water trough. In the lighthouse, Lopez shoved another clip into his Uzi and raked the
trough with several bursts until water spouted from a dozen holes.
Villiers rammed home a fresh clip and went down the hill on the run, right across the
front of the lighthouse, loosing off the entire magazine in one long continuous burst. As the gun
emptied he dived head first into sodden bracken and rolled over, reaching for the Smith &
Wesson Magnum he carried in the pouch on his right leg.
Lopez bought it, jumping out of the entrance, the Uzi raised to fire. Villiers shot him in
the left shoulder, spinning him round, the Uzi jumping into the air.
The Argentinean slid down the wall as Villiers approached and kicked the Uzi to one
side. „Very good,‟ Lopez said. „I congratulate you.‟
Villiers opened a pouch on his left leg, took out a field service dressing pack and broke it
open. „Here, hold this on it.‟
He turned and crossed to the water trough. Korda lay sprawled against it, face twisted
with pain while Jackson applied a field service dressing to his left thigh.
„He'll live,‟ Jackson said. „Though he doesn't deserve to. Daft bastard,‟ he added as he
jabbed a morphine capsule into Korda's arm. „Who did you think you were, Audie Murphy?‟
„Who's he?‟ Korda asked weakly.
„Never mind.‟
Jackson gave him a cigarette, then followed Villiers back to the lighthouse and Lopez.
„Watch him,‟ Villiers said and slipped into the entrance.
His practised eye took in the blue cylindrical box, the wires disappearing up the spiral
staircase. He turned, „A charge on every floor, all linked?‟
„Of course, my friend. If your people hoped to use this harbour they'd better think again.
When this baby blows, she drops straight into the entrance. I know my business.‟
„What did you send the truck back for Kaden Pencils for?‟
„I was going to bring down some cliff face as well.‟
„Good job we got here when we did then,‟ Villiers said.
„Touch that box and find out. It's on timer.‟ Lopez glanced at his watch, face streaked
with pain. „Forty-five minutes to go, but there's an anti-handling device that sends the whole
thing off instantly if you touch it.‟
„Is that a fact?‟ Villiers nodded to Jackson. „Bring him in, Harvey.‟
He went inside and squatted beside the blue box. Jackson helped Lopez in and eased the
Argentinean down on the floor. He sat there, pressing the dressing against the wound.
Villiers said, „I've seen one of these things before, but only in a manual. Russian, isn't it?‟
„That's right.‟
„So you depressed the yellow button which controls the timer and, as you say, the damn
thing is lethal if I attempt to unplug it.‟ He took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and stuck
one in the corner of his mouth. „And this red button, as I recall, cuts into the circuit.‟
„You know your stuff.‟
„Circumventing the timer and giving us three minutes to get out, isn't that so?‟
He depressed the red button and Lopez said, „Holy Mother of God!‟
„It's up to you,‟ Villiers told him. „I presume you know how to stop it?‟ He glanced up at
Jackson. „On the other hand, Sergeant Major, it might be politic for you to step outside.‟
Jackson produced a lighter from his pocket and gave him a light. „When you were a
subaltern at Caterham, sir,‟ he said with some emphasis, „I had to kick your arse in a manner of
speaking, on a number of occasions. I'm quite willing to do it again if you continue to make
suggestions like that.‟
„My God!‟ Lopez said. „The bloody English. All mad.‟ He pulled himself towards the
box and said to Villiers, „All right, just do exactly as I tell you.‟
* * *

When Elliot finally appeared, coming down the track an hour and a half later, herding the
young Argentinean prisoner before him, Korda and Lopez were inside, out of the rain. Villiers,
having worked his way down floor-by-floor, was just finishing disconnecting the final charge.
It was Jackson who went to meet Elliot. „You're late.‟
„I got a warning bleep. Had to stop to take an emergency signal for you and the major.‟
Villiers appeared in the doorway. „What's all this about an emergency signal?‟
„H.Q. were on the wire, sir. They want to hear from you like yesterday. Sounded real
urgent.‟
* * *

It was the throb of the engines that brought Villiers awake with a start. He lay there for a
moment in the bunk, staring up at the steel bulkhead, a frown on his face as he tried to work out
where he was. Then he remembered. HMS Clarion, a conventional submarine, diesel-electric
powered, not nuclear. She'd picked them up off Bull Cove that afternoon.
Jackson was sitting in a chair in the corner, watching him. „You talk in your sleep, did
you know that?‟
„That's all I needed. Give me a cigarette.‟
„I think maybe you've been playing this game too long.‟
„Haven't we all? Why are we on diesels?‟
„Because we're on the surface. Commander Doyle sent me down to tell you to be ready to
go in quarter of an hour.‟
„Okay, I'll see you on top in five minutes.‟
Jackson went out and Villiers sat on the edge of the bunk. He pulled on the jeans and
sweater they'd given him, wondering what this business was all about. No one had been prepared
to tell him anything, nothing worth knowing anyway.
„Ours not to reason why,‟ he said softly as he pulled on rubber boots and reached for a
reefer coat.
The cigarette tasted foul and he stubbed it out. He was tired, that was the trouble. Too
damn tired and everything was beginning to blur at the edges. What he needed was a long, long
rest.
He went outside, moved through into the control room and mounted the conning-tower
ladder to the bridge. Above him, the round circle of the night was scattered with stars and he
breathed salt air in his lungs and felt better.
Doyle was looking towards the shore, nightglasses raised to his eyes, Jackson at his side.
Villiers asked, „How are we doing?‟
„There's Uruguay for you. La Paloma a couple of miles to starboard. We're sticking you
in as close to Montevideo as possible. Sea's a bit choppy, but it shouldn't give you too much
trouble. I suppose you've done this sort of thing rather a lot?‟
„Now and then.‟
Doyle had been watching the shoreline carefully through his nightglasses and now he
leaned down and spoke briefly into his voice pipe.
The submarine started to slow and Doyle turned to Villiers: „As far as we go, I'm afraid.
They're bringing your dinghy out of the hatch.‟
„Thanks for the ride,‟ Villiers said and shook hands.
He went over the side and descended the ladder, Jackson following him, down to the
circular hull. The dinghy was already in the water, held by two able seamen. Jackson dropped in
and Villiers followed. There was quite a swell running and one of the ratings slipped and lost his
footing on the slimy steel plates of the hull.
„Ready to go, sir?‟ the CPO in charge asked.
„No time like the present.‟
The ratings released the lines and immediately the tide pulled the dinghy away from the
submarine and in towards the shore.
The wind was freshening, lifting the waves into whitecaps. As Villiers reached for an oar,
water poured over the side. He adjusted his weight and they started to paddle.
Through the curtain of spray, the shore suddenly seemed very close. Jackson cursed as
water slopped steadily over the side; then they were lifted high on a swell and Villiers saw the
wide beach, sand dunes beyond.
The water broke in white foaming spray. They slewed round and Jackson went over the
side, waist deep, to pull them in.
„Ain't life grand?‟ he said, as Villiers stepped out in the shallows.
„Stop grumbling,‟ Villiers told him, „and let's get out of here.‟
They dragged the dinghy up to the nearest dune, Jackson puncturing it with his knife, and
they covered it with sand. Then they walked up through the dunes and saw a large beach café
over on the right, shuttered and dark.
„That looks like it,‟ Villiers said.
There was a dark saloon car parked by the sea wall. As they approached, the door opened
and a man in an anorak got out and stood waiting.
„A nice night for a walk, señores,‟ he said in Spanish.
And Villiers gave the required answer in English. „Sorry, we're strangers here and don't
speak the language.‟
The other smiled and held out his hand. „Jimmy Nelson. Everything went all right then?‟
„Soaked to the bloody skin is all,‟ Jackson said.
„Never mind. Get in and I'll take you back to my place.‟
As they drove away, Villiers asked: „Is there any chance of finding out what all this is
about?‟
„Search me, old boy. I just do as I'm told. Orders from on high and so on. I've got clothes
waiting for you, all you need. Full details were supplied as to sizes. Someone was very efficient.
Also passports made out in your own names as there seemed no reason why not. Occupation,
sales engineer, that holds true for both of you.‟
„And where do we go?‟
„Paris. One snag about that. There's only one direct flight to that fair city and it's on
Fridays. However, I've pulled a few strings and got you on an Air France cargo-carrying jumbo
that leaves in,‟ he glanced at his watch, „around three hours from now, so it's all worked out
rather well. You'll be in Paris tomorrow evening, their time. I always get confused about time
changes.‟
„And then what?‟
„Search me. I presume Brigadier Ferguson will explain when he sees you.‟
„Ferguson?‟ Villiers groaned. „You mean he's behind this?‟
„That's right. Anything wrong, old man?‟
„Not really, except I'd rather be back behind the lines in the Falklands,‟ Villiers told him.

10


At Charles de Gaulle Airport, Captain George Corwin was leaning against a pillar,
reading a newspaper. It was dark outside, for it was just after nine o'clock. Garcia was standing
over by the news stand, trying to look casual and not doing too well at it, when Raul Montera
appeared at the exit from Immigration and Customs. He carried a canvas holdall in one hand and
wore jeans and his old black leather flying jacket, a scarf at his throat. Corwin recognised him
instantly from the photo supplied by Group Four.
Garcia hurried forward. „A great pleasure to see you colonel and a personal honour for
me. Juan Garcia, at your orders.‟
„At yours,‟ Montera replied politely. „On the other hand, don't you think it might be an
excellent idea not to call me colonel?‟
„Of course,‟ Garcia said. „So foolish of me.‟ He tried to take the bag from him.
„I can manage,‟ Montera told him, beginning to feel mildly irritated.
„Of course,‟ Garcia said. „This way, then. My car is just outside. I have secured you a fine
apartment in the Avenue de Neuilly.‟
Behind them, as they pulled away from the front entrance, George Corwin was already in
the back of a black Rover saloon. He tapped the driver on the shoulder.
„Right, Arthur, that green Peugeot estate car. Where it goes, so do we.‟
* * *

The apartment was pleasant enough, modern and luxurious, but with no great character.
The sort of place which is the same the world over. Its one advantage was the magnificent view
of the Bois de Boulogne, just across the road.
„I hope you will find this to your satisfaction, colonel.‟
„It's fine,‟ Montera said. „Just fine. After all, I presume I won't be here very long.‟
„Señor Donner and Belov, who represents the Russian interest in the affair, would like to
see you in the morning at eleven a.m., if that is convenient.‟
„All right. But then what happens?‟
„I've no idea. Señor Donner insists on total secrecy. Perhaps he will be more forthcoming
tomorrow.‟
„Let's hope so.‟ Montera escorted him to the door and opened it. „I'll see you tomorrow
then.‟
He closed the door behind Garcia, turned back to the sitting room, opened the French
window and moved out on the terrace. Paris, one of his favourite cities and it now very possibly
meant Gabrielle.
His stomach hollow with excitement, he went to the phone books, found the one he
needed, and leafed through quickly. It was hopeless. There were a large number of Legrands but
no hint of a Mademoiselle Gabrielle.
There was London, of course, where she might very well be. The number of the flat in
Kensington was burned into his brain. And why not? Even if he didn't speak, he could at least
listen to her voice. He checked the area code for London, picked up the phone and dialled the
number. He let it ring for a long time at the other end before putting it down.
There was wine in the refrigerator in the ultra-modern kitchen and sherry. He poured
himself a glass of ice-cold Manzanilla and went and stood on the terrace, sipping it slowly,
thinking of her, more alone than he had ever felt in his life before.
„Where are you, Gabrielle?‟ he whispered aloud. „Come to me. Just a hint.‟
Sometimes it worked. On the San Carlos run it had saved him more than once, the
thought of her, her tangible presence, but not now. Now, there was nothing. He finished his
sherry, suddenly tired, went back inside and went to bed.
* * *

No more than a mile away on the Avenue Victor Hugo, Gabrielle leaned on the rail of the
balcony of her own apartment.
There was an unreality to the whole thing. It was like a dream where things happen in
slow motion and one is somehow an observer and not a participant. Somewhere out there was
Raul, for Corwin had phoned to warn her that he was expected that night.
The telephone rang in the room behind her and she hurried in and picked it up. Corwin
said, „He's here. I followed him and Garcia to an apartment block on the Avenue de Neuilly. Just
did a bit of judicious bribery and got the number of the apartment. Here's the address.‟
She wrote it down. „What am I supposed to do? Go round and knock on the door?‟
„Not really a good idea,‟ Corwin said. „Let's leave it to Major Villiers, shall we? He'll be
arriving tomorrow.‟
He put down the phone. Gabrielle stood, looking at the address for a moment, committing
it to memory, then she tore the paper into pieces, went into the kitchen and put it down the waste
disposal.
„And now the lies begin,‟ she whispered, „and the deceit and the betrayal,‟ and she turned
slowly and went back into the sitting room.
* * *

The address Belov had given Donner turned out to be a small, back-street nightclub in
Montmartre not far from the Madeleine, run by a man named Gaston Roux.
He was small with horn-rimmed glasses and his pinstripe suit, while of excellent cut, was
most conservative. He could have been a lawyer or accountant or even a prosperous business
man, which in a way he was, except that crime was his business. Anything from drugs to
prostitution and his ruthlessness was a byword in the Paris underworld.
„Muscle is what I need,‟ Donner told him as he sipped Roux's excellent Cognac. „My
contact told me you were just the man to provide it.‟
„I have a certain reputation, Monsieur,‟ Roux said. „That is true. How many men would
you need?‟
„Eight.‟
„And our mutual friend tells me you would prefer ex-soldiers and that one of them must
be ex-Army Signals.‟
„That's correct.‟
„So the task would be a formidable one. Can you give me any further information?‟
„Not really.‟
Roux tried again. „Would there be the possibility of a little shooting?‟
„Yes, which is why I'm offering twenty-five thousand francs per man.‟
Roux nodded. „How long would you require them?‟
„To sit on their hands in the country for two to three days and receive a certain amount of
instruction in what's expected of them. The actual task will take no more than three to four hours
in all.‟
Roux took a deep breath. „Very well. My terms are as follows. One hundred thousand
francs for my services as agent for which I will guarantee you, for thirty thousand francs apiece,
eight men who would shoot their grandmothers if you told them to.‟
„I felt sure I'd come to the right place.‟
Donner snapped his fingers at Stavrou who was standing by the door and he came
forward, put a dark blue briefcase on the table and opened it. It was filled with packages of
banknotes.
Donner tossed packet after packet across the table. „Two hundred and forty thousand for
them, one hundred for you. Let's make it three-fifty. I can't stand loose change.‟
„In advance?‟ Roux said. „All of it?‟
„Why not. Let's just call it an act of faith on my part.‟
Roux smiled, showing the glint of gold-capped teeth. „Monsieur, I like you. I really do. In
anticipation of a satisfactory conclusion to our business, I have already gathered in a number of
suitable specimens. You may take your pick. If you'd like to accompany me, we can settle the
matter now.‟
* * *

The sign above the door in the building two streets away said Roux & Son, Undertakers.
Roux said as he opened the door and led the way in, „A legitimate enterprise. I started it
to give a veneer of respectability to certain of my ventures, but my only son, Paul, has really
taken it seriously.‟
„Well, there's no accounting for taste,‟ Donner said.
Roux led the way along a dark corridor lined with waiting chapels. There were actually
coffins in some of them and the heavy, cloying scent of flowers lay on the air.
The murmur of voices came from behind a closed door at the end of the corridor. Roux
opened it and led the way into a large garage containing three hearses and two trucks. There were
at least a dozen men waiting, four of them playing cards on the ground, the others lounging
around smoking and talking.
They were as rough looking a lot as Donner had seen in a long time, most of them old
hands from the look of it, aged around the late thirties or forty mark.
Roux turned. „If you would like to wait outside for a couple of minutes, I'll explain the
situation to them.‟ He smiled bleakly. „I always like to achieve a certain understanding with
people I engage. Something special between me and them. You understand, Monsieur?‟
„But of course,‟ Donner said cheerfully.
He and Stavrou slipped out through a small judas gate into a back yard. Donner took out
a cigarette and Stavrou gave him a light.
„Think you can handle them? They look rough.‟
„Not if you look twice,‟ Stavrou said.
„We'll see.‟
Roux opened the door. „Come in, gentlemen.‟
The men now stood in a line and Donner looked them over. Roux said, „I've explained
the situation. Every man here would like to take part.‟ He pointed to one who was standing apart
from the others. „This is the Signals expert. As for the rest, the choice is yours.‟
Donner simply picked the eight worst-looking ones in his own estimation. As he reached
the end of the line, tapping each man of his choice on the chest, a large man with a broken nose
and close-cropped red hair, one of those left out, said, „Merde!‟ and spat on Donner's left shoe.
Donner slapped him in the face. The man reeled in shock, then roared with rage and
reached out to destroy. Stavrou was somehow in the way. He grabbed for the man's right wrist,
twisted it up and around. The man screamed as muscle tore, and still keeping that terrible hold in
position, Stavrou ran him headfirst into a stack of packing cases in one corner. The man fell on
his knees, face covered in blood.
„Would anyone care to change his mind?‟ Donner enquired, and nodded at Stavrou. „I
should warn you, my friend here will be in charge.‟
No one moved. In fact no one said a word, except Roux, who sighed heavily and offered
Donner a cigarette. „A terrible thing, the corrupting power of money, wouldn't you agree,
Monsieur?‟
* * *

Ferguson had retired to bed early, not to sleep, but to work on more papers in the comfort
of his bed. He was just deciding to call it a day when the phone rang. It was Harry Fox.
„Just heard from George Corwin in Paris, sir. Raul Montera turned up on schedule. He
was met by Garcia who took him to an apartment in a block on the Avenue de Neuilly close to
the Bois de Boulogne. He's given Gabrielle the address.‟
„Good,‟ Ferguson said.
„I'm still worried about her, sir. We're asking a hell of a lot.‟
„I know. I happen to think she's up to it.‟
„But dammit all, sir, what you're really requiring her to do is serve your purposes and
destroy herself in the process.‟
„Perhaps. On the other hand, how many men have died already down there in the South
Atlantic, Harry, on both sides? Look at the death toll when the Belgrano went down. What we've
got to do is stop the bloody carnage, or don't you buy that?‟
„Of course I do, sir.‟ Fox sounded weary.
„When does Tony get in?‟
„About five o'clock tomorrow evening, French time.‟
„You can take the shuttle over there tomorrow afternoon Harry. You and Corwin meet
him. I want you to fill him in on the whole scene in finest detail.‟
„He won't like it, sir. Gabrielle's involvement.‟
„Are you trying to tell me he still loves her?‟
„It isn't as simple as that,‟ Fox said. „They were married for five years. All right, a hell of
a lot of bad in there, but you can't just toss the relationship out of the window. She's important to
him. Let's put it in an old-fashioned way. He still cares for her.‟
„Excellent. Then he'll make damn sure she doesn't come to any harm. I want you back
here tomorrow night, Harry.‟
„Very well, sir.‟
„Anything else before I turn out the light?‟
„What about the French connection, sir? Isn't it time we brought them in on this?‟
„Not really. Certainly not at the moment. We still don't know what Donner is up to. If the
French arrested him now, a good lawyer would have him on the street in an hour.‟
„At least speak to Pierre Guyon, sir.‟
„I'll think about it, Harry. Go to bed.‟
Ferguson put down the phone and sat back against the pillows, doing exactly what he had
told Fox he would do-thinking about it.
The French Security Service, the Service de Documentation Extérieure et de
Contre-Espionage, the SDECE, is divided into five sections and many departments. The most
interesting one is Section Five, more commonly known as the Action Service, the department
which had been responsible for destroying the OAS. Colonel Pierre Guyon was in charge of that
department, and he was not only Ferguson's opposite number but one of his oldest friends.
Ferguson reached for the phone and dialed the area code for Paris, hesitated, then
replaced the receiver. He was taking a chance, he knew that, his entire career on the line. But his
instinct, the product of years of experience in intelligence work, told him that he should let things
ride and he always trusted his instinct. He switched off the light, turned over and went to sleep.
* * *

Raul Montera slept surprisingly well that night, the strain and fatigue of the past few
weeks catching up on him. The result was that he didn't rise until ten o'clock. For years he had
been in the habit of running regularly, each morning. The only time he'd had to deviate from his
usual practice was during his flying operations out of Rio Gallegos.
He said good morning to Gabrielle, a ritual now, and went to the window. When he drew
the curtain and looked out, it was raining hard, the Bois de Boulogne shrouded in mist. He felt
suddenly exhilarated. He'd been so tired on the previous evening that he hadn't unpacked his
holdall. He did so now, pulled on his old black track suit and some running shoes, had a glass of
orange juice from the refrigerator and let himself out.
He liked the rain; it gave him a safe, enclosed feeling, rather like being in a world of
one's own. He ran through the park, thoroughly soaked and enjoying every minute of it. And he
wasn't the only one. There were a number of fellow rain-lovers about, some like him, running,
others walking the dog, even the odd horseback rider.
George Corwin, hidden in the back of a parked milk van on the Avenue de Neuilly,
watched Montera running fast from the direction of the lake. He came to a halt only a few yards
away and stood breathing heavily. Corwin took several pictures of him with a special camera
through a tiny hole in the side of the van.
As Montera crossed the road, a black Mercedes pulled in at the kerb outside the
apartment block. Garcia got out, followed by Donner, then Belov.
„Would you look at that now?‟ Corwin said softly. „Dear old Nikolai himself,‟ and the
camera whirred again several times before the three men turned and went into the building.
Stavrou got out of the car to make some sort of adjustment to the windscreen wipers and
Corwin snapped him too, for good measure.
„Nasty looking bit of work,‟ he murmured.
Stavrou got back in the car and Corwin made himself comfortable, lit a cigarette and
waited.
* * *

Raul Montera didn't care for Donner one little bit. There was something about the man,
something inimical, that offended him. Belov, he quite liked. A reasonable enough man, working
for his own side, which was fair enough although Montera had never had any great liking for the
communist cause.
He brought a tray in from the kitchen and set it down. „Coffee, gentlemen?‟
„Aren't you going to join us, colonel?‟ Donner asked.
„I never touch the stuff. Bad for the nerves.‟ Montera went into the kitchen again and
returned with a china mug in one hand. „Tea.‟
Dormer laughed and there was an edge to it that indicated the dislike was mutual. „Rather
unusual for a South American, I would have thought.‟
„Oh, it's surprising what we dagoes get up to on occasions,‟ Montera told him. „The
British navy would have a useful opinion on that.‟
Belov said smoothly. „I agree with you, colonel. A very civilized habit, tea drinking. We
Russians have existed on the stuff for years.‟
Garcia said, „Perhaps we can get down to business. Maybe Señor Dormer is now
prepared to give us more detail about the operation.‟
„Of course,‟ Donner said. „I was only waiting for Colonel Montera's arrival. The whole
thing, with any kind of luck, should be wrapped up within the next couple of days, which is
good, because according to the newspapers this morning, the British troops at San Carlos are
getting ready to move out.‟
Montera lit a cigarette. „All right, so what exactly have you arranged?‟
Donner had always found that a basis of fact made a phoney story sound better.
„As you know, the Libyans have a plentiful supply of Exocets, but due to pressure from
the rest of the Arab world, Colonel Qadhafi has not been able to release them to the Argentine as
he first intended - or perhaps I should say, not officially. There's always a way round most things
in this life, or so I've found.‟
„So?‟ Montera said.
„I've taken a house in Brittany near the coast close to an old wartime bomber station. A
place called Lancy. Disused now, but the runways are still perfectly usable. Two days from now,
possibly three, a Hercules transport en route from Italy to Ireland will put down at Lancy, quite
illegally, of course. There will be ten of the latest mark of Exocet missile on board.‟
„Holy Mother of God!‟ Garcia said.
„You, Colonel Montera, will check that cargo. If you're satisfied, you will phone Señor
Garcia here in Paris who will make immediate arrangements to have three million pounds in gold
transferred as I direct in Geneva.‟
„I must congratulate you, señor,‟ Montera said softly. „That really is the way to wage
war.‟
„I've always thought so,‟ Donner said. „I presume, by the way, that you will want to take
off with the Hercules when it leaves, not for Ireland, but for Dakar in Senegal. They're very
liberally minded there, especially when it comes to business. The Hercules will re-fuel, fly across
to Rio, where it will re-fuel again for the final leg of the journey which will be to any air force
base which takes your fancy in the Argentine.‟
There was silence. Garcia said with some awe, „Magnificent.‟
„And you, colonel?‟ Donner looked up at Montera. „Do you think it's magnificent?‟
„I'm a professional soldier,‟ Montera said. „I don't have opinions. I just do as I'm told.
When do you want me at this place?‟
„The day after tomorrow. We'll fly down by private plane.‟ Donner stood up. „Until then,
enjoy yourself. This is Paris. I'd say you've earned it after your efforts down there in the South
Atlantic‟
Montera went and opened the door for them. As they went out, Donner said, „I'll be in
touch.‟
He and the Russian moved down the hall, Garcia lingered a moment. „What do you
think?‟
„I think I don't like him,‟ Montera said. „But that's not what I'm here for.‟
„I'd better go,‟ Garcia said. „If anything of importance comes up, I'll phone you.
Otherwise, colonel, you might as well do as Señor Donner suggests - enjoy yourself.‟
* * *

Gabrielle went riding in the Bois de Boulogne at noon. It had stopped raining and there
were few people about. She'd slept badly, had stayed in bed until just before noon and hadn't
really caught up with herself since. She felt tired and dull, sick with apprehension about the task
ahead.
Corwin moved into the shelter of an oak tree as rain began to spot the ground again. He
watched Gabrielle canter up through the trees from the direction of the lake, the same route
Montera had taken that morning. The ride had brought colour back into her cheeks and she
looked magnificent.
She reined in as Corwin stepped into view. „Oh, it's you.‟
She dismounted and Corwin produced a number of prints of the photos he'd taken that
morning and passed them to her.
„Have a look at those. I'll hold the horse.‟
She looked at the first one. Corwin said, „The small man is Juan Garcia. The big one is
Donner and then Belov, the KGB man. Montera, of course, you know.‟
She stared down at the photo, her stomach hollow, then glanced at the next one. „That's
Yanni Stavrou, Dormer's minder. Very rough customer.‟
And then she came to the ones Corwin had taken of Montera running in the park and
there was one, where he was at maximum effort, saturated with the pure joy of running, face
clear, no pain there at all, and she was filled with such love for him that the sensation was almost
unbearable.
She handed them back and took the reins of the horse. „Are you all right?‟
„Why shouldn't I be? When does Tony get in?‟
„Around five o'clock. Harry Fox will be in before then. The Brigadier wants him to brief
your husband thoroughly before he sees you.‟
„He's not my husband, Mr Corwin,‟ Gabrielle said and pulled herself up into the saddle.
„A very elementary error on your part. People in our game can't afford errors, not even little
ones.‟
She was right, of course, Corwin knew that. Strange that he didn't feel any anger as he
watched her canter away.
* * *

As Corwin, Jackson and Tony Villiers went up in the lift to the tenth floor of the
apartment block on the Avenue Victor Hugo, Corwin said, „It's quite a reasonable little service
flat. I had to take it for a month though, that was the minimum.‟
„I'm sure the Department can stand it,‟ Villiers said.
„Of course, the reason I took it was because Gabrielle lives just up the road. All very
convenient.‟ His effort at a smile died in the face of Villiers' implacable hostility.
„I know where she lives, or hadn't that occurred to you?‟
He was surprised at the extent of his own anger over what was, after all, such a trivial
point. He was tired, that was the trouble, far too tired. Also frustrated and occasionally filled with
hate when he thought of Charles Ferguson.
The lift stopped, they got out, and Corwin led the way along the corridor, took out a key
and opened the door. He passed the key to Villiers.
„All yours.‟
He led the way in and Villiers and Jackson followed. The flat was small, neat and
functional, more like a good modern hotel room than anything else.
Harry Fox sat by the window reading a newspaper. Villiers stood looking at him.
„Anything interesting?‟
„Not really.‟ Fox put the newspaper down. „The push from San Carlos is expected at any
minute.‟
Villiers tossed his bag on to the bed. „All right, Harry, what's it all about. Last time I saw
Ferguson I told him to lay off Gabrielle, so what's his game?‟
„You won't like it, Tony.‟
Villiers said to Jackson, „Get us all a drink, Harvey, I think I'm going to need it.‟ He
turned back to Fox. „Okay, let's have it.‟
* * *

At Maison Blanche, the old gypsy, Maurice Gaubert, and his son, Paul, were setting traps
for rabbits in the wood above the house when a truck turned into the stable yard below and
braked to a halt. As the Gauberts watched, a number of men got out and a couple who had stayed
inside started to pass out various items of equipment. Stavrou got out of the driving cab and
unlocked the main stable doors.
Paul Gaubert said, „It's Monsieur Donner's man. The one with the funny name.‟
„The only funny thing about him,‟ his father said. „Stavrou.‟ He dropped the traps he was
holding and picked up his shot gun. „We'll go and see what this is all about.‟
Stavrou was just coming out of the stables as they approached. He lit a cigarette, leaned
against the truck and waited.
„Bonjour, Monsieur,‟ Maurice Gaubert said. „Rather more of you this time.‟
„That's right.‟
„And Monsieur Donner, he comes also?‟
„Probably tomorrow.‟
Paul Gaubert shifted nervously from one foot to the other under Stavrou's grim stare. His
father said, „Is there anything you wish us to do, Monsieur?‟
„Keep an eye out for any strangers.‟ Stavrou took a couple of thousand franc notes from
his wallet and held them up. „You understand me?‟
„Perfectly, Monsieur.‟ Gaubert took the money. „Your business is, after all, your own
business. If anything unusual occurs, I will let you know.‟
Stavrou watched them go, then turned into the stables where his men were sorting the
supplies which had been unloaded from the truck.
„All right, line up,‟ he said. „At the double.‟
They ran to obey his command and a moment later, stood in line, rigidly at attention. He
paced up and down, looking them over.
„As far as I'm concerned, you're back in the army now, so the sooner you get used to that
idea, the better.‟
* * *

Corwin had supplied a Citroen car, and when it pulled up outside Gabrielle's apartment in
the Avenue Victor Hugo later that evening, Jackson was at the wheel, Harry Fox and Villiers in
the rear.
„So that's it,‟ Fox said. „At least you know the score now.‟
„So it would seem.‟
„One other thing. This Professor Bernard I mentioned. They're still phoning him from
Buenos Aires for technical information on various aspects of the Exocets they've got left, which
can't be many. Our people in B.A. monitored two calls last night.‟
„That's not so good,‟ Villiers said.
„I know. Brigadier Ferguson feels it can't be allowed to continue. In the circumstances,
he'd like you to take care of it while you're here.‟
„All right,‟ Villiers said without emotion.
„Good. Now if the sergeant major wouldn't mind running me out to Charles de Gaulle
airport, I'll just have time to catch the last shuttle to London.‟
„All right, Harvey. You take care of Captain Fox,‟ Villiers said. „Don't bother to pick me
up. I'll walk back. See you later.‟
He got out and as he started away Fox half-opened the door. „Tony.‟
Villiers turned. „What is it?‟
„Go easy on her.‟
Villiers stood there looking at him, face quite blank, hands in pockets, then he turned and
went into the entrance without another word.
* * *

„You're looking well,‟ he said.
She was standing by the fire, gas logs flickering brightly on the hearth, and wore a black
silk jump suit, her feet bare, hair tied back from the face.
„So are you. What was it like down there?‟
„Rather like the Scottish Highlands on a bad day.‟ He laughed harshly. „As far as I'm
concerned, the Argentinians can have it. North Falkland has very little to commend it. I'd rather
take Armagh or the Oman any day.‟
„So what's it all about then?‟ she demanded. „What are we all playing at, Tony?‟
Suddenly, there was an intimacy again, a warmth. Not love, not in the strict sense of that
word, but something between them that she knew always would be there. Would never go away
till the day she died.
„Games, my love.‟ Villiers walked to the sideboard and poured himself a brandy. „That's
what we're playing at every level from the Prime Minister, Galtieri and Reagan downwards.‟
„And you, Tony, what kind of game have you been playing all these years? The
Death-wish game?‟
He smiled slightly. „God help me, Gabrielle, but don't you think I haven't looked for an
answer to that question a thousand times?‟
She frowned, as if trying to get it straight in her own mind, and sat down. „You see,
Tony, in the end, do we control the game or does the game possess us? Can we stop it if we want
or must it always be the same?‟
He had never felt closer to her. He sat down opposite, that intimacy between them again.
„Montera - you love him, don't you?‟
„He's the one thoroughly decent thing that ever happened to me,‟ she said simply.
„Do you think you can go through with this?‟
„I hope so. I don't really have much choice, Ferguson made sure of that.‟
„One of these days I intend to run him down with a rather large truck,‟ he told her. She
smiled and he took her hands. „That's better. Now, let's discuss how you and Montera are going
to get together again.‟
„And just how do you intend to arrange that?‟
„Simple. Corwin tells me he saw Montera running in the Bois de Boulogne yesterday
morning.‟
„So?‟
„He apparently runs extremely well, which would indicate that he's in regular practice and
only fanatics turn out in the pouring rain, the kind who refuse to miss a day's training. My hunch
is he'll be there tomorrow.‟
„And what about me?‟
„You can go riding again. Let me explain.‟
When he was finished she smiled reluctantly. „You always were inventive, Tony.‟
„In some things.‟ He stood up. „Anyway, I'll be keeping an eye on you. Don't bother to
get up. I'll let myself out.‟
He hesitated and then reached for her hand. She held on tight and when she looked up,
her face was tragic.
„I love him, Tony, isn't that the strangest thing? Just like everything I ever read about in
the story books and poetry. Love at first sight. Total possession, so that I can't get him out of my
mind.‟
„I understand.‟
„And now,‟ she said. „I'm destroying that love as surely as I possibly can by my actions
and I've no choice.‟ There were tears in her eyes. „Wouldn't you say that was rather ironic?‟
He had no answer, of course, none at all, only a terrible rage deep inside, against himself
and Ferguson and the world they inhabited. He kissed her gently on the forehead, turned and let
himself out quietly.

11


It was raining again the following morning as Gabrielle took the horse forward to the
edge of the trees and waited as Villiers had instructed her. It was very quiet, only the sound of
rain hissing through the branches. There was an air of unreality to everything and she was
conscious of that strange sensation again of being an observer watching herself as in a dream.
Then far below from the trees beside the lake, a figure in a black tracksuit emerged and
started to run up the hill. Raul. She recognised him instantly, watched for a few moments as she
had been told and then kneed the horse forward.
There was a movement somewhere on her right and two men came out of the trees. One
of them was bearded and wore a reefer coat. The other was younger with long yellow hair in
jeans and a patched denim jacket. And they were trouble, she knew that instantly.
The one with the beard ran forward, flinging up his arms, making the horse rear. As he
grabbed for the reins, the other reached up and caught her right arm. She cried out in genuine
fear as she was pulled from the saddle.
They both had her then, the bearded one holding her arms behind her and the boy with
the yellow hair moving in close, reaching under her jacket for the breasts.
As the horse cantered away, the bearded one said, „Get her into the trees.‟ She cried aloud
again, not in fear now, but in rage at every man who had ever put a hand on her and kicked out
savagely.
* * *

Montera, hearing the first cry, paused and looked up in time to see her come off the
horse. He didn't recognise her then, saw only a woman in difficulty and ran very fast up the
slope, his running shoes making no sound on the wet grass.
She was on the ground now, the bearded one trying to pull her up, the other one
watching. Montera descended like a thunderbolt, delivering a terrible blow to the kidneys,
knuckles extended. The boy screamed and fell on his knees. As the bearded man glanced up
Montera kicked him in the face.
The soft running shoe didn't do much harm and the man rolled over and came to his feet,
pulling a knife from his pocket.
In the same moment, Gabrielle turned, scrambling to her feet, and Montera saw her. He
paused, total astonishment on his face and reached for her instinctively.
She cried a warning as the bearded man rushed in. Montera shoved her away and swayed
to one side like a bullfighter, the man stepping past him.
Raul Montera knew a killing rage now, such as he had never known in his life before. He
poised, balanced on both feet, waiting. The man rushed in again, knife extended. As it came up,
Montera grabbed the wrist, twisting the arm up and to one side, taut as a steel bar. The bearded
man screamed, Montera struck him a devastating blow across the side of the neck with the edge
of his hand and he went down.
The boy with the yellow hair was being sick and Gabrielle leaned against a tree, her face
pale, streaked with mud.
„Gabrielle. Oh, my God!‟ Her name burst out of him and suddenly he was laughing as he
held her by the arms and looked at her.
She said shakily, „You don't do things by halves, do you?‟
„I could never see the point. In this sort of business, do it properly or run away. I'll get
your horse.‟
It was grazing peacefully nearby and he caught the reins and brought it over. „Do you
want to ride?‟
„I don't think so.‟
The bearded man groaned and tried to sit up. The boy was standing now, leaning against
a tree.
„What do you want me to do about these animals? The police?‟
„No, let it go,‟ she said. „You've handed out sufficient punishment for one morning.‟
They started up toward the gates. „This is amazing, truly amazing. I arrived yesterday. I
didn't have a Paris address for you, but I did ring the London flat. No answer.‟
„Obviously not. I'm here.‟ And now it was necessary for her to say the right things. „But
what's going on, Raul? You're at war. Why aren't you in Buenos Aires?‟
„It's a long story. I'm staying just across the road in Avenue de Neuilly. What about you?‟
„My apartment is in Avenue Victor Hugo.‟
„Also not too far away,‟ he smiled. „My place or yours?‟
The joy in her was so great, that for the moment she forgot everything. „Oh, Raul, it's so
good to see you.‟
She reached up and kissed him. He held her for a moment. „Isn't this what the English
call serendipity? A spectacularly marvellous, but totally unexpected delight?‟
„I believe they do.‟
There was laughter in his eyes and the mouth was touched by that inimitable smile she
knew so well. „I'd say that more than anything else at this particular moment you could do with a
nice hot bath.‟
She smiled. „My car is at the stables.‟
„Then what are we waiting for?‟
They went up the slope together, his arm around her, the horse trailing behind them.
* * *

After they'd gone, Tony Villiers and Harvey Jackson moved out of the trees and
approached the two assailants. The bearded man was on his feet, clutching his arm, his face
twisted with pain. The boy was being sick again.
„I told you to frighten her a little, that's all,‟ Villiers said, „but you tried to be clever.
Anything you got, you asked for.‟
Jackson took several bank notes from his wallet and stuffed them into the bearded man's
shirt pocket. „Five thousand francs.‟
„Not enough,‟ the man said. „He's broken my arm.‟
„That's your hard luck,‟ Jackson told him in his bad French.
Villiers was angry, face dark, remembering her struggling in their hands and part of that
anger was directed at himself for being responsible.
„We could always break your other arm for you,‟ he said in a low, dangerous voice.
The bearded man swung up an arm defensively. „No, that's it! Enough!‟
He turned to the boy, grabbed him by the shoulder with his good hand and they staggered
away.
„Sodding amateurs,‟ Jackson said. „We should have known,‟ but Villiers had already
turned away and was walking up the slope towards the road, very fast, head down.
* * *

The apartment on Avenue Victor Hugo was large and airy, high ceilings, tall windows.
The furnishings were simple, but striking, the palest of green curtains, soft and restful, a couple
of impressionist paintings a vivid splash of colour against white walls.
Montera sat at one end of an enormous green marble bath sunk into the floor and she
came in from the kitchen, naked, with two china mugs of tea on a tray. She handed him one,
stepped in the other end of the bath and sat down.
„To us,‟ he said, toasting her.
„To us.‟
And for the moment, she was still able to forget the dreadful situation she was in, was
able to think only of the present moment and of the fact that they were together.
He leaned back in the warm water and drank a little tea. „Haven't we done this before
somewhere?‟
She frowned, running a finger down an ugly half-healed scar six or seven inches long
below his right shoulder.
„What happened?‟
„Cannon shell splinter. I was lucky that day.‟
Once again, she had to simulate ignorance. „You mean you've been flying? Flying down
there in the Falklands?‟
„Malvinas.‟ He grinned. „Always remember that. But yes, I flew a Skyhawk
fighter-bomber named Gabrielle. Featured prominently on television news several times a day.‟
„You're joking.‟
„Painted right across the nose of my plane beneath the cockpit, I assure you. You've been
to San Carlos Water and back many times, my love.‟
Suddenly she remembered the incident in the television department at Harrods, the sound
of the commentator's voice, the planes coming in low over San Carlos Water, the missile
exploding the Skyhawk and the people listening who had clapped.
„Yes,‟ he went on wryly. „Who would have thought I'd become a television star at my
time of life.‟
She was genuinely angry. „At your age, flying a jet plane in action. I never heard of
anything so ridiculous.‟ She touched his face. „Was it really that bad, Raul?‟
„I have been to hell and back many times now,‟ he said. „Seen young boys blown out of
the sky around me and for what?‟ His eyes were haunted, full of pain. „When I left Rio Gallegos,
we'd lost approximately half our pilots. Down the drain, Gabrielle. All down the drain. Such
waste.‟
She responded to his pain instinctively. „Tell me about it, Raul. Make me feel it. Get rid
of it, my love. Get rid of it.‟
She reached for his hands and he gripped them tightly as they sat facing each other.
„Remember that uncle of mine, the bullfighter?‟
„Yes.‟
„He used to pray to the Virgin on his knees, just before going into the bullring. Save me
from the horns of the beasts, he used to say. I've gone to the horns many times during the past
few weeks.‟
„Why, Raul? Why?‟
„Because it's what I do. I fly. It's also what I am, and down there, there was no choice.
Could I sit at a desk while those boys went to hell on their own? You know what we called
Falkland Sound? Death Valley.‟
His eyes were fixed, the skin stretched tightly over the cheekbones. „In the bullring, they
have a red door - the door the bulls come through. It's called the Gate of Fear. Death comes
through that gate, Gabrielle, a black beast who is dedicated to the idea of killing me. When I flew
to San Carlos, the only thing which kept that door closed was you. Once at one of my worst
moments, when she wouldn't respond to the controls, I was getting ready to eject when I swear I
smelt that Opium perfume you use. Crazy, perhaps, but it was as if you were with me.‟
„What happened?‟
All strain went out of him. „I'm here, aren't I?‟ He smiled. „I should have had a photo in
the cockpit and written underneath the words: “I'm Gabrielle - Fly me”. You can give me one to
take back.‟
„Take back?‟ She was shocked. „You're not going back down there to fly again?‟
He shrugged evasively. „I'll be here for a few days more. I don't know what happens
when I return.‟
„What are you doing here?‟
„Business for my government.‟ In a way, he was telling her the truth. „The arms embargo
which the French imposed is giving us problems. But enough of that. What about you?‟
„I'm doing a series for Paris Match.’
„Supported by that estimable father of yours?‟
„Of course.‟
„Yes. A Degas on one wall, a Monet on the other.‟
She slid on to her knees and kissed him on the mouth very, very softly, her tongue
savouring him. „I'd forgotten just how gorgeous you are.‟
„That word again,‟ he mocked her. „Can't you think of something else?‟
„Not right now, but take me to bed and I'll try.‟
* * *

Later, lying there in the half-light, the curtains partly drawn, she leaned on an elbow and
watched him as he slept. His face tightened, there was pain there, he groaned and suddenly there
was sweat on his forehead and he opened his eyes, wide, staring.
She smoothed back his hair from his forehead and kissed him, gently, like a child. „It's all
right. I'm here.‟
He smiled weakly. „I had the dream again. I've had it so often. Remember, I told you, that
time at your flat in London.‟
„An eagle descending,‟ she said.
„That's right, coming down hard, claws reaching.‟
„Well just remember what I told you. Drop your flaps. Eagles overshoot too.‟
He pulled her close, kissed her neck. „God, you smell good. Warm, womanly - or am I
being sexist in saying that? I'm never too sure of my position with you feminists.‟
„Oh, I'll explain your position in considerable detail.‟ She smiled beautifully and ran a
finger down his arm. „I'm Gabrielle - fly me!‟
* * *

She came awake again and found him gone. The sensation of panic was terrible. She sat
up and glanced at the bedside clock. It was four o'clock. Then he came in, wearing the old black
tracksuit and carrying a newspaper.
„I found it in your letter box.‟
He sat on the edge of the bed and opened it. „Anything interesting?‟ she asked.
„Yes, British forces have broken out of the San Carlos bridgehead. Sky hawks attacked
the troops on land. Two shot down.‟ He threw down the paper and ran his hands over his face.
„Let's go for a walk.‟
„All right. Give me five minutes.‟
He waited in the sitting room, smoking a cigarette, and when she joined him, she was
wearing the jeans and reefer coat he remembered from London.
They went downstairs and got her car and drove to the Bois de Boulogne. Then they
simply walked, holding hands, quiet a great deal of the time.
„You're looking better and more relaxed,‟ she said.
„Well, that's you.‟ They were sitting on two deck chairs someone had left out in the rain.
„Some people like drugs, some people like booze, but I'm on Gabrielle, much more efficacious.‟
She leaned forward and kissed him. „You're such a nice man, Raul. The nicest man I ever
knew.‟
„Ah, well, you make me that way, you see, I told you once before, you make me better.‟
They got up and walked back towards the carpark arm-in-arm. „What's going to happen
to us?‟ she asked.
„You mean, are my intentions honourable? But of course. I will marry you at the
appropriate moment, if only to get my hands on the Monet and the Degas.‟
„And in the immediate future?‟
„A couple of days, if we're lucky, then I must return to Argentina.‟
She made a determined effort to be cheerful. „So, at least tonight is secure. Let's go
somewhere nice where we can dine and dance and be together.‟
„Where would you suggest?‟
„There's a place in Montmartre called Paco's. He's Brazilian. The music is excellent.‟
„Paco's it is then. I'll pick you up at eight o'clock. Is that okay?‟
„Fine.‟
She glimpsed Tony Villiers by the newstand on the far side of the carpark and anger
touched her as she unlocked the door of her car. „I'll drop you off at your place.‟
Which she did, getting out of the Mercedes to stand and talk to him for a moment, before
driving away.
On the other side of the road, sitting on a bench reading a newspaper, one of Nikolai
Belov's men noted the registration number of the car, got up and walked away as Montera went
into the apartment block.
* * *

Back at her flat, Gabrielle paced up and down, waiting for the ring at the door which she
knew must come. When it did she went and opened it quickly to admit Villiers. She walked back
into the sitting room, thoroughly angry, and turned to face him.
„Well?‟ he said. „Anything to report?‟
„He's here on business for his government in connection with the arms embargo.‟
„That really is a very fair description. Anything else?‟
„Yes, I don't want you dogging my heels all the time, Tony. I mean that. This is difficult
enough as it is.‟
„You mean I'm an embarrassment.‟
„Put it any way you please. I certainly don't need you tonight. We're dining in
Montmartre.‟
„And then coming back here?‟
She went and opened the door. „That's all, Tony.‟
„Don't worry,‟ he said. „Harvey and I have other fish to fry tonight.‟
He went out and Gabrielle turned, went into the bathroom and ran her second bath of the
day. When she looked forward to the evening it was with anticipation. Whatever else happened,
she was going to have that.
* * *

Donner was in the shower when Wanda came in with the hand phone. „Belov wants a
word with you.‟
Donner dried his hands, leaned out and took the phone. „Nikolai, what can I do for you?‟
He listened for a while, face inscrutable. „That certainly is interesting. Yes, keep me informed. If
they go out anywhere tonight, for example, let me know.‟
He handed the phone back to her. „Trouble?‟ she said.
„Apparently our war hero has found himself a girlfriend. A spectacularly beautiful young
woman according to Belov's information, who lives on the Avenue Victor Hugo.‟
„That usually means money.‟
„A reasonable deduction. Name of Gabrielle Legrand. Belov's going to keep me informed
on the situation. I must say, if she's as good as she sounds, it might be worth taking a look at
her.‟
„You would,‟ she said bitterly and put the hand phone down on the small table by the
door. „Do you want anything else?‟
„Yes,‟ he said. „You can come and scrub my back.‟
„If you like.‟
She started to undress slowly, thinking already with a certain fear, of a girl she had never
met, some strange sixth sense telling her she could be in trouble.
* * *

Montera had brought only one reasonably formal suit with him and wore it now,
single-breasted, dark blue mohair with a plain white shirt and black tie.
„You look extremely elegant,‟ she said as they sat together in the back of the cab.
„I pale into insignificance beside you.‟
She was wearing that spectacular silver mini-dress that she'd worn at their first meeting at
the Argentine Embassy in London, the sunburst hair brushed out in La Coupe Sauvage.
„The last time we were out together you introduced me to the romance of the
Embankment at midnight. What have you in store for me tonight, I wonder?‟
Gabrielle smiled and took his hand. „Nothing very much,‟ she said. „Just me.‟
* * *

Donner was watching the latest news about the Falklands on television when Belov
phoned again.
„They've gone out on the town,‟ the Russian said. „A Brazilian restaurant in Montmartre
called Paco's.‟
„Sounds interesting,‟ Donner said. „Is the food any good?‟
„Fair, but the music is excellent. The young woman, by the way, is the daughter of an
extremely wealthy industrialist named Maurice Legrand.‟
„What's his line?‟
„Just about everything. Operates out of Marseilles. If he went bust, so would the Bank of
France.‟
„Even more interesting,‟ Donner said. „All right, leave it with me.‟ He put down the
phone and turned to Wanda who was reading a magazine by the fire. „Okay, put your glad rags
on. We're going dancing.‟
* * *

Belov sat beside the phone at his flat for some time after speaking to Donner, a frown on
his face. Irana Vronsky brought coffee in from the kitchen on a tray and set it down.
„Something wrong?‟
„I don't know. It's this Legrand girl. Something about it doesn't fit.‟
„What exactly?‟ she asked as she poured coffee.
„I don't know,‟ he said in considerable irritation. „That's the trouble.‟
„Then ease your mind in the obvious way,‟ she said as she handed him the coffee. „Run a
scale one check on her.‟
„An excellent idea. Get started on it first thing in the morning when you go into the
office.‟ He sipped some coffee and made a face. „Montera was right. Filthy stuff. Is there any
chance of a cup of tea?‟

12


Paco's was a great success, full of character and life, tables crowded together and the five
piece band sensational. They had a booth to themselves from which they could watch the action.
She had a whisky sour and he ordered Perrier Water with lime.
She said, „You're still not drinking?‟
„I have to stay fit; keep on top of things. Middle-aged man, younger woman. You know
how it is?‟
„Keep taking the pills,‟ she said. „You're doing all right. Of course, I'm only after your
money,‟
„No,‟ he said. „You've got it wrong. At the present rate of inflation in the Argentine, I'm
after your money. Even the Monteras may feel the pinch when this war is over.‟
But the mention of war brought reality back to her and that would not do at all. She took
his hand. „Come on, let's dance,‟ she said and pulled him to his feet.
The band was plaing a bossanova and Montera led her perfectly, dancing extremely well.
As the music finished, Gabrielle said, „That was good. You should have been a gigolo.‟
„Exactly what my mother used to say. A gentleman shouldn't dance too well.‟ He
grinned. „I always adored it. I haunted all the tango bars when I was a boy. The tango, of course,
is the only real dance for an Argentinian. It mirrors everything. Political struggles, depressions,
life, love, death. You do dance the tango?‟
„I've been known to.‟
He turned to the bandleader and said in Portuguese, „Heh, compadre, what about a real
tango? Something to move the heart like Cambalache.‟
„Which means the señor is an Argentinian,‟ the bandleader said. „I thought I recognised
the accent. A long way from home, especially now, so this is for you and the lady.‟
He went to the back of the stage and returned with an instrument slightly longer than a
concertina. „Ah,‟ Montera said in delight. „We're going to get the real thing. That, my love, is
what we call a bandoneon.‟
„Sounds good,‟ Gabrielle commented.
„Wait and see.‟
The bandleader started to play, accompanied only by piano and violin, and the music
touched something deep inside her for it spoke of the infinite sadness, the longing of love, that
knowledge that all that makes life worth living is in the hands of another, to give or withhold.
They danced as one person, together in a way she would never have thought possible. No
domination from him, no leading. He danced superbly, but also with the most enormous
tenderness. And when he smiled, his love was plain, an honest gift, making no demands on her.
It was a performance that fascinated many people, not least Felix Donner, who was
sitting at the bar with Wanda.
„Dear God in heaven,‟ he said. „What a creature. I've never seen anything like her.‟
Wanda knew panic then, as she had never known it before, at the look on his face and in
his eye.
„Anybody can look good in a dress like that.‟
„Fuck the dress,‟ Donner said simply. „She'd look good in anything - or nothing.‟
As the music faded, several people applauded, but Montera and Gabrielle stayed together
for a moment, oblivious.
„You really do love me very much,‟ she said softly, a wonder in her voice.
„I have no choice,‟ he said. „You asked me why I fly. I told you it's what I am. Ask me
why I love you. I can only give the same answer. It's what I am.‟
The feeling of certainty, of serenity that flooded through her, was incredible. She took his
hand. „Let's sit down.‟
At the table, he ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon. „Yes, tango is a way of life in Buenos
Aires. I'll take you to San Telmo, the old quarter. The best tango bars in the world. We'll go to El
Viejo Almacen. They'll turn you into an expert there in one night.‟
„When?‟ he said. „When does all this happen?‟
„Well, I'll be damned,‟ Donner said. „Señor Montera. What a pleasant surprise.‟
He stood there looking down at them, Wanda at his side, and reluctantly Montera got to
his feet.
* * *

It was raining when Paul Bernard alighted from the cab on the corner of the street beside
the Seine and paid off the driver. It was an area of offices and tall warehouses, busy during the
day, but deserted by night. He moved along the pavement, searching for the address Garcia had
left for him in the phone message he'd received in his office at the Sorbonne earlier that evening.
He found what he was looking for, a sign over a warehouse that said Lebel & Company,
Importers. He tried the small judas gate in the main entrance. It opened to his touch. He slipped
through. The warehouse inside was in darkness but there was a light on in the glass-walled office
high above.
„Garcia?‟ he called. „Are you there?‟
He saw a shadow behind the frosted glass of the office, the door opened, a voice said,
„Up here.‟
He mounted the rickety wooden steps cheerfully. „I haven't got much time. One of my
post-graduate students, a girl of rather interesting proportions, has asked me round to have
supper and check her thesis over with her. With any luck it should take me till morning.‟
He went in through the door and found Tony Villiers sitting at the desk in front of him.
„Who are you?‟ Bernard demanded. „Where's Garcia?‟
„He couldn't make it.‟
The door closed behind Bernard and he turned to find Harvey Jackson there. For the first
time, he knew a certain fear.
„What's going on here?‟
Jackson grabbed him by the shoulders and shoved him into a chair. „Sit down and speak
when you're spoken to.‟
Villiers took a Smith & Wesson from one pocket, a Carswell silencer from another and
screwed it in place. „That means it won't make a sound when I fire it, Professor, but then I'm sure
you know that.‟
„Look, what's all this about?‟ Bernard demanded.
Villiers laid the Smith & Wesson down on the desk. „It's about the size of your phone bill
to the Argentine. Cabbages and Kings, Exocet missiles. Oh, and people called Donner.‟
Bernard was still frightened, but also angry. „Who are you?‟
„Until three days ago I was in the Falklands so I've seen the dead. I'm an officer of the
British Special Air Service Regiment.‟
„Bastard!‟ Bernard said, his anger overflowing.
„That's it. As someone once rather unfairly put it, we're the nearest thing to the SS the
British Army has. I don't know about that. What I do know is that if you don't tell me what I
want to know, I'm going to blow your left kneecap off with this.‟ He picked up the Smith &
Wesson. „Very nasty trick we picked up from the IRA in Ulster. If that doesn't work, I'll go to
work on the right. That should put you on sticks for the rest of your life.‟
There was a pottery vase with a plant in it on the top shelf at the other end of the room.
His hand swung up holding the Smith & Wesson, there was a slight cough, no more than that,
and the vase disintegrated.
It was enough. Bernard said, „You know who Donner is?‟
„That's right. I also know he's promised to provide several Exocet missiles to Argentine
agents in this country within the next few days. Where's he getting them from?‟
Bernard said, „He hasn't told me. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't told
anybody.‟ Villiers raised the gun as if to take deliberate aim and Bernard said hastily, „No, listen
to me.‟
„All right, but you'd better make it good.‟
„There's a place off the Brittany coast called Ile de Roc where they test Exocets. The
nearest port is St Martin. Donner has taken a house near there. I think his intention must be to
hijack one of the Aerospatiale trucks as it passes through to St Martin carrying Exocets for
shipment to the island.‟
His face was haggard, beaded with sweat; he was obviously telling the truth as he knew
it. Villiers nodded calmly and said to Jackson. „Okay, Harvey. Go and wait for me in the car.‟
Jackson didn't argue. He went out, closing the door, his footsteps descended the wooden
steps. There was silence.
Villiers put the Smith & Wesson on the desk, lit a cigarette and stood up, hands in the
pockets of his raincoat.
„You don't like the English very much, do you? Why would that be?‟
Bernard said, „You ran in 1940 and left us to the Boche. They shot my father, burned our
village. My mother …‟ He shrugged, the despair of years on his shoulders.
Villiers turned and walked to the other end of the office, and examined the notice board.
Bernard looked nervously across at the Smith & Wesson on the other side of the desk.
„My father was in SOE during the war,‟ Villiers said. „The French section. Dropped into
France by parachute three times to work with the Resistance. Finally, he was betrayed, arrested
and hauled off to Gestapo Headquarters in the Rue des Saussaies in Paris. A good address for a
bad place. He was interrogated for three days with such brutality that, to this day, his right foot is
badly crippled.‟
He turned, hands still in the pockets of the raincoat and found Bernard sitting, but now
clutching the Smith & Wesson.
„Oh, but you must let me finish, Professor. I've saved the best to last. His torturer was a
Frenchman in the pay of the Gestapo. One of those fascists you find everywhere.‟
Bernard cried something unintelligible and fired. Villiers was already dropping to one
knee, his hand emerging from the front of the raincoat holding a Walther PPK. He shot Bernard
in the centre of the forehead and the Frenchman was hurled backwards, still seated in the chair.
Villiers retrieved the Smith & Wesson, switched off the light and went out. He descended
the stairs, crossed to the judas gate and stepped into the night. Car lights turned on further up the
street and the Citroen slid into the kerb, Jackson at the wheel. Villiers got into the passenger seat.
„Did you give him a chance?‟ Jackson asked.
„Of course.‟
„I can imagine. Why not just shoot the poor sod in the first place and get it over with?
Why pretend? Did it make you feel better? Every man deserves a chance to draw, just like a
fucking western?‟
„Just drive, Sergeant Major.‟ Villiers said and lit another cigarette.
„Deepest apologies,‟ Jackson told him. „I trust the major will forgive me. I was forgetting
he was a moralist.‟
He moved into gear and drove away.
* * *

Donner ordered another bottle of champagne. „You're not drinking,‟ he said to Montera,
and tried to fill his glass.
Montera put his hand in the way. „No thanks. Champagne doesn't agree with me.‟
„Nonsense,‟ Donner said. „A man who is tired of champagne is tired of life; wouldn't you
agree, Mademoiselle Legrand?‟
„Actually, a nonsensical proposition. No substance to it at all,‟ she said.
He laughed. „That, I like. A woman who says what she thinks. Just comes right out with
it. Now Wanda here, she never says what she thinks. What she tells you is what she believes
you'd like to hear, isn't that so, Wanda?‟
The girl's humiliation was plain. Her hands were trembling so much that she clutched her
sequined evening purse tightly. Gabrielle opened her mouth to speak, her anger evident. Raul put
a hand on hers and leaned across the table.
„Please, Miss Jones, it would give me the greatest of pleasure to show you how we dance
the tango in the Argentine.‟
There was astonishment on her face for a moment, then she glanced at Donner. He
ignored her and poured more champagne into his glass. She made her decision and stood up.
„I think I'd like that,‟ she said, and walked on to the floor.
„I shan't be long,‟ Montera said to Gabrielle, and smiled. „If he annoys you, this one, let
me know and I'll give him what the bearded one got.‟
„Do you think you could guarantee that?‟
He leaned over, kissed her as if Donner wasn't there, and joined Wanda on the floor.
„Very nice,‟ Donner said. „I like a good show. Do I get to dance, too?‟
Gabrielle sipped a little champagne. „I couldn't imagine any circumstance in which I
would agree to dance with you, Mr Donner. You see, it's really very simple. I don't like you.‟
Donner's anger showed only in his eyes, the rest he managed to control. „I'm very
persistent. I could grow on you.‟
„Men.‟ She shook her head. „The arrogance of you. That stupid male arrogance. You're
all the same. Selfish, demanding. You treat women with contempt, you know that? Your interest
is actually an insult.‟
He managed to stay good humoured on the surface. „I see, so it's men you don't like, not
just me? Where does that leave our gallant colonel? He's different, I suppose?‟
„He's himself. He doesn't take, he gives.‟ It was as if she was saying this to work it out for
herself, and there was a kind of joy on her face. „Which may seem a contradiction to you, but
makes perfect sense to me.‟
Before Donner could reply the head waiter appeared at his side. „Monsieur Donner?‟
„That's right.‟
„You left your name at the bar in case there was a phone call. Someone is on the line
now.‟
Donner followed him across to the reception desk and picked up the phone. „Donner
here.‟
„Nikolai. Listen, Garcia's been in touch. Apparently Bernard left him a note earlier this
afternoon giving details of convoys of St Martin for Ile de Roc during the next four days. Only
one meets your requirements and it will be in the right vicinity very early on the morning of the
twenty-ninth.‟
„That's the day after tomorrow.‟
„Correct. Can you handle it?‟
„No problem. We'll fly down in the Chieftain in the morning. I'll take the colonel with
me.‟
„Excellent. How did you find the Legrand woman?‟
„Very impressive indeed. I might suggest that she comes down with us.‟
„Do you think she will?‟
„Maybe. They're obviously crazy about each other.‟
„Actually, it's not such a bad idea,‟ Belov said.
„Why?‟
„I don't know. There's something about her that doesn't quite fit. One gets an instinct for
these things.‟
„You'd better check her out thoroughly then.‟
„Oh, I will. I'll be in touch tomorrow. Ring you at Maison Blanche.‟
Donner put down the phone and took his time over lighting a cigarette, looking across at
Gabrielle, thinking about what Belov had said. God, but she was beautiful, but it was so much
more than that. He had been content to use women carelessly all his life, had never experienced
any great difficulties with them until now. He shook his head in a kind of reluctant admiration
and realised, with some surprise, that he had never wanted a woman so much.
From the dance floor, Wanda glanced across at him, saw the expression on his face and
said to Montera, „She means a lot to you, that lady?‟
„Everything,‟ he said simply.
„Then watch him,‟ she said. „He's used to getting what he wants.‟
As the music finished, he smiled and kissed her hand. „You're too good for him.‟
She smiled sadly. „You're wrong. I'm no good for anything else.‟
As they reached the table, Donner joined them. „I've just had a phone call,‟ he said to
Montera. „That business transaction of ours takes place Saturday. It means we'll have to fly down
to Lancy in the morning. I've taken an old house in the country, Maison Blanche. Very relaxing.‟
Montera's heart sank. „If you say so.‟
Donner turned to Gabrielle. „How would you feel about a couple of days in the country?‟
„I don't think so,‟ she said, and then saw the look on Montera's face and realised how
little time would be left to them now. For the moment it drove all considerations about her
mission for Ferguson out of her mind.
„Sleep on it,‟ Donner said.
She stood up. „And now, if you'll excuse me. I'm very tired.‟
„Of course,‟ Donner said. „A great pleasure.‟
He watched them go, frowning slightly, paused to pay the bill, then walked out without a
word to Wanda, who hurried after him desperately, unsure of her balance on the ultra-high heels
she wore.
He was on the pavement waiting for a taxi, lighting a cigarette, the match flaring in his
cupped hands, when she caught up with him.
He said, without looking at her, „You made me look a fool in there, you know that?‟
„I'm sorry, Felix.‟
„I'll think of something good,‟ he said. „Very special. The kind of thing you won't forget
in a hurry.‟ He pushed her chin up with the tips of his fingers. „Give you something to think
about, won't it?‟
* * *

Back at her apartment, Gabrielle mixed herself a whisky sour and paced up and down
angrily.
„That man is the most disgusting object I have ever encountered. Everything I hate. Do
you have to do business with him?‟
„I'm afraid so, but forget him,‟ he said. „I've got something for you.‟ He took a small
package from his pocket. „After you left me this afternoon I called a cab and went shopping.‟
The elegant wrapper said Carrier. She opened it and took out a velvet covered box.
Inside was a beautiful ring, or rather, three rings, intertwined in different shades of gold.
„It's what they call a Russian wedding ring,‟ he told her. „Usually worn on the little finger
of the left hand.‟
„I know.‟
„I had to make an informed guess about the size. If it is wrong, simply call at Carder's at
any time and ask for a Monsieur Bresson. He'll see to it for you. May I put it on?‟
She held out her hand and he slipped on the ring. „I think it might be just a little slack.‟
She shook her head, staring down at it. „No,‟ she said in a low voice. „It's perfect.‟
„A token,‟ he said. „Of …‟ He hesitated and grinned crookedly. „My big moment and I
can't find the words. God help me, but I must do this thing properly. Do you think there's the
remotest possibility that you might be interested in marrying a rather ageing fighter pilot who,
finding himself too old for jet planes now, may prove rather difficult to handle?‟
There were tears in her eyes and she put a hand on his arm. „Raul, do something for me.‟
„Anything.‟
„Go for a walk. I'd like to be alone for a little while.‟
He was full of concern. „I'm sorry. I'll go back to my apartment. Perhaps I can see you in
the morning before I leave.‟
„No.‟ Her voice rose in a kind of panic. „I want you to come back.‟
„Of course, my love.‟ He kissed her gently. „Half an hour,‟ and went and let himself out.
* * *

„Gabrielle,‟ she said, when Villiers picked up the phone.
„Anything for me?‟
She took a deep breath and said, „Donner joined us tonight. I heard him tell Raul that the
transaction was to take place on Saturday morning and that it would be necessary to fly to Lancy
in the morning. I don't know where that is.‟
„Brittany,‟ he said. „It fits in with facts we already know.‟
„He suggested I flew down with them. The house they're staying at is called Maison
Blanche.‟
„And you said yes?‟
„I want out, Tony. I can't take any more.‟
„I know it's hard,‟ he said. „But it has to be done. I know what you think of Montera. As a
man, I admire him totally, but he is the enemy, Gabrielle, and we're not talking about
personalities. We're talking about stopping Exocets.‟
„It's no good,‟ she said.
„All right. I'm not going to twist your arm. I'll try and handle it without you. But you'll
have to tell Ferguson. Check with me in the morning, in case you change your mind.‟
He put down the receiver, picked it up again and dialled the number of the Cavendish
Place flat in London. It was Harry Fox who answered the phone.
„Bad news from the front,‟ Villiers told him. „Gabrielle's ust been in touch. Things are
working well, but she feels she can't keep it up. She wants out.‟
„All right,‟ Fox said. „Leave it with me.‟
* * *

Gabrielle poured herself another drink and sipped a little to steady her nerves, but it had
to be done. She sat down and dialled Ferguson's number in London. He answered the phone
himself almost instantly.
„Ferguson.‟
„Gabrielle.‟
His voice changed. „My dear girl, have you been out? I tried to ring you several times
earlier.‟
„Yes, to dinner,‟ she said. „Why?‟
There was a pause and she was filled with a sudden foreboding.
„Look, this isn't easy,‟ he said. „We tried to reach your mother and stepfather but it seems
they're on a yacht cruising the Greek Islands.‟
It could only be one thing, of course. „Richard?‟ she whispered.
„Yes, my dear. I'm terribly sorry to have to pass you such news. He's reported missing
believed killed in flying operations near Port Stanley.‟
„Oh, God,‟ Gabrielle said, and for a brief moment saw him at his passing-out parade,
proud in the naval uniform, a handsome, smiling boy.
„Naturally, I realise the effect this unfortunate business will have on you,‟ Ferguson said.
„In the circumstances it would probably be better to pull you out.‟
„No,‟ she said wearily. „No point in that. Not now. Thank you and goodnight Brigadier.‟
She sat there staring at the phone, then picked it up and dialled Villiers' number again. He
answered at once.
„I've changed my mind, Tony. I'll fly down with Raul and Donner tomorrow to this place
Lancy. I can't give you the address of Donner's house there though.‟
„No problem,‟ he said. „Harvey and I will drive down overnight. We'll find it.‟ He
hesitated. „Is anything wrong? What made you change your mind?‟
„Richard's dead,‟ she said. „Killed in action. It's got to stop, Tony, for everyone's sake.
Too many dead already.‟
„Oh, my God,‟ Villiers said and she put down the phone.
* * *

Ferguson sighed. „A remarkable girl.‟
Harry Fox said, „She won't pull out?‟
„No.‟
„How did she take it?‟
„How the hell do I know, Harry. The important thing is how long she can hold herself
together.‟
* * *

When Montera reached the door, it was standing slightly ajar. He closed it and went into
the sitting room.
„Gabrielle?‟
„In here.‟
She was lying in bed in the darkness. He reached for the switch and she said quickly,
„No, Raul, don't turn on the light.‟
He sat on the edge of the bed and there was concern in his voice. „Look, my love, if
you're not well, I can go. No trouble.‟
„No.‟ She reached for him. „Don't leave me. I want you here in bed with me.‟
He undressed, dropping his clothes on a chair, and slipped in beside her. She turned into
him, arms sliding about his neck and suddenly, like a dam bursting, all the pain, all the anguish,
flowed out of her and she started to cry, slow, bitter tears.
„What is it?‟ he asked.
„Nothing, Raul. Don't say anything. Just hold me.‟
He soothed her then, his lips on her forehead, as one might soothe a child and after a
while, she slept.

13


Villiers and Jackson had driven down from Paris overnight through Orleans and Tours to
Nantes from where they had turned south. It was still early, only eight o'clock, when they finally
found Lancy. Jackson slowed the Citroen as they came to the perimeter fence. He coasted along
past the main gate which was padlocked and then picked up speed and drove on, turning into
some trees round a bend in the road.
They walked back through the trees and looked down at the airfield. „Old wartime station
from the look of things,‟ Villiers said.
„And no sign of any life.‟ Jackson shivered. „I hate places like that. Too many good men
gone.‟
Villiers nodded. „I know what you mean.‟ He looked up at the grey sky which threatened
rain. „Let's hope the weather doesn't give our friends problems getting in.‟
Jackson said, „What do we do now?‟
„We'll go into this place St Martin. See if we can find where Donner's house is.‟
They turned and went back through the trees.
* * *

Gabrielle lay on her back, staring up at the ceiling. After a while, she turned her head and
found Montera watching her.
„How are you this morning?‟ he asked gravely.
„Fine.‟ Amazing how calm she felt, how much in control. „I'm sorry about last night.‟
He reached for one of her hands and kissed it. „Do you want to tell me about it?‟
„Nothing to tell,‟ she said. „Old ghosts, that's all.‟ She held his hand tightly. „This
business with Donner in Brittany. It's important?‟
„Yes,‟ he said. „Let's say he can supply certain equipment my government needs because
the arms embargo has blocked more normal channels.‟
„And when the transaction is completed, you'll return to the Argentine? How long, Raul?
Two days? Three?‟
„I don't have any choice,‟ he said simply.
„And neither do I. I must take what time there is, even if I have to share you with bloody
Donner. I'm coming with you to Lancy.‟
The delight in his face was plain. „You're sure?‟
„Very.‟
She rolled over and he buried his face in her neck. She stroked his hair and stared up at
the ceiling again. Amazing how easily they came, the lies, the deceit.
* * *

At Brie-Comte-Robert, Donner walked up and down impatiently, smoking a cigarette.
Wanda leaned against the hangar wall, Rabier waiting beside the Chieftain.
„Where the hell is he?‟ Donner demanded and then a cab turned in through the main gate
and crossed the apron towards them.
Raul Montera got out, wearing jeans and his old black flying jacket. He turned and held
out a hand to Gabrielle. Donner was delighted, all anger leaving him, and went to meet them.
„So you decided to join us after all?‟
„Yes,‟ she said simply. „On reflection, I decided I'd nothing better to do.‟
Behind her, Montera was getting the bags and paying off the driver. Amazing how
marvellous she looked in jeans and the blue reefer coat. It occurred to Donner with a kind of
wonder, that this was different. He wanted this woman to want him.
„Fine,‟ he told her. „Let's get moving then.‟
They turned and walked towards the Chieftain. Wanda came forward and glanced at
Montera, that look on her face again.
He smiled. „You worry too much.‟
„Maybe you should worry more,‟ she said, and followed the others.
* * *

The small bar on the quay at St Martin was empty except for Villiers and Jackson who
stood at one end eating the croissants the owner, a large, matronly blonde, had prepared for them.
„More coffee?‟ she asked.
Villiers nodded. „Where are all the customers?‟
„The regulars are working, Monsieur, and we don't get many tourists these days. Things
aren't as they were.‟
„I thought there was an airfield near here?‟
„Ah, yes, at Lancy, but that closed down years ago.‟ She poured hot coffee. „You
gentlemen have business here?‟
„No,‟ Villiers said. „We've been touring Brittany by car for the past week. Someone told
us the sea fishing was good here.‟
„That's true. Best on the coast.‟
„Where could we stay?‟
„Well, there's the hotel up the street, the Pomme d'Or, but not if you take my advice. It's a
dump. Hugo, the estate agent, has plenty of places to rent. Bungalows, cottages and that sort of
thing. He'd be only too pleased to see you, believe me. As I say, we don't get the tourists these
days like we used to. His office is fifty yards along the front.‟
„I'm very grateful.‟ Villiers delivered his most charming smile. „We'll call on him now.‟
* * *

Monsieur Hugo, a kindly, white-haired old man who appeared to run his office
single-handed, was most accommodating. He had a large map of the area on the wall, little red
flags on pins stuck into place to indicate the location of his properties.
„I could find you something here in town with no difficulty,‟ he said. „Of course the
minimum letting period would be one week.‟
„No problem,‟ Villiers replied. „However, I would prefer something in the country. A
friend in Paris who stayed here some years ago mentioned a house called Maison Blanche.‟
The old man nodded, took off his glasses and pointed to one of the flags. „Ah yes, a fine
house, but much too large for your purposes and in any case, I only recently leased it to a
gentleman from Paris.‟
„I see.‟ Villiers examined the map and pointed to one of the flags situated between
Maison Blanche and Lancy. „What about that?‟
„Yes. I'm sure that would meet your requirements perfectly. A small modern bungalow
called Whispering Winds, built five years ago by a schoolmaster in Nantes for his retirement. He
only uses it for vacations at the moment. Fully furnished, two bedrooms. I could let you have that
for five hundred francs for the week, plus a one hundred franc deposit against breakages. In
advance, of course.‟ He smiled apologetically. „It is a sad fact of life, Monsieur, but I'm afraid it
has been my experience that there are those who leave without paying.‟
„I perfectly understand.‟ Villiers took out his wallet and counted the money out on the
desk.
„Would you like me to take you out and show you the place?‟ the old man asked.
„Not necessary. I'm sure you have work to do. If you'll just give me the key.‟
„Of course, Monsieur.‟ The old man took it from a board and handed it to him. „There is
an excellent general store down the street. Madame Dubois can meet all your requirements.‟
Villiers went out to the Citroen and got in. Harvey Jackson said, „Okay?‟
„You could say that. I found out where Maison Blanche is and I've got us a holiday
bungalow nearby.‟ He held up the key. „Whispering Winds.‟
„God Almighty,‟ Jackson said.
„Stop off at the store up the street. We'll need a few things.‟
Villiers sat back and lit a cigarette. It was going rather well. Now, all that was needed
was Donner, Raul Montera and Gabrielle and the game could begin.
* * *

When the Chieftain touched down at Lancy just before noon, Stavrou was waiting to
meet it with a large Peugeot estate car. Villiers, watching from the trees on the hill through
field-glasses, saw the passengers get out of the plane, which then taxied inside one of the
hangars, the door of which Stavrou had opened earlier. He helped Rabier close them and the
others got into the Peugeot.
„Gabrielle there?‟ Jackson asked.
Villiers nodded as Rabier got into the front seat beside Stavrou and the Peugeot drove
away.
„Okay, let's get back to the bungalow and have something to eat, and I'll phone the
Brigadier. Give our friends a chance to settle down. We can check out Maison Blanche later.‟
They turned and went back to the car.
* * *

Harry Fox was having an early lunch when Villiers got through. He said, „He's not here,
Tony. Attending a meeting of the Joint Chiefs at the Ministry of Defence. I expect him back
within the hour. Where are you?‟
„The depths of the Breton countryside. A holiday cottage called, if you would believe it,
Whispering Winds.‟
„And Donner?‟
„Just up the road.‟
„Fine. Give me your number and I'll call the moment he gets back.‟
* * *

At Maison Blanche, Donner opened the door of one of the bedrooms on the first floor and
ushered in Montera and Gabrielle. It was an old-fashioned room with a high ceiling and tall
narrow windows, sombre because of the wine-coloured wallpaper. There was an uncomfortable
looking bed, very high off the floor.
„Bathroom through there,‟ Donner said. „All the comforts. Stavrou tells me lunch in half
an hour. I'll see you down there.‟
He went out and Montera sat on the bed and bounced up and down. „Mother of God,
listen to those springs. The whole world will know of my mad passion for you.‟
She sat on the bed beside him. „I don't like this place, Raul, and I don't like him.‟
„I know,‟ he said. „But you like me, so that's all right.‟
He turned her head and kissed her gently.
* * *

Villiers was having a drink in the sitting room, waiting for Ferguson's call, when Jackson
came in from the kitchen.
„I was just listening to the radio from Paris. There was a newsflash. 2 Para hit Goose
Green early this morning.‟
„What's the score?‟
„Apparently heavy fighting according to American sources.‟
Villiers kicked a chair. „And here we are, playing games for schoolboys.‟
„Don't be stupid,‟ Jackson said flatly. „They're damned important games. I've opened a
can of soup and there's French bread and cheese. If you want some, come into the kitchen. If you
want to stay in the officers' mess, that's up to you.‟
He went out and at that moment the phone rang. Ferguson said, „How are things, Tony?‟
„Moving quite well.‟ Villiers explained in detail.
When he was finished, Ferguson said, „Good, the moment you have details of Donner's
actual intentions, phone me instantly. I think you'd better leave Sergeant Major Jackson by the
phone at your end in case I need you in a hurry.‟
„All right, sir,‟ Villiers said. „We just heard a newsflash here about the battle at Goose
Green.‟
„Good God, ‟ Ferguson said. „It's not even been announced here yet.‟
„What's happening?‟
„Very heavy going, Tony. The truth is our intelligence was faulty. A lot more Argentines
there than we thought. I'm afraid the C.O. has been killed, but information is thin on the ground
at the moment. Anyway, I'll be in touch.‟
Villiers put the phone down, his face grim, then he went into the kitchen slowly.
* * *

Lunch consisted of vast helpings of smoked salmon and Beluga caviar with Krug
Champagne to wash it down.
„I'm on a diet,‟ Donner explained. „So if I suffer, my guests suffer. You're not drinking
again, colonel?‟
„As I told you, champagne doesn't agree with me.‟
„What would you like then? A good host should always try to please even the most
difficult of his guests.‟
Montera looked across at Gabrielle who smiled, knowing what he would say. He smiled
right back at her. „How about a nice cup of tea?‟
„Dear God,‟ Donner groaned and looked up at Stavrou standing by the door. „See what
you can do.‟
Stavrou went out and Montera said, „We really must have a talk, Donner. Settle our
business. When you can find time, that is.‟
„No time like the present,‟ Donner turned to Gabrielle and Wanda. „Would you girls
excuse us for a while?‟
„No problem,‟ Gabrielle said. „I'll go for a walk.‟ She glanced at Wanda. „What about
you, Miss Jones?‟
Donner laughed. „Wanda go for a walk? That'll be the day.‟
The girl coloured and stood up. „Thanks very much, but I think I'll unpack.‟
She went out and Donner said to Gabrielle. „Just one point. The stable-block is out of
bounds for sound business reasons.‟ He smiled. „Anywhere else, feel free.‟
She opened the French windows and moved out.
* * *

Donner and Montera sat by a log fire in the sitting room. Montera said, „You really can
guarantee there will be no slip-ups?‟
„Absolutely. My Italian agents assured me this morning that everything is set and ready
to go. Those Exocets will be here tomorrow morning without fail. I hope your gold is just as
available in Geneva.‟
„No problem there, I can assure you.‟
Donner lit a cigarette. „So, you'll fly off in the Hercules. What about Mademoiselle
Legrand? Does she go with you?‟
„Very probably,‟ Montera said. „If I can persuade her.‟ He stood up. „I think I'll take a
walk myself.‟
„I'll come with you,‟ Donner told him. „I could do with some fresh air.‟
There was nothing Montera could say, so they went out together.
* * *

Tony Villiers, hidden in the undergrowth behind a wall high above the estate, had noticed
several interesting things. Stavrou, for example, crossing from the rear of the house to the stables
on occasion. There was someone in there, a face barely glimpsed when the door was opened.
And then Gabrielle appeared, crossing the terrace and starting across the lawn into the
trees. He followed her with his fieldglasses, losing her once or twice. She finally emerged by a
small lake and followed a path round it towards a ruined summerhouse on the other side.
Villiers' practised eye detected a movement in the trees above the lake. He focussed his
glasses as a figure emerged from the bushes in patched jeans, long hair hanging beneath a tweed
cap, a shotgun under his arm. He went after Gabrielle, keeping out of sight. Villiers got to his
feet and ran down through the trees.
* * *

Gabrielle pushed open the broken door of the summerhouse and stepped inside. There
was a wooden table, a couple of chairs, a stone fireplace. Various panes of glass were missing in
the windows, the floor damp where rain had drifted in. There was a step behind her and she
turned.
The young man who stood there was of medium height with a weak, sullen face. He
badly needed a shave. His clothes were too large for him and his hair poked untidily from
beneath the cap. He held a double-barrelled shotgun in both hands.
„What do you want?‟ she said.
He ran a hand across his mouth, his eyes glittering as they looked her over. „Oh, no.
That's what I ask you. I'm supposed to guard this estate.‟
„I see.‟ She leaned back on the table. „What's your name?‟
He grinned. „That's more friendly. It's Paul. Paul Gaubert.‟
She brushed past him and went outside. „Heh, come here,‟ he called, as he ran after her
and caught her by the right arm.
She said, „Don't be stupid. I'm a guest of Monsieur Donner's.‟
She pulled her arm free and sent him away with a vigorous shove of both hands. He
staggered back for a moment, gaping in astonishment and, suddenly, there was only anger there.
He dropped the shotgun and grabbed at her and she put her knee into his groin.
Donner and Montera came over the top of the small hill above the lake in time to witness
the whole scene, including the timely arrival of Villiers, although at that distance they could not
see the cold fury in his eyes as one hand fastened on Paul Gaubert's collar, the other on his belt.
Villiers turned him round and ran him headfirst into the lake. The boy went under, came up
gasping out of the shallows and up the bank.
„Gaubert!‟ Donner cried as he ran down the hill with Montera.
The youth glanced over his shoulder, a look of terror on his face, and took to his heels.
Villiers said to Gabrielle. „Are you all right?‟
„Fine,‟ she said, „but could we change the script? This sort of thing's beginning to get a
trifle monotonous. And watch yourself, we've got company.‟
„I'm an Irishman on holiday staying at a bungalow not far from here. Michael O'Hagan.‟
The Irish situation had forced the SAS to develop a language laboratory system teaching
regional Irish accents to their men. Villiers could sound as if he'd been born and bred within five
miles of Crossmaglen and Michael O'Hagan was an alias he had used before.
Montera arrived on the run, full of concern. „Gabrielle, are you all right?‟
„Yes, thanks to this gentleman.‟
„O'Hagan,‟ Villiers said cheerfully in English. „Michael O'Hagan.‟
„I want to thank you, sir.‟ Donner took his hand. „Felix Donner. This is my place, by the
way, and this is Mr Montera and the lady you rescued is Miss Legrand. The creature who
attacked Miss Legrand is a gipsy called Gaubert. I allowed a band of them to stay on the estate,
which shows what happens when you treat people like that as human beings.‟
„Happy to know you,‟ Villiers said.
„Just where did you come from exactly, Mr O'Hagan?‟
„Just up there where the trees flank the road.‟ Villiers pointed. „I was looking at the map,
trying to get my bearings when I saw that character obviously trailing Miss Legrand. The rest, as
they say, you know.‟
„We certainly do. You're staying near here?‟
There was little point in trying to pretend otherwise. Villiers said, „At a little bungalow
up the road with a friend. We're on a motoring tour of Brittany.‟
He had tried to sound simple, open and ingenuous, and appeared to have succeeded.
Donner said, „Come back and have a drink with us.‟
Villiers said, „That's very nice of you, but perhaps some other time. I'm already later than
I said I would be.‟
Donner persisted. „Join us for dinner tonight, then. Bring your friend.‟
„I don't really have any decent clothes with me,‟ Villiers said, keeping up the image.
„Doesn't matter. All totally informal. Bring your friend.‟
„All right. I can't speak for him though. He might have other plans.‟
„Seven-thirty for eight.‟
Villiers turned and walked briskly away. Montera said, „Lucky he was around.‟
„Yes, wasn't it?‟ Donner replied, frowning slightly.
* * *

At the bungalow, Villiers shaved and had a shower. When he went into the kitchen he
was wearing slacks, a dark shirt and a tweed jacket. He had a Walter PPK in one hand and a roll
of surgical tape in the other. He put his left foot on a chair, pulled up his trouser leg and taped the
weapon just above the ankle.
„Daniel in the lion's den?‟ Jackson commented.
„Well, you never know. Comforting to have an ace in the hole. I'll see you later. Be
good.‟
He went out, got into the Citroen and drove away. Jackson poured himself another cup of
coffee and reached over to switch on the radio. There was a sudden cool breeze on the back of
his neck as if a door had opened. He turned quickly and Yanni Stavrou stepped in, a gun in one
hand, two of Roux's recruits standing behind him.
* * *

Beyond the French windows the beech trees above the lawn were cut out of black
cardboard against a sky that was touched with vivid orange. Inside it was warm and comfortable.
Gabrielle wore her yellow jump suit; Montera, jeans and a blue flannel shirt. Donner's
concession to informality was to wear a mohair pullover instead of a jacket.
He glanced out of one of the French windows before closing it. „We could have weather
trouble tomorrow.‟
„Let's hope not,‟ Montera replied. „That was an excellent dinner, by the way.‟
„That's Wanda's department, not mine. She does all right when she tries.‟
The condescension was plain. Gabrielle said, „It was more than all right. It was superb.
I'd say she has real flair.‟
„Don't tell her that, for God's sake. She won't be fit to live with.‟
Wanda entered at that moment with a tray. She was the most dressed-up person there and
wore a two piece trouser evening suit in black velvet.
She'd brought tea for Montera and Gabrielle. Donner said, „You are trying, aren't you, but
what about Mr O'Hagan here? All Irishmen drink tea, isn't that true, O'Hagan?‟
„Oh, I don't know,‟ Villiers said brightly. „I like a cup of coffee myself.‟
The girl's hand was shaking as she passed him the cup and Gabrielle, angry again, turned
to Montera. „I feel like a little air. Shall we take a walk?‟
„Why not?‟
He opened a French window and they went out.
Donner said, „A handsome couple, wouldn't you say?‟
Villiers managed to look mildly surprised. „Yes, I suppose so.‟
„Tell me, what do you do for a living, Mr O'Hagan?‟
„I'm a sales engineer. Oil pumps, mainly.‟
„That must be a good line these days, what with North Sea oil.‟
„Oh, yes.‟ Villiers glanced at his watch. „It's really been wonderful, but I'm afraid I'll
have to be going. We have an early start tomorrow.‟
„What a shame. Still, it's been nice having you.‟ Donner walked through to the front door
with him and opened it. „I'd like to thank you again for what you did. I sent my man Stavrou
along to sort that gypsy out earlier this evening, but by the time he'd reached the encampment,
they'd all cleared off.‟
They shook hands and Villiers went down the steps. Donner went back to the sitting
room.
Wanda said, „Can I get you anything?‟
„No,‟ he said. „Go to bed.‟
„But it's early, Felix.‟
He shook his head. „You never learn, do you?‟ He ran the back of his hand down her face
and she shrank back as if expecting a blow. „That's right,‟ he said. „Do as you're told and go to
bed.‟
Stavrou came into the room as Wanda went out. Donner asked, „Is the car ready?‟
„Yes.‟
Donner went to the open French window. He could see the glowing end of Montera's
cigarette on the other side of the lawn where he and Gabrielle talked.
„Heh, you two. I've got to go out for a little while. Help yourself to drinks, okay?‟ He
turned back into the room, said to Stavrou, „All right, let's get moving,‟ and led the Way out
quickly.
* * *

Montera smoked his cigarette and leaned on the balustrade beside her. „I seem to have
done nothing but talk about my mother and my daughter. You must be bored.‟
„But they're part of you, Raul. I want to know these things. They're important.‟
„Yes,‟ he said. „Life is nothing without roots, that's true, isn't it? We all need a place to
rest our heads from time to time. A place where we can be certain of perfect understanding.‟
„I wish to God there was such a place for me,‟ she said and there was a poignancy in her
voice that went straight to his heart.
He said, „But there is, my love. Tomorrow I fly back to the Argentine direct from here.‟
„But I don't understand.‟
„From Lancy. There's a plane putting down with war supplies. A Hercules transport. You
could come with me.‟
And she could, that was the truth of it. It would be so easy. At that moment, she was
closer to telling him the truth than she had ever been.
* * *

When Villiers went in the front door of the bungalow he called, „Harvey, where are you?‟
There was no reply, but a radio sounded faintly and rather eerily from somewhere at the
back of the house. Strangely enough he recognised it. A nostalgic record. Al Bowlly, the famous
crooner of the thirties, singing Moonlight on the Highway.
The bedroom door stood ajar and Villiers paused on the threshold. Jackson sat at a table
on the opposite side of the bed, a small radio playing beside him.
„Heh, Harvey,‟ Villiers said. „What in the hell are you up to?‟
And then he moved close enough to see that Jackson was tied to the chair. His cheeks
were badly blistered, probably from repeated applications of a cigarette lighter flame. There was
a bullet wound just above his right ear, small calibre as there was no exit wound, and the
sightless eyes stared into the wall.
Villiers slumped down on the bed and sat there looking at him. Aden, the Oman, Borneo,
Ireland. So much action, so much dying and Harvey Jackson always the indestructable one. And
to go this way, at the end of things.
The door slammed against the wall behind him. His hand was already groping for the butt
of the Walther as he turned and found Stavrou and two armed men facing him.
„A tough bastard,‟ Stavrou said. „I couldn't get a thing out of him.‟
„Yes, you train them well in the SAS, Major Villiers,‟ Felix Donner said. „I'll give you
that.‟
* * *

Montera and Gabrielle were sitting by the fire talking together in low voices when the
door opened and Donner entered. He closed it and came and stood with his back to the fire.
„This is nice. Damned cold out tonight.‟
„Have you been far?‟ Montera asked politely.
„Far enough. You see I had a phone call early this evening from a friend in Paris. He'd
been doing some checking for me on your girlfriend here.‟
„What in the hell are you talking about?‟ Montera said angrily.
„Yes, Mademoiselle Legrand, or would you prefer Mrs Gabrielle Villiers, or didn't you
know she was married?‟
„Divorced,‟ Montera said. „Your information would appear to be hugely out of date.‟
Gabrielle sat frozen, waiting for the axe to fall. Donner said, „Yes, but who was Mr
Villiers, or should I say Major Villiers? Quite a man. Grenadier Guards and 22 SAS, would you
believe? When my friend read his description to me over the phone a lot of interesting little
pieces fell into place.‟
He crossed to the door and opened it, and Stavrou pushed his prisoner through. „Colonel
Raul Montera, meet Major Anthony Villiers. I'd say you two have got a hell of a lot in common.‟

14


Two of Roux's men stood against the wall holding Armalite rifles. Stavrou gave Villiers
another push further into the room and tossed the Walther PPK across to Donner who caught it
neatly.
„Found that strapped to his leg above the ankle.‟
Donner turned to Montera. „You see, a real pro. Of course, you do realise, colonel, that
this raises a very big question as to sweet Gabrielle's role in this whole affair. I get the feeling
she's not been strictly honest with you. I mean, the only possible explanation is that she's
working hard for the other side.‟
Montera said to her calmly, „Is it true?‟
„Yes,‟ she said.
„Holy Mother!‟ he said. „I see it all now. It started in London, didn't it? Everything so
convenient. And then Paris and the Bois.‟
Her eyes were hot, burning. She wanted to speak and couldn't. She stood there staring at
him. She opened her mouth, but no sound came.
It was Villiers who spoke for her. „Try and understand, Montera. She has a half-brother, a
helicopter pilot, killed flying off Stanley.‟
Her nails were digging into the palms of her hands with the strength of her emotion. She
started to shake and Raul Montera did a marvellous thing. He reached for the hands and held
them tight, pulling her to her feet.
„It's all right,‟ he said. „Be still.‟ He spoke as if they were alone and put an arm around
her shoulders.
Donner said, „My God, this really is cruelty to dumb animals.‟ He crossed the room and
flung open a green baize door. „In there, colonel. Make your peace or do whatever you have to. I
want words with the gallant major here anyway.‟
* * *

In Paris, Nikolai Belov was just about to retire for the night when the phone rang. Irana
took the call.
„It's Donner for you,‟ she said.
Belov took the phone from her. „How are things going?‟
„More than interesting. Listen to this.‟ Donner gave him a quick run-down on the
evening's events. When he was finished, he said, „Have you done the usual search procedure on
this one with your friends in French Intelligence?‟
Although the scandal of the Sapphire affairs had rooted out most KGB infiltration of the
French Intelligence system, Belov still had agents in important positions there.
„We've run a most thorough check and it's right up to the minute. I only received the final
report an hour ago. I'd intended phoning you in the morning. Not even a hint of your activities at
any level in the system. No one waiting for you, no traps.‟
„But British Intelligence have certainly been on the ball. I wonder how.‟
„Surely the woman's involvement and her interest in Montera answers that. Montera was
the link. She met him in London and then, by chance apparently, in Paris. But no accident at all,
as we now see, and the time scale is such that it can only mean British Intelligence were
expecting him to turn up. If we've been blown I would say it's occurred at the Argentine end and
nowhere else.‟
„That makes sense.‟
„You still intend to proceed?‟
„No reason not to.‟
„Fine, is there anything I can do for you?‟
„Yes, as a matter of fact there is. I think it's time for a holiday back home in case there are
any repercussions on this one. The Chieftain can make Finland with no problem. Can you
recommend a suitable airfield to land at there?‟
„Certainly. Perind. We use it frequently. I'll see that arrangements are made for onward
transportation. By the way, a news item of interest tonight. Professor Paul Bernard was
discovered in a warehouse by the Seine shot through the head.‟
„Is that a fact? Any juicy details?‟
„The police are pursuing their enquiries. You know how it is?‟
„I certainly do. I'll be in touch.‟
Belov put down the phone and sat there on the edge of the bed thinking. Irana said, „What
is it?‟
He smiled and held her hand. „I haven't taken any leave this year and neither have you.
How would you like a trip to Moscow?‟
„When?‟ she said.
„No time like the present. We could catch the Aeroflot flight at seven a.m.‟
„I see. You have a bad feeling about this business?‟
„Just a twinge and I'm too old to take chances.‟ He smiled again. „You better phone
through now and get the seats.‟
* * *

The room into which Donner had pushed Montera and Gabrielle was a kind of butler's
pantry and wine store and the window was heavily barred. She sat on a box and Montera lit a
cigarette and waited.
She took a deep breath and looked up at him. „Can I tell you about it?‟
„That might be a good idea.‟
„Tony and I were married for five years. We were divorced six months ago. Everything
else I told you about myself is true. I missed out the fact that my mother is English and that she
married again when I was quite small - an Englishman.‟
„Which explains the half-brother.‟
„Yes. I've worked in journalism as I told you, but I happen to have a gift for languages. I
just soak them up. Always did, even as a child. Tony was frequently called upon to work with
Group Four, that's the section of British Intelligence that deals with anti-terrorism. Brigadier
Ferguson, who runs it, approached me to work for them on a number of occasions. Nothing very
heavy. Mainly because of my language ability.‟
„And I was one of these occasions?‟
„Yes,‟ she said flatly. „I was to try and find out if there was going to be any move against
the Falklands.‟
He laughed out loud. „My God, I didn't know the first thing about it.‟ He shook his head.
„Serendipity again. The happiest of unlooked for events.‟
„That's where it all went wrong,‟ she said. „I didn't know what love was and then I looked
across the room at the Argentine Embassy and saw you.‟
„Yes, it was a rather splendid moment.‟
„And I couldn't get you out of my mind. Worried like hell about you when the war
started, even though I'd no idea you were flying. And then this damned Exocet business started
and Ferguson sent for me. You were the enemy, he said.‟
„And he was right.‟
„I was going to stop, just couldn't go on with the lies and the deceit after you gave me the
ring.‟
„And then you heard about your brother?‟
„I want it to stop, Raul,‟ she said simply. „The killing on both sides. For all our sakes. If
you take those Exocets back to the Argentine tomorrow, it simply means more bloodshed.‟
He sighed heavily and shook his head. „My side is losing, Gabrielle. Maybe the Exocet is
all we've got left. What do you want me to do? I'm an Argentinian. Your Brigadier Ferguson is
right. I am the enemy.‟
She got up and moved to his side, and he slipped an arm around her waist.
„I'm tired, Raul, so tired. All I know for certain any more is that I love you.‟
Her head dropped on his shoulder, he kissed the golden hair and said nothing.
* * *

„What happens now?‟ Villiers asked, when Donner came back into the sitting room.
„More fun with cigarette lighters?‟
„No need,‟ Donner told him. „My sources in Paris have given me every assurance that I
can proceed as planned. Were you responsible for seeing off poor old Paul Bernard, by the way?‟
„Who's he?‟ Villiers asked.
„Yes, I thought so.‟ Donner smiled. „What did he tell you? Convoys on the road to St
Martin? An ambush at dawn? Fairy stories for children, I assure you. I've something far better in
mind.‟ He poured himself a whisky. „And I wouldn't dream of damaging you at this stage of the
game, major. They'll want you intact at KGB headquarters in Moscow. What a mine of
information you'll be, and don't tell me you won't talk. They have some remarkable drugs these
days.‟ He nodded to Stavrou. „Let's have the others back in here‟
Stavrou opened the door of the butler's pantry, and after a moment Montera and Gabrielle
stepped out.
Montera said, „What do you intend to do with them?‟
„More to the point is what I intend to do with you, Colonel?‟
There was silence. Montera waited, very calm. „Yes, I should have known there was
more to this thing.‟
„Indeed there is. Major Villiers believed I would obtain Exocets for you by ambushing an
Aerospatiale convoy on the way to St Martin tomorrow. The missiles are transhipped from there
regularly to Ile de Roc off the coast which is a testing site.‟
„So?‟
„And you are expecting a Hercules transport from Italy to touch down in the morning at
Lancy with ten Exocets on board, courtesy of Colonel Qadhafi and the Libyans.‟ He smiled.
„Both wrong.‟
He crossed to a door in the far corner, opened it and disappeared. He was back in a
moment, putting on a French Army officer's tunic.
„Good fit, isn't it?‟ he said, as he buttoned it up. „Allow me to introduce myself. Captain
Henri Leclerc in charge of a detachment of nine men from the 23rd Guided Missile Regiment,
proceeding by road, tomorrow morning, to St Martin where a tank landing craft will be waiting
to take them across to Ile de Roc.‟
Villiers said. „Let me guess. They won't even get as far as St Martin. You've going to
work a switch?‟
„Let's say we'll divert them to here and take over.‟
„And then proceed to Ile de Roc?‟
„There are only thirty-eight men on the island. I don't think we'll have much trouble. The
gentlemen I've been keeping in the stables are very good at handling that sort of thing.‟
„And you simply take the Exocets you need from their testing stock? You'll never get
away with it.‟
„Why not? Once we take over, all we need is a couple of hours. On the right signal, a
deep sea trawler comes in and takes off the missiles and the men. She sails under the Panamanian
flag, by the way. Once out to sea she's just one more trawler, amongst the hundreds that fish
those waters from every country in Europe.‟
Villiers, searching for a flaw, said, „There's bound to be a standard checking procedure
between French Army Guided Weapon H.Q. and outstations. If they get radio silence from Ile de
Roc they'll want to know why.‟
„But they won't.‟ Donner was enjoying himself. „We'll maintain essential radio contact.
I've got an ex-Army Signals man on my staff for that very purpose. Another thing, emergency
procedures don't come into operation until they've experienced radio silence for three hours. That
gives us plenty of time.‟
And Raul Montera, who had listened to all this without speaking, his face hardening,
said, „But this won't do and you know it.‟
„That's true. World reaction to such an action by the Argentinian government will be one
of horror. One can imagine the row in the United Nations, and God knows what the French will
do.‟
„But this is not the action of the Argentinian government,‟ Montera said.
„Of course not, but as long as it appears to be, it's the same thing, and when the body of
one of the Argentine's greatest air aces is discovered after we're gone, that should clinch things
nicely. Accidents will happen, stray bullets and soon.‟
He poured himself another drink. „Why did you think I was so insistent on your
government sending me someone like you in the first place?‟
Montera was perfectly under control. „Why go to all this trouble?‟
„Simple. You've lost the war already, my friend. If you had heard the news tonight, you
would know that British paratroopers have won an astonishing victory at a place called Goose
Green. The rest of their forces have started the long march to Port Stanley. I regret to say it, but
they are the best trained soldiers in the world. Galtieri made a mistake. His government will fall
anyway, but a scandal of the proportion I envisage will blow the Argentine apart.‟
„Fear, chaos and uncertainty,‟ Villiers said. „The classic situation for your kind of
takeover.‟
„Let's put it this way. The idea of units of the Russian fleet being able to operate in the
South Atlantic from bases of a friendly power is certainly an intriguing one.‟
Gabrielle said, „You really are quite something, aren't you?‟
„I told you I'd grow on you.‟
„And what happens afterwards?‟ Villiers asked.
„Simple. The commanding officer at Ile de Roc has a fast power boat in which Stavrou
and I will return to St Martin. Once back, we fly out again in the Chieftain. First stop Finland,
then the dear old homeland. I haven't been back in years. As I told you, you'll go with me.
They'll love you in Moscow. You, too, of course,‟ he said to Gabrielle. „I couldn't very well
leave you behind, now could I, and you're too good to break?‟
It was the first time that Montera's control snapped. He took a quick step forward, hands
coming up. Stavrou grabbed an Armalite from one of the guards, reversed it quickly and rammed
the butt into the Argentinian's stomach. Montera went down.
Gabrielle rushed to his side, dropping to her knees. Donner laughed as he looked down at
them.
„The only good thing I can say about the cellars here is that there's a lot of them, they're
very secure and the windows are barred. However, they are rather cold.‟ He turned to Stavrou.
„Put the three of them in together. An intriguing situation. They might have to bundle.‟
* * *

Wanda had heard a great deal of what went on, crouched as she was beside the landing
rail in the darkness above the main hall. She saw Stavrou and the two guards escort Villiers,
Montera and Gabrielle across to the door which she knew led to the cellars. After a while,
Stavrou and one of the men returned. Donner appeared from the sitting room as the guard went
out.
He said, „Everything okay?‟
„Fine,‟ Stavrou told him. „The doors on those cells are more than secure. Bolts an inch
thick and I've left a guard in the corridor.‟
„Good,‟ Donner said. „Warn the men for a six o'clock start and make sure Rabier stays
sober.‟
„I will. What about Wanda?‟
„Oh, yes, Wanda,‟ Donner said. „I promised her something special. I've decided she can
have you.‟
„You mean that?‟
„Of course. I wish you well to wear it,‟ Donner told him and returned to the sitting room.
Wanda felt physically sick as revulsion and fear coursed through her. As Stavrou hurried
across the hall and started up the stairs, she got to her feet and moved along the landing in the
darkness, blundering along the passageway beyond until she reached the door to the back stairs.
As she opened it, light flooded out and Stavrou, at the end of the landing, saw her.
„Wanda!‟ he called.
She went through the door fast, slammed it behind her and plunged down the stairs,
kicking off her high heeled shoes as she went. She managed to get the back door open, was
outside and running across the lawn into the trees by the time he reached the bottom of the stairs.
She ran through the wood in panic, head down, an arm raised against flailing branches.
Finally she paused to listen. She could hear him blundering about some distance away on her
right. He called her name angrily and she moved away as quietly as possible.
A few moments later, buildings loomed out of the night and the realised that she had
come round in a circle to the rear of the stables. By now she was wet through and chilled to the
bone. As she moved forward, she saw a ladder against the wall, leading up to a loft. She mounted
it as silently as possible, aware of a murmur of conversation from the men in the stables.
Once inside, she turned and pushed the ladder away. It fell into the soft rain-sodden
ground with hardly a sound and she closed the loft door.
There was laughter below, light coming up through the odd chink in the planks. She
found herself an old horse-blanket and crawled into the corner, covering herself with musty hay.
She was shaking terribly, still filled with fear and repugnance about the thought of Stavrou. Very
gradually, she got control of herself and after a while, she slept.
* * *

Stavrou said, „God knows where she's got to. Nothing but rain and darkness out there.‟
„Nowhere for her to go, she can't do us any harm,‟ Donner said contemptuously. „I know
my Wanda. The silly little bitch will come crawling back when she's had enough of the rain.
Better go and check the men out now.‟
Stavrou went and Donner tried on the tunic again. It really did fit him rather well. His
official rank in the KGB was colonel. Once back in Moscow they'd probably promote him to
general for services rendered. He wondered what that uniform would look like on him.
* * *

Gabrielle dozed in the corner, Villiers' jacket about her shoulders. Montera took a
cigarette packet from his pocket and found it empty. Villiers offered him one.
As he gave Montera a light, he said: „You remind me of an advert I used to see as a kid. It
showed a man smoking a pipe and surrounded by beautiful women. It read: What's he got that
other men haven't. The answer was the brand of tobacco. What's your secret?‟
„Relationships are really very simple,‟ Montera said. „They either work or they don't. The
moment you have to try hard, you've lost.‟
„Then I was in trouble from the beginning,‟ Villiers admitted. „I seemed to spend all my
time trying.‟ He glanced across at Gabrielle. „A hell of a girl.‟
„I know,‟ Montera told him.
„You would, wouldn't you?‟ Villiers said bitterly and went and sat on the bench in the
corner, knees drawn up against his chest to conserve warmth.
He fell asleep and was finally awakened by the sound of footsteps in the courtyard. He
looked out in time to see a Landrover drive out of the garage. Stavrou was at the wheel, Donner
beside him. They were both in uniform. Montera joined Villiers and they watched the Landrover
turn out of the gate.
„It's started,‟ Montera said.
„So it would appear.‟
Gabridle stood up and joined them, pulling Villiers' jacket around her shoulders. „What
are we going to do?‟
„For the moment, nothing,‟ Villiers told her. „Because there's nothing we can do.‟
* * *

The detachment from the 23rd Guided Missile Regiment travelled in an army three-ton
truck, the officer sitting up front beside the driver. It was just after six a.m. and raining heavily
when it came round a bend in the road near Lancy and found the Landrover blocking the way.
Donner, a military raincoat over his uniform, ran forward, waving his arms.
The truck slowed, the officer wound the window down and learned out. „What is it?‟
„Captain Leclerc?‟ Donner asked.
„That's right.‟
„Major Dubois, on assignment at Ile de Roc at the moment. Crossed over to St Martin last
night with the landing craft to be ready to pick you up this morning, but this appalling rain is
causing problems. Heavy flooding on the main road, so I thought I'd come to meet you with an
alternative route.‟
„That's very good of you,‟ Leclerc said.
„Not at all. Just follow the Landrover and I'll have you there in no time.‟
* * *

Montera was standing at the window, peering out through the bars when the Landrover
drove into the courtyard, followed by the truck.
Villiers and Gabrielle moved to his shoulder. „Now what?‟ Villiers asked.
Donner and Stavrou got out of the Landrover and Captain Leclerc jumped down to join
them. He was a fair-haired young man with glasses which were giving him trouble in the rain.
„Just exactly where are we?‟ he asked.
The stable doors opened and Roux's men emerged on the run, everyone in uniform and
carrying either a rifle or a sub-machine gun. The whole thing was over in a few moments, the
rest of the detachment ordered out of the back of the truck at gunpoint and hustled away with
Leclerc.
Villiers turned to Montera. „Clever bastard, isn't he?‟
They heard the sound of boots on the stone stairs outside, doors opening, then closing
again, bolts ramming home. Suddenly there was a movement at their own door, it was opened
and Stavrou appeared, two men at his back.
„Right, Colonel, outside.‟
Montera hesitated. His hand reached for Gabrielle's, clung for a moment, then he moved
out. She didn't say a word as the door slammed home and Villiers slipped an arm about her
shoulders.
Outside, the footsteps receded along the corridor and mounted the steps. Villiers went to
the tiny barred window in the door and on looking out found the young French officer he'd seen
in the courtyard, peering through the bars of the opposite door.
„Who are you?‟ Villiers asked.
„Captain Henri Leclerc, 23rd Guided Missile Regiment. What in the hell is this all
about?‟
„I rather think they're substituting themselves for you and your men, so they can land on
Ile de Roc.‟
„Good God!‟ Leclerc said. „What for?‟
So Villiers told him.
When he had finished, Leclerc said, „And how does he intend to leave here when he gets
back?‟
„He has a plane waiting at a bomber station up the road at Lancy. A Navajo Chieftain.‟
„He's certainly thought of everything.‟
„And not a damn thing we can do about it now. Even if we got out of here and put out a
general alert, it would probably be too late. Aircraft can't land at Ile de Roc. Even helicopters
have problems.‟
„That's not quite true,‟ Leclerc said. „I was very thoroughly briefed on the island before
my posting and there was some information about flying conditions which interested me as I'm a
pilot myself. Did a light aircraft course with the Army Air Corps. They tried out landing small
planes at the northern end of the island last year.‟
„But I thought there were cliffs there.‟
„True, but when the tide goes out it uncovers alarge area of firm sand. They found
landing was no problem. Unfortunately the tide turns so quickly that it made the whole idea
impracticable.‟
„It certainly is while we're stuck in here,‟ Villiers said, and he kicked the door in
frustration.
* * *

Wanda, the blanket wrapped around her, huddled against a window in the loft and peered
down as the men she had slept above all night climbed into the rear of the truck.
Donner, Stavrou and Rabier, the pilot, stood at the bottom of the steps and as she
watched, Stavrou tied Montera's hands together in front of him with a black silk scarf.
„See how kind we're being,‟ Donner said. „But the truth is, I don't want any tell-tale
marks on your wrists when they find you.‟
„A true gentleman,‟ Montera said, and then Stavrou stuffed a handkerchief into his
mouth.
Donner said to Rabier. „Right, you're on your own. Those cellars are as impregnable as
the Bastille, but keep an eye on them anyway. We should be back in five to six hours.‟
„Very well, monsieur, you can rely on me.‟
„And if that bitch Wanda shows up, put her down in the cellar till I return.‟
Stavrou was by now at the wheel. „Ready when you are, sir.‟
Donner climbed into the truck, and it moved away. Rabier turned and went up the steps
into the house. It was very silent in the courtyard now, only the hissing of the rain, and Wanda
huddled beside the window and waited.

15


Donner stood in the wheelhouse of the landing craft and looked through a porthole at the
length of the ship. The hold was a steel shell. The cargo consisted of a large number of packing
cases and the truck belonging to their own party, his men still inside. Beyond were the steel bow
doors of the beaching exit.
The sea was choppy with a slight breeze and although mist and rain had reduced
visibility, they had made good time from St Martin. The captain, a young naval lieutenant, came
in from the bridge and gave the helmsman an order.
„Port five.‟
„Port five of wheel on, sir.‟
„Steady now.‟
„Steady, steering two-o-three, sir.‟
The lieutenant said to Donner, „Not long now. Another twenty minutes.‟
„Perhaps I'll have a chance to offer you a drink when we land?‟
The young man shook his head. „I'm only stopping long enough to put you and your party
ashore, then I proceed to St Nazaire. I'm carrying electronic equipment for Guided Weapons
H.Q.‟
Donner nodded cheerfully. „Another time perhaps.‟
He went out on the bridge, wrapping the oilskin coat they had loaned him about his
shoulders, and looked towards the great cliffs of Ile de Roc rising out of the sea.
* * *

The harbour was not large and the landing craft beached beside a stone jetty. One or two
small sailing dinghies were pulled up on the sand above high water, but the only sizeable craft
was a beautiful power boat, painted green.
When the bow doors opened, the truck drove out across a specially constructed concrete
apron to the start of a tarmacadam road, Donner walking beside it. A Landrover was parked there
and the sole occupant, a tall, greying, middle-aged man wearing a jeep coat with a heavy fur
collar over his uniform, got out.
„Captain Leclerc?‟
„That's right,‟ Donner said.
„Let's get out of this damned rain. Major Espinet - I'm in command here. I'll take you up
to the site. Your truck can follow.‟
Donner nodded to Stavrou and got in. As the Landrover moved away, he said to Espinet.
„A beautiful boat down there in the harbour. Yours, I believe.‟
Espinet smiled. „The pride of my life. Built by Akerboon. Steel hull, twin screws. She can
do thirty-five knots.‟
„Wonderful,‟ Donner commented.
„Helps pass the time in this Godforsaken spot,‟ Espinet told him. „Not the most desirable
of postings.‟
„That's what comes of losing the Empire,‟ Donner said amiably.
The winding road that led up from the harbour was lined with old stone cottages, most of
which appeared to be in ruins. „Like most of these islands off the coast, the people left years
ago,‟ remarked Espinet. „It was just subsistence living here. Crofting and fishing. They seldom
saw a ten franc note from one year's end to the other.‟
They went over the hill above the harbour and there was the camp, a small, ugly
compound of flat-roofed concrete huts built to withstand the fury of the storms that swept in
from the Atlantic in the winter months. A concrete tower some forty feet in height lifted above
them, a narrow balcony encircling its glass walls at the top, a steel emergency ladder running
down one side.
Donner, who knew very well what it was, asked, „What's that? The tower, I mean?‟
„Built to house the radio room,‟ Espinet said. „We also operate a new kind of short wave
scanner from up there when the missiles are testing. That's why we need height.‟
There was a row of bunkers some distance beyond. „Are those the missile pens?‟ Donner
asked.
„That's right. They've got to be underground here. Nothing but Atlantic Ocean out there,
which makes this an ideal test site, but the weather can be ferocious. Two winters ago it was so
bad they evacuated for a month.‟
„They tell me half the people here are civilians?‟
„Yes. Eighteen military personnel at the moment. Only three officers, so we don't have
much of a mess, I'm afraid.‟ Espinet turned the Landrover into the complex. „You know, if you
don't mind me saying so, there's something a little unusual about your accent.‟
„My mother,‟ Donner said. „That's what's so unusual. She was Australian.‟
Espinet laughed. „That certainly explains it.‟
He braked to a halt outside one of the concrete huts where two men in identical
camouflage uniforms and black berets waited. One was a sergeant, the other wore captain's bars.
As he came down to meet them Espinet said, „Pierre Jobert, my second in command.‟
They got out and Espinet made the introductions. Jobert, a pleasant, rather world-weary
young man with a thin moustache, smiled as he shook hands. „Have you ever read Beau Geste,
Captain Leclerc?‟
„Naturally,‟ Donner told him.
Jobert waved a hand that took in the entire complex. „Then you'll understand why we call
this charming little hell-hole Fort Zinderneuf. Coffee waiting in your office, sir.‟
„Excellent,‟ Espinet said. „Assisted by a little Cognac, I trust?‟ He turned to Donner.
„Sergeant Deville will see to your men.‟
„I'll be right with you,‟ Donner said. „Must have a word with them myself first.‟
The two officers went inside and Donner moved to where Stavrou waited beside the
truck, which had parked some little distance away. „Montera still safely under wraps?‟
„In back with the boys.‟
„Good. I'm going to have a drink with the CO. The moment I'm inside, take care of the
radio tower, then everything else stage-by-stage, just the way we discussed it. Only eighteen
military personnel here at the moment. The rest are civilians. Less than I thought.‟
„Probably a few away on furlough,‟ Stavrou said.
Donner smiled. „Lucky for them.‟ He turned and went up the steps to the door which
Sergeant Deville held open for him.
* * *

Stavrou went round to the rear of the truck and the mercenary he had appointed as his
second in command, a man named Jarrot, passed down a canvas holdall. At that moment,
Sergeant Deville joined them.
„Sergeants' mess first stop, then I'll drop off the rest of you.‟
Stavrou kneed him in the groin. As the sergeant started to go down, hands reached and
hauled him into the back of the truck.
Stavrou said to Jarrot, „Okay, Claude, let's get moving.‟
Jarrot and Faure, the radio expert, jumped down, each carrying a canvas holdall, and the
three of them crossed to the base of the radio tower. Stavrou opened the door and led the way up
the narrow spiral staircase to the top. When he stepped out on to the narrow balcony, the wind
tried to push him against the wall and he grabbed for the rail with his free hand. He could see the
harbour clearly, but beyond the sea was shrouded with mist, as was the higher part of the island.
Jarrot and the other man pushed up behind him and they looked in through the armoured
glass of the door to the communications rooms. There were three operators in there, and two
technical sergeants sitting at a desk in the centre. They looked up in surprise as Stavrou opened
the door and the three men filed in. Stavrou dumped his holdall on the desk between the
sergeants, scattering their papers.
He grinned impudently. „Good day to you, boys,‟ he said, and unzipped the holdall,
taking out a Schmeisser machine pistol. „This is what got the SS through the Second World War.
Still does its job very well, so don't waste my time in arguing.‟
One of the sergeants jumped up, reaching for the holstered pistol at his belt, and Jarrot,
who had produced an AK assault rifle from his holdall, smashed the butt against the side of the
man's head. He went down with a groan.
The remaining sergeant and the three radio operators got their hands up fast. Stavrou
reached in his holdall and produced a number of steel handcuffs which he tossed on the table.
„Surplus stock, French military prisons for the use of.‟ He was thoroughly enjoying
himself. „We got them cheap.‟ He turned to Jarrot. „Right, Claude, you can do the honours.‟
Within a couple of minutes, the four men lay on the floor, face down beside the
unconscious sergeant, all with their wrists handcuffed behind their backs. Faure was already
examining the radio equipment.
„Any problems?‟ Stavrou asked.
Faure shook his head. „Most of it is standard military stuff.‟
„Good. You know what to do. Get in touch with the trawler, tell them it's safe to move in
and get me an estimated time of arrival.‟
„Okay.‟ Faure sat down at one of the sets.
Stavrou turned to Jarrot. „Eighteen military personnel in all, that's what Mr Donner said.
Five down - eleven to go.‟ He grinned. „Let's visit the sergeants' mess next, Claude. You lead the
way.‟
* * *

Donner, standing at the window of Major Espinet's office, a glass of Cognac in hand,
watched the two men emerge from the door at the base of the radio tower. They moved to the
truck, Stavrou climbed up behind the wheel, Claude stood on the running board and they moved
away.
Donner said, „When do you intend to put us to work, Major?‟
„No rush,‟ Espinet said. „Got to get acclimatized. All the time in the world in a bloody
place like this.‟
„Not for me there isn't - time, I mean.‟ Donner produced a Walther from his pocket, a
heavy silencer screwed on the end.
Espinet stood up behind his desk, eyes bulging. „What in the hell is going on?‟
„Quite simple,‟ Donner said. „I'm taking over.‟
„You must be mad.‟ Espinet turned to Jobert. „Pierre, ring through to the guardroom.‟
Donner shot him through the back of the head, killing him instantly, knocking him back
across his chair into the corner. The obscenity of his death was somehow intensified by the
almost complete lack of sound due to the fact that the Walther was silenced.
Jobert said, „Who are you, for God's sake?‟
Donner said, „You can use your intelligence. Sufficient to say that my country is at war
and we need more Exocets. I've got a boat coming in here soon and we're going to take as many
as we can lay our hands on and you're going to help.‟
„Like hell, I will,‟ Jobert said.
„Oh, all very gallant and French are we today?‟ Donner touched the end of the silencer
between his eyes. „You'll do exactly as you're told because if you don't, I'll parade your entire
unit and shoot every third man.‟
And Jobert believed him, which was the important thing, sudden despair in his eyes,
shoulders sagging. Donner poured himself another brandy and toasted him.
„Cheer up, sport,‟ he said. „After all, you could be like Espinet. You could be dead. Now
let's get moving.‟
They went up the street together to where the truck was parked outside one of the huts.
Stavrou and Jarrot were emerging from another hut on the left and they met just as three more of
the mercenaries came out of the hut opposite.
Stavrou said, „Five in the radio room, six in the segeants' mess, two corporals in the
office of that hut opposite. Every man on his face in steel bracelets.‟
„Which leaves three military personnel unaccounted for.‟ Donner turned to Jobert.
„Where are they, Captain?‟
Jobert hesitated, but only for a moment. „On duty in the missile pen.‟
„Good. Now for the civilians. Twenty of them, isn't that right?‟
„I suppose so.‟
„How many of them in the pens at the moment?‟
„Probably five. They work shifts. The others will be eating or sleeping.‟
„Excellent. Then if you'll be good enough to lead the way, we'll introduce ourselves, shall
we?‟
* * *

From her vantage point in the loft, Wanda could see Rabier through the kitchen window.
He had been sitting there for some time now at the table, eating bread and cheese and drinking
Cognac - drinking a great deal of Cognac.
Wanda was cold and very hungry. She moved to the corner of the loft, raised the trapdoor
and descended a flight of wooden steps. She found herself in the stables Roux's men had used as
their quarters. There were sleeping bags in the stalls and various items of equipment laid out on a
trestle table, including an assortment of weapons.
She opened the door and looked outside. It was still raining and she tiptoed cautiously
across the cobbles towards the kitchen door. Gabrielle, who had been peering out through the
cellar window, saw her coming.
„Wanda!‟ she whispered urgently. „Over here.‟
Villiers was on his feet in a second. „What is it?‟
Wanda hesitated, then crossed to the wall and crouched down at the window. „They've all
gone except Rabier, the pilot.‟
„I know,‟ Gabrielle said. „Come down and let us out as fast as you can.‟
Wanda nodded. „I'll try,‟ she said. „But Rabier's on guard.‟ She stood up and hurried to
the back door, opened it cautiously and started along the passage, pausing at the kitchen door
which stood ajar. Rabier stood at the table opening a fresh bottle of Cognac. Wanda tiptoed past
him and opened the door into the hall. It creaked slightly in spite of the care with which she
closed it and in the kitchen, Rabier paused in the act of pouring Cognac into a glass and listened,
a slight frown on his face, head cocked to one side. He went out into the passage, still holding the
bottle of Cognac.
Wanda paused in the hall for a moment. The house was silent. She crossed to the door
leading to the cellar steps, opened it and went down. At the bottom, she felt for the light switch
and whispered, „Gabrielle, where are you?‟
„Here, Wanda! Here!‟ Gabrielle called.
Wanda hesitated at the cellar door, peering in through the bars, aware of Gabrielle inside,
Villiers at her shoulder. There was a great rusting bolt at the top of the door which pulled back
without too much difficulty, but the other bolt at the bottom of the door was a different
proposition. She got on her knees, tugging at it with both hands. Suddenly there was a movement
behind her, a hand fastened in her hair, pulling her head back painfully, dragging her to her feet.
She twisted round to find Rabier smiling at her.
„Naughty,‟ he said. „Very naughty. I can see I'm going to have to take you in hand.‟
He was very drunk and thrust the neck of the Cognac bottle into her mouth. It jarred
painfully against her teeth and she choked as the fiery liquid poured down her throat. He laughed
again, not pleasantly, eyes fixed, an ugly look on his face, and put the bottle on a shelf beside
them.
„And now,‟ he said, „I'll teach you how to do as you're told.‟ He forced his mouth on hers,
holding her against the wall, one hand still fastened in her hair, the other pawing at her breasts.
Gabrielle cried out in anger and then Villiers pulled her to one side, reached through the
bars with one hand and got Rabier by the hair, yanking him back against the door with
considerable force.
„The bottle, Wanda!‟ he ordered. „The bottle.‟
For Wanda now, Rabier was every man who had ever used her, the anger, the humiliation
of the years welling up in a killing rage. She grabbed the Cognac bottle by the neck and clubbed
Rabier across the side of the head. He cried out, staggering back and she hit him again, sending
him to his knees. She kicked him out of the way and the rage in her was still so strong that this
time when she reached for the bolt, it opened with no difficulty and Gabrieile and Villiers moved
out to join her.
* * *

When the phone rang, Ferguson was just out of the shower. He listened to what Villiers
had to say and then said, „Right, Tony. You stay where you are. Let the French handle it now.
Good work.‟
He slammed down the phone and ran into the sitting room, clutching the towel around
him.
„Harry, where the devil are you?‟
Fox appeared from the study. „You wanted me, sir?‟
„Tony's cracked it. Now all we need is some fast action from the French. Get Colonel
Guyon in Paris for me now. Top priority. Most urgent.‟
He ran back into his bedroom and started to dress.
* * *

Rabier was tied up and bundled into the butler's pantry and Villiers helped himself to the
Walther he carried. „I should imagine the Brigadier's on to Paris now.‟
„It will still take time for them to move,‟ Gabrieile said. „What about Raul? You've got to
do something Tony.‟
„Yes, I know.‟ Villiers turned to Leclerc. „Are you game to fly the Chieftain out to Ile de
Roc and try landing her on that beach.‟
Leclerc smiled. „It would certainly give Donner one hell of a surprise and we could take
half a dozen of my men.‟
Villiers turned to look at them. They seemed fit enough, but rather more intellectual than
the average soldier and two of them wore glasses.
„These boys are technicians, aren't they? Electronics wizards?‟
„And good soldiers, too, believe me. What we lack are weapons.‟
Wanda said, „There are rifles and things in the stables where those men of Donner's were
staying. I just saw them.‟
Leclerc turned to his men. „Come on then. What are we waiting for?‟ He led the way out.
Gabrielle put a hand on Villier's arm. „Take care, Tony, and try to be in time.‟
„I will.‟ On impulse he kissed her on the forehead. He walked to the door.
She called, „Tony?‟
„Yes?‟
„I think you were always worth something better.‟
„Than you?‟
„Oh, no. I'm too too arrogant to admit that.‟ She smiled. „Than what you do, Tony. You're
worth so much more than Ferguson and all his dark games. Worth a little joy. And I'm sorry
about us - sorry about a lot of things.‟
He smiled, looking suddenly as charming as on the first time she'd met him. „I'm not.
When the going was good, it was bloody marvellous. I wouldn't have missed you for anything.‟
He went out. A moment later she heard the Peugeot estate start up and move away and
then there was only the silence.
* * *

In Espinet's office, Raul Montera sat in a chair, hands still bound by the silk scarf. The
major lay in the corner, covered by a blanket. Donner turned from a cupboard and held up a
bottle of champagne.
„The old devil did himself well. Krug 71. An exceptional year. Pity there isn't time to
chill it. Still, you can't have everything in this life.‟ He thumbed off the cork and laughed as the
champagne foamed. „You'll join me in a glass?‟
„As you well know, it doesn't agree with me,‟ Montera said calmly.
„Well, it agrees with me, old sport.‟ Donner filled a glass, went to the window and peered
out. „Things have certainly gone well, you must admit. Nothing like a little organisation.‟
„I heard some shooting.‟
„Just a little. A couple of guards up at the missile pens loosed off a few rounds before my
boys cut them down. Very useful that. It makes it all hang together when we leave you face
down with a bullet in you, from one of their weapons naturally.‟
The door opened and Stavrou entered.
Donner said, „Have you made contact with the trawler?‟
„Yes, they should be here in thirty-five minutes.‟
„Everything else under control?‟
„Everyone under lock and key except for ten civilian personnel who are loading Exocets
on to trucks in the missile pens.‟
„Excellent,‟ Donner said. „You get back up there and keep things moving. We'll join you
in a few minutes. The colonel might find it interesting.‟
Stavrou went out. Donner refilled his glass and raised it in mock salute to Montera as rain
rattled the window.
„Not long now, old sport.‟
* * *

Sitting in the cockpit of the Chieftain beside Leclerc, Villiers saw Ile de Roc lift out of
the sea on the horizon, a grey hump under cumulus clouds, the cliffs at the northern end
wreathed in mist. They were flying at no more than three hundred feet above the sea, Leclerc's
hands steady on the column, and below the grey-green surface of the sea was being whipped into
whitecaps.
Villiers said, „What about wind direction? Will it be all right for landing?‟
„Good enough, I think. It's the down-draughts from those cliffs we'll have to watch for.‟
The island crouched there like a grey beast, waiting for them, the great cliffs rearing three
hundred feet high at one end, the rest of the desolate land mass sloping steeply towards the
harbour.
„You realise they'll know we're coming?‟ Leclerc said. „No way of avoiding that.‟
„I know,‟ Villiers said. „It can't be helped, so you might as well cut right in across the
island and let us see the state of the game. A little panic and confusion always helps.‟
The Chieftain went in across the cliffs, the mist parting before it, roaring across a
desolate rain-soaked moonscape, a nightmare world of deep gullies fissured into grey rock,
relieved by the occasional green of bog or moorland. Leclerc pulled back on the column; they
lifted over a ridge and found the missile pens and the concrete buildings of the camp complex no
more than a hundred feet below.
Donner and Raul Montera were walking up the street towards the missile pens. Donner
glanced up in alarm, then pushed Montera into a stumbling run towards the shelter of the tunnel
entrance leading to the pens as Leclerc banked, came in again at fifty feet this time, then turned
and moved out to sea.
Stavrou had observed the incident from the shelter of the tunnel entrance. As Donner and
Montera ran in beside him, he said, „I don't understand. That was our plane. What in the hell is
going on?‟
„Villiers, you imbecile,‟ Donner said. „Who else could it be. God knows what's gone
wrong back there at the house.‟
He looked out from the tunnel entrance to where the Chieftain banked over the sea and
came in again, heading for the cliffs and disappearing from view.
„What the hell are they doing?‟ Stavrou exclaimed. „There's nowhere to land on this
rock.‟
„Oh, yes there is,‟ Donner said. „If the tide's right, there's plenty of beach at the base of
those cliffs. The French Air Force proved it could be done last year. It just wasn't a practical
proposition on a long term basis, that's all.‟
„So what do we do? If that is Villiers, then he must have contacted the French authorities.
We could have paratroopers round our necks before we know it.‟
„Let's see how things are inside,‟ said Donner calmly.
He pushed Montera ahead of him. They moved along the tunnel and entered a large
concrete cave brightly lit by floodhghts. Four of the special trucks built to carry the missile were
lined up at a loading ramp, where the civilian personnel in Aerospatiale overalls toiled to load
the Exocets with the assistance of special hydraulic hoists, closely supervised by armed
mercenaries.
Jarrot was in charge. „What stage are you at?‟ Donner asked.
„Difficult to say. With luck, another twenty minutes and we can move down to the
harbour.‟
Donner turned to Stavrou. „I'll stay here. You take some men and get up on those cliffs. If
anyone is trying to get through, stop them. You must give us the time we need.‟
Stavrou grinned savagely. „My personal guarantee on it.‟ He nodded to Jarrot. „Come on,
Claude. We've got work to do.‟
They ran back along the tunnel. Donner took out a cigarette and lit it. „Villiers,‟ he said.
„How incredible.‟ He laughed, totally without malice. „God damn him, he must be nearly as good
as me.‟
„What was it you said?‟ Montera asked. „Nothing like a little organisation?‟
„One of those days,‟ Donner said amiably. „Everyone has them.‟
„So now what happens?‟
„We wait and see, old sport, but preferably back in Espinet's office in comfort. I left that
bottle of Krug on his desk and it's too good to waste, chilled or not.‟
„You're finished,‟ Montera said, „and you know it.‟
„We'll see, old sport, we'll see.‟ Donner grinned and pushed him along the tunnel.
* * *

Leclerc took the Chieftain in on a trial run, feeling for the wind. A cross current from the
island caught them so that they rocked violently in the turbulence. He brought the Chieftain
round in a tight circle and came in low over the waves, throttling back and dropping flaps.
The wheels seemed to touch the surface of the water and then they were down, biting into
the hard wet sand and running forward through the shallows, spray flying up in great clouds on
either side. Leclerc taxied to the far end of the beach, turned into the wind and switched off the
engines.
„The tide's on the turn. Maybe an hour and there won't be enough beach left for a
take-off.‟
„It doesn't matter,‟ Villiers told him. „After all, it isn't our plane.‟
He produced the Walther he had taken from Rabier, checked the action, then put it back
in his pocket. Leclerc's men had already got the airstair door open and were scrambling out on to
the beach one by one, each man taking with him a weapon from the supply of arms they had
brought from the Maison Blanche. Villiers picked up an Armalite, slipped a hand grenade into
his pocket and joined them.
A cold wind drove rain in across the wet flats as they stood around him in a semi-circle.
„How many of you have had combat experience?‟ he demanded.
Leclerc indicated a tall, fit-looking young man with close cropped hair, whose
steel-rimmed glasses were already misting with rain. „Sergeant Albray here was on detachment
with the Foreign Legion in Chad two years ago. He's been under fire more than once. As for the
rest of us …‟ He shrugged.
„All right,‟ Villiers said. „There's only time for me to say one thing of importance to you.
No boy scout ethics like giving those bastards a fair chance. Shoot them in the back if you have
to because that's exactly what they'll do to you. Now let's get out of here,‟ and he turned and
started to run across the sand towards the base of the cliffs.
They had seemed impregnable on the flight in from the sea, but on a closer view, were
breached by an enormous gully, water running down the centre. It provided an easy if strenuous
route up from the beach.
Ten minutes later they were over the top and starting down the slope through a jumble of
broken grey boulders, sparse grass, everything shrouded in clinging mist. Villiers sensed voices
somewhere below, held up his hand to caution Leclerc and the others to silence.
They went forward through the mist and came to the edge of an escarpment and there
below, toiling up the slope, was Jarrot, followed by three other men. Villiers had eyes only for
Stavrou bringing up the rear, could see only Harvey Jackson's tortured face as he sat tied to the
chair in that wretched little bungalow near Lancy.
He took the grenade from his pocket and pulled the pin with his teeth. For once, he
allowed anger to betray his usual icy calm and rigorous training.
„Stavrou, you bastard!‟ he called. „Here's a present from Harvey Jackson,‟ and he tossed
the grenade into the ravine.
Stavrou, alerted by that cry, every instinct bred of years of hard living coming to his aid,
was already turning, diving headlong down the hillside, rolling out of sight into the mist and rain.
Not so his companions. There was a shattering explosion followed by screams, and Villiers
moved to the edge, his Armalite ready. The ravine was like a butcher's shop, Jarrot and his three
companions all badly hit. There was horror on the faces of the young French soldiers as they
moved to join Villiers. He raised the Armalite to his shoulder and fired at one of the men who
was trying to crawl away.
Leclerc caught him by the shoulder and swung him round. „For God's sake, haven't you
had enough?‟
There was a single shot, a bullet caught him in the side of the head, splintering bone as it
emerged above his right ear. He fell back over the edge.
One of the sergeants loosed off a burst from his machine pistol at Jarrot who had fired the
shot from the hip, bracing himself on one knee. The bullets spun him around and shredded the
back of his camouflage jacket so that it burst into flame.
There was only silence then as they stood beside Villiers, staring at the carnage and at
Leclerc's body down there also.
„Is that it, sir?‟ one of the younger sergeants asked.
Villiers shook his head. „There are still others down there at the base and the man we
really want, Felix Donner. I'm sorry about your captain. He was a good man, but you don't
survive in war by being kind, decent and honourable, not these days. I hope you've learned your
lesson. Use it well when we get down there.‟ He slammed another clip into his Armalite. „All
right, follow me, do exactly as I say and you might just live forever.‟
* * *

Donner, back in Espinet's office, heard the grenade explosion and then the rattle of small
arm fire that followed it. He moved to the window, glass in hand and saw Stavrou running down
the slope on the other side of the huts.
Montera said, „Could something else have gone wrong, do you think?‟
Donner turned round, still smiling, but the eyes were cold and very dark. He said, „You
really do presume on my good nature, old sport, don't you?‟ He took a quick step forward and
punched Montera in the face, catching him high on the right cheek, sending him flying
backwards out of the chair.
He opened the door and stepped outside as Stavrou ran across the street towards the
entrance to the tunnel to the missile pens. Stavrou saw him at once and veered towards him.
„How bad?‟ Donner demanded.
„Villiers caught us in a ravine up there. Had at least half a dozen men with him.‟
„Jarrot and the others?‟
„Grenade. I only got out myself by the skin of my teeth. What do we do now?‟
Donner appeared to consider the matter, although he had already made his decision, at
least as regards his own future. A shambles, no other word for it and one thing was for certain.
The presence of Villiers and his men meant that much stronger forces wouldn't be far behind.
Last stands were for fools and the Chieftain on the beach at the foot of those cliffs was a much
more attractive proposition.
He said to Stavrou, „Get up to the radio room, Yanni, and contact the captain of the
trawler. Don't whatever you do, tell him what the situation is or the bastard will simply turn tail
and get the hell out of it. Just tell him my orders are to come ahead at his best possible speed.
Once that's sorted out, get the others. I'll meet you down at the harbour.‟
„And the Exocets?‟ Stavrou demanded.
„Yesterday's news. If we get out of this one in one piece we've done well. Off you go!‟
Stavrou went out. Montera said, „You can say I'm a cynic, but I get the impression you've
just sold our friend right down the river.‟
„He shouldn't have joined.‟ Donner reached for the bottle of Krug. „Might as well finish
this.‟
„There's nowhere to go,‟ Montera said softly. „It's over, or hasn't that sunk in yet?‟
„There's always somewhere to go, sport, especially when you have a plane on the beach
and the pride of the Argentine air force to fly it for you.‟
He emptied his glass in one quick swallow and hurled it into the corner to smash against
the wall.
* * *

Villiers ordered his men to stay down and moved to the edge of the escarpment, in time
to see Stavrou cross to the radio tower, open the door and disappear inside. The entire base was
laid before them like a map.
Villiers pointed to the tunnel entrance to the missile pens. „Presumably you were briefed
before this posting,‟ he said to Sergeant Albray. „Would that be where the Exocets are?‟
„That's right,‟ Albray said. „The radio room is at the top of the tower.‟
There was another long, low concrete building to the right where two of Donner's men
appeared to be standing guard.
„And that?‟ Villiers demanded.
„As I remember from the plans, that's the fuel store.‟
Villiers nodded. „They've probably got most of the personnel on the base imprisoned in
there.‟
„No sign of the trawler,‟ Albray remarked, looking down towards the harbour.
„Probably on her way in right now. Even if Donner thinks things have gone badly wrong,
he won't want to be left stranded. On the other hand, he might decide to go all Russian on us and
sacrifice himself for the sake of the dear old motherland. Order that trawler to get the hell out of
it, which would be a pity. Nice to think it's going to end up in the bag with everybody else.‟
„So what do we do?‟ Albray asked.
„We'll tackle the tower, you and I. Probably there's only the creep who just went in,
Stavrou, and a radio operator up there.‟ He turned to the rest of the soldiers. „Give Sergeant
Albray and me five minutes, then move in and move in hard. Take out those two guards at the
fuel store, then block the mouth of that tunnel. Anyone tries to move out, shoot the hell out of
them and remember what I said. Don't give the bastards a chance because they won't give you
one.‟
* * *

They skirted the back of one of the concrete huts and paused in its shelter, no more than
ten yards from the tower. Villiers pointed to the steel ladder running up the outside of the tower
to the balcony.
He moved forward, and holding the Walther ready in his right hand, started to climb.
Albray waited until he was ten or fifteen feet up and then ran forward, opened the door at the
base of the tower and went inside.
As he did so, Yanni Stavrou came round the final bend of the spiral staircase. The gun on
his hip was holstered, but his reflexes were excellent. He took in Albray and his uniform in a
split second, was already turning and running back out of sight as the sergeant fired his machine
pistol. Albray, without the slightest hesitation, went after him.
* * *

Villiers was more than half way up the ladder when he heard the shooting from inside the
tower. He paused, hanging on with one hand, the Walther in his other. He looked down and
again everything moved in on him as that dreadful fear of heights returned.
The guards outside the fuel store were looking up, started to raise their weapons, and then
Leclerc's men emerged from between two concrete huts opposite, firing as they came, cutting
them down from behind.
Above Villiers the radio operator leaned over the rail, a machine pistol in his hand, and
Villiers fired one-handed, the reflexes of hard training taking over, all fear leaving him. The man
cried out and staggered back out of sight and Villiers started to climb again.
* * *

Donner ran to the window, drawing his revolver and looked out as firing erupted in the
street.
Raul Montera laughed softly. „I think that perhaps this time you've left things a little late,
my friend.‟
Donner didn't bother to reply, simply opened the door and peeped out. The three guards
at the fuel store lay in the street outside and one of Leclerc's men was unlocking the door. There
was gunfire at the other end of the street and he saw two of his men fleeing towards the harbour.
He closed the door, pulled Montera to his feet and pushed him into the kitchen at the rear.
Totally without fear, he opened the back door. „Now get moving!‟ he ordered, and he pushed
Montera outside.
* * *

Villiers peered cautiously over the edge of the balcony but there was no one there except
for the dead radio operator sprawled against the wall, the machine pistol on the floor beside him.
Villiers picked up the machine pistol and moved to the door of the radio room which swung in
the wind. There was no one there either.
There was a quick step behind him, he swung round, the machine pistol coming up as
Stavrou paused in the doorway, an automatic in one hand. The look on Stavrou's face said
everything, rage for a brief moment, then the cold calculation of the professional survivor. He
assessed his chances against the machine pistol and made his decision. He laid down his
automatic very carefully.
Villiers raised the machine pistol, finger tightening on the trigger and Stavrou smiled.
„Oh no you won't, Major Villiers. I mean, it wouldn't be British, would it? Playing fields of Eton
and all that fair play stuff.‟
Villiers moved in close. „You mean I'm a gentleman?‟
„Something like that.‟
The bone-handled fisherman's gutting knife, which Stavrou had carried in his right sleeve
for years, slipped into the palm of his hand, there was a click as his thumb found the button, the
arm swept up, the blade streaking for the soft flesh beneath Villiers' chin.
And Villiers, anticipating just such a move, praying for it, dropped his machine pistol,
blocked the arm with practised skill, grabbed for the wrist with both hands, twisting it cruelly so
that Stavrou dropped the knife and cried out in pain. Villiers wrenched the arm round and up,
still keeping that terrible hold in position, and this time Stavrou screamed as muscles tore, was
still screaming as Villiers ran him headfirst through the door and out across the rail to plunge
forty feet to the concrete below.
It was at that precise moment that Donner and Montera emerged from the back of the
officer's mess. Stavrou's body hit the ground at the base of the tower and Donner looked up to
see Villiers appear at the rail, Sergeant Albray behind him. The sergeant raised his machine
pistol to fire and Donner pulled Montera in front of him as a shield.
On the balcony Villiers knocked up the sergeant's arm. „No, leave it to me.‟ He turned
and went down the spiral staircase on the run.
* * *

Donner and Montera went up the ravine at the rear of the camp, emerged on the upper
slope and started across the plateau towards the edge of the cliff, Donner pushing the Argentinian
in front of him.
„I told you, there's no place to run,‟ Montera said.
„Oh, yes there is. You're going to fly us out of here, Colonel.‟
They reached the edge of the cliffs. The Chieftain was clearly visible in spite of the mist,
strangely alien in such a place. There was only one thing wrong. The sea rolled in across the sand
in great, hungry breakers. Already at least half the area on which the Chieftain had landed was
eaten away, the rest broken up by trailing fingers in salt water.
„You've had it,‟ Montera said. „See for yourself.‟
„Get moving!‟
Donner pushed him down into the gully and they went sliding down together in a shower
of broken stones and earth. They plunged down the final slope of scree and emerged on to the
open beach, aware at once of the strong fresh wind blowing in from the sea.
Montera had ended up on his back, hampered by his bound hands. As Donner pulled him
to his feet a cascade of stones rained down from above. Donner turned, firing blindly into the
mist, then grabbed Montera by the collar and ran for the plane, pushing him in front of him.
As they reached the Chieftain, he rammed Montera against the side and pushed the
revolver barrel up under his chin. Then he took a knife from his pocket, sprang the blade and
sliced through the silk scarf.
He stood back. „Okay, inside and let's get out of here.‟
Montera's face stayed calm, but something in his eyes made Donner turn to find Tony
Villiers arriving on the run, travelling fast, the Walther in his right hand. He halted perhaps thirty
feet away.
„All right, Donner, let him go!‟ he called.
Donner half-turned towards Montera, sighed. „Like I said, it's been one of those days.‟
Montera said, „Don't try it, not with him.‟
„Maybe you've got a point,‟ Donner said. „On the other hand, I'm tired of running, sport.‟
He turned, the revolver swinging up in his right hand. Villiers fired three times very fast,
one bullet catching Donner in the right shoulder spinning him round, the others shattering his
spine, driving him against the plane. He bounced off and fell on his face and a wave swept in
over him from the incoming tide, lapping around the wheels of the plane.
Montera stood looking at him. „Nothing like a little organisation,‟ he said softly.
„What's that?‟ Villiers asked.
„Nothing important. Is Gabrielle all right?‟
„Yes fine, waiting back at Maison Blanche. We had a certain amount of luck there.
Wanda Jones released us, the rest we made up as we went along.‟
„Who flew the plane?‟
„The French captain, Leclerc.‟
There was a distant buzzing and Montera pointed to where three helicopters moved in
under low cloud, line astern.
„Who's that?‟
„The French unless I'm very much mistaken, arriving just too late. Probably paratroopers.
Do you think you could fly this thing out of here?‟
Montera looked about him. „We haven't got a clear run. It's all broken up by water
channels as you can see. Why do you ask?‟
„Because I think it might be a good idea if you got the hell out of here and in the
circumstances I'm willing to take my chances with you. There's going to be one hell of a row
about this and I'd rather be out of it. I don't owe the French anything. They sold you the Exocets
that sank the Sheffield, Coventry and Atlantic Conveyor in the first place.‟
„They also sold them to you, my friend.‟
„True. Which goes to prove something, though I'm not sure what. Come on, are we going
or are we not? You can only die once.‟
„Okay,‟ Montera said. „You're on.‟
He climbed in behind the controls while Villiers got into the passenger seat beside him
and secured the door. The engines coughed into life with a shattering roar, drowning every other
sound.
„What do you think?‟ Villiers shouted.
Montera didn't even bother to reply. There was a strange, set smile to his face. He taxied
into the wind and gave the plane full throttle. The Chieftain shuddered and seemed to leap
forward on a diagonal course to the sea that gave them the longest strip of beach left.
They went across one water channel and then another and another, spray flying up in
clouds on either side, Montera stamping hard on the rudder bar to keep her straight. And then she
lifted, one wing dipping slightly, and the breakers were beneath then, the wheels skimming the
whitecaps.
Suddenly, they were moving very fast indeed, the engine note deepening into a
full-throated roar. Only then did Montera pull back on the control column.
* * *

After a couple of hours waiting at the house, Gabrielle could take it no longer and she and
Wanda walked to the airfield. It was still raining hard and they sheltered in the hangar.
Gabrielle said, „What are you going to do after this?‟
Wanda shrugged. „God knows. I was on the street when Felix picked me up. It was like a
dream. From the gutter to luxury, just like that. I suppose I'll have to wake up now.‟ She shook
her head. „He was a right bastard, you know that? And I was so afraid of him.‟
„Then why did you stay?‟
„Because I was more afraid of being back on the street.‟
„And now?‟
Wanda said, „Oh, I don't know. All of a sudden, it looks as if it could be interesting.‟
„I've been thinking,‟ Gabrielle said. „I've got a lot of good friends in the magazine
business and I've a hunch the camera would like you. Maybe we could put something together.‟
„You mean, Wanda Jones as a sort of Vogue centrefold?‟ Wanda grinned. „Now that
really would be something.‟
There was the sound of engines in the far distance and the Chieftain came in low from the
west, then turned into the wind for landing.
Wanda said, „I've just thought of something. What if it isn't them? What if they lost out?
It could be Felix.‟
Gabrielle turned, a kind of astonishment on her face. „You really think a man like Donner
could take Tony Villiers?‟ She laughed out loud. „My God, Wanda, but you do have a lot to
learn,‟ and she turned and walked towards the plane as it taxied in.
* * *

The Chieftain came to a halt, but Montera didn't switch off the engine, simply sat there
staring out of the windscreen.
He said, „Could you make it fast? I want to get out of here.‟
„You're not staying?‟
„Nothing to stay for.‟
„I'd say there is, standing right outside by the port wing.‟
Montera slid back the side window and looked out at her. Gabrielle was laughing, all the
relief in the world in her face. She waved excitedly.
He turned to Villiers. „Please Tony.‟
It was the first time he had used his name and there was anguish in his voice. Villiers
said, „Okay, but I'm sticking with you. Where are we going?‟
„Where we started from. Brie-Comte-Robert.‟
„And then?‟
„There's an Air France jumbo leaving for Buenos Aires tonight. I intend to be on it.‟
He started to turn the Chieftain away, increased speed and Gabrielle wasn't smiling now,
her mouth opening in a cry that was soundless, drowned by the roaring of the engines and then
she was somewhere behind the end of the runway that was rushing towards them.
* * *

The concourse at Charles de Gaulle airport was not particularly busy as Tony Villiers
waited by the bookstall outside the international departure lounge. Montera was at the Air France
desk putting his holdall through. He turned and paused to light a cigarette, a curiously elegant
figure in the old black flying jacket and the jeans.
„Dear God,‟ Villiers said softly, „I actually like the man. Everything all right?‟ he asked
as Montera approached.
„I've got to change at Rio. Something to do with flying in the exclusion zone. Obviously
no one intends to take any chances. No problem. Even allowing for that, I should be in Buenos
Airs within seventeen or eighteen hours.‟
„And then what? Back to Rio Gallegos and that Skyhawk Squadron?‟
„What do you think?‟
„That you're exactly that kind of holy fool. You've lost the war, Raul. It's over. You saw
the evening papers. We're on our way. Those Commandos are walking across North Falkland to
Stanley. Everybody said it couldn't be done, but they're doing it. The only thing standing
between the British army and total victory is maybe nine or ten thousand men dug in around
Stanley and what's left of your air force.‟
„Exactly. While I've been playing games up here in Europe, the rest of my boys have
been getting blown out of the sky down there in the South Atlantic.‟
„So you want to join them?‟ Villiers was surprised to find he was actually angry. „I know,
don't tell me. A matter of honour.‟
„Something like that.‟
„And Gabrielle? She loves you, you know that and where she's concerned, I'm an expert.
Oh, a failed expert, perhaps, but I know this. She never looked at me like she looks at you. I
never saw her smile like that.‟
„There's nothing left for Gabrielle and me, not after what's happened,‟ Montera said.
„Can't you understand?‟ Villiers told him. „She was in a hole she couldn't get out of.
Ferguson held all the cards.‟
Montera laughed. „I understand perfectly, but there's her brother to be considered.‟ He
shivered slightly. „He would always be between us, Tony, can't you see that?‟
His name was called over the tannoy. He dropped his cigarette, put his foot on it and
smiled. „That's it, then.‟
He held out his hand and Villiers took it for a moment. „Good luck. I'm afraid you're
going to need it.‟
„What the hell does it matter as long as it's quick?‟ Montera moved to the gate and
turned. „Do your best for her, Tony,‟ and then he was gone.
Villiers went into the bar, sat in the corner and ordered coffee and Cognac. He felt
restless and out of sorts. Damn the man. As he'd kept saying himself, he was the enemy and yet it
seemed such a waste. He had another Cognac, then went out, found an international call box and
phoned the Cavendish Place number.
Ferguson said, „You're phoning from Charles de Gaulle, I presume? You've seen Raul
Montera off?‟
„How in the hell did you know?‟ Villiers demanded.
„Pierre Guyon and Section Five of the SDECE have been watching you two ever since
you arrived at Brie-Comte-Robert, Tony.‟
„Then why didn't they stop him leaving?‟
„Because the only place they want him is back in the Argentine. The French want this one
nailed down tight. It never happened, understand me?‟
„Of course, sir,‟ Tony Villiers said. „Just another of my regular nightmares.‟
„I presume he's gone back to play heroes again?‟
„Something like that.‟
„Ah, well, that's no longer our concern. There is one more rather important item I'd like
you to handle for me, Tony. It concerns Gabrielle. My information is that she'll be back in Paris
tonight.‟
„What is it, sir?‟
„You see, Tony, right in the middle of things, she started to crack, as you know. Wanted
out, remember?‟
„So?‟ Villiers said, and suddenly his stomach was empty as if he knew by instinct that it
was going to be bad.
„I needed to do something drastic to pull her together, so I told her that Richard was
missing in action, believed dead.‟
„You mean it wasn't true?‟ Villiers said.
„He's fine, according to my latest information,‟ Ferguson said. „Still in the thick of it, of
course.‟
„You fucking bastard,‟ Villiers said and slammed down the phone.
He started to run across the concourse towards the gate into the international departure
lounge and then slowed to a halt. Too late to catch Montera now. Far too late. He turned wearily
and moved towards the main doors, wondering what on earth he was going to say to Gabrielle.

16


On the terrace of the big house above the River Plate outside Buenos Aires, Donna Elena
Llorca de Montera sat in a cane chair and did a little embroidering. It was something she hadn't
done since she was a young girl, but these days she found it helped if she kept her hands busy.
One of the maids came out from the sitting room. „There is some one to see you, Donna
Elena. A lady.‟
Her mistress paused and looked up frowning. „A lady.‟
„A French lady. A Señorita Legrand.‟
Elena de Montera said calmly, „Please show her in.‟
* * *

Gabrielle paused in the French windows, then came forward slowly. „Donna Elena?‟
The old woman sat there, looking at her without expression for a while and then nodded.
„Yes, I see exactly what he meant. Now I understand everything.‟
„Where is he?‟ Gabrielle said. „I must see him. I've something to tell him of vital
importance.‟
„But that's impossible. Raul is at Rio Gallegos, flying with his squadron, or what's left of
it.‟
Gabrielle slumped down in a chair on the other side of the table. „Is Linda here? He
talked a lot about Linda and you.‟
„I've sent her to friends in the country. It seemed the best thing to do in the
circumstances.‟
„What you mean is, you expect to hear he's been killed in action at any moment?‟
„It would appear likely.‟ She lit a cigarette and pushed the pack across to Gabrielle.
„Cheap ones, the kind dockers use, but I can't smoke anything else. My son, when he returned
from France, breached security completely, quite simply because he didn't care any more. He
told me everything. He loves you very much.‟
„I know that.‟
„So much, that he discounts your activities for British Intelligence as being of no
consequence, an opinion I'm certain our esteemed President would not agree with. However,
Raul was deeply distressed by the fact of your brother's death. It is something he felt would
always be between you.‟
„But they lied to me!‟ Gabrielle spread her hands. „My people lied to me, to keep me in
line! Richard's fine, still a helicopter pilot on Invincible, but alive and well.‟
„Mother of God.‟ Elena de Montera put a hand to her eyes for a moment, then looked up
again. „Were you aware that my son had your name painted on the nose of his Skyhawk?‟
„Yes,‟ Gabrielle said.
„I have friends down there who keep me informed as to his doings. When he got back, he
had an extra word added. Apparently it now reads, Gabrielle Gone.‟
Gabrielle took a deep breath and placed her hands on the table to steady herself. „I must
see him. I'll go to Rio Gailegos.‟
„My dear, you wouldn't get anywhere near the place. It's a restricted military area. On the
other hand, General Dozo, Commander of our air force, is one of my dearest friends. Let's go
inside and I'll make some phone calls.‟
„If you only could,‟ Gabrielle said.
„Men, my love, are easy enough to handle as long as one understands their conceit.‟ She
put an arm around Gabrielle's shoulder as they crossed the terrace. „You look tired. I'll get Rosa
to make you a cup of tea. It is tea you drink, I believe?‟
As they went in through the French windows, Gabrielle started to laugh helplessly.
* * *

It was just before four o'clock in the morning when Raul Montera moved across to the
windows of the operations room at Rio Gallegos and peered outside. It was pouring with rain, the
apron, where three Skyhawks waited, awash with it as the ground crews worked on them in the
light of the arc lamps.
The young pilots who were to fly with him filed out and Montera turned, finishing the
last of his tea. The room was empty now, only the chairs, the large scale charts of the Malvinas
on the wall, the cigarette smoke. Someone had left a cigar burning on the edge of an ash tray. He
stubbed it out carefully, then picked up his helmet and went outside.
He was tired, more tired than he had ever been in his life before. As he took a deep breath
and started towards the planes a staff car came up round the corner and pulled up beside him.
The door opened and Lami Dozo got out, pulling a greatcoat over his shoulders.
„Raul, how are you?‟
„It could be worse. We lost another three yesterday. What you might call scraping the
barrel.‟
Lami Dozo gave him a cigarette. „San Carlos again?‟
„That's right.‟
„This could be the last one, Raul. The British have taken the high ground outside Port
Stanley. We believe they've taken at least four hundred prisoners. I think it may only be a couple
of days before Menendez will have to surrender.‟
„So - what was it all about?‟
„I don't know,‟ General Dozo said. „There were those, and I was not amongst them, who
said we needed a war to prove ourselves. I hope the same people are now just as prepared to
work for a new Argentina.‟
„But still we go on?‟
„Yes, sometimes it is necessary.‟
„I often think of that uncle of mine, my mother's brother, the one who disgraced the
family by fighting bulls. I remember as a young man watching him waiting in his suit of lights,
to enter the plaza at Mexico City, the trumpet sounding high and sweet, playing La Virgen de la
Macarena.‟ Montera smiled. „I feel like that rather a lot these days. As if the beast is waiting for
me out there. My uncle didn't know when to stop either.‟
Lami Dozo looked grave. „This isn't good, Raul.‟
„Ah, but it is, General. You see, I've discovered the big secret. I don't actually care any
more, whether I live or die. That way, they don't know how to handle me, whoever they are up
there.‟
„Raul, please,‟ Dozo said.
„Not to worry. Two ears and a tail when I get back.‟
They gave each other the abrazo, patting each other on the back.
Dozo said, „Before you go, there's someone very anxious to see you. Over there by the
fence.‟ He pointed and Montera saw a black limousine. „Go on, you haven't much time.‟
As Montera walked across to the high wire fence, a chauffeur got out of the car and
opened the rear door. Donna Elena got out.
„Mama,‟ Montera said in astonishment.
She smiled. „You look tired.‟
„I am tired.‟ He smiled ruefully. „I suppose you're going to tell me I'm too old to play
games.‟
„No, I haven't time. Instead, I've brought you a gift.‟
She turned back to the car and Gabrielle got out and stood looking at him, pale in the
yellow light of the arc lamps, a military raincoat someone had loaned her over her shoulders. For
a moment he was totally stunned, and then he smiled that inimitable smile she knew so well.
„You look wonderful. How anyone told you that lately?‟
„No one I'd care to hear it from.‟
She moved close, taking in every detail of his appearance: the yellow flying suit, the
shoulder holster, the helmet in his left hand, the tousled hair, damp from the rain.
He said gravely, „But this isn't good. You shouldn't have come.‟
„There's no other place on earth where I should be,‟ she said. „I'm not Gabrielle Gone,
Raul, I'm Gabrielle here, and Richard isn't dead. He's alive and well. Brigadier Ferguson lied to
me. He lied because I wanted out, don't you see?‟
He stared at her, frowning, and said softly, „Oh, my God, what bastards they are, moving
human beings from square to square like a game of chess to suit their own purposes.‟ And then
he laughed out loud and fastened his hand over hers where she clutched the wire. „I'll be back,
understand me? I love you and I'll be back. Believe that.‟
He kissed her hand, turned and ran towards the line of Skyhawks. Within minutes, the
night was filled with the roaring of their engines. Donna Elena got out of the car and stood at
Gabrielle's side as the planes taxied out one-by-one. A few moments later they started to take off,
and shortly after that there was only the sound of them fading into the distance.
* * *

They swept in over the mountains of West Falkland as dawn came up, as close to the
ground as they dared because of the missiles, and turned into Death Valley barely sixty feet
above the water.
It happened incredibly fast as always. First the mountains, then Falkland Sound with the
ships of the Task Force and more in San Carlos Water. Montera was aware of the Skyhawk on
his right jinking desperately, a Rapier missile on his tail. There was an explosion, a ball of fire.
Montera banked, went in low through a hail of fire as the ships below threw up
everything they had. The Skyhawk shuddered as shrapnel flailed its body. There was a frigate
coming up fast and he released his bombs and climbed, banking and looking back. There were no
explosions and he laughed out loud at the nonsense of it all.
„Mother of God, even at this stage of the game they can't get the fuses right.‟
* * *

In the operations room at Rio Gallegos, Donna Elena and Gabrielle sat by the stove. Lami
Dozo stood at the window, peering out at the rain in the grey dawn light, drinking coffee. A
young lieutenant came in, saluted and handed him a signal. The general read it, nodded, and the
lieutenant went out.
Donna Elena said, „You don't look happy. Is it bad news?‟
„They hit the target. One Skyhawk down.‟
„Not Raul?‟ Gabrielle said.
„No, not Raul. The last we heard, he and the other pilot were on their way back.‟
* * *

Raul Montera burst out of cloud at four thousand feet and, still descending, followed the
other Skyhawk which was going down fast, smoke pouring from it.
Montera, disregarding all procedure, called over the radio, „Come in, Enrico. How bad is
it?‟
There was no reply and suddenly he saw a Sidewinder missile home in from nowhere.
There was a tongue of flame that mushroomed into a fireball as the Skyhawk disintegrated.
A Harrier, that's all it could be. What lousy luck, for they had almost reached the limit of
the Harrier's radius for a sea chase. He corkscrewed instantly, the reflex of much combat
experience coming to his aid, and was aware of another Sidewinder spiralling madly away over
on his right, plunging down towards the sea. A rogue missile whose directional equipment had
gone haywire, a stroke of luck as the Harrier only carried two Sidewinders, which meant he now
only had its 30 mm Aden cannons to contend with.
It swung in on his tail and the Skyhawk shuddered under the impact of cannon shell. The
cockpit canopy disintegrated and Montera received a violent blow in his left arm and another in
his right leg.
The Harrier swung in again and then it was the dream, only this time for real, the eagle
descending, claws reaching out to destroy. Again he staggered under the impact of its cannon, it
passed, banked to starboard and curved in on his tail to finish him off.
He was already down to a thousand feet and Gabrielle seemed to say in his ear what she
had said the first time he'd had the dream in the flat in Kensington.
„Remember to drop your flaps. Eagles overshoot, too.‟
And Montera did just that. It was like running into a solid wall and for a moment, he
thought he'd lost power completely. The Harrier pilot had to take violent evasive action to avoid
a collision, climbing fast and Montera seized his chance and went right down.
It was probably the most hazardous piece of flying he'd ever attempted as he levelled out
at a hundred feet, for the wind was such that the sea was lifting in forty foot swells.
He looked up for his adversary, saw him high overhead. There was a crackle of static. A
voice said in English over his radio, „Good luck, whoever you are. You've earned it,‟ and the
Harrier, at the limit of its radius, banked away, turned back towards the Falklands.
* * *

In the operations room Gabrielle dozed fitfully. Donna Elena and Lami Dozo stood by
the window, smoking cigarettes.
„He's a fool, my son,‟ she said. „You know that?‟
„Of course, but thank God for fools like him. It's good for the rest of us to feel ashamed
occasionally.‟
The door opened and the young lieutenant hurried in again. Dozo snatched the signal
from him and read it.
„We've lost another Skyhawk but Raul is still with us. About fifty miles out.‟
Gabrielle sat up, rubbing her eyes. „Is there any news?‟
„Yes,‟ Lami Dozo said. „Donna Elena will explain. Stay here, both of you,‟ and he
opened the door and went outside.
* * *

The Skyhawk came in low over the sea at five hundred feet, the wind whistling through
the shattered cockpit. Raul Montera was a dreadful sight, his face smeared with blood from
numerous cuts caused by the disintegration of the canopy, one arm and leg of his yellow flying
suit now scarlet. He sat there, hands frozen to the column, a slight fixed smile on his face as he
came into Rio Gallegos base.
„Fly me, Gabrielle,‟ he prayed aloud. „Don't let me fail now.‟
As the airfield came into view, the runway lights gleaming in the grey morning, Lami
Dozo stood in the control tower, a pair of fieldglasses to his eyes.
Raul Montera's voice sounded over the radio loudspeaker, totally washed out. „I'm
bringing her straight in. No time for procedure.‟
As Dozo watched, the Skyhawk brushed across the buildings at the north end of the
runway. Montera was aware of the vehicles roaring out to meet him from the control buildings.
The Skyhawk almost stalled. He gave it a final burst of power and then made the worst landing
of his career, bouncing back up again twice before coming to a halt, turning full circle, water
from the rainsoaked runway spraying up in a great cloud.
He stayed there, head bowed, was aware of voices and then careful hands lifting him
from the cockpit. He opened his eyes, saw the faces, so many faces, Lami Dozo's amongst them.
He smiled. „Two ears and a tail, eh, General?‟ and then he fainted.
* * *

And so it was over. In Port Stanley the Argentines laid down their arms and in Buenos
Aires, an outraged mob made it plain that Galtieri had to go. In London, at Westminster, on the
same day, the British Prime Minister rose from her seat to tell the members of Parliament
assembled before her of the triumphant conclusion to one of the most astonishing feats of arms
since the Second World War.
* * *

At the Sisters of Mercy Hospital in Buenos Aires, Gabrielle and Donna Elena waited
outside Montera's room. Finally, the door opened and the Chief Surgeon emerged. They stood
up.
„Well?‟ Donna Elena demanded.
„Not good, but he'll survive. No more of this nonsense, of course. He'll certainly never be
fit to fly a jet aircraft again. You may go in.‟
Gabrielle turned enquiringly and Donna Elena smiled. „I've got my son back. All the time
in the world. You go in now. I'll wait.‟
When Gabrielle opened the door, she found him propped up against pillows, the cuts on
his face stained purple with some preparation or other. His left arm was in a plaster cast and
there was a cowl beneath the sheets to protect his injured leg.
She stood by the side of the bed without saying anything and as if sensing her presence,
he opened his eyes and smiled.
„You look awful,‟ she said.
„I'll be all right. Don't worry. The surgeon told me I'll still be able to play the violin and
you know, that's really very amusing. You see, I can't play the violin.‟
And then she was laughing and crying at the same time, on her knees at the side of the
bed, her face against his.

17


It was the finest of London mornings, the early winter sun shining on the hoar frost on the
trees in St James's Park as the taxi drove up Pall Mall towards Buckingham Palace.
Tony Villiers was wearing the uniform of his own regiment, razor sharp, the scarlet and
blue dress cap with gold-rimmed peak, Sam Browne belt gleaming, medal ribbons in a neat row
on the left breast.
The taxi driver said, „Big day, eh, gov'nor? Was you down there in the Falklands?‟
„Yes,‟ Villiers said.
„That's funny, guv. I didn't know the Grenadier Guards was there as well.‟
„One or two,‟ Villiers told him.
The driver grinned in the mirror. „We showed ‟em, didn't we?‟
„Yes,‟ Villiers said. „I suppose we did.‟
They rounded the Victoria monument and were cleared at the main gate where the taxi
was allowed through into the courtyard. Villiers alighted and took out his wallet.
„Nothing doing, guv, have this one on me,‟ the cabby said and drove away.
Villiers followed the people who were streaming in through the main doors of the palace.
There were members of all three services, most of them accompanied by their nearest and
dearest, the women wearing hats specially bought for the occasion.
There was a general air of gaiety and excitement, a sense of occasion as they mounted the
red-carpeted stairs and entered the picture gallery, where rows of chairs waited, facing the raised
platform in the centre where the Queen would sit.
A military band played light music, there was a buzz of conversation as people took their
seats and talked together in low voices. Each recipient of an award was allowed two guests to the
ceremony, usually family. Villiers had no one. Had preferred to leave it that way.
He sat in the chair assigned to him by an usher and looked around him at the marble
statues, the paintings on the wall and the crowd waiting so expectantly, children amongst them,
keyed up for the big moment.
The talking died away as the band started to play God Save the Queen and everyone
stood as she walked in.
* * *

People had been formed up in ascending order of decoration, the Navy first as the senior
service, then the Army, followed by the RAF. As each man's name was called, he went forward
to receive his award at the Queen's hands and a few moments of conversation.
There were several other awards of the Distinguished Service Order that morning. When
Villiers' turn came he moved forward and stood there, waiting for the Queen to pin the medal to
him.
She said, „Not much we can say about this one, Colonel Villiers.‟
„Major, ma'am.‟
She smiled again as she pinned the DSO in place. „You obviously haven't seen the Army
List this morning.‟
And then Villiers was moving away, still unable to take it in, as the next recipient moved
forward.
* * *

He stood in the courtyard outside the palace at the bottom of the steps, and opened the
box and looked at the medal again, then he slipped it into his pocket and crossed to the main
gates. The constables on duty saluted him as he passed out and moved through the usual crowd
of tourists. Here and there a camera clicked, but he took no notice, hesitated, then crossed from
the monument, towards St James's Park.
He didn't know where to go next, that was the trouble. He paused to light a cigarette and
a black Bentley slid into the kerb beside him, Harry Fox at the wheel.
The rear door opened and Ferguson looked out. „You're looking well, Tony. Big day.‟
„I suppose so,‟ Villiers said.
„I hear Gabrielle married her colonel in Beunos Aires last month.‟
„I know,‟ Villiers said. „She wrote to me.‟
Ferguson nodded. „You've heard about your promotion to half-colonel? Makes you the
youngest in the Army.‟
„Yes.‟
„Good. Get in.‟ Ferguson leaned back.
„What for?‟ Villiers asked him.
„My dear Tony, who do you think arranged your promotion? I did and not as a birthday
treat, but because it suits my purposes. I'd like to point out the rank is only acting. Your regiment
weren't at all pleased.‟
„You mean you've got a job for me?‟
„Of course. Come on, boy, get in. I haven't got much time. I've a meeting at the Ministry
of Defence at two o'clock.‟
For a moment, Villiers almost did it and then he remembered Gabrielle at Maison
Blanche and the look on her face. You're worth so much more than Ferguson and his dark
games. You're worth a little joy, that was what she'd said.
He closed the door. As he turned away, Ferguson leaned out of the window. „What are
you playing at, Tony? Where are you going?‟
„For a walk in the park,‟ Villiers said and turned across the grass through the trees.
The expression on Harry Fox's face was one of pure delight. „Looks like you've lost him,
sir.‟
„Nonsense,‟ Ferguson said. „He'll be back. Drive on, Harry.‟
He leaned back in the seat, took a file from his briefcase and started to leaf through it as
the Bentley moved out into the traffic.

The End

Exocet ~ Jack Higgins To Denise For love, understanding and grace FOREWORD One of my personal favorite novels. Critics have been kind enough to say that the first chapter, which involves the penetration of Buckingham Palace, is one of the best things of its kind in the modern thriller. The idea for the book came to me during the Falklands conflict when I met arms salesmen at a Jersey cocktail party who had just come in from Paris where, they told me, there was an underground war going on between Argentinean agents trying to buy black market Exocet missiles and members of British Intelligence trying to foil them. I took their word for it and wrote the novel. Some critics thought the idea far-fetched at the time. However, the book was a huge success, mainly because for once I included a strong love affair. In later years, non-fiction books on the conflict have shown that the struggle, as I showed, between Argentinean and British agents did actually take place. JACK HIGGINS October 1996 1 As the yellow Telecom truck turned the corner, Grosvenor Place was quiet in the rain. There was not another vehicle in sight, hardly surprising in view of the weather and the fact that it was three o'clock in the morning. Harvey Jackson reduced speed, his hands slippery with sweat as he gripped the wheel. He wore yellow oilskins: a large man in his late thirties, the dark hair long, framing a face that seldom smiled, eyes bleak above high cheekbones. The rain was so heavy that the windscreen wipers had difficulty in handling it. He pulled in at the kerb and took a cigarette from a packet in the dashboard. He lit it and wound down the window, looking across the road at the high brick perimeter wall topped with barbed wire that enclosed the gardens at the rear of Buckingham Palace. He rapped with his knuckles against the partition behind him. A panel opened instantly and Villiers peered out. „Yes?‟ „We're here. Are you ready?‟ „Two minutes. Get us into position.‟ The panel was closed and Jackson moved into gear and drove away. The interior of the truck was crowded with the paraphernalia of the telephone engineer and brightly lit by a neon strip light. Tony Villiers braced himself against the workbench as the truck swayed, and carefully blacked his face with camouflage cream, observing the effect in a mirror propped up against a tool box. He was thirty and of medium height with good shoulders. The eyes were dark and without expression. At some time or other his nose had been broken. His hair was black and tangled and almost shoulder-length. The black jump suit and French paratrooper's boots

combined to make him look a thoroughly dangerous man. And there was a kind of weary bitterness to him as well; the face of someone who had got to know the world and its inhabitants too well and did not care for what he had found. He pulled a black woollen hood over his head, leaving only his eyes free and grabbed at the bench as the truck swung across the road, mounted the pavement and pulled in beside the wall. A Smith & Wesson magnum revolver with a Carswell silencer screwed on to the barrel lay on the bench beside a briefcase. He slipped it into the pouch on his right leg, opened the briefcase and took out a large black and white photo. It had been taken late on the previous afternoon with a telephoto lense and showed the Ambassador's Entrance at the side of Buckingham Palace. There were workmen's ladders against the wall and under the portico. More importantly, two or three windows above the flat roof were partially open. Villiers replaced the photo and opened the panel again. „Twenty-five minutes, Harvey. If I'm not back, get the hell out of it.‟ „Conversation, I don't need, not on a night like this,‟ Jackson said. „Just get it done so we can go home.‟ Villiers closed the panel, clambered up on the bench and opened a trap. He pulled himself up on the roof and closed it behind him, crouching in the rain. The wall was only a couple of yards away. He slipped across the barbed wire, grabbed for the branch of a tree, worked his way along it, hand-over-hand, then dropped into the darkness below. *** The police officer on security duties at the Grosvenor Place end of the Palace gardens that morning was thoroughly unhappy with life. Soaked to the skin, wet and miserable, he had paused to shelter under a tree when the Alsatian at his side whined softly. „What is it, boy?‟ he demanded, instantly alert, and slipped the lead. „Seek, boy! Seek!‟ The Alsatian departed silently, but Villiers, standing beside a tree twenty or thirty yards away, was already alerted by that first whine and had reached for the aerosol spray he carried in another pouch of his jumpsuit. The dog, specially trained to silent attack, launched itself at him, and his left arm, padded against just such a situation, swung up. The Alsation chewed savagely at the quilted material and Villiers sprayed the aerosol into its face. The animal collapsed without a sound and lay still. A moment later, the police officer approached cautiously. „Rex, where are you, boy?‟ Villiers' hand rose and fell against the back of the neck in one sharp, practiced blow. The police officer groaned and keeled over. Villiers pinioned him, hands behind his back, with his own handcuffs, took the officer's radio receiver from his pocket and slipped it into another pouch of his jumpsuit. Then he started to run across the park through the darkness towards the rear of the Palace. *** Harvey Jackson got out of the truck and opened the door. He reached inside, found a couple of grappling hooks, then bent down over the telephone manhole at his feet and removed it. From the truck he took an inspection lamp on a long lead which he lowered into the darkness, a red warning sign reading DANGER, MEN AT WORK, some canvas screens and an awning. He dropped into the manhole, opened one of the inspection boxes, revealing a bewildering array of multi-coloured leads and switches, and sat back and waited.

Villiers observed him carefully for a moment. *** Her Majesty. the bedroom beyond. Villiers moved instantly to the door of the Queen's apartment. then retreated down the corridor and took out the radio transceiver he had taken from the policeman in the park. Well. Give it a quick check. Queen Elizabeth the Second. The picture gallery alarm seems to be playing up again. too. raised the nearest one and slid over the window sill into a small office.‟ Jones said. Major Villiers. was a room where the corgis slept. I . There was a silence for a moment and then he reached up and pulled the hood over his head. He pressed the channel four button and waited. this hour of the bloody morning. wondering how Villiers was getting on. He turned at the end and disappeared. „Security office. a grin on his face. It opened and Villiers stepped into the room. If this rain keeps up you'll be swimming in there by breakfast time. *** Villiers. only the eyes showing. He looked extremely menacing in the black jumpsuit and hood. Serves you right for joining. we'd better get on with it. ma'am. The Queen's apartment was only a few yards away . „Jones here. will you?‟ „Okay. „Watch yourself. whistling softly to himself. The driver leaned out. In spite of the early hour. „I see. around another corner. he now moved with considerable rapidity through a maze of corridors.‟ He drove away and Jackson lit a cigarette and sat down again.‟ The Queen frowned.‟ Jackson said. he knew that. she was perfectly groomed and wore a pale blue twin-set and tweed skirt. „Ah.‟ the Queen said. He opened the door cautiously and slipped out into a dark corridor. He worked his way along a ledge. Completely familiar with the layout from his study of the plans supplied to him. He paused for a moment. You are on limited time. who had found the workmen's ladders still available under the portico. all deserted as he had expected at that time of the morning. there was the sound of a car and he stood up and peered over the edge as a police patrol car pulled in at the kerb. Further on. There was a slight crackle. A slight creaking from the door caused her to raise her head. closing the door behind him.‟ Villiers replied in a soft voice. In the page's vestibule opposite. a police constable sat reading a paperback book.‟ The policeman grinned again. „Was it difficult?‟ „I'm afraid not.Perhaps five minutes later. pearls at her throat. Two of the windows shown on the photograph were still partially open.‟ „You. Some five minutes later he stood at the end of the corridor leading to the private quarters. We're getting an intermittent signal. took a deep breath and opened it.a dining room leading into a sitting room. Villiers moved to the corner again and peered round in time to see the police constable moving away along the corridor in the other direction. was seated by the fire in her comfortable sitting room reading a book. had reached the flat roof over the Ambassador's Entrance with no difficulty. The Royal Apartments were on the other side of the palace.‟ „That'll be the day. „What a way to earn a living. „Hope you're getting double time. A voice said.

Villiers heard the manhole clang into place. He poured tea from a Thermos flask into plastic cups and handed Ferguson one. a soft whirring as it was discharged from the camera. not too far from the Palace. „I wonder how he's getting on?‟ „Our Tony? Oh. She shivered. subversion and the like. He pulled off his hood. picked up the book and returned to her reading. the problem of international terrorism having reached epidemic proportions. Never lets anything get in his way. The door clicked behind him and he was gone. it will raise one hell of a stink and it won't do the SAS . the warning sign and the lamp and closed the door again. „Let's move it. still was. you see. there was a flash and he took the picture.presume?‟ „Very. Her face started to appear. Just now. they drove away. so. The untidy grey hair. then you'd better be off. to co-ordinate the handling of all cases of terrorism. passed in the canvas screens. the Director General of D15. The Bentley was parked off Eaton Square. That really would spoil everything. a large. the British Secret Intelligence Service. a slim. He moved to the fire and held the photo to the warmth.‟ he whispered. ma'am. opened the door. Will that do?‟ „I think.‟ Villiers took a folding Polaroid camera from one of the pouches in his jumpsuit. thinking about it.‟ Villiers pulled the hood back over his head and gave her a slight bow. footsteps hurry round to the cab. the double chin. opened a jar of theatrical cleansing cream and started on his face. Rain drummed against the window. „Last night's Standard. and the only other occupant was the driver. with his usual appallingly ruthless efficiency. if he's caught. The Queen sat there for a while. Comes of having been head of his house at Eton. Tony Villiers came over the wall like a black wraith and landed on the roof of the Telecom truck. *** Ten minutes later. debating whether to go to bed. ma'am. Jackson was out of the manhole in an instant. Brigadier Charles Ferguson had been placed in charge. The Guards tie was the only military aspect to him. „Excellent. moved close and dropped to one knee. ma'am‟ She reached for a newspaper and held it up. The neat leather glove he wore on the left hand concealed the fact that he had lost the original in a bomb explosion during a tour of duty in Belfast.‟ „Nevertheless. „Good. Harvey. elegant man of twenty-nine who until three years previously had been an acting captain in the Blues and Royals. sir. *** In 1972. as he opened the trapdoor and dropped down on to the bench. the collar turned up against the early morning cold. combined to give him the appearance of some minor professor.‟ He held it out to her. Harry Fox. Wouldn't do for them to catch you now. The queen raised the newspaper. A moment later. kindly-looking man whose crumpled suits always seemed a size too large. he wore a greatcoat of the type favoured by officers of the Household Brigade. authorised the setting up within the organisation of a section known as Group Four which had powers held directly from the Prime Minister.

Down a hole at this ungodly hour in the morning in the pouring rain.‟ „You worry too much. „I never query methods. messengers who brought bad news were usually executed. No problem in jumping over that. „In the old days. „With that hair? I mean. Better tell us the worst.‟ Carver studied the photo glumly. What a way to earn your crust. „Just look at those two poor sods. Sergeant Major. „He doesn't stand a chance.‟ „Balls. Superintendent. going without haircuts. Villiers said. Decorated twice. You should beware. sir?‟ he asked. „Anything else. „Good God!‟ Ferguson took the photo from him. Carver said. Personal camouflage is very important. Leave you to it. Morning. „How enterprising of them.‟ „Just a minute. another at the rear. Superintendent.‟ „And he's reliable?‟ „Oh. for Christ's sake? He talks like the Cavalry Club and looks like some East End hood. opened the rear door and got in. delegated by the powers-that-be at Scotland Yard to be official observer this morning.‟ Ferguson filled another plastic cup with tea and offered it to him. „Workmen leave ladders.‟ He passed over the photo taken the previous day. sir. „Who is he. look at it. Superintendent. and you know it. Tony. then passed it to the Superintendent. one man at the wheel. only results. you don't need to be a cat burglar.‟ Fox said. It pulled in at the kerb and a bulky man in a dark raincoat and trilby hat came towards them. produced a lighter and touched it to the edge. Superintendent.image much good either. sir.‟ and wound down the window. „Ah.‟ „Special dispensation in the SAS. How did he intend to try and get in anyway?‟ „I haven't the slightest idea.‟ Ferguson said.‟ Ferguson said. Two men in yellow oilskins worked in the rain. And to get in. He passed it to Villiers. „Comes of having picked up the wrong briefcase over there. „The alarm beam directly inside the grounds is positioned only two feet from the wall. this is Detective Chief Superintendent Carver of Special Branch. Ferguson said. housemaids leave windows open . „We'll take a walk.‟ Carver said amiably.‟ A dark Ford Granada saloon passed them.it's a farce. „Harry.‟ „Sir. canvas screen around it.‟ He nodded across the square to a yellow Telecom truck parked beside an open manhole. Military Cross for action against Marxist guerrillas in the . Things could be worse.‟ He and Jackson walked to the nearest lamp and lit cigarettes.‟ The two telephone engineers who had been working in the manhole at the far side of the square had got out and were walking towards them. „Good morning. the alarm system is in some cases old-fashioned or faulty. „Wouldn't do to have that floating around.‟ Villiers held the photo as it burned. Villiers leaned down and passed in the polaroid photo of the Queen. Fox opened the glove compartment and took out a Walther PPK.‟ Ferguson said. oilskins streaming with rain.‟ Ferguson told him. Harry. „I think we've got company.‟ Jackson said. yes. Carver sat up straight. Ferguson examined the photo without a word. At the Palace itself. bringing his heels together automatically. if you're trying to pass yourself off as some back street yobbo on the Belfast docks.‟ „Actually he's a major in the Grenadier Guards attached to the SAS. your man.

Oman and another for some nonsense or other in Ireland.‟ Carver held up the photo. He hurried along to the Granada. „I'm only passing through. closed his eyes and was instantly asleep.‟ „You bastard!‟ Carver said. That one belongs to me. Your man on prowler guard at the Grosvenor Place end of the Palace Gardens. his face pale in the street light.‟ „We'll send you a full report. „One thing I didn't mention. „You've another week of your leave to go?‟ „Officially. You'll find him under a tree by the pond in his own handcuffs.‟ „Don't be. don't ask me.‟ Ferguson wound down the window and peered out as they rounded the Queen Victoria Memorial at the front of the Palace and went down the Mall. yes. I presume you can be relied upon to get rid of that truck. Superintendent. She uses it by arrangement. the door slammed. details not for release.‟ Villiers told him. She has her place in Paris. I checked him out on the way back. it drove away. leaned back in the corner.‟ „I bet you will. and yet he lowered the window even more so that the cold morning air rushed in.‟ „Sir. of course.‟ „You really mean that?‟ „Oh.‟ Jackson clicked his heels and moved off across the square.‟ Villiers said flatly. Villiers got into the Bentley beside Ferguson and Fox drove away.‟ „Well. I had to belt him. „The best thing that ever happened to either of us.‟ Ferguson shivered and pulled the collar of his coat up around his neck. „Get in. „Sometimes I wonder what life's all about. „This is bad.‟ „I was sorry to hear about the divorce. Ferguson said. Sergeant Major? I won't enquire where it came from.‟ He folded his arms. He's okay.‟ Carver got out of the car and Villiers turned and came towards him. Tell him I'm sorry about the dog.‟ „Is she still at the flat in Kensington Palace Gardens?‟ „Some of the time. There will be hell to pay. „No. Tony. Ferguson said. . „Have you seen Gabrielle lately?‟ Villiers said calmly.

‟ The Gurkha went out and Gabrielle sat down by the fire.‟ „And then?‟ „We didn't gel . .‟ Ferguson said. The Adam fireplace was real and so was the fire which burned there. The English half of me approves. the wide green eyes giving nothing away. „and nothing. Kim. Ferguson sat opposite and poured tea into a china cup for her. „Get Captain Fox from the office. the riding crop she carried in her left hand tapping her knee. He offered her a cigarette. still do. and carried a file which he placed on the desk. He wore a Guards tie and light grey flannel suit. „He's in town.‟ she said. „He wouldn't do that. „Have you seen Tony lately?‟ „I should have thought you would have. „No thanks.‟ she said.‟ Her voice was English upper class.‟ She stayed at the window and Ferguson said gently. I have a luncheon appointment. She was dressed for riding in boots. What do you want?‟ At that moment the door opened and Harry Fox came in. including the curtains. „My lovely Gabrielle.2 Brigadier Charles Ferguson preferred to work when possible from his Cavendish Square flat.‟ Ferguson said. tea. Ferguson went towards her with a smile of conscious pleasure. hands out-stretched. I'd prefer to get down to business. She was not small.‟ Ferguson removed his half-moon reading glasses.‟ she said flatly. but with its own timbre that gave it a unique quality.‟ he told her. please. The door opened and Kim entered with a silver tray which he placed by the fire. „I'm me again. „I cared for Tony. an ex-Gurkha naik appeared. and tea for three. Kim. We thought we were in love one long hot summer five years ago. She was. It was his especial joy. not while I'm there. Everything matched to perfection.‟ The voice was flat calm and yet he sensed distress there. She drank a little and smiled. He was sitting by the fire at ten o'clock in the morning after Villiers' exploit at the Palace.it never did. The chemistry was all wrong.‟ „I'm sorry. white shirt and an old green jacket in Donegal tweed. as always.‟ She shrugged again. reading the Financial Times. but I got angry with him too easily and I never knew why. Ferguson told himself. „Too many spaces we could never fill. my love?‟ „Everything. „What went wrong between you two. sir.‟ Ferguson said. The blonde hair was held back from the forehead by a scarlet band and rolled up into a bun at the nape of the neck. „Ah. almost five foot eight in her boots. „Excellent. coffee. „No longer Mrs Villiers. Kim. faded jodhpurs. I see?‟ „No. „Show her in. I was beautiful. went to the window and peered down into the square. The rest was Georgian also. as I understand it.‟ Kim departed and a moment later. She shook her head. put them down with the paper and stood up.‟ He kissed her cheek. Spot of leave. She regarded him gravely. She dropped her crop on the table.‟ „Filthy stuff. Gabrielle Legrand entered the room. when the door opened and his manservant. he was the best-looking thing in a uniform I ever saw. Hasn't he called at the flat?‟ „No. the most strikingly beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life. „Mademoiselle Legrand.

Another cup?‟ He poured Gabrielle more tea.‟ Fox said helpfully.‟ Fox said. Ferguson nodded and the young Captain stood by the fire and carried on. He had dark wavy hair. It was like looking at an old friend. „About four hundred miles off the Argentine coast.‟ Ferguson said. Unfortunately. seven-thirty for eight at the Argentine Embassy in Wilton Crescent. HMS Endurance.‟ „Very simple really. of course.‟ Ferguson nodded and Fox got the file.‟ Ferguson said.‟ She patted his face affectionately. „we have sixty-eight Royal Marines in the islands at the moment. „This evening?‟ she said. I'm going to the theatre. who opened the file on the desk and took out an ornate invitation card which he passed to her. Our masters in Parliament have been making it clear in public debate that they intend to scrap her to save money. He carried a flying helmet in his right hand and there was a scarf at his throat. at least forty. „I still don't see where I come into this.‟ she said. It makes a lot of sense. „What's this boss of yours up to now?‟ Fox took the cup of tea Ferguson offered and looked at him enquiringly. greying a little at the temples. who is also Commander-in-Chief of the Army. In English and Spanish. invited Mademoiselle Gabrielle Simone Legrand to a cocktail party and buffet.‟ He was genuinely pleased and leaned down to kiss her cheek. His Excellency Carlos Ortiz de Rozas. Gabrielle. He was not young. Gabrielle shrugged.‟ Fox said.‟ Ferguson said. „All the signs have pointed that way since January and the CIA certainly think it's on the cards.‟ „Just like the Romans. Keep the mob happy. „Just off Belgrave Square. „What do you know about the Falkland Islands. The Argentine government has been claiming them for years. Argentine Ambassador to the Court of St James.‟ Gabrielle stared down at the photo. Gabrielle?‟ „In the South Atlantic. but a lousy place to defend eight thousand miles away. running up into the eye.‟ „And just four hundred miles away is a superbly equipped airforce. backed up by the local defence force and one ship of the Royal Navy. Gabrielle picked it up. „An invasion of the Falklands would prove a very welcome diversion. „Bread and circuses. opened it and took out a black and white photo which he put on the table in front of her. and like most pilots he was not particularly tall. British Sovereign territory. someone she . The country is run by a three-man junta.‟ „As a matter of interest.‟ Ferguson nodded to Fox. „So what? You're not seriously suggesting that the Argentine Government would invade?‟ „I'm afraid that's exactly what we are suggesting.„Gabrielle. a large army and navy.‟ Fox said.‟ „That's right. armed with two 20 mm guns and a couple of Wasp helicopters. the country is almost bankrupt. has a commitment to economic recovery. Take the people's minds off other things.‟ „This one's important. how nice. The man who stared out at her wore a military flying suit of the kind used by jet pilots. calm eyes and there was a scar on his right cheek. „Special Air Attache at the Embassy at the present time. General Galtieri. „Impossible. She said. „Harry. The President. an ice patrol vessel. „Colonel Raul Carlos Montera.

Had them fixed up with machine guns and so on.‟ she answered. I'm to take him to bed. When she put the photo down. serving as a helicopter pilot in the Royal Navy.‟ „And he's a pilot?‟ „Oh. Richard. She has a half-brother.knew well. Very rich.‟ . „Will you do it?‟ he asked. She read politics and economics at the Sorbonne.‟ „Important point. They were divorced when she was quite young. yes. our Gabrielle. Charles. „I'd seen the play before anyway. but close enough. Harry?‟ „Only once where I've had direct contact. then did a year at St Hugh's at Oxford. Family owns God knows how much land and all the cows in the world.‟ Ferguson said. our Gabrielle. „A truly brilliant linguist. but when you take special pains…‟ The sentence hung in mid-air unfinished. What family has she got living now?‟ „Father in Marseilles. few men can resist you at the best of times. her hand shook slightly. just before the end of the war.‟ She got up and picked up her riding crop.‟ „What a bastard you are. Gabrielle. „I think so. Should have known better than attend a function at a second-rate university. „Not your usual South American fascist. „What exactly am I supposed to do?‟ „He'll be there tonight.‟ The door closed behind her and Fox poured himself more tea. „She loves to take part in the theatre of life.‟ Ferguson said. moving to the window. „Let's face it. she and Tony were married for what.‟ Fox passed her another photo. Has also trained with the South Africans and Israelis. think of England and hope he says something worth hearing about the Falklands?‟ „Put rather starkly. lie back. sir. five years?‟ „That's right. No good where the rough stuff is concerned.‟ „Yes. either physical or anything else. His mother. Montera was one of those crazy enough to fly them against Russian Mig fighters flown by Egyptian and East German pilots. his hair was tousled. She said. and to be honest. Flew Dakotas for the Biafrans during the Nigerian civil war. The scar on the cheek looked raised and angry as if fresh.‟ Ferguson said. this Raul Montera of yours looks much more interesting.‟ Fox said. Donna Elena. this man she didn't even know. „Taken in Port Harcourt. and yet she had never seen this man before in her life. Her mother. He's English. Married Villiers after meeting him at a Cambridge May Ball. The Biafrans bought five Swedish training planes called Minicons. How many times has she worked for us. the eyes shadowed. How much do you know about her background. Four other occasions through you.‟ He wore an old World War Two leather flying jacket. „An aristocrat.‟ „Then he joined up with a Swedish aristocrat. They live in the Isle of Wight. and step-father. of the obsessional kind. Rather a bad scene. sir?‟ „Oh. Soloed at sixteen.‟ „Age forty-five. Night flights from Fernando Po to Port Harcourt. sir. „You think she'll do it. He did a languages degree at Harvard. French father and English mother. She wanted to reach out and comfort him. the face drawn with fatigue. Harry?‟ „Well. yes. „I see. Trained with the RAF at Cranwell. is very much a leader of society in Buenos Aires. A genuine moralist. aged twenty-two. „Tell me about him. His father died last year.‟ Ferguson said. Count Carl Gustaf von Rosen. then joined the Argentine air force. In 1967 he resigned his commission.

and so have you. but Gabrielle is something special. only a special man will do. For a woman like that. „We usually are. of beauty and considerable distinction.‟ „I think we're fresh out of those this year.‟ Fox said. .‟ Ferguson put on his half-moon spectacles. „I've met women. Harry.Ferguson lit a cigar and sat behind the desk. sir. Now let's go through the Foreign Office tray. We usually are. Harry.

in her tum. layered and feathered at the sides. the eyes a vivid blue. He stood there. Beautiful women. was one of her most astonishing features: very blonde and cut in the French style known as La Coupe Sauvage. „You get a lot of that. handsome men in dress uniforms.‟ Her reflexes were excellent. took a glass of Perrier water from the tray carried by a passing waiter and went and leaned negligently against a pillar. transfixed. had seen him. then turned slowly to look at the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life. He said. The trio playing on a raised dais in one corner were good and the music was exactly the kind Raul Montera liked. framing a face of considerable beauty. She was wearing an evening dress by Yves St Laurant in silver thread and tambour beading. crystal chandeliers taking light to every comer.‟ There was a shadow in the green eyes. that seemed to say he found such affairs trivial and longed for something more active. Raul Montera had never seen a woman who looked more capable of taking on the whole world if needs be. turned away as if looking for someone. There was an energy to him. It was as if the breath went out of him for a moment. carrying herself with a touch of arrogance that seemed to say Take me or leave me. He took her hands and held them lightly. It was all rather archaic. All the old favourites: Cole Porter. reflected in the gilt mirror in front of him. the medals making a brave show on his left breast. She was immediately accosted by a young Argentinean army captain who was obviously the worse for drink. irrational excitement. yet apparently short at the front. then moved through the crowd to her side. The elegant dress uniform fitted him to perfection. „Which has not improved your opinion of . Her hair. Montera gave him enough time to make a thorough nuisance of himself. I suppose?‟ „Since I was about fourteen. She turned smoothly.‟ „At your orders. as if the mirrors were reflecting a dim memory of long ago.‟ The captain retired in confusion. Rodgers & Hart.‟ Montera glanced up casually and saw her standing in the entrance. and conscious of a strange. an eager restlessness. The eyes were the most vivid green. exquisitely gowned. It was long enough to hang between the shoulder blades. She. an occasional church dignitary in scarlet and purple. for the mini had returned to fashion that season. Irving Berlin. And yet he was bored. „I was beginning to wonder if I‟d got the wrong night. the dancers turning endlessly to faint music. no longer banded and gathered up as it had been that morning at Ferguson's office. reached up and kissed him on the cheek. Montera looked at Gabrielle wryly and they both burst into laughter. „I've been looking everywhere for you. „Mademoiselle Gabrielle Legrand. the high cheekbones gave her a Scandinavian look and the mouth was wide and beautifully formed. the uneven hemline well above the knee. He excused himself from the small group around the Ambassador. smoking a cigarette. The Majordomo's voice rose above the hubbub. there you are. „Ah. She balanced on silver high-heeled shoes. reflected again in the mirrored walls. cherie. constantly in motion in spite of his apparent calmness.3 The scene in the ballroom at the Argentine Embassy was splendid.’ he said in excellent French. I couldn't care less. my colonel. His face was pale.

‟ She smiled.‟ „But of course.‟ he said and drew her to him. „Champagne?‟ he said. „Is there no end to this woman's marvels?‟ „Also English.‟ „I should imagine you'd need to.‟ „Not the Falklands.‟ he said. took a glass from the proffered tray and handed it to her. „Being French I would presume it to be your drink.‟ he said. but every other one available this evening. slipped a hand in his arm. We're trying to make friends and influence people tonight. Apparently your navy is about to go on manoeuvres in the area. though. „But when? Argentina hasn't been to war in my lifetime. „And German. and they crossed to an open French window and moved out. „No wedding ring. „Not a great deal and certainly not champagne.‟ He examined her hands. „An old quarrel. She touched the scar on his cheek.my sex.‟ „Why?‟ she replied calmly in the same language. I'm getting old.‟ „What is?‟ She was puzzled. „I don't understand?‟ „Oh. „A thousand years ago. It creates havoc with me.‟ And there was that breathlessness in her again as the music stopped and he drew her off the floor. forgive me. „If I have hurt you.only the best. On the way.‟ She let it go.‟ She played her part well. though. Probably in the not too distant future. Too long a story. I will learn. „Dom Perignon .‟ She touched the scar again gently and he groaned and said in Spanish to himself. There was genuine tenderness in his own and a kind of authority.‟ „You mean. „Ah.‟ He took her hand and drew her on to the floor. there was an item on the television news earlier this evening. Questions in the British Parliament about the Falklands.‟ He shrugged. but not worth arguing about. My Russian isn't fluent. In my opinion.‟ she said.‟ „Another man's war. „Aerial combat. „In the generality. And to that. to mend my manners. „How remarkably appropriate.‟ he said. They danced well together. „How did you get that?‟ „Cannon shell splinter. the British will do a deal with us one of these days. for a beautiful blonde with a good body?‟ He noted the bitterness in her voice and moved back to look into her face. good. his arm holding her lightly around the waist. The politicians have it in hand. „To us. that is. „Colonel Raul Carlos Montera. It was not intended. Only passable.‟ He snapped his fingers to a waiter. .‟ she said. very much at your orders and I would consider it a privilege and a joy to secure not only this dance. as the trio started to play in slow foxtrot tempo Our Love is Here to Stay. he picked another glass of champagne off a passing tray for her. „Isn't it what the poets have been assuring us for centuries now is the only kind worth having?‟ „Spanish as well?‟ he demanded. do I like men.‟ „Amazing. not very much. „Don't you drink?‟ she asked. there could be no answer. He frowned. „I've heard of love at first sight but this is ridiculous. You must give me time. I think?‟ „If you mean.‟ He drew himself up and clicked his heels together. the Malvinas. no.

that I should be so young again. They had walked for several miles in the pouring rain followed by his official car. „is a state of mind. „Too many cars parked at the kerb already. I promised you something special.‟ Above them. A little more champagne and then. it's because they've done a good job on him.‟ Behind them the trio started to play A Foggy Day in London Town. „An excellent idea. . as you can see. You look like a girl with an appetite. no. I was forgetting. Herman Hesse said somewhere that. „Oh. She wore a pair of flat shoes he had borrowed for her from one of the maids at the Embassy.‟ she said.‟ „Forty-five.‟ he told her. All more talented and exceptional people are sometimes young and sometimes old. we South Americans.‟ „Dear God.‟ „That's shit. but the traffic situation has changed since that. „Not yet. Magazine work mainly. Big Ben chimed the first stroke of midnight. Not a man in sight and thank God for it. „Paris is my city. „I was a stranger in your city.‟ she said. Now I'm a journalist. just as they are sometimes happy and sometimes sad. that extraordinary perception. In that old movie. Montera had never enjoyed himself so much in the company of another human being.the best. patient chauffeur at the wheel.‟ „Such wisdom. the Palace. The trenchcoat he had found for her was soaked. St Hugh's. coldly angry. but Fred Astaire had it right in the movie when he sang that song.‟ He smiled slowly and held her hands. as was the scarf she had bound around her hair.‟ she said. „Have you enjoyed your guided tour?‟ He lit a cigarette and leaned on the parapet. „The witching hour. He shrugged. Montera was still in uniform.‟ „Age. „Oh. „Where does it all come from?‟ „I went to the Sorbonne and then Oxford. I like London. St James's Park. Birdcage Walk. The most romantic place in town. „They don't owe you a thing.‟ He started to sing the intro softly in English. „Well. Everyone should walk along the Thames Embankment at least once. this is it. youth and age exist only among ordinary people. so if the dago is a good flyer. A wonderful town. „Sure you haven't had enough?‟ he asked. remember?‟ „Ah. who knows?‟ *** It was raining hard and fog crouched at the end of the streets. as they moved down towards Westminster Bridge. his magnificence anonymous under a heavy officer's greatcoat. Freelance.‟ They came to the bridge and she turned on to the Embankment. I trained with the RAF at Cranwell and they were good .‟ she said.‟ „Nonsense.you see. we eat. And you?‟ „Twenty-seven. Fred Astaire would have held my arm and sung to me as we strolled with the car following us. yes. in reality.‟ „But the English not so much?‟ It was there again.‟ he said. But first. preferably after midnight. The trouble is that to them we're all dagos. „They're all right.‟ „Ah.‟ she said. „A women's college. crawling along the kerb. You're a great pilot. He wore a peaked cap.

then she pushed him away and there was something strangely like fear in her eyes. but it's true. Gabrielle came out of the bedroom. She was the daughter of a family friend. an inimitable. filled with a delight that she had never known in her life before. Montera got into the back of the Embassy car. Leukemia. standing before it. a brandy in his hand. I have a ten-year-old daughter named Linda who lives contentedly with her grandmother.‟ she said. *** Outside. „And how would you know that?‟ The rain increased into a solid drenching downpour and he turned and whistled to the car. „You made me feel so gentle.‟ He took in the robe and said gravely. . She's like that. „Please.‟ He took her hands gently and nodded. I do.‟ He released her. she leaned against it.‟ she said.‟ The door closed softly behind him. You are married.‟ „All you need.‟ and she took his hand and they ran together towards the car. May I call you in the morning?‟ „Yes.‟ „I can't believe that. „I love you. Too impatient. wry smile of such charm that she ran across the room and put her hands on his shoulders. picked up his greatcoat. armaments.‟ „And you?‟ „My wife died four years ago. brushing her hair. „Ah.The best. a man's obviously. Montera said. Don't ask me how. A moment later Tony Villiers stepped out of a nearby doorway. She wore an old bathrobe. His headquarters are in Marseilles and he tends to indulge me. „Of course. please do.‟ He smiled again. Raul. I'm afraid. things like that. I see.‟ „Divorced. Give me time. several sizes too big for her. I was always rather difficult to please so my mother arranged things. believe me.‟ „A suitable match for a Montera?‟ „Exactly. „I'd better get you home. went to the door and opened it. „It was too much to expect that a girl like you could have reached the ripe old age of twenty-seven without complication.‟ He kissed her and for a moment she responded. Not now.‟ And then he was close and she was in his arms and his lips brushed her face. is disgustingly wealthy. I understand.‟ she said. *** The Pissaro on the wall of the sitting room of the flat in Kensington Palace Gardems was beautiful. Montera. the driver drove away. He turned and smiled. examined it closely. He lit a cigarette and watched the cargo. I am not a good father. I've never known anyone like you. „Electronics. I'm not used to that. „You're so damned nice to me. I amazed myself. I think? I was wrong.‟ „Am I?‟ he said curiously. no. „Do my eyes deceive me or is the Pissaro an original?‟ „My father. Not from men.‟ „Yes. „It would seem appropriate.

‟ „An interesting point.‟ „They would. you'd think they'd recall him.‟ Harry Fox said. wouldn't they? Any word from Gabrielle?‟ „Not yet.‟ „Even cleverer to leave him in London. the line that connected him directly with his office at the Directorate-General of the Security Service in the large. sir. Anyway. when the red phone rang.then turned to look up at the windows of the flat. Raul Montera is one of the few pilots in the Argentine Air Force with genuine combat experience.‟ „That's true. As he did so. the lights were turned out. They seem to think that the Argentineans will hit the Falklands within the next few days. sir. *** Brigadier Charles Ferguson was sitting in bed. anonymous white and red brick building in the West End of London not far from the Hilton Hotel. Harry. picked up a file and went back to work. „Coded message from the CIA in Washington.‟ „Do they indeed? What does the Foreign Office have to say?‟ „They think it's a load of cobblers. He stood there for a moment longer. working his way through a mass of papers. If we haven't heard from Gabrielle by noon I'll phone her. sir. propped against pillows. . I'll see you in the morning. then walked away. If they were going to start anything. „Ferguson here.‟ He put down the receiver.

„When I was a boy. „Shall we go?‟ she said. I'm being serious.‟ „So?‟ „I sat with him while they dressed him in his suit of lights for a special appearance in the Grand Plaza at Mexico City. Bulls.‟ „Perhaps I can explain. You could do anything you want.yet you go to the bulls. up from the gutter. a member of one of the oldest families in Mexico. and a great shame to the family because bullfighters are usually gypsies or poor boys. only looking up when Gabrielle stepped back into the room. „Yes. Arabs and Asians of every variety mingling freely with the native British. „You said to make it informal. who lived in Mexico City.‟ she insisted. and Gabrielle drew admiring glances on every hand. She was an astonishing sight in a yellow tee shirt which clearly outlined her breasts. Everyone knows the Argentine Air Force is staffed by the aristocracy. and yet from boyhood.‟ he said. he became a torero. There was an account of yesterday's proceedings in Parliament and questions to the Prime Minister on the Falklands. He read the Report with interest. He was a fabulously wealthy man. of course. I said.‟ She had spoken in English and he replied in the same language. unable to bear the waiting. stood up and opened the door for her. week by week. a professional bullfighter. „You are a woman of surprises. and moved past him. She took his arm. She kissed him on the cheek and fingered the gold crucifix on the chain that hung around his neck.‟ „Women?‟ „No. „Stop role-playing.‟ he said. Why do you fly?‟ „It's what I do.‟ he said.‟ „Fine by me. In fact. a tight white skirt that ended above the knee and a pair of high heeled cowboy boots. I've some shopping to do. you have everything . I counted the scars of the horns on his body. he had room for only one passion. He had rung her at eight o'clock. Across Kensington Gardens and down to Harrods. „Tell me something. my mother's brother. boys played football in the bright sunshine. „Gorgeous? Is this a word to apply to a man?‟ „Gorgeous.‟ He lit a cigarette and sat reading the morning paper while she went to dress. You face. she was fresh from the bath and wearing the same robe.‟ „You're probably filthy rich. He was wearing jeans and an old black leather flying jacket. I had an uncle Juan. He smiled. “Uncle. power . A pair of sunglasses were perched on top of her blonde hair. money. *** The crowd in Kensington Gardens was remarkably cosmopolitan. I thought we'd go for a walk. People lounged on the grass.title. Nine times he had been gored. Why do you do this thing?”‟ . animals specifically trained to kill you. „You look gorgeous.4 When she admitted Montera the following morning. Did anyone ever tell you that?‟ „Often.‟ she said.

‟ She touched the scar. „Just for you. „I hate men and yet you're so damn nice. „Is one permitted to enquire the purpose?‟ She shrugged. „Kensington Palace Gardens. „What is this? Where are we going?‟ „Back to the flat.‟ she said angrily.‟ There were tears in her eyes. an arm about her. What happened to your uncle?‟ „Oh.‟ She shivered. Just listen to him.„And what did he reply?‟ „He said. he felt more content. „Oh.‟ *** Lying in bed. Now I am older. „That was lovely. I presume?‟ „You swine. Move away a little. It's nice to play games occasionally. „Even when it almost gets you killed?‟ „Ah.‟ He kissed her gently on the mouth. I want to look at you. don't you think?‟ He stopped and half-turned towards her as she still clung to his arm.‟ They lay a couple of feet apart. Close to the Russian Embassy. my beautiful. It's like a moral imperative. I believed in causes. As it swung in to the kerb she said. it's what I am. more at peace with himself than he had done for years.‟ he said. By intention. I've never ever known a man like you. All used up. „You are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. Can we do it again some time?‟ „Could you possibly give me time to catch my breath?‟ She smiled and ran a hand across his belly. She gave a small grunt of infinite content. . but I was younger then.‟ „Is that a promise?‟ „Never mind. „Does it matter? I don't really know. watching the white curtains rise and fall in the slight breeze from the partly open window. justice.‟ he said. There's nothing else I want to do. Beautiful nonsense.‟ She had tightened her grip on his arm as if to reassure herself. They crossed from the gardens and started down Kensington Road. the green eyes wide and starry as if she was committing him to memory. „in spite of that appalling outfit. „Oh. She reached to switch it on and Ella Fitzgerald's unique and wonderful voice moved into Our Love is Here to Stay. Can't you see how much I'm loving you? I don't have any choice in the business.‟ „Think nothing of it.‟ „We'll have to see about that.‟ „So kind. God. turned her stomach into his thigh and sighed. More foolish.‟ He waved to a passing taxi. He said. Flying's like that with me. „Very civil of you. „I don't like it. „The poor old man. and held his arm even tighter. heads on the same pillow. freedom.‟ she said amiably. „I think I've done rather well to hold myself in this far. glorious tart. he finally went to the horns one time too many. but I feel I ought to point out that you look spectacularly tarty in that outfit. Such a good address.‟ He kissed her lazily on the forehead. There was a radio cassette player on the small table beside the bed.‟ she said.

‟ His eyes stared back into the past.‟ She put down the phone. „Six in July. Ferguson said. Dakotas mostly. Go to sleep. looking out across the gardens. „Dreadful combination.‟ Her arms were about him now. „I was flying from Fernando Po to Port Harcourt in Biafra during the Nigerian civil war. I didn't ask you your sign.‟ she said. „I want to be totally honest with you.‟ He smiled. *** She was standing by the window. Within seconds the other three crew members were dead or dying.‟ he muttered. but they needed medical supplies in a hurry.‟ There was pain in her then because of her own deceit. her lips on his forehead. Next time he came in on my tail. We've got all day. „Don't worry about it. I got a Russian Mig fighter on my tail.‟ he said. Leo and Capricorn.‟ he said. He started to shoot me out of the sky. „Tell me about it. We usually flew by night. A feeling that at the end of the street. Overshot me and ploughed straight into the jungle. I almost stalled. I dropped the Dakota's flaps.„The scar.‟ „Capricorn.‟ „Is that a fact?‟ She kissed him and a moment later he was asleep.‟ „Things are hotting up.‟ She ran a finger along his lips. She managed to smile. „Is he with you now?‟ She took a deep breath. *** The dream was more real than anything he had ever known. You've been a long time coming. I found out later. „Ah. Anything to report?‟ „Nothing. I want to give all of myself that there is to give. when the phone sounded in the sitting room.‟ He shrugged. „Yes. „No hope at all. walking by night in Paris. at that moment hating Ferguson more than she had ever hated anyone in her life. „It was raining like hell. „What did you do?‟ „Took her down to five hundred feet. He said drowsily. can you understand that? I've never felt so with any human being before.‟ „What are you trying to tell me?‟ she asked. there was always a magic. When I was a young man.‟ „Clever boy. it was as simple as that.‟ „You're wrong. London or Buenos Aires. You're sure he's staying in London?‟ „Yes. „I've always loved cities by night. thinking about him. something bracing about the night air. Asleep in the other room.‟ she said. That's when I got this. something marvellous was waiting just around the corner. „Forty-five. There was a sudden sharp cry as Raul Montera called out and she turned and ran into the bedroom.‟ he said. It was like stopping dead in mid-air.‟ „And the Mig?‟ „No space left to work in.‟ He fingered the scar. She went through quickly and picked it up. „Very sure.‟ „Fine. The feeling of the potential things. „We have the rest of our lives. Thank God you made it. The plane was in a hell of a . „All the signs point to an invasion down there. Egyptian pilot. A real thunderstorm. there you are. I'll be in touch.‟ she said.

and found himself in Gabrielle's arms. then picked up the photo which had fallen on the floor and put it on the side.‟ he said as he started to dress. „Much better for you than coffee. he was no longer smiling. He came awake then. thinking of Ferguson. drinking tea from china mugs.‟ „Brilliant. I feel very Frenchy today. „A challenge for you.‟ The door closed behind him.‟ „Donna Elena Llorca de Montera difficult?‟ He laughed. Montera smoking a cigarette. „You can have that. „You really do look gorgeous. His fingers. „Good.‟ she said in a kind of reflex. claws distended. *** They sat in the large bath.‟ he thought and then the canopy swung away from him. wishing he were dead. She stared up at the ceiling. without thinking. He screamed aloud in fear.‟ „At your orders.‟ „But tickets are unobtainable. dropping down on him. When he turned. There was a beating of wings and he looked up to find a great eagle. señorita. groped for the quick release handle that would eject him and then a shadow passed overhead. Even eagles will overshoot. I think. The child who stood beside her wore a formal white dress and was tall with wide dark eyes. totally at ease. The woman in the cane chair was beautifully gowned. Drop your flaps.‟ she said.‟ she said. And make sure they give you a booth. „I've been in the trenches a long time. facing each other. coffee no longer exists. „A lot like you. Panic gave him strength as he fought to release the plastic canopy that enveloped him.‟ he said formally in Spanish.‟ he said. warm with his own blood. „Only most of the time. great holes ripped in the body.‟ „From now on. „I've things to do. And dinner afterwards?‟ „Daphne's. But your mother looks as if she could be difficult.‟ Gabrielle said. *** . He could smell smoke and burning oil. he knew that. „Obviously only one thing to do. his wallet fell to the floor.‟ „You've got me now. don't let me burn. Amongst the items which cascaded out was a small photo. As he pulled on his flying jacket.‟ He stood up and reached a towel. pieces of fuselage rattling in the turbulence.‟ she said.‟ He smiled.‟ „Off you go. „Dear God.‟ „And what would that be?‟ „You told me yourself. „She's beautiful.state.‟ „An eagle descending. „What next?‟ „I'd like to see Cats again. the hair groomed to perfection. moved to the door and paused. She picked it up and examined it. all the arrogance of the true aristocrat in her face.‟ He kissed her gently.‟ he said.‟ „Taken. but stood there looking extraordinarily vulnerable in the black opened-necked shirt and the old flying jacket. „What a pilot you would have made. „The tea is excellent.

‟ The Malvinas. „Quite simple really. „because you. I think you may be going to war sooner than you think. So many things fell into place now. Tony. when the doorbell buzzed. It is essential that you do not miss it. And you have. Yet there was Gabrielle. „They've cancelled your leave. „All right. The Air France flight for Buenos Aires leaves at ten-thirty this evening.‟ *** Gabrielle had not changed. more important things to worry about. She's on a job for you. Raul. heard the lift door clang outside. my friend. real pain on his face. so don't attempt to deny it. you look quite agitated.‟ Ferguson said patiently. „Heathrow.‟ *** And at his flat off Belgrave Square. for God's sake?‟ Villiers demanded. I'm sending a car round. „By way of Kensington Palace Gardens. listening with horror to what the Military Attache at the Embassy was saying to him. Please hurry. Tony. Tony. dear Tony. He appeared.‟ Raul Montera said. when the door opened and Villiers pushed past Kim before the Gurkha could announce him. „I followed him home last night. He packed hurriedly.‟ Bradbury Lines. conscious of a dreadful foreboding. The chauffeur was waiting on the step as Montera emerged.‟ Ferguson said. turned up in the nick of time as usual. She went and lifted the answer phone.‟ „How. Tony. „But why. can't I? That last job she did for you in Berlin. She's simply out to extract what useful information she can about the Falklands situation. Montera?‟ Villiers asked. „There is a plane for Paris leaving in two hours. „It's me. if I may say so. You mustn't fail. still wearing his jeans and the old flying jacket.‟ Villiers lit a cigarette and paced to the window. I can still show concern. Raul Montera gripped the telephone tightly. This Montera business is very small beer. my colonel. „My dear Tony. he thought.‟ She half-opened the door and waited. she nearly ended up in the canal. and the gods decide to screw it up for me. „What's going on between Gabrielle and this Argentinean. Ferguson sighed and removed his reading glasses. by taking him to bed?‟ „Not your affair. going through various papers.‟ the chauffeur said as Montera got into the front seat beside him. „And step on it! We don't have much time. Raul.‟ „But she didn't. Hereford. just one bag with essentials. point taken. . was the headquarters of the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment.Ferguson was seated at his desk at Cavendish Place with Fox.‟ Ferguson said as Kim withdrew.‟ Harry Fox passed a note across. „And neither is she any longer. isn't she?‟ „None of your business. That's all it could be. What was he going to do about her? My one real chance of happiness in this accursed life. They need you back there. eyes wild. They want you back in Hereford as soon as possible. was sitting at the mirror in the old robe and about to make herself up. and the doorbell rang as he was finishing.

„Just left for Paris to make a connection with Buenos Aires.‟ She moved with him to the gate.‟ Ferguson said. I swear it.‟ „Nonsense.‟ she said. There are good reasons. The lift doors clanged again.‟ She told him what to do then. high and clear. He held for a moment.‟ „Wonderful. „I'll make a bargain with you. „Did he explain?‟ „No. I've been recalled to Buenos Aires. succinct and to the point.‟ „Rather sudden.‟ he said.‟ Above their heads the tannoy called his name. *** When she opened the door of the flat and went in. then pushed her away. What a wonderful burden. I love you. frozen. „Does it matter?‟ He took her by the arms and kissed her savagely. „He's gone. reversing the charge. „My hair's a mess. Love is a gift that must be returned fourfold. That's all that matters. face pale. This is the last time. I'll be back. He turned for the last time. She ran into his arms. She stood there. „All I've got time for.‟ she said.‟ he said. What a burden you place on me. Isn't life hell?‟ He turned and was gone. The only time. „We have a saying. „A few more throats need cutting somewhere. her rage and frustration focusing on him. I've got a plane to catch to Paris. As he turned. „It may be difficult.‟ And then he was gone and she turned her face into a pillar and wept. that's all I've got. „You look wonderful.‟ „Raul. „Sorry about this. hanging on. she crossed to the telephones and dialed Ferguson's number. She followed him through. Villiers appeared from the bedroom. is that it?‟ „I suppose so. Gabrielle. then ran into the bedroom and started to dress. „Did I find time to tell you that I've now discovered what joy is? Thank you for that. No more saying goodbye. I love you so much.‟ He smiled. After a while. Don't worry. „My leave's been cancelled and they want me back at Hereford. I needed a few things. Montera was just about to go through into the international departure lounge when she called his name. all his anger and frustration pouring out of him. even if there is a gap for a while.„Two minutes. No more partings ever again.‟ „How was Belfast this time?‟ . „Will you write?‟ she demanded. she came running through the crowd in a yellow cotton jumpsuit. *** At Heathrow.‟ „You sound upset. no make-up and wearing the first thing that came to hand.‟ He went back into the bedroom and returned to packing the bag which was open on the bed. sharp. slammed down the receiver and walked away.‟ „But why?‟ she cried. hair tousled. in French of the kind definitely not taught in any finishing school.

Tony. I didn't deserve you. He's gone.‟ she said. for Christ's sake. but believe it or not. sir?‟ „Well. feeling helpless.‟ „What did I do?‟ he said. the Oman. still at his desk.‟ His face was bleak. Tony. you know. I never thought to have to say this again in my lifetime. „What do you think it means. and picked up the white skirt and yellow tee shirt which still lay on the floor where she had dropped them.‟ He picked up his bag and stood there.‟ she said. you looked wonderful in uniform. One thing only are you truly good at.„Pretty awful. „I love him so much. „What terrible thing did I do that you should hate me so. Tony. „Whatever else I may have deserved in this life. Gabrielle. she slumped down on the bed. „Signal just in. Behind him. Tony. the pillows still crumpled from where she had lain with Raul Montera. „Oh. He got up and went to the window and peered out into the square. leaving her to her grief. Harry. Ireland. Killing people.‟ . It never seemed to stop. stretched wearily. I think it means war. „I used to think that had a special significance where we were concerned. the door opened from the office and Harry Fox rushed in. but there was nothing he could say. Even Vietnam.you deserve each other. And he's gone. „I've heard of the line of duty. Every rotten little war that came along. what I could say about that and you and your precious SAS if it wasn't for the Official Secrets Act. because you do. sir. He tried to speak.‟ „You're good at one thing. Units of the Argentine fleet have detached themselves from manoeuvres and are proceeding towards the Falkland Islands.‟ He pointed at the bed. God.‟ He closed the case and said calmly.‟ He handed the signal sheet to Ferguson. and then it started. *** Ferguson.‟ „Good . „This isn't getting us anywhere. but this does really seem to be taking it too far.‟ Her face crumpled like a little girl's. He turned and went out. Paper and yet more paper.‟ „No. conscious of the desolation in her voice. I never knew love could be like this.‟ „I married a stranger. Borneo. you had to volunteer.

„You said it was urgent. His name was Juan Garcia and he was a First Secretary in the Commercial Department of the Argentine Embassy in Paris. „What a weapon. „Nikolai. He was a handsome. „A triumph for French technology!‟ He raised his glass and the barman toasted him back.‟ „To put it frankly. for it was almost five a. Another frigate blown up. On the other hand. You fire it from forty miles away. the British fleet does have to sit it out as best it can in Falkland Sound and San Carlos Water and you still have the Exocet. „Of the utmost importance to my country. „Mind you. The coffee was good and he said to the barman.‟ the barman said.‟ Belov said. but not on such a night or rather.‟ Garcia said. It's excellent and the Cognac will clear your pipes.‟ „Unfortunately there is another side to all this. just under the speed of sound.‟ „And you. „Hot off the press at four o'clock. around half our Skyhawk fighter bombers are not making it back to base. it drops to the surface and skims the waves at ten feet. waiting for Garcia to take off his wet coat. usually much frequented by prostitutes. You've seen the morning paper?‟ „Indeed I have. There was an article about it in Paris Match yesterday. „So far. The attack on the Sheffield speaks for itself. It was a poor sort of place. a colonel in the KGB.‟ „It is urgent. The barman brought the coffee and Cognac and departed to the back kitchen.‟ . Have a look if you like. The door opened in a flurry of wind and rain and a man entered. „It's good to see you. he was a major in military intelligence.‟ He nodded to the barman and lit a cigarette. this Exocet missile is the thing. „Try the coffee. This is an appalling time in the morning to be about. Argentine Skyhawks had continued to bomb the British task force at San Carlos and Falkland Sound. you'll be running out of pilots before you know where you are.m. rather fleshy man with a mane of silver hair which made him look more like a distinguished actor than what he was. „I certainly hope so.‟ Belov said.‟ Garcia said. dark-haired with thin features and a moustache. His dark suit was of English cut. as was the dark blue overcoat which fitted him to perfection.‟ Belov sipped his Cognac and read the front page.‟ He spoke in good French and held out his hand with genuine warmth.5 A cold wind lifted across the Seine and dashed rain against the windows of the all-night café by the bridge. The news is all bad for the British down there in the Falklands. the only customer. He was small. His raincoat was wet and he carried an umbrella which he was experiencing difficulty in closing. but Belov wasn't prepared to argue. In reality. a destroyer damaged. and all French. Is that the early edition you have there?‟ The barman nodded.‟ Which wasn't quite true. morning. The barman leaned on the zinc-topped counter reading a newspaper and Nikolai Belov sat at a table in the corner drinking coffee. The toll is mounting. Belov was in his early fifties and for twelve of them had been Cultural Attache at the Soviet Embassy in Paris. The damn thing can't miss. A quite unacceptable loss rate. You seem to be giving our British friends a hard time. „I'll have another and a Cognac.

we have dispersed the other Etendards to secret locations. a squadron of Super Etendard bombers which are essential to the whole task. Be at your flat. They would be forced to withdraw the fleet. all very useful. . Satellite information and so on.‟ Garcia departed. „Your government has helped us already. Discreetly. We know you're on our side in this. We think we've got it together now. „Which the French. one missed altogether. I have the money to pay. There have been other attacks where they've been launched unsuccessfully. „That must really reduce your capability.‟ „No. Oh. It will suit your purposes very well. Belov lit an American cigarette.‟ „Exactly.‟ „And you think this can be done?‟ „Our experts say.‟ „Which is?‟ „The British have two aircraft carriers.‟ Garcia was exasperated and showed it. Go now.‟ He hammered his fist on the table. It takes time to get used to such a weapon. All I want from you is the name. he might do something eventually. Hermes and Invincible. „On this one. we have had French help with the missile launchers and control systems. „For God's sake. We've had the right kind of assistance. it is true. who had known of the incident to the smallest detail for some days. „Two were launched against Sheffield. Juan.‟ „From French experts?‟ „President Mitterand would deny it. „So what do you want from me. Don't tell me you can't do something. I'm no technician but apparently their radar system is compatible with the Exocet. of course. then glanced at his watch. a contact. „Better tell me. „A few days ago a Unit of the British Special Air Service made a commando attack on our base at Rio Gallegos.‟ „You know what Qadhafi is like.‟ „Of course. don't pretend. only a question of time. Sink either one and the effect on their air cover would be dramatic. And we still have enough to do the job. for example.‟ „So what do you want?‟ „Exocets. under pressure from the European Community. leave it with me. lifting a paper on the floor in the corner. Not at the Embassy. nodded sympathetically.‟ There was silence. but we need more Exocets.‟ Belov. Ample funds in Geneva in gold or any currency you like. Juan.‟ Nikolai Belov sat looking at him for a moment.‟ Garcia said. I'll follow later. And we have.‟ „I heard the Libyans were going to help.‟ Garcia stirred his coffee. we don't take sides.‟ „You mean you've got somebody?‟ „Perhaps. my friend?‟ he asked gently. you want to see the British defeated.„But we don't have enough. I'll be in touch later this morning. but yes. the psychological effect of such a defeat on the Atlantic Alliance would be disastrous. They managed to destroy six Super Etendards. obviously under considerable stress. which can't be used with a Mirage.‟ There was something he was holding back. but by then it will be too late. won't give you. looking around him at the squalor with distaste and stood up. „All right. Belov shivered.‟ Belov said. The door closed behind him. A small wind drifted round the room. A hell of a lot of talk. Belov said gently.

beautiful. Irana. Then. but what if one could do it in such a way that it would discredit the ruling junta in Argentina? If we could only bring down the military government. She was totally devoted to him.‟ „An even better one is this. What was it all about?‟ „First the coffee. is always useful. Belov took her in his arms.‟ „What are you saying then? That you won't help Garcia?‟ „Not at all. „What an imagination! You already see a Russian fleet installed in Rio Gallegos. *** Belov lived in an apartment on the top floor of a luxury building of some distinction on the Boulevard St Germain. „Why bother. „You smell wonderful. Nikolai? They're a bunch of fascists down there in the Argentine. Under military rule. „I wonder if God really knew what he was doing when he made mornings like these?‟ He opened the door and departed. He grabbed her hand and pushed it away. Let me get you some coffee. lying sideways in bed. „I have it. She had been Belov's secretary for ten years or more and he had seduced her within a month of her taking up the appointment. Monsieur?‟ „I don't think so. He was tired and cold and the prospect of Irana Vronsky waiting for him filled him with conscious pleasure.The barman came in from the kitchen. you're frozen.‟ „Good point.‟ *** Later. I'd rather have the British any day of the week. the British are going to win this war. When she opened the door to him. isn't it?‟ He lay there for a while longer and she ran the fingers of her right hand up over his thigh and across his belly. especially when it sets two anti-communist countries at each other's throats.‟ „Keep that up. She was a handsome.‟ .‟ „My God. a sudden excitement on his face. Oh. A mini-war we are not involved in personally.‟ she said. „We go to bed and you warm me up. full-bodied woman of thirty-five and undeniably attractive.‟ He smiled and then became serious. Where is he?‟ „In London this week. Irana. watching him smoke a cigarette. the opportunities of government by the people would be limitless. This should suit him down to the ground. „There is more than one reason for taking an interest in this business.‟ „I know. I think.‟ he said.‟ Belov dropped a note on the counter and buttoned his coat. „Anything else. the Argentine air force has performed magnificently. just so you can live in Kensington and shop at Harrods every day. you'll have me defecting. thousands have disappeared. Donner. revealing black stockings and the hint of a garter belt. she was wearing a superb black silk dressing gown which gaped as she moved forward. Exocets or no Exocets. she said. I tell you what Garcia wanted and you can put that fine commonsense of yours to work. but their navy stays in harbour and their army of occupation in the Falklands consists mainly of conscripts.‟ There was concern on her face. I'm all in favour of giving him exactly what he wants. controlling the South Atlantic. I shudder to think what British Marines and Paratroopers will do to them once they start rolling. He went straight there from his assignation with Garcia. A great deal of technical information can be derived from their use of weaponry and so on. „Nikolai.

one Victor Marchuk. As chairman of the Donner Development Corporation. Let's have a talk with this Argentinean. The Australian from Rum Jungle. „If not. But he looked healthy enough as he stood up and stretched later that morning. Donner slid his arms round her waist and pulled her against him. south of Darwin.‟ he laughed. there was no one to identify the gaunt scarecrow almost four stone under weight. The Russians had a number of spy schools in the Soviet Union. Excuse me I'll phone him from my study. „I knew I could rely on you. savouring her. It was Marchuk who was eventually returned to Chinese custody to labour in a Manchurian coal mine.‟ He went out and Irana Vronsky came in with fresh coffee.‟ „Good. playing polo. from shipping to electronics. dark stockings. „It's been said before. Her hair was tied back with a black bow and her neat grey skirt. in reality.‟ „You think you might be able to do something?‟ Belov asked. he was a well-known and highly respected figure in London financial circles. Tell him to get the shuttle from Heathrow. living exactly as they did in the west. „Is Nikolai looking after you all right?‟ he said in Russian. as she left the room. had been specially selected from a Chinese prison camp and transported to Glacyna where Marchuk could observe him as closely as any prize specimen in a laboratory. *** Felix Donner was a magnificent figure of a man. who had served with the Australian Army in Korea. „I don't know. shooting grouse. an orphan with no relatives. in the Northern Territory. Donner shrugged. each one with a distinctive national flavour. I want to see him here before noon. Then we see. Since then he'd never looked back and his interests were varied. thoroughly pleased with himself. where he'd hacked his way up to his first million in the property boom of the sixties. white blouse.‟ she said. Tell him to come round with everything he's got on this whole Exocet thing. It was rather ironic when one considered that this benign and popular man was. He had been a prisoner of the Chinese for two years. at least six foot three in height with a great breadth of shoulder and dark hair swept back over his ears. In Glacyna agents were trained to work in English-speaking countries in a replica of an English town. accentuated her charms. who was released the following year. „Interesting possibilities.„Get him on the phone now. even shaking hands with royalty at a charity dinner. just let me know. The original Felix Donner. He was a popular figure with the media and was often photographed mingling with the stars at a film premiere. Always glad to help. As by arrangement he was the only one of the six members of his original unit captured to survive. and then came to London. and went to the window of Belov's apartment. *** . Garcia. Everyone knew his story. a Ukranian who had not seen his homeland for thirty years. just before noon.‟ Belov said.‟ She got out of bed and went to the phone while Belov lit another cigarette.‟ „Bastard.

„After all. Somewhere nice and open.Juan Garcia sat by the window with Nikolai Belov and drank coffee in silence.‟ Garcia said. Frankly. He phoned the Embassy at the start of things. I should imagine it would cost you in the region of two to three million.‟ Garcia said. „An extraordinary business. admiring the performance. If I can work something out. it must be within a week or ten days at the . And in gold. I'm not interested in the rights and wrongs of this affair.‟ „When?‟ Garcia asked. „I don't know. Garcia said. frowning. This man Bernard. Dr Paul Bernard. It's very short notice.‟ Donner said. Based at Bahia Blanca they have given invaluable assistance as regards testing and fitting the missile launchers and control systems.‟ Garcia said. Señor Garcia. „I only deal in pounds sterling. when President Mitterand announced the embargo. „What are they exactly? Money?‟ „No.‟ Donner told him. in view of the fact that the French government has suspended all military aid to the Argentine. „Traditionally.‟ Garcia added. while on the other side of the room Felix Donner sat in a wingback chair by the fire and worked his way through the bulky file the Argentinean had provided.‟ „Interesting. the Australian closed the file and reached for a cigarette. „I should like to speak to Professor Bernard. After a while. If we are to do anything. On a purely business footing. find you a few Exocets. „On the other hand. The Etendard is manufactured by Dassault in which the French government has a 51% holding. the president of which is General Jacques Mitterand. „No problem.‟ „Dollars?‟ Garcia asked. It may not be convenient. „My operations are based in the City of London.‟ „And you have also had other help.‟ Donner said. „Let's say at two o'clock this afternoon. „We have considerable sympathy here in many quarters. „Can you help us?‟ „I think so. it seems he has no love for the English.‟ „His motives interest me.‟ „A brilliant electronic engineer. He offered to help in any way he could.‟ „Good. we were lucky enough to have a team of French technicians already in my country before the outbreak of hostilities.‟ Donner looked at his watch. of course. France and Britain have never enjoyed what could be termed a warm relationship. Do you have that much available?‟ Garcia swallowed hard. Now a professor at the Sorbonne. The necessary funds are in Geneva now.‟ „Two o'clock?‟ Garcia looked hunted.‟ „Then I suggest you make it convenient. I can say no more than that at this stage.‟ Donner told him. brother of the President of France? An intriguing situation. would seem to have supplied you with information crucial to the success of the operation.‟ „That's correct. time is of the essence in this affair.‟ Donner opened the file and looked at it again. „And the makers of the Exocet are the state-owned Aerospatiale Industries. „As soon as possible.‟ Donner stood up. I see from the file. Belov waited. „At one time head of one of the research sections at Aerospatiale.

„I believe you.‟ Donner said. Why do you do it? You're certainly no patriot and politics you find games for children. Professor Bernard said.‟ *** The meeting with Bernard took place on a tourist barge on the Seine. A French national because of service in Algiers as a French Foreign Legion paratrooper. When the Boche came to our village. you know that. After that. Felix.‟ „Not good enough?‟ Bernard's voice rose angrily so that Stavrou turned from the rail. Nikolai. „I enjoy every minute of it.‟ Belov shook his head. leaned a man who was even taller than Donner. He wore a raincoat over a dark blue suit. black tie and white shirt. We shouldn't have taken sides.‟ he said. „I thought Garcia would be here?‟ „Not necessary.‟ „It's the only game in town. Why did you take such a risk?‟ „Because I didn't think the arms embargo was right.‟ The study door opened and Garcia entered. Why?‟ Bernard shrugged. „I don't understand you. „May I use the phone?‟ „In the study. I suppose?‟ „That's right. „You have an idea. „Where's that? And they wouldn't. I should have thought it would be too late. The government was wrong. What is your interest in this affair?‟ „They've asked me to find them some. „I wonder what you'd do if they decided to recall you home to Moscow after all these years?‟ „Home?‟ Donner said. and turned to Belov. half-Turkish. „All organised.‟ „Not good enough. He had been Donner's chauffeur.‟ Garcia said hurriedly. „Let me tell you about the English. I really do. „I don't like the English. I think?‟ „Possibly.outside. watching the passing scenery. I'm too valuable where I am. you've told me that often enough. In 1940.‟ Garcia went out. he was a supremely dangerous man. a bottle of Sancerre between them.‟ „You'll be staying in your apartment in the Rue de Rivoli. Belov said.‟ Donner said. Left us to the Germans. I'm the best there is. His grey hair was cropped to the skull and he had a flat-boned face whose slanted eyes and open nostrils gave him a faintly Mongolian appearance. watchful. At the rail. the other half anyone's guess.‟ Donner said.‟ „But you have done so. Is Stavrou with you?‟ „Downstairs in the car. Wouldn't you agree?‟ „Of course. „I've heard everything there is to be heard from him. to a degree extremely dangerous for a man in your position. although because of the heavy rain there were few tourists in evidence. Wanda has gone ahead to make sure everything's in apple-pie order.‟ „I can imagine. This was Yanni Stavrou.‟ „How is she? As beautiful as ever?‟ „Did I ever settle for anything less?‟ Belov laughed. they ran. You've helped them considerably already. „Fine. whoever they are. body-guard and strong right arm for ten years now. „Something in that file that could suit our purposes admirably. a few yards away.‟ Belov nodded. my father and a few others tried to put up a fight. I like beating them. Donner and Bernard sat at a table under an awning in the stern. They need more Exocets desperately. A handful of . It's as simple as that.

The fishing port of St Martin. They shot them in the square. My mother and most of the other women. But it wasn't a practical proposition. „I understand perfectly. but she was still small in spite of the high-heeled shoes. It's in your notes.‟ *** Wanda Brown was a graceful girl. On a number of occasions. tell me in detail about your last trip there. The Army Air Corps managed to land light aircraft on one of the beaches when the tide was out.‟ „How many people there?‟ „No more than thirty-five. „So don't try to tell me about the English.‟ He spat over the side. I don't understand. almond-shaped eyes and a small. but I can still hear the screaming. impossible. her London East End origin was plain. If you look out to sea. She was one quarter negro. no.‟ „And how does one get to the island? By air?‟ „Oh.‟ He lit a cigarette.‟ „Yes.‟ Bernard said. the soft contours of whose body were accentuated by her white silk blouse and black velvet skirt. „Okay.‟ He looked at Stavrou. which showed in her skin. aren't they? You told Garcia about that. where her current boyfriend had been attempting rather forcibly to introduce her into a life of prostitution.‟ Donner refilled his glass. A long time ago. Stavrou had left him in a doorway with two ribs and his left arm broken and Wanda had found herself plunged headlong into a world of luxury and delight.‟ Donner couldn't have been more delighted. but then Donner had always liked his women young. Her one . the link with the mainland is by boat. „They're testing the latest Exocet there. „I think we'll have another bottle. that less is always better.‟ „You've been there?‟ „Certainly. for example during the next week or ten days. for she had learned the hard way. all there is is the Atlantic and then Newfoundland. „I think I can guarantee to obtain any information you require and at the shortest notice.‟ Donner nodded. so let's get down to business. She had been all of sixteen. about fifteen miles off the Brittany coast. Her appearance was one of extreme elegance. leaned back in his chair and said to Bernard. that's not quite true. „A large difference. fill me in on the island. A mixture of Aerospatiale technicians and army personnel from missile regiments.‟ Bernard said.‟ „Australian.‟ he said. „You are English yourself. south from St Nazaire. Her hair was black. it's officially a military installation. Could you find out? Are your contacts still good?‟ „Excellent.‟ Donner said.farmers with First World War rifles. she had wide. Usually. but of course the isolation of the place was a necessary factor. „This Sancerre is really very fine. and. Even helicopters find it difficult because of the down-draughts from the cliffs. The weather is frequently terrible. It's an island. „Say I needed to know what was going on at Ile de Roc. Mind you. „Terrible.‟ „Ile de Roc?‟ Bernard looked bewildered. of course. In fact. Donner had picked her off a Soho Street one night.‟ „But you. Donner's cardinal rule. Tell me about Ile de Roc. For example. A damn great rock really. I was ten years old. Nowhere to land. when she opened her mouth. Also a citizen of the world and a business man. corrupt mouth. they took into the village hall to make sport for the soldiers.

Donner got up and walked to the window.‟ „Nikolai and this man Garcia are here. stretching. „Please. let's say. Now show Nikolai and Garcia in. Preferably a first rate pilot. arms folded. „I've told Stavrou to hire a private plane. he had turned the swivel chair behind the desk.‟ he pointed at the map. looking up at a large scale map he'd had Stavrou procure that afternoon of Ile de Roc and the coastal area around St Martin. I dropped the Argentineans right in the manure.‟ He turned and kissed her neck. You get a message off tonight and he could be here tomorrow or the next day. When she went into his study in the sumptuous apartment in the Rue de Rivoli.‟ So Donner did. Just one thing for you to do. . „How would it suit you if.‟ She went out and a moment later the two men entered. Señor Donner. Donner handed him one of the glasses.‟ „Anything else?‟ „Maybe later. I'll get a message off right away. The view of the city was panoramic and always delighted him. yes. You said you would have news for me. He sat. „Tell me more. You can leave it all in my hands. And the financial arrangements?‟ „We'll settle all that later.‟ Garcia gazed at him in awe. it's only a fifteen hour flight from Buenos Aires to Paris. a real international scandal? How would you like that?‟ „I think I'd like it immensely.‟ „Of course. „What are you up to?‟ Belov demanded. pulling her on to his knee. There's bound to be something. señor. No desk type either. He slipped a hand under her skirt in an absent-minded way and stroked her thigh. „You think there's a way?‟ she asked.‟ Garcia left and Donner went to the drinks cabinet and poured whisky into two glasses. He had already discussed the problem with her in bed after making love to her that afternoon. She set down the coffee and put an arm round his neck. After all. I want you to fly down here. See if you can find us a house in the area. „Can this be so. if one looks close enough. in getting these Exocets. there's always a way. „Thank God it's stopped raining. Always is in that kind of country area. He had never kept secrets from her and she clung to the belief that this was evidence of trust. In fact I think I can guarantee you. „Oh. Something substantial that's immediately available.‟ „Good. ten of the latest mark of Exocet missile by next Monday.‟ Donner turned. „But I do. señor?‟ „Definitely.‟ Belov said. I want an Argentine air force officer to liaise with me on this one.fear was that he might discard her now that she had reached the magic age of twenty. „to this St Martin place first thing in the morning. It's all in hand. an appalling prospect in view of the fact that she genuinely loved him. in finest detail.‟ Garcia said impatiently. the French breaking off diplomatic relations. my friend.

No phone calls for half-an-hour. Admiral Jorge Anaya as members of the three man junta that ruled the country. Harry. „Isn't Anaya coming?‟ . shirt sleeves rolled up to the elbow. He went and peered out and shivered. whose uniform fitted him to perfection. What would we do if we had trouble with our own Exocet missiles? Expect the French to render technical assistance?‟ „We don't wish to know that. looking tired. a natural aristocrat in total contrast to Galtieri who had been born into a working class family and had come up the hard way. and a moment later Brigadier General Basilio Lami Dozo.‟ „An interesting question. The men involved were already there. thinking of the fleet down there in the South Atlantic and winter rolling in. my President. Get back to work. sir. „Of course. Both King Hussein and the Egyptian government have asked him to keep out of it. disturb me all you like. a soldier's soldier. we know there's been a certain amount of French technical assistance. handsome man.‟ Rain dashed against the window pane. In addition to exercising its normal anti-terrorist role against the possibility of Argentine undercover units infiltrating London. for Group Four more than had its hands full these days. Harry Fox came in. if news comes in that either the Hermes or Invincible has been sunk.‟ „At your orders. but had taken off his tunic as he sat at the desk working his way through a mass of papers. entered. General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri. All right. has been mainly a product of circumstance. He was an elegant. Ferguson had been given responsibility by the Director-General himself for handling and coordinating all operations connected with Exocet. plain spoken. Lami Dozo took off his hat and lit a cigarette. Martinez?‟ „General Dozo is here.‟ „Good. like it or not. Which was perhaps as well for they were compelled to work together. „I've just had the good word in from Peru. commander of the Argentine Air Force. See that we are not disturbed.‟ Martinez withdrew. and had frequently been compared to that most colourful of all American generals of the Second World War. What about the Libyans?‟ „Qadhafi seems to be having second thoughts. show him in. Harry. suddenly looking relaxed and charming. was in uniform.‟ „Which really only leaves the manufacturers.6 Ferguson worked late that evening at his office at the Directorate-General. The President glanced up. Our people there in co-operation with anti-government guerrillas destroyed a military convoy earlier today which was carrying five Exocets to a Peruvian air force base near Lima for onward transportation to the Argentine.‟ „Thank God for that. together with the commander of the navy.‟ he said softly. but that. He was a bull of a man. Patton. after all. *** It was very quiet in the small study in the Residencia del Presidente at Olivos outside Buenos Aires. „What is it. The President himself. sir. „God help sailors at sea on a night like this. There was a knock at the door and a young army captain in dress uniform looked in.‟ He smiled. George S.

Galtieri was pouring Cognac into two glasses at the drinks cabinet. „What for? We might as well not have a navy for all the good it does. Thank God for the air force. True heroes, all those lads of yours.‟ He handed Lami Dozo a glass. „Here's to them.‟ „What's left of them,‟ Lami Dozo said bitterly and drank a little Cognac. „Things are so bad down there at Gallegos that everyone who can fly is going up. Raul Montera, for God's sake! Forty-six next birthday and he's flying Skyhawks to San Carlos Water.‟ He shook his head. „I sometimes think I should be back in a cockpit myself.‟ „Don't be ridiculous,‟ Galtieri said. „Raul Montera is a romantic fool, always was.‟ „And a true hero.‟ „Oh, I'll give you that. Magnificent. I have every admiration for him.‟ „That's what the boys call him. El Magnifico. He can't last, of course. He's flown eleven operations during the past week to my knowledge.‟ He shook his head. „God knows what I'll find to say to his mother when he goes.‟ „Donna Elena?‟ Galtieri shuddered. „Keep her away from me, whatever you do. That woman always makes me feel I should be herding cows, bare-footed. How was it today?‟ „We hit a frigate, HMS Antelope. When I last heard, there had been some sort of explosion and it was on fire. We think we also damaged a destroyer, the Glasgow, but we can't be sure. Six Mirages and two Skyhawks were shot down. Some made it back to base damaged.‟ He shook his head in wonder. „And in spite of that, the spirit of those boys is fantastic. But it can't go on. We'll run out of pilots.‟ „Exactly,‟ Galtieri said. „Which is why we need more Exocets and according to this report just in from our Embassy in Paris, we could have exactly what we need in a matter of days. Read it.‟ He went to the window and looked out at the gardens, bright in the sunshine as he finished his Cognac. Behind him, Lami Dozo said, „You could be right. But Garcia doesn't seem to have any information as to how or where this man Donner intends to obtain Exocets.‟ „True, but he is convinced that Donner can supply and it's worth a try. You notice, of course, that they ask for a top air force officer to liaise on this one, preferably a pilot.‟ „Yes.‟ „Does anyone spring to mind as being particularly suitable for the job?‟ He turned enquiringly. Lami Dozo smiled. „It would keep him alive, wouldn't it, and as a matter of coincidence, he does speak excellent French.‟ „No time to lose. He should be on his way to Paris tomorrow.‟ Lami Dozo picked up his cap. „No problem. I'll fly down to Gallegos myself in the Lear Jet. Bring him back with me.‟ „Good, I'd like a word with him before he goes.‟ As Lami Dozo moved towards the door, Galtieri called, „You know what the day after tomorrow is?‟ „Of course.‟ It was Tuesday, 25th May and Argentina's national day. „You've something special planned, I trust?‟ „We'll do our best.‟ Lami Dozo went out, the President sighed, sat down at his desk and resumed work. *** In London, Gabrielle Legrand, shopping in Harrods, found herself walking through the television department. A small crowd had gathered before a television set and the ITV news was on. The screen was showing a series of pictures of San Carlos Water, ships scattered at anchor in

a cloud of smoke. Television film, as yet, was not available. An anonymous commentator was describing a raid as it took place, presumably that morning, Argentinian Skyhawks racing in to drop their bombs. His voice lifted in excitement as he followed the track of a Rapier missile, there was the sound of a violent explosion as a Skyhawk was destroyed. Several people in the crowd applauded and one man said, „Got the bastard!‟ It was understandable. This was the enemy they were looking at. Planes dedicated to destroying their own boys. One of those boys was her half-brother, Richard. She knew he was on the aircraft carriers two hundred miles to the west of San Carlos Water but that was not safety. Helicopter pilots like Richard flew towards danger every day and their carriers were the constant targets of the Argentine missiles. Gabrielle prayed that God would protect twenty-two-year-olds. She turned away, physically sick, Raul in her mind. Thank God he's too old to fly those things, she thought, and hurried out. *** Raul Montera, at that moment, was fifty miles off the southern tip of Argentina, five hundred feet above the sea, trying to nurse home a Skyhawk to port that had most of its tail missing, a plume of smoke drifting gently behind it. The boy in the cockpit was badly wounded; Montera knew that and had long since abandoned any attempt at proper procedure. „Hang on, Jose, not long now.‟ „No use, colonel.‟ The boy's voice was very tired. „She's going down. I can't hold her any longer.‟ As the Skyhawk's nose dipped, Montera said, „Eject boy.‟ „And freeze to death?‟ The boy laughed faintly. „Why bother.‟ „Lieutenant Ortega,‟ Montera cried. „Eject now. That's an order.‟ A second later the canopy flew into space, the boy was catapulted out. Montera followed him down, already giving base the position, watching the parachutes drift, hoping that the air sea rescue launch would be in time. He made a quick pass as Ortega hit the water, saw him break free of the chute. The small yellow dinghy inflated and, as he watched, the boy tried to climb in. There was a sudden warning buzz from the instrument panel that told him how low he was on fuel. He made one more pass, waggled his wings and curled away towards the coast. *** When Montera got out of the cockpit of the Skyhawk at the Gallegos base, Sergeant Santerra, the technical crew chief, was already examining the plane and shaking his head. „Look at the tail, for Christ's sake, colonel. Cannon shell, at least four. Holes all over the place.‟ „I know. We had a couple of Harriers on our tails on the way out of San Carlos. They got Santini. Young Ortega almost made it and ditched about fifty miles out.‟ „Your luck is good, colonel. Amazing. I can't understand it. You should have been dead days ago.‟ „I put it all down to the love of a good woman myself.‟ Raul Montera reached up and touched the legend Gabrielle which was painted on the side of the cockpit. „Thank you, my love.‟

*** When he went into the Intelligence Room in the Operations building, it was empty except for Major Pedro Munro, an Argentinean of Scots extraction, the senior intelligence officer. „Ah, there are you, Raul. One of these days you won't walk through that door,‟ he said cheerfully. „Thanks very much,‟ Montera answered. „Any word on Ortega?‟ „Not yet. What have you got to tell me?‟ Montera helped himself to a cigarette from the pack on the desk. „That it was hell out there, just like an old war movie on television, only this was real. Men died.‟ Munro said, „Very funny. Now, could I possibly have something concrete? Did you sink anything?‟ „I don't think so,‟ Montera told him, „for the excellent reason that my bombs didn't explode again. Could you possibly arrange for ordnance to get the blasted timing right on those fuses?‟ Munro stopped trying to be amusing. „I'm damn sorry, Raul. Truly.‟ „So am I.‟ Montera told him, and went out. He walked towards the officers' mess wearily, his flying boots drumming on the tarmac. He felt depressed, stale, at the end of things. He was too old to be doing this sort of thing, and that was a fact; then he remembered what Gabrielle had said to him about age being a state of mind and smiled. He thought a lot about her these days. In fact, all the time. She filled his heart and head, flew with him, slept with him. He spoke aloud to her last thing each night. He walked into the ante-room. The first person he saw was Lami Dozo, standing by the fire, a circle of young officers about him. The General excused himself and came to meet Montera, genuine pleasure on his face. He gave him the abrazo, the formal hug. „I saw your mother yesterday at a charity affair. Fundraising for the army. She looked splendid.‟ „Was Linda with her?‟ „No, she was at school. As I say, your mother looked splendid. You, on the other hand, look dreadful. It must stop, this foolishness, Raul. Eleven missions in a week.‟ „Twelve,‟ Montera said. „You forget today. And could you kindly get them to do something about the bombs? They will persist in not going off a lot of the time. Very annoying, when one has gone to such a great deal of trouble to deliver them.‟ „Have a drink,‟ Lami Dozo said. „An excellent idea.‟ Montera called a mess waiter over. „Tea. My usual.‟ He turned to the General. „Will you join me?‟ „Tea?‟ Lami Dozo said. „Good God, what's got into you?‟ Montera nodded to the waiter who departed. „Nothing. It's just that a friend of mine when I was in London persuaded me that coffee wasn't good for me.‟ „Who is this Gabrielle whose name they tell me is painted on the nose of your Skyhawk?‟ „The woman I love,‟ Raul Montera said simply. „Have I had the pleasure of meeting her?‟ „No. When she isn't living in London, she lives in Paris. Next question.‟ „Paris? How interesting. If you had time, you could look her up.‟

‟ The waiter returned with the tray at that moment and Montera poured himself a cup of tea with hands that shook slightly. Oh. he was following Lami Dozo into Galtieri's private study at the Residencia del Presidente. Lami Dozo looked concerned. what do you think?‟ „I think the world has gone mad. Raul. Stopped him bleeding to death. „Well. Come on. It should never have started.‟ „I'll do my best. „General Dozo knows already and the Admiral doesn't deserve to know. „Let's hope mine is. General.‟ As they stood up.‟ He recognised the General in the same moment and saluted. and Galtieri would like a word before you leave. General. *** A little under four hours later.‟ „Very commendable.‟ „It could win us the war. hand outstretched. One copy for my personal file. He glanced about the mess. But by all means send me off to Paris to play games while these boys here continue to die. When they had gone. I'm sure. my discussion with General Dozo and the action we have taken. but not quite true. When he was finished he said.‟ said Raul Montera. a great pleasure. Martinez. I'll detain you no longer. Your efforts on behalf of the cause have been heroic. I'm taking you back to Buenos Aires with me now.‟ „Win us the war?‟ Montera laughed harshly. „This one is highly sensitive. Major Munro came in. Give Donna Elena my humble duty. Get your book and I'll dictate a brief account of the affair so far. General.‟ . Badly shot up. The young captain presented himself and Galtieri passed across the report from Garcia in Paris. saw Montera and smiled. May I have permission to visit my mother before I leave?‟ „But of course. Raul. He raised the cup to his lips and drank. I'm already there. on the importance of this new mission. General Dozo has briefed you. in the bath with Gabrielle. remembering that morning in Kensington. However.‟ „Very well. They say it was the coldness of the sea that saved him.‟ „Copies for General Dozo and Admiral Anaya. Young Ortega .‟ Lami Dozo commented. „Much better for you than coffee. but he'll survive.‟ Montera said.they've picked him up.‟ Montera swallowed the rest of his tea. And now. as usual?‟ Galtieri shook his head. let's go. General. a thousand years ago. „We're back with old movies on television. „My dear Montera. „But who am I to argue. „You're quite wrong.„I don't understand?‟ „You're flying to Paris tomorrow. We've lost this war already. Galtieri flicked the intercom and told Martinez to come in.‟ he said and smiled. old friend. Galtieri came round the desk to greet him warmly.‟ „I've done no more than any other pilot in my command. „His luck is good. „You've done too much.‟ He shook hands again and Montera and Lami Dozo departed. We're all counting on you. Which Lami Dozo did as briefly as possible. „Good news.‟ „You think I'm going over the edge. You need a rest.‟ „I think perhaps you'd better explain.‟ Raul Montera told him. General.

‟ „Of course. Her husband. son of her only brother. I'll see you again. „I won't hold you. encouraging her to talk of her work at the Palace. The report on the Exocet affair was handed over to her by Martinez personally. hurried back to the Embassy to read the report in peace. who appeared to have been wiped off the face of the earth since his arrest at a student rally three years previously. See you tomorrow. They sat on a bench in one of the gardens and she passed him a newspaper containing the copy of the report.‟ he said. Daley had been more than attentive. making one carbon copy in spite of what Martinez had said. closing the door behind her. it was passed on to Brigadier Charles Ferguson in London by order of the Director of the CIA himself. By the time she discovered he was a Commercial Attache at the American Embassy and probably much more. then straight into his personal file. Twenty minutes later it was being encoded and forwarded to Washington. she didn't really care. „I think you'd better do this one yourself. And then she'd gone to a cultural evening at the French Embassy and had met Jack Daley. an army captain. but no communist. Within two hours of being received there. the theatre. taking her to concerts.‟ she said. She took the report and showed it to him. She had been on the staff at the Presidential Palace ever since and was now senior secretary. Then she left. „May I go now? I don't think there's anything else.‟ she said. disliked a government that had caused so much repression and had been instrumental in bringing about the disappearance of so many thousands of ordinary people. Having read it.‟ She went back into the other room. typing it out meticulously on three sheets of paper. gradually drawing her out. tidied her desk. who was in reality an agent of the CIA. took the copies of the three sheets she had made. you've excelled yourself.‟ Jack Daley. Anything he wanted she gave him. *** Carmela Balbuena had never been able to have children and had lavished all her affection on her nephew.‟ „I'll put it into the office safe until morning.*** Carmela Balbuena was a formidable lady in her fifties. „Excellent. he didn't waste any time. . she disliked Galtieri and the military regime that kept him in power. Like her nephew. She phoned him at the Embassy from the first public phone box she came to on her way home and met him an hour later in the Plaza de Mayo where Juan Peron had been so fond of speech making in the old days. You can file it later when he's out. for example. had been killed seven years previously during the so-called dirty war waged between the government and the back-country guerrillas. which included any information of value from the office. „I've read that thing and it's dynamite. She took a pride in her work. no copy. folded them neatly and put them into her handbag. a fresh-faced young American who reminded her so much of her nephew. A socialist in her ideas. señora.

‟ He lit a cigarette and sprawled back.‟ „So.‟ . Will you be going back?‟ „No. I saw you.‟ „Mama. So did all the girls at school. Your father will be here when you get back.‟ „Is that so?‟ „And the Skyhawks at Death Valley.‟ „I must thank the Virgin for that in some suitable way. His mother sat watching him calmly. I'm so pleased you're safe. „I'll cancel it. not to Gallegos.‟ She hurried up the steps and Montera turned and reached for Donna Elena's hands. you're not going back?‟ „No. controlled. by nature.‟ They reached the table. „You were on the television at Rio Gallegos with General Dozo. water gurgled in the conduits and fountains. „Promise?‟ „On my honour. we didn't know! We didn't know.‟ she whispered. „I'm supposed to be going riding. What nonsense. „My dearest boy. and the scent of mimosa was heavy on the air.‟ Her eyes took in every aspect of the face. She cried out in delight and came running towards him. „Run along now. She tossed all that out of the window now. fierce and proud. „Papa. „How did you know about that?‟ „Isn't that what the pilots call it.‟ Linda said. So good. „It's good to see you. sit down. „Oh.‟ He hadn't used that term since he was a little boy and felt hot tears of emotion cloud his eyes. looking fifteen years younger than her seventy years. but I'm going to France in the morning. Beyond the perimeter wall the River Plate sparkled like silver in the evening sun. The result was that they had always enjoyed a highly formalised relationship.7 Raul Montera moved out on to the terrace of the house at Vicente Lopez Floreda and took in the gardens below with a conscious pleasure. arms outstretched. cool. Raul. the place where they make their run on the British fleet? Two girls in my class at school have lost brothers. „This is wonderful.‟ She clutched him and he held her tightly and she smiled up at him.‟ Linda turned to him. Talk to me. what have they done to you?‟ She was.‟ „Nonsense.‟ „Death Valley?‟ He stopped short. „It's so good to have you back safe and well.‟ he said formally as he kissed them. elegant. dressed for riding in jodhpurs and a yellow sweater. „Oh God.‟ She hugged him again. hair tied back in a ponytail. „Come. „Mother. His mother and Linda were sitting at a table beside a fountain on the lower terrace and it was the child who saw him first. jumped to her feet and flung her arms around him. A miracle you are here. Raul. letting everything go. A man of your age flying jet planes. Palm trees waved in the slight breeze. so finely drawn. perfectly groomed as usual. self-sufficient. we saw that too and I knew you must be flying one of them. the haunted eyes.‟ Donna Elena told her. had learned many years before never to give too much of herself away.

„Tell me about her. All I can say is that it's for what our President is pleased to call the cause. „There's no more to be said then. Why?‟ „I should have thought it obvious. Ferguson was seated at the desk. not patty fingers. The cause. „Don't start getting moral on me.‟ Donna Elena Llorca de Montera took a deep breath. The crowds cry out.‟ „Yes. When he was finished. when you come to think of it.‟ . that is. let's go inside now. but the reality is the butchery at San Carlos Water.‟ „And Donner himself?‟ „Very popular media figure. and she said. it is. wave flags.‟ he said simply. I was having dinner at Langans last night and she was there with some friends.‟ he told her. It isn't just her quite astonishing beauty. „I'd better light a few candles to someone myself. Harry. repeating the words he had used to Lami Dozo. She was considerably smitten by Raul Montera's charms and he with her. Galtieri makes speeches. she said. give me a cigarette. Tell me about him.„Yes. We can put that to good use. Raul. This is war we're playing at now. „The most extraordinary human being I have ever met.‟ „An understatement. „She sounds a remarkable young woman.‟ „And will it?‟ „If he believes that.‟ „Multi-millionaire. Who is she. Started in property development in a very small way. „Top secret. „We've lost half our pilots so far. Mama. Just the salient facts. you know.‟ He looked at Fox's face and raised a hand. Building. One can hardly miss the inscription just below the cockpit. Extraordinary for me. Raul?‟ „The woman I love. sir. He also believes that if I'm successful. there's a joy to her that goes way beyond physical passion. I always had faith that there was something special about life and she's it. well there are days when I definitely would rather be doing something else. *** At Cavendish Place. Everything on Felix Donner. you name it.‟ She stood up and took his arm. tell me why you're going to France.‟ He walked to the edge of the terrace and looked out across the river. Harry.‟ and together they went up the steps.‟ Montera said. „She's so bloody marvellous in every way.‟ Montera told her.‟ „To the Virgin or to Gabrielle?‟ He frowned warily. „Come on.‟ „Never mind that now. Now. pacing up and down the terrace beside her restlessly.‟ „Sorry.‟ So he did. Half.‟ „Tell me. Really took off in the boom of the sixties. shipping. he'll believe anything. I've seen you on television three times now in that Skyhawk of yours. when Harry Fox came in carrying a couple of files. That's what the newspapers don't tell you. The Donner Development Corporation has a vast range of interests. it could win us the war. „Here. Mama. electronics. is Gabrielle still in town or has she gone back to Paris?‟ „Still at Kensington Palace Gardens.‟ He suddenly laughed out loud and the lines seemed to vanish from his face and he no longer looked tired. I'm not a fool. is there? I presume I'll be introduced in your own good time. „All here. I plunged head first in love with her the very first moment. working his way through the CIA signal for the umpteenth time. as you can see from the file. Donner.

that's all we can say for the moment. We'll have to see. So what are you saying. to make a buck. Fox said. what we need now is someone right on his tail who can keep us informed day-by-day. In the circumstances and considering the size of his bank balance. „Are you suggesting what I think you are.‟ At that moment.‟ There was a long silence. „He's a highly respected businessman. It was a Navajo Chieftain with an excellent cabin and tables that one could sit at in a .‟ Ferguson sat looking at the file for a while. Even Garcia has obviously been kept in the dark there. He picked it up quickly. won't we? You'd better pull her in. First of all there's the Russian connection. looking down into the flames. after all these years. to all intents and purposes.‟ „Except that he was a Russian.„And never looked back?‟ „That's it.‟ „Are you suggesting that Donner could be another Lonsdale?‟ „It's a possibility. sir?‟ „That Felix Donner was an orphan which is very convenient. „Of course.‟ *** Donner did not.‟ „We'll have to see. „Trouble?‟ „That was the Director-General. sir?‟ Ferguson got up and walked to the fire and stood there. sir.‟ „And we don't even know what he's up to. Oh.‟ Fox said. It seems the Prime Minister wants to see me. the red phone buzzed. frowning. All his KGB connections in this country. I could pull strings at high levels.‟ „Exactly. „Ferguson here.they were noisy. out as our American friends would say. uncomfortable and lacking in the more obvious amenities .‟ „So what do we do. even for a couple of million pounds. it seems odd that he would involve himself in an affair like this. But only if he is what I think he might be. pull him in?‟ Ferguson went back to his desk. but if we went public it would create one hell of a stink and we might lose considerable long–term advantages.‟ „Neither did the Gordon Lonsdale affair. then said. „And how on earth can we do that?‟ „I should have thought it obvious. sir. Gabrielle doesn't like us very much. remember? Also a highly respected business man. enjoy flying in small aircraft . It doesn't make sense. The key to this affair is Colonel Raul Montera and our link with Montera is Gabrielle Legrand. Also very convenient.‟ There was silence between them and then Fox said.‟ „Exactly. there's some doubt as to his real identity. If we could catch him properly. sir. „On the other hand.‟ „That's right. All right. That every other man who served with him and was taken prisoner in Korea died in captivity. Harry. No. sir. Even now. as a rule. How was Nikolai Belov so certain after being approached by Garcia that Donner was the man who could help?‟ „True. A Canadian. we might be able to bring down one hell of a house of cards. „I really do smell stinking fish here in a big way. All he can say is that Donner has guaranteed him Exocets by next week. so he could just be a thoroughly unscrupulous business man.‟ and replaced the receiver. A professional agent. sir. Fox asked. Fox said. face grave.‟ He listened. „Difficult while he's in France.but he could find no fault with the plane Stavrou had arranged.

You drive. there was an air of decay to things. „The local estate agent entrusted them to me. let's get moving.‟ „Looking at you. thin-faced man in his early thirties who. Five miles from here and about as far from the coast. typical of a . but the grass between the runways was waist-high and there was an air of desolation to everything. And I think I've found just the place you're looking for. „Fourteen bedrooms and a stable block at the rear.‟ She unlocked the door and led the way in. I explained that my boss didn't like to be bothered with such matters. Donner descended the airstair ladder. „There's reasonably modern central heating and the oil tanks are full. You could manage here for a few days. well south of St Nazaire. *** The house was called Maison Blanche and nestled amongst beech trees in a hollow. „Where did you get the car?‟ „Hired it from a garage in St Martin.‟ Donner pointed to a notation on the map. The agent lets it off for occasional holiday lets in the summer. I think. a dark. There were four hangars and the watchtower was still intact.‟ „Fine by me.civilized way. A black Citroen was parked in front of the old operations building and Wanda Brown got out as the Navajo taxied toward her. They took off from a small private airfield outside Paris at a place called Brie-Comte-Robert. „A couple of hours at the most. The pilot was a man called Rabier. her dark hair tied back in place with a silk scarf. Since then. Some sort of military testing range. then back to Paris. She wore jeans and a leather hunting jacket. There was a slight musty smell. „Here's where we land. Don't worry. It's fully furnished. looking up at the front door under the portico with the green paint peeling rather noticeably. He now ran a small air transport firm and didn't ask questions when the money was right. „What's that mean?‟ „Restricted air space. Donner got out of the Citroen and stood at the bottom of the steps. Donner had moved up next to the pilot and Rabier said. His mother died two years ago and as he wants to retire here eventually.‟ She took some keys from her pocket.‟ They landed at Lancy twenty minutes later.‟ „What's the story?‟ „The owner is in the colonial service in the Pacific. Monsieur. „Anyway. according to Stavrou's information. had left the French Air Force under a cloud. but now. It was a Luftwaffe fighter base during the Second World War. They came in towards the coast over the Vendee. I'm certain he thinks I'm setting up a love nest for weekends. Someone tried to run a flying school from there which failed. navigation is my strong point. Yanni. slipped an arm about her shoulders and kissed her. Place called Lancy. It was quite large and had obviously been imposing once.‟ Stavrou sat behind the wheel and Wanda got into the rear. otherwise it stands empty. Donner turned to Rabier. Exactly what they were looking for. what else would he think?‟ Donner asked her. Ile de Roc. There's an island out there off the coast.‟ Wanda said. I think. All it means is keep away. it's been deserted. who was peering out from the Navajo.‟ Donner got in to the car beside the girl and they drove away. he won't sell.

and the eyes. let's go. aren't you?‟ „Some of the time.gannets everywhere. I aim to please. seabirds crying. little more than a steel shell. He lowered the glasses. gulls. wheeling in great clouds. but he already knew they were on the western side of the island. Haven't I done well?‟ „Excellent. It was moored down there for a while yesterday. she was aware of Stavrou. Wanda opened the French windows and then the shutters. Ile de Roc was a smudge on the horizon that came to life only when he focused the glasses. with great steel bow doors as a beaching exit. „Apparently. As she turned to follow. watching her as he always seemed to do. massive cliffs rising steeply from the sea. turned in through two stone pillars and bumped across a field track.‟ As always.‟ „According to Paul Bernard. and Stavrou reversed and drove away. „All the comforts of home. Wanda nodded. so cruel and with something in them especially for her. shags. under Wanda's direction. she stirred him physically. „Take it. There were no installations to be seen. only a hint of green on top.‟ Donner said. the commanding officer out there also has a fine motor launch which is his pride and joy. „You're a clever little bitch.‟ They returned to the Citroen.‟ „That's right. There was also an army landing craft painted olive green and moored to the jetty. Is it possible to see Ile de Roc?‟ „On the horizon and only if the weather's good. zigzagging across the face of granite cliffs. An army truck stood inside and. which wouldn't do at all for this was neither the time or place. She hurried past him quickly and he followed her out. *** . shearwaters and gannets . as they watched. Imagine it with central heating going and a log fire.‟ Donner said. „So that's their means of transportation to the island. got in. They moved into a drawing-room with a huge fireplace and a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. „Good.‟ He went out. *** St Martin was a simple enough place. He kissed her once and turned away. a small harbour enclosed by a single break-water in which thirty or forty fishing boats of the smaller variety were moored. and good Persian carpets on the floor. the craft moved away from the jetty and out to sea.‟ They drove on. That's really excellent.house not lived in for a long time. up out of the town. splashed with lime. allowing light to flood in.‟ „I already have. It was well named. show me St Martin. following a narrow coast road until finally Stavrou. There was a bay far below and the path down was no place for the faint-hearted. „Right.‟ He pulled her into his arms. razorbills. but also a kind of faded magnificence to everything: mahogany paneling and furniture.‟ „Good. narrow cobbled streets. that enigmatic face. Donner and Wanda got out and she handed him a pair of Zeiss fieldglasses as they went forward to the edge of the cliffs.‟ „Let's get going then. There were no more than five or six hundred inhabitants. cottages roofed with red pantiles.

I'm the new tenant of Maison Blanche.‟ He took out a couple of thousand franc notes and stuffed them into Gaubert's breast pocket.‟ „But Monsieur. as they turned into the road leading to Lancy. His face was the colour of oak. „Now what?‟ „Paris. examined them and smiled broadly. He badly needed a shave. Yanni. they say. They went back to the Citroen. three wagons were parked around a fire. He not only carried a shotgun in his right hand. They spit on us while our children go hungry. „That's to be going on with. everywhere we go it is the same. Monsieur? Is it permitted to ask you the same question?‟ „My name is Donner. then said in French.‟ . His clothes were as shabby as Gaubert's and black hair poked from beneath a tweed cap.‟ „You can rely on me.‟ „All right. „I think so.On the way back. I think I'm probably right in saying you're camped on my land. understand?‟ The old man took out the notes. or Monsieur Stavrou here. at least seventy. we stay here every year at this time.‟ „Just keep an eye on things till I'm back down again. Monsieur. wrinkled and covered with stubble. who played by the stream where three bony horses grazed. They were old and battered with patched canvas tilts. Garcia tells me he's flown twelve missions to the Falklands and survived. „I don't need the sob story. Claimed they were no trouble. Monsieur.‟ Donner took out his wallet. and white hair showed beneath the blue beret. and kicked his son on the leg for gawping at Wanda. I think? What would the local gendarmes in St Martin have to say about you lot. „Come on. „My son. „Please. to the rags on the children. and as they drove away she said.‟ The man who had appeared from the trees was old. He had a shotgun crooked in his right arm. „Stop a minute. „I am Paul Gaubert. „And who might you be?‟ Donner enquired. sullen face. You can stay. the women looked up curiously. I wonder?‟ Old Gaubert flung his arms wide.‟ „An authentic hero. Donner looked him over and Gaubert said hastily. saying nothing. Never before have we had a problem. „I thought they'd gone out of style. „Yes. this may work out quite well.‟ „With my hares.‟ „He would. Monsieur. Filthy gypsies.‟ The young man with him was of medium height with a weak. Paul. A few hundred yards on. I've got to make arrangements about this Argentine pilot.‟ she said. „Gypsies?‟ Donner said. What have we got here?‟ In the meadow beside the trees. I don't like strangers. the agent said there were some in the neighbourhood.‟ Old Gaubert said. Montera.‟ As they walked down into the hollow. they passed Maison Blanche again. Monsieur. and a depressing air of poverty hung over everything from the clothes worn by the four women who squatted by the fire drinking coffee from old cans. He wore a tweed suit which had been patched many times. „Where's the head man?‟ „Here he is. wouldn't he?‟ Donner nodded to Stavrou. Donner stood there. but a brace of hares in his left. Donner leaned forward and touched Stavrou on the shoulder. hands in pockets.

he'll be world-famous. .‟ He slipped an arm about her shoulders and leaned back in the seat. but this guy is for real and he's going to suit my purpose admirably. By the time I'm finished with him.„So did I.

When Ferguson showed his special pass. opened it and ushered Ferguson inside. the young man knocked on a door. and I have Monsieur Mitterand's personal assurance that the arms embargo will stay in force. in his wisdom. not for the first time in his career. said. with pale green walls and gold curtains and comfortable furniture in excellent taste. He doubted whether the Falklands venture could have gone forward without her strength of purpose and courage behind it. Probably so.‟ „Your efforts on that occasion were not conspicuously successful. the Prime Minister is expecting you. If the would-be assassin had not thought better of the matter here in this very room…‟ She let her words hang for a while and then carried on. was in connection with a possible attempt on my life. nothing could have been more elegant than the woman behind the desk in the neat blue suit and white blouse. Which only leaves the French. cordoning off most of the street. past the portraits of previous Prime Ministers. and he passed inside. The study was just as elegant as when Ferguson had last seen it. was similarly affected. Brigadier. but thanks to pressure from our friends in the Arab world.‟ „I'm pleased to hear it. „Brigadier Ferguson.‟ „Is there any possibility that the Peruvians might try to help?‟ „That contingency has already been taken care of ma'am.‟ She stood up.‟ „I understand that the Libyans had intended to provide the Argentinians with additional supplies. five minutes early for his appointment with the Prime Minister. „Can you assure me that there is no possibility of further Exocets reaching the Argentine from any source whatever?‟ „No. his car was allowed through and dropped him outside Number 10. ma'am. The young aide who greeted him. the entire course of this conflict is changed. unusually large crowds had started to congregate in Downing Street and the police had been compelled to take action.‟ „Yes. Prime Minister. It always filled him with an acute sense of history and he wondered whether the woman who held the most august office in the land. the blonde hair perfectly groomed. she did. In the top corridor. But as always.‟ he said and left. closing the door. Peel. We…‟ „Please. spare me the details.‟ „Yes. ma'am. I'm afraid I can't.8 At that time. if one Exocet hits either Hermes or Invincible. because of the Falklands situation. The policeman on duty saluted. We would almost certainly have to withdraw. „I see that the Director-General of Intelligence has seen fit. ma'am.‟ Ferguson followed him up the main staircase.‟ . „Brigadier. „This way. She looked at him calmly. Wellington. the door was opened even before Ferguson reached it. Prime Minister. walked to the window and looked out. If anyone had a sense of history and destiny. ma'am. to place you in charge of all matters relating to the Exocet question. this is no longer likely?‟ „That is correct. Brigadier.‟ She turned. „The last time we had dealings. Brigadier. Disraeli. Gladstone.

eyes full of hate. but the enemy in this war. I need to find out what they're up to and stop them. Clear off!‟ She started to close the door and he pushed his foot in. A man who has flown a Skyhawk with a five . then took off the chain and turned away. I'll never work for you again. The idea is to gain height quickly at the last moment possible.‟ „And then there's your friend.‟ „I am also a citizen of France. He pushed open the lift door. Prince Andrew and your brother and their comrades act in the belief that an Exocet cannot fly above twenty-seven feet. „Well. and do whatever is necessary to help us stop them cold. The eyes of those previous Prime Ministers seemed to follow him as he went down the stairs. it was the kind of thing they'd all deny had happened. „Department Four has full power .‟ „Well I don't want to talk to you. The Sea Kings are frequently used to act as decoys for Exocet missiles. I'll spare you a description of the possibilities. „Not even about Raul Montera?‟ She stared blankly at him.‟ „It's your duty. Montera.‟ Ferguson got the door opened and went out.‟ Ferguson carried on relentlessly. „I won't listen. A gallant fool if ever I saw one. I can assure you of that. She went and stood by the fire and lit one of her rare cigarettes.„Then I suggest you do something about that. went around the corner to Gabrielle's flat and knocked. I want you to go to Paris. for the sake of our men in the South Atlantic. When I tried to speak to her on the phone. After a while the door opened on the chain and she peered out. Ferguson followed her in and Fox closed the door behind them. but decided probably not. make no mistake about that. „The same squadron as Prince Andrew. I'll do my best. Gabrielle. use it any way you can. sir. He wondered if he'd just secured himself a small niche in history. rogue Exocets have been known to exceed that height.‟ „Impossible. Never. „We're wasting our time. is serving as a helicopter pilot on board HMS Invincible. That makes me neutral. as you very well know. Leave me alone. present an attractive radar target.‟ „You must be crazy.‟ „Thank you. sublieutenant Richard Brindsley.‟ he said calmly.total authority from this office. Use it. Fox said. „What do you want?‟ „To talk to you. They hover. so that the missile passes beneath them.‟ Ferguson said.‟ „We'll see.‟ She was almost beside herself with rage and fear.‟ „Stop it!‟ she said desperately. Prime Minister. protecting the ship of the fleet.‟ „He is serving with 820 Squadron. „Raul Montera arrives in Paris tomorrow to liaise with a man called Felix Donner who the Argentine Government believes can procure them an additional supply of Exocet missiles. „I won't listen. *** As Harry Fox and Ferguson went up in the lift at Kensington Palace Gardens. get on with it. „Your half-brother. Brigadier.‟ she said calmly.‟ She looked magnificent in her anger. make contact with Montera again. Unfortunately. He chuckled to himself as the aide bowed him to the front door and showed him out. Brigadier. and Ferguson decided to go in with both feet. Let me tell you what one of his more unpleasant duties is. You're still a British citizen. she just told me to get lost. Even if it all works perfectly. for all our sakes.

‟ Donner said. „I didn't mean that. it would still be possible to pull out.‟ „And I don't intend to.‟ She went out and he said to Garcia. Donner opened it. You can wait in the next room. that's what. The fewer people who know my source. I wonder which frigate he helped sink?‟ She turned away.‟ „Good God. to back her up. „Any business calls from the corporation in London.‟ Donner nodded. „Of course if you're not satisfied. Our people at the Embassy in Montevideo can have the necessary papers waiting for him. Colonel Montera arrives tomorrow? You've brought me that file on him I asked for. Ferguson nodded to Fox and went out. „I'll make the necessary contact with him once he arrives. I may need him.‟ „Exactly. I thought I might need him so I sent a signal last night.‟ „I'm glad to hear it. „I told you it was a waste of time. I trust? I like to know who I'm dealing with. no. Picked up by submarine and off-loaded into Uruguay. not for a moment. the better.‟ .‟ „Good. „What arrangements have you made as regards accommodation?‟ „A hotel didn't seem like a good idea.‟ Ferguson said.‟ He passed a card across. „Not until the very last moment.‟ There was a kind of exasperation in his voice. I've leased a small service flat for him in an apartment block on the Avenue de Neuilly by the Bois de Boulogne. I'm sorry but that's the way I work. „She'll need a man. utmost priority.‟ They went out and down the steps towards the car. and quickly scanned the details on the sheets. „I've already made it plain to Paul Bernard that under no circumstances does he discuss with Garcia his dealings with me. This is a matter of the utmost delicacy. Now. „So. „Amateurs. don't bother to say it. Harry. studied the photo it contained of Montera. „and certainly not the Embassy.‟ „Of course. I want him pulled out. He said.‟ Garcia said. „There's the address and telephone number. you handle and tell Yanni to stand by. „Excellent.‟ „Nonsense. Belov said. What on earth is one supposed to do with them?‟ „Keep them out of harm's way. Fox closed the door and found him in the lift. Harry. „She'll go.‟ He shrugged.‟ As the lift descended he said.‟ Garcia opened his briefcase and produced a small folder which he pushed across. I'm the great original bastard of all time. if you wouldn't mind leaving us alone for a moment.‟ Donner said. I'm sure Wanda can find you some more coffee. you've still given us not the slightest hint where you expect to get the Exocets from.‟ Garcia said hastily. Do you know where Tony is at this moment?‟ „Operating behind Argentinian lines somewhere in the Falklands with the SAS. „That's fine.‟ Donner said to her.‟ Garcia went out. Someone totally dependable and quite ruthless. It's only fourteen hours by plane from Montevideo to Paris. his face strained.‟ Garcia said.‟ *** Belov and Garcia sat with Donner in the study of his apartment and waited while Wanda poured coffee.thousand pound bomb load to attack the British fleet in San Carlos Water on no fewer than twelve occasions.‟ he said at last. „I mean. „I was wondering when we might have some further details as to exactly what you intend. „I know.

Ample for my purposes if they are the right breed. Looks upon the whole thing as a kind of crusade. „I don't think so.‟ „And what happens to him afterwards?‟ „Something suitably dramatic.‟ At that moment.‟ „Leave it with me.‟ Belov said. the good professor has really got the bit between his teeth. „What is it. for God's sake?‟ Belov demanded. a day which will go down in our history as one on which we dealt the British navy the most crushing blow of the war.‟ „You really do think of everything. French Intelligence will have little difficulty in establishing that he gave all that technical assistance early in the campaign. don't you?‟ „I try. a democracy. but they're inclined to be patriotic. those boys. Come and see. „But we do have other contacts. if he knew my exact intentions. you know what that means in the Argentine?‟ „I can't say I do. or hadn't you noticed? Even the communist variety look upon themselves as Frenchmen first. took out a sheet of paper and passed it across.‟ „And can you trust Bernard?‟ „Oh. he was on the telephone to Buenos Aires answering queries for lengthy periods on a number of occasions. You could really do with mercenaries rather than ordinary gangsters. But he has served my purpose very well.‟ „Or gangsters who've seen service in the army. after all.‟ „Point taken. They may be gangsters. the door opened and Juan Garcia entered. like being found dead with a gun in one hand and a suicide note. „You intend to go to war. Nothing fancy about using their brains.‟ Donner opened a drawer. a newsflash on television.‟ „How many men?‟ „I'd say about eight.‟ „There's always the Union Corse. to judge by this little lot?‟ „You could put it that way. there must still be plenty of those around in France after all those years in Algiers. he might not be so pleased. „Today gentlemen. The curse of the French. According to Garcia. regretting his involvement in a conspiracy against his own country to obtain Exocets for the Argentine Government. France is. a truly formidable organisation whose tentacles reached out everywhere from the judiciary to the government itself. but he obviously thinks I intend to hijack one of the Aerospatiale trucks which transport Exocets by road to the island every so often. I haven't been explicit.‟ and he turned and hurried out. It's on now. God knows. He was trembling with excitement.‟ „It is our national day.„Who therefore knows nothing about your interest in Ile de Roc?‟ „Exactly. eyes shining. It should all come out very satisfactorily. Thorough-going hoods. The Union Corse was the largest crime syndicate in France. Three cheers for a free press. Mind you. Now to something you can help me with. I need an address where I can pick up some muscle. „I'll also need the items on there. Donner shook his head.‟ Belov examined the list and raised his eyebrows. The kind of men who will kill if the price is right. which makes ten with me and Stavrou. . Nikolai. is the 25th of May. yes. I think.‟ Belov said.

‟ „Yes. Take a couple of pills.‟ „Harry will make your travel arrangements.‟ „My God. sir?‟ „You could say that. get some sleep. an interesting situation. You'll feel better for it. the impression I get is that she's head over heels in love with Raul Montera.‟ When they went outside. Ferguson put down the red phone. his face grave.‟ „And?‟ She took a deep breath and folded her arms as if holding herself together. At least twenty dead and many wounded. Harry. The fifteen thousand ton container ship. eyes swollen. See what you've done to me? You and people like you. HMS Coventry. „He'll be in touch. Ferguson. „Can she handle it. „When do you want me to go?‟ „Tomorrow.‟ He shook his head. „You've sent for Tony?‟ „That's right. I think. Get yourself settled in. sir?‟ „I think that's obvious. Her eyes widened in a kind of horror.‟ Ferguson told him. Fox said. She nodded. Atlantic Conveyor. I mean. then opened the door and led the way into the sitting room.‟ It was as if she knew what was coming. You still have the apartment on the Avenue Victor Hugo?‟ „Yes. „All of a sudden I . She stared at them for a long moment.‟ Ferguson said. „But we don't really have any choice. „What do we do now. I really would like to see you dead and I've never wished that on any human being in my life. You'll be informed what to do by our man in Paris. He should be here in thirty-six hours at the outside. „You've heard the news. „I'd like to kill you.‟ „Good. „Is it bad. „Yes.‟ Ferguson asked gently. or if necessary Harry can go over on the shuttle to see you. „There's worse. „And what would that be?‟ „You'll need a back-up man. She was wearing the old bathrobe and looked dreadful. there was a delay before slow steps approached and the door opened on the chain.‟ Fox said. it had started to rain. we aren't sure yet. her hair tousled.*** In the office at Cavendish Place. has also been taken out. corrupt everything you touch. to be on hand in case you get into trouble.‟ She looked incredibly weary now. Two Exocet hits definitely confirmed.‟ There was silence for a while.‟ She shook her head helplessly. was attacked by Skyhawks while protecting vessels landing supplies at San Carlos. sir? It's expecting a hell of a lot. Harry Fox said. She may also have been hit by an Exocet. And there is one more thing. do we?‟ He glanced up at the rain and raised his collar as he went down the steps. „Don't you?‟ *** When he knocked at the door of the flat in Kensington Palace Gardens for the second time that day. „Because of her size on the radar screen. Someone totally reliable. Gabrielle looked out. they probably thought she was one of the aircraft carriers. The destroyer. Ferguson paused to button up his coat and Fox said. only the muted sounds of traffic from outside in the square. She capsized.‟ he said.

arm raised in salute like a Roman emperor.‟ Fox said. „George Corwin is a possibility. „After all.‟ . the Plaza in front of the National Congress Building was crammed with thousands of excited people. Harry.‟ Ferguson said. what's happening there?‟ „I was just bringing this signal to show you. Talking about Tony. Did quite well in Ireland. silver hair swept back. *** Ferguson was sitting by the fire in the flat toasting crumpets when Fox came in with a signal in his hand.‟ „I shouldn't imagine he'd be too pleased. knowing our Tony.‟ *** In Buenos Aires. Text of a message from H. His mother is French. sir. „Well that would make sense. at San Carlos via SAS headquarters at Hereford. The crowd roared.‟ „Excellent. above the hooting of car horns: Argentina! Argentina! On a balcony in full uniform. very old.Q. being hauled out of the action like that. Harry. What do you think about that? Very. Was a captain in the Green Howards when we recruited him. it's the only war he's got.feel old. sir.‟ „What's it say?‟ „Confirm Major Villiers and Sergeant Major Jackson en route as ordered. became a chorus like the sea rushing in. „Oh. carrying everything before it and the word that they repeated over and over again like a litany. I wanted to see you. hundreds of blue and white Argentinian flags waving everywhere. was Exocet. Find out where he's staying and liaise with Gabrielle till Tony gets in. He can pick Montera up when he arrives from Buenos Aires.‟ „I wonder how Tony took it. Galtieri took the plaudits of the crowd. Who have we got at the Paris Embassy who isn't a complete idiot?‟ Fox thought about it. that's why we posted him to Paris. And then the voices changed.

„When do we go in. and the fourth member of the group.9 On the day previously it had been quiet at first light in the mountains of north Falkland. a trooper named Jack Korda. „That's it. There was a small typewriter-style keyboard and through this system. its front wheels spinning on the frozen ground. How about you. „Longer. far below in a valley.‟ Villiers reminded him. the only sound a dog barking from one of the hillside farms far. „Which means we can last a week. When I was seventeen the food in the guardsmen's mess at the Depot was so awful. „Food's not all that important. They were on the air so briefly that it was impossible for the enemy to have any hope of tracing them. not much more than a fissure in the rocks. Corporal Elliot of the Royal Corps of Signals. Elliot looked up and grinned. only the half-tracks at the rear keeping it . He stowed it away in his pack and accepted the mug of tea Korda passed him. He stood now in the hollow beside a small cave. wore a black woollen balaclava. Sheep all over the place. inside which Korda was heating tea on a small chemical stove. „Through in a minute. Villiers said.‟ There was a murmur in the distance that grew louder. His camouflage uniform was soaking wet. a silenced sub-machine gun. Harvey?‟ „Oh. a guardsman to the end.‟ Harvey Jackson said. having been put ashore by submarine before the British landings at San Carlos on the twenty-first. „I've had enough chicken supreme to last me a lifetime.‟ Elliot was crouched by the radio and Villiers moved across. the radio operator. The equipment Elliot carried was of the latest kind. I've never been able to take it seriously since. Harvey Jackson. like the others. if you don't mind raw mutton. Villiers. When Villiers had first awakened he had found his sleeping poncho covered in hoar frost. it keeps me going as well as anything else. more against the cold than anything else. When Elliot was ready. Korda crawled out of the fissure with more tea. The four-man SAS reconnaissance team had been operating behind the Argentine lines for ten days now. Villiers' spoon rattled against the bottom of the mess tin. It was bitterly cold. „Just a minute. The Argies have been doing very nicely on that diet.‟ The patrol's task was simple enough: to pick up as much information as possible about Argentinian troop movements in the area. sir? How much longer?‟ „Rations for four more days. and scraped shaving foam from his chin with a plastic razor. ‟ Jackson said. The team consisted of Villiers.‟ He started to pack his equipment. „Everything okay?‟ Elliot glanced up and nodded. the touch of a button was sufficient to send a message of a few hundred words in a matter of seconds. messages could be entered and stored in code. Villiers and the others crawled forward cautiously to the edge of the hollow and peered over. Something coming. his fingers numb with cold as he ate from a mess can with a spoon. The information would be of the utmost importance when British forces broke out from the San Carlos beach-head.‟ Before Korda could reply. They each carried the same weapon. a volunteer to the SAS from the Grenadier Guards like Villiers and Jackson. An Argentinian truck was approaching along the rough track about a hundred yards away. Jackson sat cross-legged on the ground.

explosives and so on. „No. Captain Lopez. no more than seventeen or eighteen and frightened to death. The one with the rifle swung round.‟ the boy said. „Nothing more. „Transport.going. Lots of landmines in there. Please don't kill me. Korda put out a hand to steady himself. jumped up and cut him down with the silenced sub-machine gun. raising it instinctively and Harvey Jackson. señor.‟ the boy said. They unloaded a lot of equipment and then the Captain decided he needed some special fuses. Jackson came back.‟ „All right. The cove had proved an admirable choice. What are we doing in this place?‟ He raised the bonnet to examine the engine. not confrontation. ease off. having no choice. and Jackson searched him with ruthless efficiency. The Argentinian's rifle flew into the air and he fell back against the truck. eager to please. „See. half-slewed across the track directly below them.‟ And then the truck slithered to a halt.‟ Elliot said. The only sound was the bolt reciprocating. „Okay. „This stinking engine again with the stinking oil that isn't supposed to freeze and turns into lumps instead. gathering momentum. I swear it. „Must be sappers. „Supplies. well protected from the sea with a deep water channel through a narrow entrance above which stood a disused lighthouse. here it is.‟ he said to Villiers and turned the soldier round. scarves bound around their faces.‟ Jackson looked over Villiers' shoulders.‟ Villiers said to the Argentinian. The two Argentine soldiers cried out in alarm. „What's in the back?‟ Villiers demanded in Spanish. One of their first tasks on arrival had been to survey the area as a possible site to put more troops ashore behind the Argentinian lines when the push started from San Carlos. As they started to slide back from the rim.‟ Bull Cove was a place Villiers and the patrol knew well. and lit a cigarette. let them go. They crouched low. señor. señor. „Sitting ducks. were muffled up to their ears against the intense cold. „Take a look. Villiers had sent in a favourable report.‟ Villiers nodded to Jackson. Rock and soil broke away suddenly and slid down the slope to the track below.‟ He lit a cigarette and gave one to the boy whose hand shook as he accepted a light. The men I took to Bull Cove last night. The fear in him was so strong you could almost smell it. „Watch it!‟ Villiers said. He was only a boy. legs spread. The driver jumped down from behind the wheel and Villiers heard him say in Spanish. Korda banged him against the truck. „You're with an engineering unit?‟ „No. „Even if there's somebody in the rear. He was sending me back to base for these things.‟ Villiers whispered. His friend got out still holding his rifle. What in the hell does he want that for?‟ .‟ He took a crumpled list from his pocket. „Kaden Pencils. The driver got his hands in the air fast and stood waiting as the four men went down the slope. „How many of them were there?‟ „An officer and two men. Villiers said. „Nothing. That's pretty heavy stuff. I think they were engineers.‟ But the patrol's task was to seek information. The driver and the man who sat beside him in the front seat with a rifle across his knees. equipment.

he said to Elliot. „So don't. señor. Leave all equipment behind. „Then we'd better do something about it and fast.‟ He said to the boy in bad Spanish. only one makes the grade.‟ They went back to the hidden encampment. The culmination of a savage and punishing selection procedure is the endurance march across the wilderness that is the Brecon Beacons. We'll do it the hard way. „You did a pretty thorough job. The boy nodded.‟ „All right. I heard them discussing it.‟ „And the kid. „I want him to arrive with you. and you'll efficiently block the only deepwater channel into the cove. yes it does. There was a strong smell of petrol and it dripped from the tank in a steady flow. Scrambling up through the mist.‟ „Fifteen or sixteen kilometres round the mountain. You know me. Sub-machine guns only. „Yes. Jackson pushing the boy along in front of him. understand?‟ „Do I look as if I'd do a thing like that. „Oh. As Villiers stripped his excess gear. Korda.‟ . All it has to do is rain and we'll be right at home. You. *** It has been said that out of every fifty soldiers who volunteer for transfer to the Special Air Service Regiment. Why all the rush? I mean if the kid was sent for more stuff.‟ Jackson said. Just bring the radio and your own gear. sir?‟ Elliot demanded.‟ „Oh.‟ Villiers kicked the half-track. panting.‟ Villiers said. The would-be recruit is required to march forty-five miles across some of the worst country in Britain. Say six miles. they must be taking their time. Bring it down. so that they are always available for instant use. loaded down with a pack of around eighty pounds and a belt kit weighing another fifteen. Now you'll find out what all that endurance testing on the Brecons was about. Five minutes over and I'll have your guts for garters. „Right down in the gut.‟ To blow up the lighthouse?‟ Jackson said. „So what in the hell do we do?‟ Villiers turned and looked up at the mountain towering into the mist. me. „You follow with the boy.‟ the boy said patiently.‟ „Very well.‟ „Only not in this. No stories about how he made a run for it and you had to cut him down.‟ and he turned.To blow up the lighthouse. Harvey.‟ Villiers said.‟ Jackson swore savagely. „if you consider its position on the rocks above the entrance. yes. „Just like sodding Brecon. not any more. Jackson came up beside him. I think. Don't bother about this stuff.‟ Jackson said. „Let's go. Always right when I get that. you two. señor. sir. also. Villiers was reminded of his own selection purgatory when he'd first volunteered.‟ „Christ.‟ Villiers said. „Bull Cove's directly on the other side. Harvey. Doesn't make sense. „How far is it from here on this track.‟ Villiers said. „Why go to the trouble? It hasn't been used for thirty years.‟ „Rubbish. melting the frozen ground.‟ „Bad feeling. moved out of the hollow and started to run across the hillside. His eighteen pound rifle has to be carried because SAS weapons are not allowed slings.‟ Jackson said sourly. I'll give you two and a half hours to join us and let you choose an easy route out of consideration to the kid. „And rocks.

you lazy bastard. which they did a couple of minutes later. The slope lifted until it was almost perpendicular with rough frozen tussocks of grass sticking out of bare rock. Jackson and Korda joined him. draped in mist.‟ He stuffed the sub-machine gun inside the tunic of his camouflage uniform and zipped it up.‟ Jackson said.‟ Jackson said and as they started forward. „Looks bad. climbing strongly. It bounced and crashed its way down the mountainside. Villiers nodded and started to climb again. disappearing into the mist. „The things I do for England. My old mum will be so proud. no more. sir?‟ Jackson called. picking his way between boulders. braced against the rock and for a moment seemed to float in space. then turned and. but it left his hands free. looking up. a wall of rock lifted a hundred feet.„Enough said. „You two all right?‟ „Only just. not looking down. „He helps those who help themselves. for a secret he had nursed to himself for years was his fear of heights. found himself standing on the edge of a broad plateau. Korda said. „Now what?‟ Jackson demanded. concentrating on the rock in front of him. „Watch it. forgetting his aching limbs.‟ Jackson replied. he paused and glanced back at his companions. He led the way over the plateau at a jog-trot. When they reached the base of the rock.‟ Jackson called. „Come on. he would never have served in the 22 SAS. „Okay?‟ „No. but it's the easiest part of the climb. braced his back against one wall and feet against the other. „Dear God. It broke the spell. Villiers went straight up and the others followed him. Once. crying a warning. using the common mountaineering technique. resting . „You okay.‟ Villiers said. move it!‟ *** Instead of working his way diagonally up the steep hillside. and turned and called to Korda who was twenty yards behind. it became apparent that it wasn't actually perpendicular. but tilted back slightly in great slabs. son. „So let's get moving. As they came to the foot of an apron of loose stone and shale. bloody awful. Villiers started to climb again and a moment later.‟ Jackson said. He waited for the others to join him. not some more. It was as if a giant hand was trying to pull him away.‟ „You never had one.‟ Korda said. „Jesus. Villiers pointed across the plateau to the great rock wall which faced them. Villiers indicated a dark chimney that cut its way straight up through the solid rock. his numbed hands. that was certain.‟ Jackson said. Villiers pulled himself up into the gloom. the icy wind. it began to rain a little.‟ Villiers led the way.‟ Jackson said.‟ „I'll take your word for it. If the selection board had known that. „A bit treacherous from here on in. Above him. and beyond it was only grey sky. actually. he heaved strongly on a boulder and it tore free and he swung quickly to one side. Awkward. Fissures and cracks branched across it in dark fingers. He paused at one point. He moved at last over a tilted slab and found himself on a broad ledge.

one yellow.‟ Villiers said as the curtain dropped back into place. stood up and walked out of the entrance and to his total astonishment. uncoiling the wire behind him. at that level. It had progressed faster than he had anticipated and he was whistling cheerfully as he started down the stairs. the wind tore a hole in the curtain and for a moment only they had a glimpse of the Atlantic and far. baby. had been sitting in the shelter of an old sheep pen some little way up the hillside. then the big bang. he scrambled over the edge. the tiny bay and the white finger of the old lighthouse standing at the entrance. far below. The wind cut like a knife and the rain. whose rusting corrugated iron roof had afforded shelter from the rain while he smoked a cigarette and wrote a letter home to his girlfriend in Bahia Blanca. „Now!‟ Villiers cried. „One hour. Working with extreme precision. The mountains sloped down towards the sea.‟ There was a rattle of small arms fire close at hand. the third Argentinian. held it across his chest with both hands. He pulled on his gloves again. Inside there were various terminals and two buttons. he clipped the wires into position.‟ „How many?‟ „I counted three. Private Olivera appeared in the doorway. crouching. *** Captain Carlos Lopez carefully uncoiled the wire he had just taped to the charge he had positioned on the second floor and paused to light a cigarette. He glanced up and smiled. „British troops coming down the hill. he ran the wire across to the centre of the floor where a large. Lopez snatched up an Uzi sub-machine gun and ran to the door. „And fast!‟ . and started to run down the mountainside. Suddenly. Eventually Jackson joined him and then Korda. blue cylinder stood ready. They looked tired and drawn and their balaclava helmets were covered in frost. the other red. They became aware of him in the same instant.Bull Cove. sat back satisfied. He stretched. which left only the ground. and as Lopez turned. wrapped in grey mist and low cloud. After a while he found it was possible to climb properly and the handholds were good and plentiful. driving him back into the sheep pen. had turned to sleet. All five floors linked now. keeping to the wall.every fifteen or twenty feet.‟ There was no sound and yet suddenly blood spurted as Olivera was driven forward through the doorway in a mad dance to fall face down. his body firmly wedged. „Let's get moving. Ten minutes later. Then he waited. „There she is . then gently depressed the yellow button. his quilted parka starting to smoulder. Once at ground level. He snatched up his machine pistol and loosed off a wild burst that went skywards as Jackson and Korda fired together. saw the three SAS men approaching cautiously along the track. He removed the lid very carefully. *** It had been sheer bad luck that Carvallo.‟ He pulled the sub-machine gun out of his tunic. stamping his feet against the bitter cold.

face twisted with pain while Jackson applied a field service dressing to his left thigh. „Forty-five minutes to go. Then his sub-machine gun jammed. „Touch that box and find out.‟ „Good job we got here when we did then. He sat there. Villiers said. knocking Korda off his feet. Villiers dropped to one knee to reload and Korda kept right on going.‟ Villiers opened a pouch on his left leg. „Here. hold this on it.‟ Villiers said and slipped into the entrance. „I've seen one of these things before. isn't it?‟ . but there's an anti-handling device that sends the whole thing off instantly if you touch it.Korda went straight down the track.‟ „What did you send the truck back for Kaden Pencils for?‟ „I was going to bring down some cliff face as well. Harvey. As the gun emptied he dived head first into sodden bracken and rolled over. He turned. „No!‟ Villiers shouted. It's on timer. the Uzi raised to fire. loosing off a long burst that raked the doorway. Russian. straight down the track into the open.‟ Lopez glanced at his watch. and Lopez fired a long burst round the edge of the door. my friend.‟ he added as he jabbed a morphine capsule into Korda's arm. „Watch him. spinning him round. „I congratulate you. In the lighthouse.‟ „Is that a fact?‟ Villiers nodded to Jackson. Daft bastard. face streaked with pain. „Though he doesn't deserve to. „Bring him in.‟ Lopez said. I know my business. all linked?‟ „Of course. The boy lay there for a moment. If your people hoped to use this harbour they'd better think again. Jackson to the left. Villiers to the right. pressing the dressing against the wound. but only in a manual. They broke from cover. the rounds kicking up fountains of dirt close to Korda's head. Villiers and Korda both fired. „Very good. took out a field service dressing pack and broke it open. then turned over and tried to crawl. „He'll live. When this baby blows. Lopez fired round the door again. „Never mind. she drops straight into the entrance. Lopez bought it. Villiers shot him in the left shoulder.‟ He turned and crossed to the water trough. „Who did you think you were.‟ Jackson gave him a cigarette.‟ Jackson said. loosing off the entire magazine in one long continuous burst. His practised eye took in the blue cylindrical box. right across the front of the lighthouse. Lopez shoved another clip into his Uzi and raked the trough with several bursts until water spouted from a dozen holes. Jackson ran to join Korda. reaching for the Smith & Wesson Magnum he carried in the pouch on his right leg. Korda lay sprawled against it. running headlong. Jackson grabbed the boy by the scruff of the neck and pulled him into the flimsy shelter of an old water trough. Villiers rammed home a fresh clip and went down the hill on the run. Jackson helped Lopez in and eased the Argentinean down on the floor. in time to see Olivera dart into the entrance of the lighthouse and stand there for a moment. sending Olivera staggering inside. Audie Murphy?‟ „Who's he?‟ Korda asked weakly. The Argentinean slid down the wall as Villiers approached and kicked the Uzi to one side. „A charge on every floor. the wires disappearing up the spiral staircase. the Uzi jumping into the air. jumping out of the entrance. then followed Villiers back to the lighthouse and Lopez.‟ He went inside and squatted beside the blue box.‟ Villiers said.

‟ he said softly as he pulled on rubber boots and reached for a reefer coat. HMS Clarion. as you say. herding the young Argentinean prisoner before him. „What's all this about an emergency signal?‟ „H.‟ „Haven't we all? Why are we on diesels?‟ „Because we're on the surface. I'm quite willing to do it again if you continue to make suggestions like that. coming down the track an hour and a half later. Too damn tired and everything was beginning to blur at the edges. „I had to kick your arse in a manner of speaking.‟ Jackson went out and Villiers sat on the edge of the bunk.‟ „So you depressed the yellow button which controls the timer and.‟ „My God!‟ Lopez said. Give me a cigarette. „When you were a subaltern at Caterham.‟ Villiers told him. It was Jackson who went to meet Elliot. „All right. staring up at the steel bulkhead. wondering what this business was all about.‟ „I think maybe you've been playing this game too long. as I recall.‟ „Circumventing the timer and giving us three minutes to get out. He was tired. What he needed was a long. Sounded real urgent.‟ *** It was the throb of the engines that brought Villiers awake with a start. isn't that so?‟ He depressed the red button and Lopez said. „The bloody English.Q. not nuclear. Commander Doyle sent me down to tell you to be ready to go in quarter of an hour. sir. No one had been prepared to tell him anything. out of the rain.‟ He pulled himself towards the box and said to Villiers. a conventional submarine.‟ Villiers appeared in the doorway. „Holy Mother of God!‟ „It's up to you.‟ Jackson produced a lighter from his pocket and gave him a light. cuts into the circuit. sir.‟ „Okay.‟ he said with some emphasis.‟ „I got a warning bleep. „You're late. just do exactly as I tell you.‟ *** When Elliot finally appeared. Had to stop to take an emergency signal for you and the major. Sergeant Major. watching him. the damn thing is lethal if I attempt to unplug it. „You talk in your sleep. it might be politic for you to step outside. Villiers. were on the wire.‟ He took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and stuck one in the corner of his mouth. did you know that?‟ „That's all I needed. They want to hear from you like yesterday. Jackson was sitting in a chair in the corner. that was the trouble. „Ours not to reason why. Korda and Lopez were inside. „On the other hand. All mad. He pulled on the jeans and sweater they'd given him. a frown on his face as he tried to work out where he was. The cigarette tasted foul and he stubbed it out. He lay there for a moment in the bunk. long .„That's right. I'll see you on top in five minutes. „And this red button. She'd picked them up off Bull Cove that afternoon. „I presume you know how to stop it?‟ He glanced up at Jackson.‟ „You know your stuff. on a number of occasions. Then he remembered. was just finishing disconnecting the final charge. having worked his way down floor-by-floor. diesel-electric powered. nothing worth knowing anyway.

„Ready to go. I'm afraid. we're strangers here and don't speak the language. „Never mind. The water broke in white foaming spray.‟ The other smiled and held out his hand.‟ Villiers said and shook hands. We're sticking you in as close to Montevideo as possible. He adjusted his weight and they started to paddle. „and let's get out of here. shuttered and dark.‟ Doyle had been watching the shoreline carefully through his nightglasses and now he leaned down and spoke briefly into his voice pipe. Jackson dropped in and Villiers followed. They're bringing your dinghy out of the hatch. And Villiers gave the required answer in English. Sea's a bit choppy.‟ he said in Spanish. and they covered it with sand. „A nice night for a walk. Through the curtain of spray. sir?‟ the CPO in charge asked. He went outside. „How are we doing?‟ „There's Uruguay for you.‟ Villiers told him. Jackson at his side. lifting the waves into whitecaps. Get in and I'll take you back to my place. Jackson puncturing it with his knife. Everything went all right then?‟ „Soaked to the bloody skin is all. Jackson following him. „No time like the present. señores. Above him. as Villiers stepped out in the shallows. but it shouldn't give you too much trouble. „Stop grumbling. The dinghy was already in the water. the round circle of the night was scattered with stars and he breathed salt air in his lungs and felt better. „Ain't life grand?‟ he said. The submarine started to slow and Doyle turned to Villiers: „As far as we go. La Paloma a couple of miles to starboard. to pull them in. moved through into the control room and mounted the conning-tower ladder to the bridge. Villiers asked: „Is there any chance of finding out what all this is about?‟ . The wind was freshening. waist deep. nightglasses raised to his eyes. There was a dark saloon car parked by the sea wall. Jackson cursed as water slopped steadily over the side.‟ „Thanks for the ride. the shore suddenly seemed very close.rest.‟ Villiers said. As Villiers reached for an oar. Then they walked up through the dunes and saw a large beach café over on the right. water poured over the side. „That looks like it.‟ They dragged the dinghy up to the nearest dune. „Sorry. Doyle was looking towards the shore. He went over the side and descended the ladder. I suppose you've done this sort of thing rather a lot?‟ „Now and then. As they approached.‟ As they drove away. sand dunes beyond. held by two able seamen. down to the circular hull. There was quite a swell running and one of the ratings slipped and lost his footing on the slimy steel plates of the hull. the door opened and a man in an anorak got out and stood waiting. then they were lifted high on a swell and Villiers saw the wide beach. Villiers asked.‟ The ratings released the lines and immediately the tide pulled the dinghy away from the submarine and in towards the shore. „Jimmy Nelson. They slewed round and Jackson went over the side.‟ Jackson said.

‟ „And then what?‟ „Search me. so it's all worked out rather well.‟ „Ferguson?‟ Villiers groaned. . sales engineer. Orders from on high and so on. Someone was very efficient. their time. I've pulled a few strings and got you on an Air France cargo-carrying jumbo that leaves in. However. Anything wrong. old boy. I presume Brigadier Ferguson will explain when he sees you. „around three hours from now. Occupation. I just do as I'm told. old man?‟ „Not really.‟ „And where do we go?‟ „Paris. There's only one direct flight to that fair city and it's on Fridays. „You mean he's behind this?‟ „That's right.‟ he glanced at his watch. except I'd rather be back behind the lines in the Falklands.‟ Villiers told him. Also passports made out in your own names as there seemed no reason why not. Full details were supplied as to sizes. You'll be in Paris tomorrow evening. One snag about that. that holds true for both of you. I always get confused about time changes. all you need.„Search me. I've got clothes waiting for you.

My car is just outside.‟ Garcia said. I presume I won't be here very long. he went to the phone books. as they pulled away from the front entrance.‟ Montera replied politely. „I hope you will find this to your satisfaction. modern and luxurious. The number of the flat in Kensington was burned into his brain. Captain George Corwin was leaning against a pillar. but with no great character. trying to look casual and not doing too well at it. „I can manage. then. Where it goes. He checked the area code for London. Garcia was standing over by the news stand. He carried a canvas holdall in one hand and wore jeans and his old black leather flying jacket.‟ *** The apartment was pleasant enough. don't you think it might be an excellent idea not to call me colonel?‟ „Of course. opened the French window and moved out on the terrace. George Corwin was already in the back of a black Rover saloon. After all. Arthur. There were a large number of Legrands but no hint of a Mademoiselle Gabrielle. that green Peugeot estate car. „Right.‟ He closed the door behind Garcia. who represents the Russian interest in the affair. just across the road. where she might very well be. a scarf at his throat. „I'll see you tomorrow then.‟ Montera escorted him to the door and opened it. There was London. would like to see you in the morning at eleven a. It was hopeless. Perhaps he will be more forthcoming tomorrow. His stomach hollow with excitement.‟ Garcia said.10 At Charles de Gaulle Airport. and leafed through quickly.m. beginning to feel mildly irritated.‟ Montera told him.‟ Behind them. found the one he needed. „Of course. He let it ring for a long time at the other end before putting it down.‟ He tried to take the bag from him. picked up the phone and dialled the number.‟ „All right. one of his favourite cities and it now very possibly meant Gabrielle. when Raul Montera appeared at the exit from Immigration and Customs. so do we. sipping it slowly. Corwin recognised him instantly from the photo supplied by Group Four. colonel. Paris. I have secured you a fine apartment in the Avenue de Neuilly.‟ „At yours. Its one advantage was the magnificent view of the Bois de Boulogne. He poured himself a glass of ice-cold Manzanilla and went and stood on the terrace. „On the other hand. Juan Garcia. Señor Donner insists on total secrecy. „This way.‟ Montera said. „Just fine. turned back to the sitting room. of course.. There was wine in the refrigerator in the ultra-modern kitchen and sherry.‟ „Let's hope so.‟ „It's fine. Garcia hurried forward. he could at least listen to her voice. . „So foolish of me. if that is convenient. reading a newspaper. And why not? Even if he didn't speak.‟ „Señor Donner and Belov. It was dark outside. for it was just after nine o'clock. The sort of place which is the same the world over. at your orders. He tapped the driver on the shoulder. But then what happens?‟ „I've no idea. „A great pleasure to see you colonel and a personal honour for me.

On the San Carlos run it had saved him more than once.‟ Corwin said. Gabrielle leaned on the rail of the balcony of her own apartment. „That is true. the thought of her. which in a way he was. „Come to me.‟ Roux tried again. Monsieur. went into the kitchen and put it down the waste disposal. went back inside and went to bed. committing it to memory. Corwin said. run by a man named Gaston Roux. „And now the lies begin. Anything from drugs to prostitution and his ruthlessness was a byword in the Paris underworld. „Where are you. *** No more than a mile away on the Avenue Victor Hugo.‟ She wrote it down. while of excellent cut. „My contact told me you were just the man to provide it.‟ Sometimes it worked. looking at the address for a moment.‟ He put down the phone. was most conservative.‟ „And our mutual friend tells me you would prefer ex-soldiers and that one of them must be ex-Army Signals.‟ Donner told him as he sipped Roux's excellent Cognac. for Corwin had phoned to warn her that he was expected that night. „Would there be the possibility of a little shooting?‟ „Yes. more alone than he had ever felt in his life before. back-street nightclub in Montmartre not far from the Madeleine.‟ „So the task would be a formidable one. Somewhere out there was Raul. It was like a dream where things happen in slow motion and one is somehow an observer and not a participant.‟ „That's correct. „How long would you require them?‟ „To sit on their hands in the country for two to three days and receive a certain amount of instruction in what's expected of them. „and the deceit and the betrayal. Gabrielle?‟ he whispered aloud.‟ „I have a certain reputation. which is why I'm offering twenty-five thousand francs per man. How many men would you need?‟ „Eight. Gabrielle stood. Can you give me any further information?‟ „Not really. Now. then she tore the paper into pieces. He could have been a lawyer or accountant or even a prosperous business man.‟ Roux said. shall we? He'll be arriving tomorrow. Here's the address. He finished his sherry. suddenly tired. „What am I supposed to do? Go round and knock on the door?‟ „Not really a good idea. Just a hint. *** The address Belov had given Donner turned out to be a small. He was small with horn-rimmed glasses and his pinstripe suit. there was nothing. „Muscle is what I need. except that crime was his business. her tangible presence. „He's here. There was an unreality to the whole thing. but not now. The actual task will take no more than three to four hours . The telephone rang in the room behind her and she hurried in and picked it up.‟ she whispered.‟ Roux nodded.thinking of her. Just did a bit of judicious bribery and got the number of the apartment. I followed him and Garcia to an apartment block on the Avenue de Neuilly. „Let's leave it to Major Villiers.‟ and she turned slowly and went back into the sitting room.

One hundred thousand francs for my services as agent for which I will guarantee you. It was filled with packages of banknotes.‟ Donner said.‟ Donner snapped his fingers at Stavrou who was standing by the door and he came forward. cloying scent of flowers lay on the air. Paul. There were at least a dozen men waiting. gentlemen. „A legitimate enterprise. „This is the Signals expert. „Come in. one hundred for you. Something special between me and them. I have already gathered in a number of suitable specimens. Roux said.‟ „Not if you look twice. tapping each man of his choice on the chest. we can settle the matter now. I really do. In anticipation of a satisfactory conclusion to our business. Every man here would like to take part.‟ He smiled bleakly. The murmur of voices came from behind a closed door at the end of the corridor. My terms are as follows. a large man with a broken nose . showing the glint of gold-capped teeth. He and Stavrou slipped out through a small judas gate into a back yard.‟ Roux smiled. If you'd like to accompany me.‟ Roux took a deep breath. „I always like to achieve a certain understanding with people I engage. „If you would like to wait outside for a couple of minutes.‟ He pointed to one who was standing apart from the others.in all.‟ Stavrou said. most of them old hands from the look of it. „All of it?‟ „Why not. „We'll see.‟ Donner simply picked the eight worst-looking ones in his own estimation. Let's make it three-fifty. „I've explained the situation. There were actually coffins in some of them and the heavy. Donner took out a cigarette and Stavrou gave him a light. „Monsieur. there's no accounting for taste. I started it to give a veneer of respectability to certain of my ventures. I'll explain the situation to them. Donner tossed packet after packet across the table. Roux led the way along a dark corridor lined with waiting chapels. the choice is yours. Roux said as he opened the door and led the way in. You understand. „Two hundred and forty thousand for them.‟ „Well. Roux opened it and led the way into a large garage containing three hearses and two trucks. put a dark blue briefcase on the table and opened it.‟ Roux opened the door.‟ The men now stood in a line and Donner looked them over. Roux turned. Let's just call it an act of faith on my part. They were as rough looking a lot as Donner had seen in a long time. Undertakers. but my only son. As for the rest.‟ Donner said cheerfully. four of them playing cards on the ground.‟ „I felt sure I'd come to the right place. I like you. I can't stand loose change. As he reached the end of the line.‟ *** The sign above the door in the building two streets away said Roux & Son. „Think you can handle them? They look rough. You may take your pick. Monsieur?‟ „But of course.‟ „In advance?‟ Roux said. for thirty thousand francs apiece. eight men who would shoot their grandmothers if you told them to. the others lounging around smoking and talking. has really taken it seriously. „Very well. aged around the late thirties or forty mark.

‟ „At least speak to Pierre Guyon. In fact no one said a word.‟ „Perhaps. Donner slapped him in the face.‟ „You can take the shuttle over there tomorrow afternoon Harry. sir.‟ „Are you trying to tell me he still loves her?‟ „It isn't as simple as that. „They were married for five years. sir. Stavrou ran him headfirst into a stack of packing cases in one corner. The man fell on his knees. He's given Gabrielle the address. She's important to him. on both sides? Look at the death toll when the Belgrano went down. French time. Raul Montera turned up on schedule. but to work on more papers in the comfort of his bed.‟ „Very well. what you're really requiring her to do is serve your purposes and destroy herself in the process. The man screamed as muscle tore. Harry. What we've got to do is stop the bloody carnage. I happen to think she's up to it. Gabrielle's involvement. not to sleep.‟ „I'll think about it. If the French arrested him now. We're asking a hell of a lot. „Merde!‟ and spat on Donner's left shoe. and still keeping that terrible hold in position. sir.‟ „Anything else before I turn out the light?‟ „What about the French connection.‟ Ferguson said. „I'm still worried about her.‟ Ferguson put down the phone and sat back against the pillows.‟ Fox said. Then he'll make damn sure she doesn't come to any harm. who sighed heavily and offered Donner a cigarette.‟ No one moved. Monsieur?‟ *** Ferguson had retired to bed early.‟ „He won't like it. twisted it up and around. sir.‟ „I know. „Just heard from George Corwin in Paris.and close-cropped red hair. or don't you buy that?‟ „Of course I do. „Would anyone care to change his mind?‟ Donner enquired. the corrupting power of money. Harry. how many men have died already down there in the South Atlantic. my friend here will be in charge. Harry. „When does Tony get in?‟ „About five o'clock tomorrow evening. The man reeled in shock. doing exactly what he had . Go to bed. and nodded at Stavrou. sir. I want you back here tomorrow night. „A terrible thing. It was Harry Fox. sir. I want you to fill him in on the whole scene in finest detail. You and Corwin meet him. sir? Isn't it time we brought them in on this?‟ „Not really.‟ „Excellent. said. except Roux. On the other hand. Certainly not at the moment. then roared with rage and reached out to destroy. He was just deciding to call it a day when the phone rang. He was met by Garcia who took him to an apartment in a block on the Avenue de Neuilly close to the Bois de Boulogne. All right.‟ Fox sounded weary. a hell of a lot of bad in there. We still don't know what Donner is up to. but you can't just toss the relationship out of the window.‟ „Good.‟ „But dammit all. a good lawyer would have him on the street in an hour. face covered in blood. „I should warn you. Stavrou was somehow in the way. one of those left out. He grabbed for the man's right wrist. wouldn't you agree. Let's put it in an old-fashioned way. sir. He still cares for her.

For years he had been in the habit of running regularly. the Bois de Boulogne shrouded in mist. Belov. he knew that. He came to a halt only a few yards away and stood breathing heavily. gentlemen?‟ „Aren't you going to join us. more commonly known as the Action Service. Corwin took several pictures of him with a special camera through a tiny hole in the side of the van. The most interesting one is Section Five. *** Raul Montera slept surprisingly well that night. He switched off the light. something inimical. He was taking a chance. . a black Mercedes pulled in at the kerb outside the apartment block. lit a cigarette and waited.‟ he murmured. He did so now. George Corwin. But his instinct. working for his own side. even the odd horseback rider. Ferguson reached for the phone and dialed the area code for Paris. he quite liked. the product of years of experience in intelligence work. turned over and went to sleep. A reasonable enough man. He brought a tray in from the kitchen and set it down. a ritual now. that offended him. pulled on his old black track suit and some running shoes. the SDECE. it was raining hard. He liked the rain. enclosed feeling. hidden in the back of a parked milk van on the Avenue de Neuilly. When he drew the curtain and looked out. is divided into five sections and many departments. The only time he'd had to deviate from his usual practice was during his flying operations out of Rio Gallegos. watched Montera running fast from the direction of the lake. He'd been so tired on the previous evening that he hadn't unpacked his holdall. thoroughly soaked and enjoying every minute of it. his entire career on the line. „Coffee. some like him. „Nasty looking bit of work. Garcia got out. The French Security Service. then Belov. There were a number of fellow rain-lovers about. told him that he should let things ride and he always trusted his instinct. the strain and fatigue of the past few weeks catching up on him. and he was not only Ferguson's opposite number but one of his oldest friends. the Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionage. had a glass of orange juice from the refrigerator and let himself out. for good measure. Stavrou got back in the car and Corwin made himself comfortable.told Fox he would do-thinking about it. colonel?‟ Donner asked. rather like being in a world of one's own. *** Raul Montera didn't care for Donner one little bit. then replaced the receiver. He felt suddenly exhilarated. the department which had been responsible for destroying the OAS. „Dear old Nikolai himself. running. others walking the dog. He said good morning to Gabrielle. hesitated. „Would you look at that now?‟ Corwin said softly. and went to the window.‟ and the camera whirred again several times before the three men turned and went into the building. which was fair enough although Montera had never had any great liking for the communist cause. He ran through the park. each morning. Stavrou got out of the car to make some sort of adjustment to the windscreen wipers and Corwin snapped him too. As Montera crossed the road. There was something about the man. And he wasn't the only one. The result was that he didn't rise until ten o'clock. followed by Donner. it gave him a safe. Colonel Pierre Guyon was in charge of that department.

„I never touch the stuff. Bad for the nerves.‟ Montera went into the kitchen again and returned with a china mug in one hand. „Tea.‟ Dormer laughed and there was an edge to it that indicated the dislike was mutual. „Rather unusual for a South American, I would have thought.‟ „Oh, it's surprising what we dagoes get up to on occasions,‟ Montera told him. „The British navy would have a useful opinion on that.‟ Belov said smoothly. „I agree with you, colonel. A very civilized habit, tea drinking. We Russians have existed on the stuff for years.‟ Garcia said, „Perhaps we can get down to business. Maybe Señor Dormer is now prepared to give us more detail about the operation.‟ „Of course,‟ Donner said. „I was only waiting for Colonel Montera's arrival. The whole thing, with any kind of luck, should be wrapped up within the next couple of days, which is good, because according to the newspapers this morning, the British troops at San Carlos are getting ready to move out.‟ Montera lit a cigarette. „All right, so what exactly have you arranged?‟ Donner had always found that a basis of fact made a phoney story sound better. „As you know, the Libyans have a plentiful supply of Exocets, but due to pressure from the rest of the Arab world, Colonel Qadhafi has not been able to release them to the Argentine as he first intended - or perhaps I should say, not officially. There's always a way round most things in this life, or so I've found.‟ „So?‟ Montera said. „I've taken a house in Brittany near the coast close to an old wartime bomber station. A place called Lancy. Disused now, but the runways are still perfectly usable. Two days from now, possibly three, a Hercules transport en route from Italy to Ireland will put down at Lancy, quite illegally, of course. There will be ten of the latest mark of Exocet missile on board.‟ „Holy Mother of God!‟ Garcia said. „You, Colonel Montera, will check that cargo. If you're satisfied, you will phone Señor Garcia here in Paris who will make immediate arrangements to have three million pounds in gold transferred as I direct in Geneva.‟ „I must congratulate you, señor,‟ Montera said softly. „That really is the way to wage war.‟ „I've always thought so,‟ Donner said. „I presume, by the way, that you will want to take off with the Hercules when it leaves, not for Ireland, but for Dakar in Senegal. They're very liberally minded there, especially when it comes to business. The Hercules will re-fuel, fly across to Rio, where it will re-fuel again for the final leg of the journey which will be to any air force base which takes your fancy in the Argentine.‟ There was silence. Garcia said with some awe, „Magnificent.‟ „And you, colonel?‟ Donner looked up at Montera. „Do you think it's magnificent?‟ „I'm a professional soldier,‟ Montera said. „I don't have opinions. I just do as I'm told. When do you want me at this place?‟ „The day after tomorrow. We'll fly down by private plane.‟ Donner stood up. „Until then, enjoy yourself. This is Paris. I'd say you've earned it after your efforts down there in the South Atlantic‟ Montera went and opened the door for them. As they went out, Donner said, „I'll be in touch.‟ He and the Russian moved down the hall, Garcia lingered a moment. „What do you

think?‟ „I think I don't like him,‟ Montera said. „But that's not what I'm here for.‟ „I'd better go,‟ Garcia said. „If anything of importance comes up, I'll phone you. Otherwise, colonel, you might as well do as Señor Donner suggests - enjoy yourself.‟ *** Gabrielle went riding in the Bois de Boulogne at noon. It had stopped raining and there were few people about. She'd slept badly, had stayed in bed until just before noon and hadn't really caught up with herself since. She felt tired and dull, sick with apprehension about the task ahead. Corwin moved into the shelter of an oak tree as rain began to spot the ground again. He watched Gabrielle canter up through the trees from the direction of the lake, the same route Montera had taken that morning. The ride had brought colour back into her cheeks and she looked magnificent. She reined in as Corwin stepped into view. „Oh, it's you.‟ She dismounted and Corwin produced a number of prints of the photos he'd taken that morning and passed them to her. „Have a look at those. I'll hold the horse.‟ She looked at the first one. Corwin said, „The small man is Juan Garcia. The big one is Donner and then Belov, the KGB man. Montera, of course, you know.‟ She stared down at the photo, her stomach hollow, then glanced at the next one. „That's Yanni Stavrou, Dormer's minder. Very rough customer.‟ And then she came to the ones Corwin had taken of Montera running in the park and there was one, where he was at maximum effort, saturated with the pure joy of running, face clear, no pain there at all, and she was filled with such love for him that the sensation was almost unbearable. She handed them back and took the reins of the horse. „Are you all right?‟ „Why shouldn't I be? When does Tony get in?‟ „Around five o'clock. Harry Fox will be in before then. The Brigadier wants him to brief your husband thoroughly before he sees you.‟ „He's not my husband, Mr Corwin,‟ Gabrielle said and pulled herself up into the saddle. „A very elementary error on your part. People in our game can't afford errors, not even little ones.‟ She was right, of course, Corwin knew that. Strange that he didn't feel any anger as he watched her canter away. *** As Corwin, Jackson and Tony Villiers went up in the lift to the tenth floor of the apartment block on the Avenue Victor Hugo, Corwin said, „It's quite a reasonable little service flat. I had to take it for a month though, that was the minimum.‟ „I'm sure the Department can stand it,‟ Villiers said. „Of course, the reason I took it was because Gabrielle lives just up the road. All very convenient.‟ His effort at a smile died in the face of Villiers' implacable hostility. „I know where she lives, or hadn't that occurred to you?‟ He was surprised at the extent of his own anger over what was, after all, such a trivial point. He was tired, that was the trouble, far too tired. Also frustrated and occasionally filled with

hate when he thought of Charles Ferguson. The lift stopped, they got out, and Corwin led the way along the corridor, took out a key and opened the door. He passed the key to Villiers. „All yours.‟ He led the way in and Villiers and Jackson followed. The flat was small, neat and functional, more like a good modern hotel room than anything else. Harry Fox sat by the window reading a newspaper. Villiers stood looking at him. „Anything interesting?‟ „Not really.‟ Fox put the newspaper down. „The push from San Carlos is expected at any minute.‟ Villiers tossed his bag on to the bed. „All right, Harry, what's it all about. Last time I saw Ferguson I told him to lay off Gabrielle, so what's his game?‟ „You won't like it, Tony.‟ Villiers said to Jackson, „Get us all a drink, Harvey, I think I'm going to need it.‟ He turned back to Fox. „Okay, let's have it.‟ *** At Maison Blanche, the old gypsy, Maurice Gaubert, and his son, Paul, were setting traps for rabbits in the wood above the house when a truck turned into the stable yard below and braked to a halt. As the Gauberts watched, a number of men got out and a couple who had stayed inside started to pass out various items of equipment. Stavrou got out of the driving cab and unlocked the main stable doors. Paul Gaubert said, „It's Monsieur Donner's man. The one with the funny name.‟ „The only funny thing about him,‟ his father said. „Stavrou.‟ He dropped the traps he was holding and picked up his shot gun. „We'll go and see what this is all about.‟ Stavrou was just coming out of the stables as they approached. He lit a cigarette, leaned against the truck and waited. „Bonjour, Monsieur,‟ Maurice Gaubert said. „Rather more of you this time.‟ „That's right.‟ „And Monsieur Donner, he comes also?‟ „Probably tomorrow.‟ Paul Gaubert shifted nervously from one foot to the other under Stavrou's grim stare. His father said, „Is there anything you wish us to do, Monsieur?‟ „Keep an eye out for any strangers.‟ Stavrou took a couple of thousand franc notes from his wallet and held them up. „You understand me?‟ „Perfectly, Monsieur.‟ Gaubert took the money. „Your business is, after all, your own business. If anything unusual occurs, I will let you know.‟ Stavrou watched them go, then turned into the stables where his men were sorting the supplies which had been unloaded from the truck. „All right, line up,‟ he said. „At the double.‟ They ran to obey his command and a moment later, stood in line, rigidly at attention. He paced up and down, looking them over. „As far as I'm concerned, you're back in the army now, so the sooner you get used to that idea, the better.‟ ***

‟ Villiers turned.‟ He got out and as he started away Fox half-opened the door. North Falkland has very little to commend it. Galtieri and Reagan downwards. „I know. „Don't bother to pick me up.‟ „So it would seem. but something between them that she knew always would be there. Gabrielle. In the circumstances.‟ „And you. Brigadier Ferguson feels it can't be allowed to continue. a warmth.‟ she said simply. which can't be many. in the end. I'd rather take Armagh or the Oman any day. Not love. What was it like down there?‟ „Rather like the Scottish Highlands on a bad day. monitored two calls last night. and when it pulled up outside Gabrielle's apartment in the Avenue Victor Hugo later that evening.‟ „That's not so good. Tony. „Games. and sat down. gas logs flickering brightly on the hearth. . Tony?‟ Suddenly. Now if the sergeant major wouldn't mind running me out to Charles de Gaulle airport. You take care of Captain Fox. and wore a black silk jump suit. that intimacy between them again. „As far as I'm concerned. face quite blank. Tony. the Argentinians can have it. She was standing by the fire. „So that's it.‟ „So what's it all about then?‟ she demanded.‟ Villiers walked to the sideboard and poured himself a brandy.‟ Villiers said. Harry Fox and Villiers in the rear. „So are you. there was an intimacy again. „That's what we're playing at every level from the Prime Minister. „You see. This Professor Bernard I mentioned. *** „You're looking well. Harvey. not in the strict sense of that word. her feet bare. „What is it?‟ „Go easy on her.Corwin had supplied a Citroen car.you love him. hands in pockets.‟ Villiers stood there looking at him. „God help me.‟ „All right. my love. I'll walk back. then he turned and went into the entrance without another word. Would never go away till the day she died. He sat down opposite.‟ Villiers said without emotion. „Tony. „At least you know the score now. as if trying to get it straight in her own mind. don't you?‟ „He's the one thoroughly decent thing that ever happened to me. Our people in B. I'll just have time to catch the last shuttle to London. „Good. do we control the game or does the game possess us? Can we stop it if we want or must it always be the same?‟ He had never felt closer to her.‟ Villiers said. Jackson was at the wheel. hair tied back from the face. „Montera .‟ Fox said. what kind of game have you been playing all these years? The Death-wish game?‟ He smiled slightly.‟ „All right.‟ he said.‟ He laughed harshly. They're still phoning him from Buenos Aires for technical information on various aspects of the Exocets they've got left. but don't you think I haven't looked for an answer to that question a thousand times?‟ She frowned.‟ „One other thing. „What are we all playing at. he'd like you to take care of it while you're here.A. See you later.

‟ „I understand. which would indicate that he's in regular practice and only fanatics turn out in the pouring rain. Total possession.‟ „And now. against himself and Ferguson and the world they inhabited.‟ „In some things. „I love him.‟ „So?‟ „He apparently runs extremely well. She held on tight and when she looked up. .„Do you think you can go through with this?‟ „I hope so.‟ He stood up.‟ He hesitated and then reached for her hand. „Wouldn't you say that was rather ironic?‟ He had no answer.‟ When he was finished she smiled reluctantly.‟ „And what about me?‟ „You can go riding again. „That's better. Tony. Corwin tells me he saw Montera running in the Bois de Boulogne yesterday morning. Don't bother to get up. isn't that the strangest thing? Just like everything I ever read about in the story books and poetry. My hunch is he'll be there tomorrow.‟ he told her. „You always were inventive. the kind who refuse to miss a day's training. only a terrible rage deep inside. She smiled and he took her hands.‟ There were tears in her eyes. of course. none at all. „Anyway. I'll be keeping an eye on you. Ferguson made sure of that. her face was tragic. Love at first sight. Tony. I don't really have much choice. He kissed her gently on the forehead.‟ „One of these days I intend to run him down with a rather large truck. Let me explain. I'll let myself out. „I'm destroying that love as surely as I possibly can by my actions and I've no choice.‟ „And just how do you intend to arrange that?‟ „Simple.‟ she said. Now. let's discuss how you and Montera are going to get together again. so that I can't get him out of my mind. turned and let himself out quietly.

Gabrielle turned. knife extended. do you?‟ . „Get her into the trees. Montera struck him a devastating blow across the side of the neck with the edge of his hand and he went down. „Gabrielle. The boy with the yellow hair was being sick and Gabrielle leaned against a tree. She cried a warning as the bearded man rushed in. watched for a few moments as she had been told and then kneed the horse forward. twisting the arm up and to one side. Montera descended like a thunderbolt.11 It was raining again the following morning as Gabrielle took the horse forward to the edge of the trees and waited as Villiers had instructed her. The man rushed in again. Raul. There was a movement somewhere on her right and two men came out of the trees. He didn't recognise her then. The boy screamed and fell on his knees. He poised. saw only a woman in difficulty and ran very fast up the slope. There was an air of unreality to everything and she was conscious of that strange sensation again of being an observer watching herself as in a dream. the bearded one said. hearing the first cry. his running shoes making no sound on the wet grass. They both had her then. she knew that instantly. Montera shoved her away and swayed to one side like a bullfighter. a figure in a black tracksuit emerged and started to run up the hill. She recognised him instantly. It was very quiet. balanced on both feet. the man stepping past him. Raul Montera knew a killing rage now. total astonishment on his face and reached for her instinctively. delivering a terrible blow to the kidneys.‟ She cried aloud again. making the horse rear. reaching under her jacket for the breasts. taut as a steel bar. pulling a knife from his pocket. As it came up. scrambling to her feet. She said shakily. the bearded one trying to pull her up. She was on the ground now. Then far below from the trees beside the lake. waiting. streaked with mud. As the horse cantered away. the other one watching. knuckles extended. *** Montera. her face pale. As he grabbed for the reins. the bearded one holding her arms behind her and the boy with the yellow hair moving in close. and Montera saw her. the other reached up and caught her right arm. „You don't do things by halves. Montera grabbed the wrist. flinging up his arms. such as he had never known in his life before. She cried out in genuine fear as she was pulled from the saddle. He paused. The other was younger with long yellow hair in jeans and a patched denim jacket. only the sound of rain hissing through the branches. paused and looked up in time to see her come off the horse. but in rage at every man who had ever put a hand on her and kicked out savagely. The one with the beard ran forward. One of them was bearded and wore a reefer coat. Oh. And they were trouble. The soft running shoe didn't do much harm and the man rolled over and came to his feet. not in fear now. In the same moment. As the bearded man glanced up Montera kicked him in the face. my God!‟ Her name burst out of him and suddenly he was laughing as he held her by the arms and looked at her. The bearded man screamed.

face dark. „My car is at the stables. that's all. „Isn't this what the English call serendipity? A spectacularly marvellous.‟ he smiled.‟ „That's your hard luck. dangerous voice. The boy was standing now.‟ They started up toward the gates. Raul. „My place or yours?‟ The joy in her was so great. He held her for a moment.‟ She reached up and kissed him. but I did ring the London flat. his arm around her. very fast.‟ „Also not too far away. No answer. truly amazing. grabbed him by the shoulder with his good hand and they staggered away. „I'd say that more than anything else at this particular moment you could do with a nice hot bath.‟ Jackson took several bank notes from his wallet and stuffed them into the bearded man's shirt pocket.‟ she said.‟ It was grazing peacefully nearby and he caught the reins and brought it over. Why aren't you in Buenos Aires?‟ „It's a long story. „But what's going on.‟ Villiers said. I didn't have a Paris address for you.‟ but Villiers had already turned away and was walking up the slope towards the road. it's so good to see you. In this sort of business. „You've handed out sufficient punishment for one morning. I'll get your horse. „We should have known. but totally unexpected delight?‟ „I believe they do. Tony Villiers and Harvey Jackson moved out of the trees and approached the two assailants.‟ „Obviously not. „but you tried to be clever. „What do you want me to do about these animals? The police?‟ „No. that's it! Enough!‟ He turned to the boy. you asked for.‟ Jackson told him in his bad French. The bearded man swung up an arm defensively. head down.‟ the man said.‟ There was laughter in his eyes and the mouth was touched by that inimitable smile she knew so well. let it go. „We could always break your other arm for you. „Five thousand francs. do it properly or run away. „No. I arrived yesterday. remembering her struggling in their hands and part of that anger was directed at himself for being responsible. Villiers was angry. „Sodding amateurs.‟ „Not enough.‟ And now it was necessary for her to say the right things.‟ The bearded man groaned and tried to sit up. „Oh. „He's broken my arm. „This is amazing. The bearded man was on his feet.‟ Jackson said.„I could never see the point. Raul? You're at war. What about you?‟ „My apartment is in Avenue Victor Hugo. I'm here. Anything you got. I'm staying just across the road in Avenue de Neuilly.‟ he said in a low. „Do you want to ride?‟ „I don't think so. clutching his arm. leaning against a tree. *** After they'd gone. „I told you to frighten her a little. . that for the moment she forgot everything. his face twisted with pain. The boy was being sick again. the horse trailing behind them.‟ She smiled.‟ „Then what are we waiting for?‟ They went up the slope together.

„To us. All down the drain.‟ She reached for his hands and he gripped them tightly as they sat facing each other. toasting her. the planes coming in low over San Carlos Water. the missile exploding the Skyhawk and the people listening who had clapped. she was still able to forget the dreadful situation she was in. I never heard of anything so ridiculous. „Yes. „Tell me about it. „Seen young boys blown out of the sky around me and for what?‟ His eyes were haunted. the sound of the commentator's voice.‟ He grinned. „When I left Rio Gallegos. I flew a Skyhawk fighter-bomber named Gabrielle. I was lucky that day. „Remember that uncle of mine. with two china mugs of tea on a tray. But yes. Save me from the horns of the beasts. Such waste. Raul. the bullfighter?‟ „Yes. The furnishings were simple. Get rid of it. Featured prominently on television news several times a day. Make me feel it. just before going into the bullring. He leaned back in the warm water and drank a little tea. Get rid of it. She handed him one.‟ Suddenly she remembered the incident in the television department at Harrods. soft and restful. full of pain.‟ She touched his face. I assure you. „You mean you've been flying? Flying down there in the Falklands?‟ „Malvinas.*** The apartment on Avenue Victor Hugo was large and airy.‟ he said.‟ he went on wryly. Down the drain.‟ „Painted right across the nose of my plane beneath the cockpit.‟ She responded to his pain instinctively. „At your age. was able to think only of the present moment and of the fact that they were together. high ceilings. the palest of green curtains. my love. but striking. he used to say. Raul?‟ „I have been to hell and back many times now.‟ „Why. „Who would have thought I'd become a television star at my time of life. naked. a couple of impressionist paintings a vivid splash of colour against white walls. „Haven't we done this before somewhere?‟ She frowned. I fly.‟ „He used to pray to the Virgin on his knees. „To us. Raul? Why?‟ „Because it's what I do. I've gone to the horns many times during the past few weeks. stepped in the other end of the bath and sat down. running a finger down an ugly half-healed scar six or seven inches long below his right shoulder. It's also what I am. Montera sat at one end of an enormous green marble bath sunk into the floor and she came in from the kitchen. my love. „What happened?‟ „Cannon shell splinter. Gabrielle. „Was it really that bad. flying a jet plane in action. . we'd lost approximately half our pilots. there was no choice.‟ he said.‟ Once again. she had to simulate ignorance. „Always remember that. and down there. You've been to San Carlos Water and back many times.‟ And for the moment.‟ She was genuinely angry.‟ „You're joking. tall windows.

‟ „Yes. Remember. claws reaching. It's called the Gate of Fear. but take me to bed and I'll try.‟ In a way. that time at your flat in London. Gabrielle.Could I sit at a desk while those boys went to hell on their own? You know what we called Falkland Sound? Death Valley. staring. Then he came in. wide. Warm.‟ „Take back?‟ She was shocked. I'll explain your position in considerable detail. She sat up and glanced at the bedside clock. coming down hard. he was telling her the truth. they have a red door . a black beast who is dedicated to the idea of killing me. womanly . I was getting ready to eject when I swear I smelt that Opium perfume you use.‟ „That word again.‟ She slid on to her knees and kissed him on the mouth very. I'm here. there was pain there. „In the bullring. „I should have had a photo in the cockpit and written underneath the words: “I'm Gabrielle . „It's all right. Crazy. you smell good.‟ „What happened?‟ All strain went out of him. Drop your flaps. like a child. perhaps. the only thing which kept that door closed was you. when she wouldn't respond to the controls. kissed her neck. aren't I?‟ He smiled. she leaned on an elbow and watched him as he slept.‟ she said.fly me!‟ *** She came awake again and found him gone.‟ *** Later. wearing the old black . I've had it so often. the curtains partly drawn. „Can't you think of something else?‟ „Not right now. „I'll be here for a few days more. „I'd forgotten just how gorgeous you are.the door the bulls come through. Death comes through that gate.Fly me”. It was four o'clock. Once at one of my worst moments. What about you?‟ „I'm doing a series for Paris Match.‟ He pulled her close. When I flew to San Carlos.‟ He smiled weakly.‟ „Well just remember what I told you. but it was as if you were with me. I don't know what happens when I return. I told you.‟ His eyes were fixed. A Degas on one wall. her tongue savouring him. Eagles overshoot too. „I had the dream again. lying there in the half-light.‟ She smiled beautifully and ran a finger down his arm. „I'm Gabrielle . „I'm here. She smoothed back his hair from his forehead and kissed him.‟ „Oh.’ „Supported by that estimable father of yours?‟ „Of course.or am I being sexist in saying that? I'm never too sure of my position with you feminists. „You're not going back down there to fly again?‟ He shrugged evasively.‟ „What are you doing here?‟ „Business for my government. The sensation of panic was terrible. You can give me one to take back.‟ „An eagle descending. „God. gently. a Monet on the other. the skin stretched tightly over the cheekbones. But enough of that. „That's right. His face tightened. „The arms embargo which the French imposed is giving us problems. very softly.‟ he mocked her. he groaned and suddenly there was sweat on his forehead and he opened his eyes.

„Yes. Tony. „Let's go for a walk. Two shot down. holding hands. quiet a great deal of the time. you see. you make me that way. sitting on a bench reading a newspaper. and when she joined him. „Well. Sky hawks attacked the troops on land. Is that okay?‟ „Fine.‟ Which she did.‟ They were sitting on two deck chairs someone had left out in the rain. I don't want you dogging my heels all the time. Anything else?‟ „Yes. much more efficacious. if we're lucky. *** Back at her flat. This is difficult enough as it is. got up and walked away as Montera went into the apartment block. „So. „Well?‟ he said. thoroughly angry. British forces have broken out of the San Carlos bridgehead. that's you.‟ she said.‟ She leaned forward and kissed him.‟ „Ah. at least tonight is secure.‟ „That really is a very fair description. smoking a cigarette. you make me better. On the other side of the road. The nicest man I ever knew. I'll pick you up at eight o'clock. „I found it in your letter box. Then they simply walked.tracksuit and carrying a newspaper.‟ „Where would you suggest?‟ „There's a place in Montmartre called Paco's. Give me five minutes. „You're looking better and more relaxed.‟ He sat on the edge of the bed and opened it. „What's going to happen to us?‟ she asked. „Anything interesting?‟ she asked. before driving away. then I must return to Argentina. Let's go somewhere nice where we can dine and dance and be together. waiting for the ring at the door which she knew must come.‟ . one of Nikolai Belov's men noted the registration number of the car. Raul. some people like booze. getting out of the Mercedes to stand and talk to him for a moment.‟ She made a determined effort to be cheerful. and turned to face him. I will marry you at the appropriate moment. When it did she went and opened it quickly to admit Villiers. They went downstairs and got her car and drove to the Bois de Boulogne. „You're such a nice man. The music is excellent. are my intentions honourable? But of course.‟ They got up and walked back towards the carpark arm-in-arm. She walked back into the sitting room. „I'll drop you off at your place. but I'm on Gabrielle. if only to get my hands on the Monet and the Degas. He's Brazilian.‟ „Paco's it is then. „You mean. I told you once before. „Anything to report?‟ „He's here on business for his government in connection with the arms embargo. „Some people like drugs.‟ „And in the immediate future?‟ „A couple of days. well.‟ He threw down the paper and ran his hands over his face.‟ He waited in the sitting room.‟ She glimpsed Tony Villiers by the newstand on the far side of the carpark and anger touched her as she unlocked the door of her car.‟ „All right. Gabrielle paced up and down. I mean that. she was wearing the jeans and reefer coat he remembered from London.

‟ He handed the phone back to her. „Nothing very much.‟ „That usually means money. „You look extremely elegant.‟ she said as they sat together in the back of the cab. Name of Gabrielle Legrand. it might be worth taking a look at her. Tony. „I pale into insignificance beside you. went into the bathroom and ran her second bath of the day. let me know. single-breasted. for example. „Harvey and I have other fish to fry tonight.‟ „A reasonable deduction. I wonder?‟ Gabrielle smiled and took his hand. she was going to have that. „That certainly is interesting. what can I do for you?‟ He listened for a while. of a girl she had never met.‟ She started to undress slowly.‟ „Put it any way you please. if she's as good as she sounds. „Do you want anything else?‟ „Yes.‟ „You would. „A Brazilian restaurant in Montmartre called Paco's. What have you in store for me tonight.‟ the Russian said. *** Donner was in the shower when Wanda came in with the hand phone.‟ she said. „Apparently our war hero has found himself a girlfriend. „Trouble?‟ she said.„You mean I'm an embarrassment. the sunburst hair brushed out in La Coupe Sauvage. „You can come and scrub my back. who lives on the Avenue Victor Hugo. dark blue mohair with a plain white shirt and black tie. leaned out and took the phone. „That's all. „The last time we were out together you introduced me to the romance of the Embankment at midnight. I must say. *** Montera had brought only one reasonably formal suit with him and wore it now. some strange sixth sense telling her she could be in trouble.‟ „Don't worry. I certainly don't need you tonight. „Belov wants a word with you. thinking already with a certain fear.‟ „If you like. When she looked forward to the evening it was with anticipation. We're dining in Montmartre.‟ „And then coming back here?‟ She went and opened the door. „Just me.‟ . face inscrutable. Yes. keep me informed. A spectacularly beautiful young woman according to Belov's information.‟ He went out and Gabrielle turned. „Nikolai.‟ he said. Belov's going to keep me informed on the situation.‟ she said bitterly and put the hand phone down on the small table by the door.‟ he said.‟ Donner dried his hands. „They've gone out on the town. Whatever else happened.‟ She was wearing that spectacular silver mini-dress that she'd worn at their first meeting at the Argentine Embassy in London. If they go out anywhere tonight.‟ *** Donner was watching the latest news about the Falklands on television when Belov phoned again.

Filthy stuff. Is there any chance of a cup of tea?‟ . It's this Legrand girl. by the way. „I don't know.‟ „An excellent idea. We're going dancing. „Okay. but the music is excellent. Something about it doesn't fit. „That's the trouble. put your glad rags on. is the daughter of an extremely wealthy industrialist named Maurice Legrand. leave it with me.„Sounds interesting.‟ He sipped some coffee and made a face. The young woman.‟ *** Belov sat beside the phone at his flat for some time after speaking to Donner. Get started on it first thing in the morning when you go into the office. a frown on his face. „Run a scale one check on her.‟ he said in considerable irritation. „Something wrong?‟ „I don't know. „Is the food any good?‟ „Fair. Irana Vronsky brought coffee in from the kitchen on a tray and set it down. so would the Bank of France. „Montera was right.‟ He put down the phone and turned to Wanda who was reading a magazine by the fire. „All right.‟ she said as she handed him the coffee. Operates out of Marseilles.‟ „Even more interesting.‟ Donner said.‟ „What's his line?‟ „Just about everything.‟ „What exactly?‟ she asked as she poured coffee. If he went bust.‟ Donner said.‟ „Then ease your mind in the obvious way.

„That was good. A gentleman shouldn't dance too well. You know how it is?‟ „Keep taking the pills. but also with the most enormous tenderness. „Ah.‟ He turned to the bandleader and said in Portuguese. That. at the look on his face and in his eye. what about a real tango? Something to move the heart like Cambalache. „She'd look good in anything .‟ „Which means the señor is an Argentinian. They had a booth to themselves from which they could watch the action. I haunted all the tango bars when I was a boy. several people applauded. tables crowded together and the five piece band sensational. „I always adored it. „I thought I recognised the accent. dancing extremely well.‟ Montera said in delight. „What a creature. to give or withhold. Gabrielle said.‟ she said and pulled him to his feet. so this is for you and the lady.‟ he said. „We're going to get the real thing. „You've got it wrong. accompanied only by piano and violin. I'm only after your money. as she had never known it before.‟ Gabrielle commented. „Dear God in heaven. And when he smiled.‟ „No. the longing of love. As the music finished. is what we call a bandoneon. . She had a whisky sour and he ordered Perrier Water with lime. Of course. Even the Monteras may feel the pinch when this war is over. It mirrors everything. together in a way she would never have thought possible. my love.‟ But the mention of war brought reality back to her and that would not do at all. No domination from him. keep on top of things. who was sitting at the bar with Wanda. death. that knowledge that all that makes life worth living is in the hands of another. compadre. making no demands on her. of course. You should have been a gigolo. life. and the music touched something deep inside her for it spoke of the infinite sadness. let's dance. „Anybody can look good in a dress like that. I'm after your money. „You're doing all right. The band was plaing a bossanova and Montera led her perfectly. love. but Montera and Gabrielle stayed together for a moment. depressions. no leading. „You're still not drinking?‟ „I have to stay fit.‟ He grinned. especially now. The tango. It was a performance that fascinated many people.‟ „Sounds good. A long way from home.‟ Wanda knew panic then.‟ the bandleader said. an honest gift. Middle-aged man.12 Paco's was a great success. younger woman.‟ „Exactly what my mother used to say. They danced as one person.‟ he said.‟ Donner said simply. oblivious. She took his hand. He danced superbly. „Come on. You do dance the tango?‟ „I've been known to. She said. Political struggles. „Heh. his love was plain.‟ The bandleader started to play. At the present rate of inflation in the Argentine. is the only real dance for an Argentinian.‟ „Fuck the dress. I've never seen anything like her.‟ He went to the back of the stage and returned with an instrument slightly longer than a concertina.‟ she said.or nothing. „Wait and see. full of character and life.‟ As the music faded. not least Felix Donner.

Exocet missiles. „Where's Garcia?‟ „He couldn't make it. „Who are you?‟ „Until three days ago I was in the Falklands so I've seen the dead. „That means it won't make a sound when I fire it. For the first time. With any luck it should take me till morning. „Let's sit down. Importers. .‟ he said. „Yes. I can only give the same answer.‟ At the table. Villiers laid the Smith & Wesson down on the desk. I'll take you to San Telmo. *** It was raining when Paul Bernard alighted from the cab on the corner of the street beside the Seine and paid off the driver. but deserted by night. has asked me round to have supper and check her thesis over with her.‟ Villiers took a Smith & Wesson from one pocket.‟ „Bastard!‟ Bernard said. I'll be damned. tango is a way of life in Buenos Aires.‟ Bernard was still frightened. Cabbages and Kings. Oh. searching for the address Garcia had left for him in the phone message he'd received in his office at the Sorbonne earlier that evening. Wanda at his side. One of my post-graduate students. She took his hand. the old quarter.‟ He went in through the door and found Tony Villiers sitting at the desk in front of him. busy during the day. was incredible. „I have no choice. „It's about the size of your phone bill to the Argentine.‟ He mounted the rickety wooden steps cheerfully. The best tango bars in the world. a wonder in her voice. and reluctantly Montera got to his feet. a girl of rather interesting proportions. „Sit down and speak when you're spoken to. but also angry. He moved along the pavement. It opened to his touch. We'll go to El Viejo Almacen. They'll turn you into an expert there in one night. his anger overflowing. a Carswell silencer from another and screwed it in place. What a pleasant surprise. a voice said. „Who are you?‟ Bernard demanded. I told you it's what I am. „When does all this happen?‟ „Well. a sign over a warehouse that said Lebel & Company.„You really do love me very much.‟ The feeling of certainty. Ask me why I love you. I'm an officer of the British Special Air Service Regiment. He slipped through. Professor. he knew a certain fear.‟ „When?‟ he said. „Garcia?‟ he called.‟ The door closed behind Bernard and he turned to find Harvey Jackson there. He found what he was looking for. „Señor Montera.‟ „Look. and people called Donner. but then I'm sure you know that. what's all this about?‟ Bernard demanded.‟ Donner said. It was an area of offices and tall warehouses. He tried the small judas gate in the main entrance. „Up here. The warehouse inside was in darkness but there was a light on in the glass-walled office high above. „You asked me why I fly. he ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon. „What's going on here?‟ Jackson grabbed him by the shoulders and shoved him into a chair.‟ she said softly. of serenity that flooded through her. the door opened. „Are you there?‟ He saw a shadow behind the frosted glass of the office. „I haven't got much time. It's what I am.‟ He stood there looking down at them.

„Okay. They shot my father. the despair of years on his shoulders. He descended the stairs. Villiers was already dropping to one knee. There was silence.„That's it. Villiers retrieved the Smith & Wesson.‟ His face was haggard. „He hasn't told me. His torturer was a Frenchman in the pay of the Gestapo. „The French section. his hand emerging from the front of the raincoat holding a Walther PPK. closing the door. „My father was in SOE during the war. to this day. Go and wait for me in the car. A good address for a bad place. Jackson at the wheel.‟ „There's a place off the Brittany coast called Ile de Roc where they test Exocets. but you'd better make it good. „Did you give him a chance?‟ Jackson asked.‟ Bernard cried something unintelligible and fired. he hasn't told anybody. It was enough. I've saved the best to last. My mother …‟ He shrugged. his right foot is badly crippled. Villiers put the Smith & Wesson on the desk. Bernard said. and the vase disintegrated. „Very nasty trick we picked up from the IRA in Ulster. Finally. I also know he's promised to provide several Exocet missiles to Argentine agents in this country within the next few days. One of those fascists you find everywhere. That should put you on sticks for the rest of your life. I'll go to work on the right. I think his intention must be to hijack one of the Aerospatiale trucks as it passes through to St Martin carrying Exocets for shipment to the island. but now clutching the Smith & Wesson. Professor. „You don't like the English very much. Villiers turned and walked to the other end of the office. switched off the light and went out. Donner has taken a house near there. we're the nearest thing to the SS the British Army has. His hand swung up holding the Smith & Wesson. hands in the pockets of his raincoat. crossed to the judas gate and stepped into the night.‟ „All right. I'm going to blow your left kneecap off with this. Dropped into France by parachute three times to work with the Resistance. listen to me. lit a cigarette and stood up. still seated in the chair.‟ He turned. „You know who Donner is?‟ „That's right. he was betrayed. beaded with sweat. he was obviously telling the truth as he knew it. no more than that. there was a slight cough. I don't know about that. As someone once rather unfairly put it. Villiers got into the passenger seat. and examined the notice board.‟ There was a pottery vase with a plant in it on the top shelf at the other end of the room. „No. Harvey. do you? Why would that be?‟ Bernard said. „You ran in 1940 and left us to the Boche. He was interrogated for three days with such brutality that. In fact. He went out. his footsteps descended the wooden steps. hands still in the pockets of the raincoat and found Bernard sitting. Bernard looked nervously across at the Smith & Wesson on the other side of the desk. but you must let me finish.‟ Jackson didn't argue. Car lights turned on further up the street and the Citroen slid into the kerb.‟ He picked up the Smith & Wesson. What I do know is that if you don't tell me what I want to know. „Oh. Villiers nodded calmly and said to Jackson.‟ Villiers raised the gun as if to take deliberate aim and Bernard said hastily. The nearest port is St Martin. arrested and hauled off to Gestapo Headquarters in the Rue des Saussaies in Paris.‟ Villiers said. to the best of my knowledge. If that doesn't work. Where's he getting them from?‟ Bernard said. . burned our village. He shot Bernard in the centre of the forehead and the Frenchman was hurled backwards.

‟ Montera said to Gabrielle. but makes perfect sense to me.‟ He managed to stay good humoured on the surface. Why not just shoot the poor sod in the first place and get it over with? Why pretend? Did it make you feel better? Every man deserves a chance to draw. I suppose?‟ „He's himself.‟ .‟ Villiers said and lit another cigarette.„Of course. Miss Jones. it would give me the greatest of pleasure to show you how we dance the tango in the Argentine. No substance to it at all. it's really very simple. Sergeant Major.‟ It was as if she was saying this to work it out for herself. and tried to fill his glass. and there was a kind of joy on her face. this one. „Please. You're all the same. A woman who says what she thinks. Mademoiselle Legrand?‟ „Actually. she never says what she thinks. „I couldn't imagine any circumstance in which I would agree to dance with you. and walked on to the floor.‟ Jackson told him. „A man who is tired of champagne is tired of life. so it's men you don't like. just like a fucking western?‟ „Just drive. That stupid male arrogance.‟ „Nonsense.‟ He moved into gear and drove away. What she tells you is what she believes you'd like to hear. her anger evident.‟ Before Donner could reply the head waiter appeared at his side. „Very nice. a nonsensical proposition. „I shan't be long.‟ „I can imagine. „I'm very persistent. Do I get to dance.‟ „Do you think you could guarantee that?‟ He leaned over. Champagne doesn't agree with me. You see.‟ she said. He ignored her and poured more champagne into his glass. „I think I'd like that. „The arrogance of you. I was forgetting he was a moralist. She made her decision and stood up. isn't that so. I don't like you. I could grow on you. He doesn't take. not just me? Where does that leave our gallant colonel? He's different. then she glanced at Donner.‟ he said to Montera. „If he annoys you.‟ she said. kissed her as if Donner wasn't there. Just comes right out with it. wouldn't you agree.‟ There was astonishment on her face for a moment. Selfish.‟ Donner said. „You're not drinking. and smiled.‟ „Men. he gives. Mr Donner. the rest he managed to control. He laughed. too?‟ Gabrielle sipped a little champagne. I like. Wanda?‟ The girl's humiliation was plain. Gabrielle opened her mouth to speak. „I like a good show. Her hands were trembling so much that she clutched her sequined evening purse tightly. and joined Wanda on the floor. let me know and I'll give him what the bearded one got. Now Wanda here. *** Donner ordered another bottle of champagne. „That.‟ Donner's anger showed only in his eyes. „I trust the major will forgive me. Montera put his hand in the way. demanding. „I see. „Deepest apologies. you know that? Your interest is actually an insult. You treat women with contempt.‟ Donner said.‟ She shook her head. Raul put a hand on hers and leaned across the table. „No thanks. „Which may seem a contradiction to you. „Monsieur Donner?‟ „That's right.

Garcia's been in touch. but she was beautiful.„You left your name at the bar in case there was a phone call.‟ „Of course. but it was so much more than that. that lady?‟ „Everything. that he had never wanted a woman so much. I will. There's something about her that doesn't quite fit. „He's used to getting what he wants. He had been content to use women carelessly all his life. saw the expression on his face and said to Montera. I'll take the colonel with me. „You're wrong. „I've just had a phone call. I might suggest that she comes down with us. Maison Blanche.‟ „Actually. „Then watch him. it's not such a bad idea. „You're too good for him. unsure of her balance on the ultra-high heels .‟ „Excellent.‟ „Nikolai.‟ she said. Listen. had never experienced any great difficulties with them until now.‟ he said simply. For the moment it drove all considerations about her mission for Ferguson out of her mind. „Sleep on it. I've taken an old house in the country. Someone is on the line now. „Donner here. Apparently Bernard left him a note earlier this afternoon giving details of convoys of St Martin for Ile de Roc during the next four days. with some surprise. They're obviously crazy about each other. Can you handle it?‟ „No problem. Donner joined them.‟ She smiled sadly. „She means a lot to you. From the dance floor. thinking about what Belov had said.‟ Donner put down the phone and took his time over lighting a cigarette. One gets an instinct for these things. Wanda glanced across at him. It means we'll have to fly down to Lancy in the morning. if you'll excuse me. and then saw the look on Montera's face and realised how little time would be left to them now.‟ „That's the day after tomorrow.‟ „Oh. „That business transaction of ours takes place Saturday.‟ Donner followed him across to the reception desk and picked up the phone. I'll be in touch tomorrow. Very relaxing. I'm very tired. „If you say so. We'll fly down in the Chieftain in the morning. I'm no good for anything else.‟ Belov said.‟ He watched them go. Ring you at Maison Blanche. „How would you feel about a couple of days in the country?‟ „I don't think so. „And now.‟ he said to Montera. he smiled and kissed her hand. „Why?‟ „I don't know. How did you find the Legrand woman?‟ „Very impressive indeed. „A great pleasure. then walked out without a word to Wanda.‟ Donner turned to Gabrielle. looking across at Gabrielle.‟ As the music finished. Only one meets your requirements and it will be in the right vicinity very early on the morning of the twenty-ninth.‟ „Do you think she will?‟ „Maybe.‟ „You'd better check her out thoroughly then. She stood up. paused to pay the bill. who hurried after him desperately.‟ Donner said.‟ Donner said.‟ Montera's heart sank.‟ „Correct. God. He shook his head in a kind of reluctant admiration and realised. frowning slightly.‟ As they reached the table.‟ she said.

won't it?‟ *** Back at her apartment. Do you think there's the remotest possibility that you might be interested in marrying a rather ageing fighter pilot who. She opened it and took out a velvet covered box.‟ Her voice rose in a kind of panic. Gabrielle mixed herself a whisky sour and paced up and down angrily.‟ and went and let himself out. simply call at Carder's at any time and ask for a Monsieur Bresson. you know that?‟ „I'm sorry.she wore.‟ The elegant wrapper said Carrier. but I must do this thing properly. Do you have to do business with him?‟ „I'm afraid so. „You made me look a fool in there.‟ „Brittany.‟ He pushed her chin up with the tips of his fingers.‟ he said. „I want you to come back. I don't know where that is. „I'm sorry.‟ He was full of concern. Everything I hate.‟ He kissed her gently.‟ „Of course. „That man is the most disgusting object I have ever encountered. Perhaps I can see you in the morning before I leave. „Half an hour. staring down at it. „My big moment and I can't find the words.‟ „A token. lighting a cigarette. but forget him.‟ „I know. He'll see to it for you.‟ she said in a low voice.‟ „He suggested I flew down with them. „It's perfect. „No.‟ „No. God help me. I'd like to be alone for a little while. I'll go back to my apartment. or rather. May I put it on?‟ She held out her hand and he slipped on the ring. „Very special. „I think it might be just a little slack. Inside was a beautiful ring. may prove rather difficult to handle?‟ There were tears in her eyes and she put a hand on his arm. „It fits in with facts we already know.‟ he said. when Villiers picked up the phone. three rings. intertwined in different shades of gold. when she caught up with him. „Of …‟ He hesitated and grinned crookedly. „After you left me this afternoon I called a cab and went shopping.‟ He took a small package from his pocket.‟ he told her.‟ he said. The house they're staying at is called Maison Blanche. „Anything for me?‟ She took a deep breath and said.‟ „I'll think of something good. without looking at her. „Give you something to think about.‟ .‟ she said. *** „Gabrielle. „Usually worn on the little finger of the left hand. I heard him tell Raul that the transaction was to take place on Saturday morning and that it would be necessary to fly to Lancy in the morning. He said. do something for me. Felix. my love. If it is wrong. „I've got something for you. He was on the pavement waiting for a taxi. „It's what they call a Russian wedding ring.‟ „Go for a walk. The kind of thing you won't forget in a hurry. finding himself too old for jet planes now. the match flaring in his cupped hands.‟ She shook her head.‟ „Anything. „Raul. „Donner joined us tonight.‟ he said.‟ „I had to make an informed guess about the size.

a handsome. „In the circumstances it would probably be better to pull you out.‟ She sat there staring at the phone. „A remarkable girl. Tony. I can't give you the address of Donner's house there though.‟ It could only be one thing. She wants out. „Bad news from the front. I admire him totally. I'll fly down with Raul and Donner tomorrow to this place Lancy. We're talking about stopping Exocets. to dinner. „Gabrielle's ust been in touch. But you'll have to tell Ferguson.‟ Ferguson said. for everyone's sake. I'm not going to twist your arm.‟ „Yes.‟ „Gabrielle. *** Ferguson sighed.‟ Villiers said and she put down the phone. „Richard?‟ she whispered.‟ he said. Too many dead already. It was Harry Fox who answered the phone. God. „Look. Thank you and goodnight Brigadier. „But it has to be done. „Ferguson.‟ Fox said. „We tried to reach your mother and stepfather but it seems they're on a yacht cruising the Greek Islands.‟ . We'll find it. my God. Not now. As a man. have you been out? I tried to ring you several times earlier.‟ she said.‟ „All right. „Yes. then picked it up and dialled Villiers' number again. my dear. He answered the phone himself almost instantly.‟ she said wearily.‟ she said. proud in the naval uniform. „Leave it with me. picked it up again and dialled the number of the Cavendish Place flat in London. in case you change your mind. It's got to stop. smiling boy.‟ „No problem. He answered at once. but it had to be done. I realise the effect this unfortunate business will have on you. and for a brief moment saw him at his passing-out parade. „My dear girl. but he is the enemy. Tony. this isn't easy. „I've changed my mind. I know what you think of Montera. Check with me in the morning. and we're not talking about personalities. „Naturally. but she feels she can't keep it up.‟ He put down the receiver. I'll try and handle it without you. Tony.‟ His voice changed.„And you said yes?‟ „I want out. „No point in that.‟ „No. Gabrielle. He's reported missing believed killed in flying operations near Port Stanley.‟ He hesitated. „Harvey and I will drive down overnight. of course.‟ „I know it's hard. I'm terribly sorry to have to pass you such news. Things are working well.‟ he said. „All right.‟ Villiers told him.‟ „It's no good. „Killed in action.‟ Gabrielle said. I can't take any more. „Is anything wrong? What made you change your mind?‟ „Richard's dead. She sat down and dialled Ferguson's number in London. „Why?‟ There was a pause and she was filled with a sudden foreboding.‟ he said.‟ *** Gabrielle poured herself another drink and sipped a little to steady her nerves.‟ „Oh.‟ she said.‟ „Oh.

She turned into him. „She won't pull out?‟ „No. and slipped in beside her.Harry Fox said. No trouble.‟ He undressed. „Don't leave me. arms sliding about his neck and suddenly.‟ She reached for him.‟ *** When Montera reached the door. like a dam bursting. „Gabrielle?‟ „In here. Just hold me.‟ She was lying in bed in the darkness. my love. bitter tears. don't turn on the light. I can go. „No. if you're not well.‟ „How did she take it?‟ „How the hell do I know. she slept.‟ „No. „Look.‟ He soothed her then.‟ He sat on the edge of the bed and there was concern in his voice. He reached for the switch and she said quickly. slow. it was standing slightly ajar. The important thing is how long she can hold herself together. Raul. „What is it?‟ he asked. He closed it and went into the sitting room. his lips on her forehead. I want you here in bed with me. dropping his clothes on a chair. all the pain. Don't say anything. Harry. all the anguish. „Nothing. as one might soothe a child and after a while. . flowed out of her and she started to cry. Raul.

‟ Villiers nodded.‟ Jackson shivered.‟ She rolled over and he buried his face in her neck. „I know what you mean. Rabier waiting beside the Chieftain. „What do we do now?‟ „We'll go into this place St Martin.‟ He looked up at the grey sky which threatened rain. Amazing how easily they came. even if I have to share you with bloody Donner. „Old wartime station from the look of things. smoking a cigarette. After a while.‟ Jackson said.‟ he said simply. „Let's say he can supply certain equipment my government needs because the arms embargo has blocked more normal channels. Raul Montera got out.13 Villiers and Jackson had driven down from Paris overnight through Orleans and Tours to Nantes from where they had turned south.‟ The delight in his face was plain.‟ she said.‟ „And when the transaction is completed. He coasted along past the main gate which was padlocked and then picked up speed and drove on. I'm coming with you to Lancy. She stroked his hair and stared up at the ceiling again. „You're sure?‟ „Very.‟ he said. Jackson slowed the Citroen as they came to the perimeter fence. „Fine. wearing jeans and his old black flying jacket. all anger leaving him. „Let's hope the weather doesn't give our friends problems getting in. when they finally found Lancy. only eight o'clock. „So you decided to join us after all?‟ . she turned her head and found Montera watching her. „Where the hell is he?‟ Donner demanded and then a cab turned in through the main gate and crossed the apron towards them. that's all. Raul? Two days? Three?‟ „I don't have any choice. I must take what time there is. See if we can find where Donner's house is.‟ They turned and went back through the trees. staring up at the ceiling.‟ Villiers said. turning into some trees round a bend in the road.‟ He reached for one of her hands and kissed it. Too many good men gone. He turned and held out a hand to Gabrielle. you'll return to the Argentine? How long. the lies. *** At Brie-Comte-Robert. Donner walked up and down impatiently. It was still early. „I hate places like that. It's important?‟ „Yes. and went to meet them. They walked back through the trees and looked down at the airfield. *** Gabrielle lay on her back. Donner was delighted. „And neither do I. „And no sign of any life.‟ She held his hand tightly. the deceit.‟ Amazing how calm she felt. „How are you this morning?‟ he asked gravely. „Old ghosts. „Do you want to tell me about it?‟ „Nothing to tell. Wanda leaned against the hangar wall. „This business with Donner in Brittany. „I'm sorry about last night. how much in control.

two bedrooms. has plenty of places to rent.‟ „I'm very grateful.‟ she said simply. the estate agent. white-haired old man who appeared to run his office single-handed. „Let's get moving then.‟ „That's true. „More coffee?‟ she asked.‟ The old man nodded. had prepared for them. the Pomme d'Or. I could let you have that . „I could find you something here in town with no difficulty. believe me. little red flags on pins stuck into place to indicate the location of his properties. „You worry too much. It's a dump. Wanda came forward and glanced at Montera. Bungalows. yes. I only recently leased it to a gentleman from Paris.‟ „No problem. a large. Hugo.‟ Villiers said. cottages and that sort of thing. Fully furnished. that this was different. took off his glasses and pointed to one of the flags. Best on the coast.‟ Villiers delivered his most charming smile. *** The small bar on the quay at St Martin was empty except for Villiers and Jackson who stood at one end eating the croissants the owner. we don't get the tourists these days like we used to.‟ They turned and walked towards the Chieftain. I'm sure that would meet your requirements perfectly.‟ Villiers examined the map and pointed to one of the flags situated between Maison Blanche and Lancy. He had a large map of the area on the wall.‟ he told her.‟ „Where could we stay?‟ „Well. Monsieur. at Lancy.‟ she said. Villiers nodded. He only uses it for vacations at the moment.‟ „I thought there was an airfield near here?‟ „Ah.‟ *** Monsieur Hugo. „We'll call on him now. there's the hotel up the street.‟ She poured hot coffee. He'd be only too pleased to see you. It occurred to Donner with a kind of wonder. but that closed down years ago. matronly blonde. but not if you take my advice. A friend in Paris who stayed here some years ago mentioned a house called Maison Blanche. Things aren't as they were. a kindly. „Of course the minimum letting period would be one week. „However. „Fine. that look on her face again.„Yes. Amazing how marvellous she looked in jeans and the blue reefer coat. but much too large for your purposes and in any case. I decided I'd nothing better to do. I would prefer something in the country.‟ „I see.‟ he said. „You gentlemen have business here?‟ „No.‟ Behind her. Montera was getting the bags and paying off the driver.‟ Villiers replied. and followed the others. „On reflection.‟ „Maybe you should worry more. „We've been touring Brittany by car for the past week. „What about that?‟ „Yes. built five years ago by a schoolmaster in Nantes for his retirement. Someone told us the sea fishing was good here. and we don't get many tourists these days. „Where are all the customers?‟ „The regulars are working. A small modern bungalow called Whispering Winds. „Ah yes. a fine house. He wanted this woman to want him. He smiled. As I say. His office is fifty yards along the front. was most accommodating.

„Gabrielle there?‟ Jackson asked. „Okay.‟ „I perfectly understand. Harvey Jackson said. He said. It was an old-fashioned room with a high ceiling and tall narrow windows. We can check out Maison Blanche later. I found out where Maison Blanche is and I've got us a holiday bungalow nearby. the door of which Stavrou had opened earlier. very high off the floor. watching from the trees on the hill through field-glasses.for five hundred francs for the week. „He's not here.‟ Villiers sat back and lit a cigarette.‟ The old man took it from a board and handed it to him. Tony.‟ Villiers went out to the Citroen and got in. A holiday cottage called. I expect him back within the hour. We'll need a few things.‟ „Fine. Now. „Stop off at the store up the street. Villiers nodded as Rabier got into the front seat beside Stavrou and the Peugeot drove away. I'm sure you have work to do. plus a one hundred franc deposit against breakages. saw the passengers get out of the plane.‟ „God Almighty.‟ He smiled apologetically. Monsieur. Raul Montera and Gabrielle and the game could begin.‟ „And Donner?‟ „Just up the road. „Okay?‟ „You could say that. „Would you like me to take you out and show you the place?‟ the old man asked. but I'm afraid it has been my experience that there are those who leave without paying.‟ „Of course. *** Harry Fox was having an early lunch when Villiers got through. sombre because of the wine-coloured wallpaper. Villiers. Whispering Winds. „There is an excellent general store down the street.‟ He held up the key. Madame Dubois can meet all your requirements. Give our friends a chance to settle down. if you would believe it. Stavrou tells me lunch in half . of course.‟ Villiers took out his wallet and counted the money out on the desk. In advance.‟ Jackson said. „Bathroom through there. Attending a meeting of the Joint Chiefs at the Ministry of Defence. „Not necessary. „It is a sad fact of life. Where are you?‟ „The depths of the Breton countryside. let's get back to the bungalow and have something to eat.‟ They turned and went back to the car. all that was needed was Donner. He helped Rabier close them and the others got into the Peugeot. Give me your number and I'll call the moment he gets back. There was an uncomfortable looking bed. and I'll phone the Brigadier. Donner opened the door of one of the bedrooms on the first floor and ushered in Montera and Gabrielle.‟ Donner said. „All the comforts.‟ *** At Maison Blanche. Monsieur. „Whispering Winds. If you'll just give me the key. It was going rather well. Stavrou was waiting to meet it with a large Peugeot estate car. *** When the Chieftain touched down at Lancy just before noon. which then taxied inside one of the hangars.

‟ Stavrou went out and Montera said. then he went into the kitchen slowly. waiting for Ferguson's call.‟ Jackson said flatly. *** Lunch consisted of vast helpings of smoked salmon and Beluga caviar with Krug Champagne to wash it down. I'll be in touch. Ferguson said.‟ „Good God. phone me instantly. my guests suffer. „But you like me. that's up to you. „It's not even been announced here yet.‟ She sat on the bed beside him. „We just heard a newsflash here about the battle at Goose Green. I'm afraid the C. There was a newsflash. *** Villiers was having a drink in the sitting room. When you can find time.‟ He went out and at that moment the phone rang. that is. „How are things. „How about a nice cup of tea?‟ „Dear God. when Jackson came in from the kitchen. come into the kitchen.‟ „What's happening?‟ „Very heavy going. champagne doesn't agree with me.‟ Villiers explained in detail. „They're damned important games. „We really must have a talk. knowing what he would say. Raul.‟ Villiers kicked a chair. When he was finished.‟ He went out and Montera sat on the bed and bounced up and down. Anyway. listen to those springs.‟ Montera looked across at Gabrielle who smiled.‟ „What's the score?‟ „Apparently heavy fighting according to American sources. „Good. „I don't like this place. sir.‟ „What would you like then? A good host should always try to please even the most difficult of his guests. If you want to stay in the officers' mess. Donner. „Mother of God. but information is thin on the ground at the moment. Tony?‟ „Moving quite well. and I don't like him. The truth is our intelligence was faulty. the moment you have details of Donner's actual intentions.‟ He turned her head and kissed her gently.‟ Donner explained.‟ „All right. I'll see you down there. Tony. so that's all right.O. I think you'd better leave Sergeant Major Jackson by the phone at your end in case I need you in a hurry. I've opened a can of soup and there's French bread and cheese. playing games for schoolboys. He smiled right back at her.‟ Villiers put the phone down. You're not drinking again. A lot more Argentines there than we thought. ‟ Ferguson said.‟ he said. If you want some.‟ Donner groaned and looked up at Stavrou standing by the door.‟ „Don't be stupid. „And here we are. „I'm on a diet. „See what you can do. Ferguson said.an hour. „So if I suffer. Settle our business. „I was just listening to the radio from Paris.‟ Villiers said. his face grim. The whole world will know of my mad passion for you.‟ „I know.‟ . has been killed. colonel?‟ „As I told you. 2 Para hit Goose Green early this morning.

Miss Jones?‟ Donner laughed. his eyes glittering as they looked her over. He focussed his glasses as a figure emerged from the bushes in patched jeans.‟ There was nothing Montera could say. a stone fireplace. I can assure you. He went after Gabrielle. The young man who stood there was of medium height with a weak. crossing the terrace and starting across the lawn into the trees.‟ He stood up. „You really can guarantee there will be no slip-ups?‟ „Absolutely.‟ The girl coloured and stood up. „I think I'll take a walk myself. . „If I can persuade her. Various panes of glass were missing in the windows. „Thanks very much. you'll fly off in the Hercules. a couple of chairs.‟ „No problem there. Those Exocets will be here tomorrow morning without fail.‟ Gabrielle said. He ran a hand across his mouth. Stavrou. „Would you girls excuse us for a while?‟ „No problem. „Anywhere else.„No time like the present. He followed her with his fieldglasses. His clothes were too large for him and his hair poked untidily from beneath the cap. a face barely glimpsed when the door was opened. losing her once or twice. Montera said. „So. „I could do with some fresh air. *** Tony Villiers.‟ „I'll come with you.‟ Donner turned to Gabrielle and Wanda. What about Mademoiselle Legrand? Does she go with you?‟ „Very probably. There was a step behind her and she turned.‟ He smiled. for example.‟ She glanced at Wanda. *** Donner and Montera sat by a log fire in the sitting room. And then Gabrielle appeared.‟ She opened the French windows and moved out.‟ Donner lit a cigarette. crossing from the rear of the house to the stables on occasion. Villiers got to his feet and ran down through the trees. feel free. long hair hanging beneath a tweed cap. had noticed several interesting things. no. „Wanda go for a walk? That'll be the day. *** Gabrielle pushed open the broken door of the summerhouse and stepped inside. He held a double-barrelled shotgun in both hands. „What do you want?‟ she said. the floor damp where rain had drifted in. The stable-block is out of bounds for sound business reasons. He badly needed a shave. „What about you. keeping out of sight. My Italian agents assured me this morning that everything is set and ready to go. sullen face. Villiers' practised eye detected a movement in the trees above the lake. hidden in the undergrowth behind a wall high above the estate.‟ She went out and Donner said to Gabrielle. „Just one point. She finally emerged by a small lake and followed a path round it towards a ruined summerhouse on the other side. so they went out together. but I think I'll unpack.‟ Donner told him. a shotgun under his arm. „Oh. „I'll go for a walk. There was a wooden table. There was someone in there. I hope your gold is just as available in Geneva.‟ Montera said.

And watch yourself. a look of terror on his face. come here. Paul Gaubert.‟ Donner took his hand. „Michael O'Hagan. „Just where did you come from exactly. although at that distance they could not see the cold fury in his eyes as one hand fastened on Paul Gaubert's collar.‟ Villiers said. This is my place. Michael O'Hagan. trying to get my bearings when I saw that character obviously trailing Miss Legrand. The rest.‟ Villiers said cheerfully in English. Mr O'Hagan?‟ „Just up there where the trees flank the road. „What's your name?‟ He grinned. Montera arrived on the run. are you all right?‟ „Yes. He might have other plans.‟ „We certainly do. which shows what happens when you treat people like that as human beings. open and ingenuous.‟ „I want to thank you. It's Paul. The youth glanced over his shoulder. including the timely arrival of Villiers. „That's very nice of you. „Heh. The creature who attacked Miss Legrand is a gipsy called Gaubert. I allowed a band of them to stay on the estate. Donner said. the other on his belt. as he ran after her and caught her by the right arm. I'm already later than I said I would be. and this is Mr Montera and the lady you rescued is Miss Legrand.‟ „O'Hagan. and took to his heels.‟ He had tried to sound simple. Villiers said to Gabrielle. by the way. „At a little bungalow up the road with a friend.‟ . „Don't be stupid. but perhaps some other time.‟ he called.‟ Villiers said. came up gasping out of the shallows and up the bank. keeping up the image. full of concern.‟ Villiers said. She said. I'm supposed to guard this estate. All totally informal.‟ She leaned back on the table. Bring your friend. you know. there was only anger there.‟ She brushed past him and went outside.‟ „I see. Villiers said.‟ The Irish situation had forced the SAS to develop a language laboratory system teaching regional Irish accents to their men. thanks to this gentleman. I can't speak for him though. then. „That's more friendly. as they say.‟ Villiers pointed. „Join us for dinner tonight.‟ „All right. We're on a motoring tour of Brittany. You're staying near here?‟ There was little point in trying to pretend otherwise. Donner and Montera came over the top of the small hill above the lake in time to witness the whole scene.‟ Donner persisted.‟ „I don't really have any decent clothes with me. „Come back and have a drink with us. „Doesn't matter. He dropped the shotgun and grabbed at her and she put her knee into his groin. The boy went under. gaping in astonishment and.‟ she said.‟ „I'm an Irishman on holiday staying at a bungalow not far from here. Villiers turned him round and ran him headfirst into the lake. sir. we've got company. „but could we change the script? This sort of thing's beginning to get a trifle monotonous. Bring your friend. „I was looking at the map. and appeared to have succeeded.‟ „Happy to know you. He staggered back for a moment.‟ She pulled her arm free and sent him away with a vigorous shove of both hands. I'm a guest of Monsieur Donner's.That's what I ask you. „Gaubert!‟ Donner cried as he ran down the hill with Montera. Villiers could sound as if he'd been born and bred within five miles of Crossmaglen and Michael O'Hagan was an alias he had used before. „Gabrielle. suddenly. „Are you all right?‟ „Fine. „Felix Donner.

„Daniel in the lion's den?‟ Jackson commented. Shall we take a walk?‟ „Why not?‟ He opened a French window and they went out.‟ „Don't tell her that. Inside it was warm and comfortable. I'll see you later.‟ The condescension was plain. two of Roux's recruits standing behind him. Still. *** Beyond the French windows the beech trees above the lawn were cut out of black cardboard against a sky that was touched with vivid orange.‟ Montera replied. Mr O'Hagan?‟ „I'm a sales engineer.‟ „Tell me. what with North Sea oil. When he went into the kitchen he was wearing slacks. She does all right when she tries. a dark shirt and a tweed jacket. He put his left foot on a chair. Comforting to have an ace in the hole. aren't you. a gun in one hand. I suppose so. Gabrielle wore her yellow jump suit. Be good. but I'm afraid I'll have to be going. „Lucky he was around.‟ He went out. Gabrielle said. Jackson poured himself another cup of coffee and reached over to switch on the radio.„Seven-thirty for eight. It was superb. „It was more than all right. „That was an excellent dinner.‟ Villiers said brightly. wouldn't you say?‟ Villiers managed to look mildly surprised. „We could have weather trouble tomorrow. *** At the bungalow.‟ Villiers glanced at his watch. it's been nice having you. not mine.‟ „That must be a good line these days. O'Hagan?‟ „Oh. Donner's concession to informality was to wear a mohair pullover instead of a jacket. got into the Citroen and drove away. He had a Walter PPK in one hand and a roll of surgical tape in the other. mainly. jeans and a blue flannel shirt. He glanced out of one of the French windows before closing it. Montera said. Villiers shaved and had a shower. isn't that true. „It's really been wonderful.‟ „Oh.‟ The girl's hand was shaking as she passed him the cup and Gabrielle. I don't know. I'd say she has real flair. frowning slightly.‟ Donner walked through to the front door . „I like a cup of coffee myself. He turned quickly and Yanni Stavrou stepped in. by the way. She was the most dressed-up person there and wore a two piece trouser evening suit in black velvet. Donner said.‟ „What a shame. pulled up his trouser leg and taped the weapon just above the ankle. but what about Mr O'Hagan here? All Irishmen drink tea. „Well. Donner said.‟ Villiers turned and walked briskly away. She'd brought tea for Montera and Gabrielle.‟ „That's Wanda's department. „A handsome couple. turned to Montera. yes. wasn't it?‟ Donner replied. We have an early start tomorrow.‟ „Let's hope not. what do you do for a living. „You are trying. „Yes.‟ Wanda entered at that moment with a tray. She won't be fit to live with. you never know. angry again. There was a sudden cool breeze on the back of his neck as if a door had opened. Oil pumps.‟ „Yes. for God's sake. Montera. „I feel like a little air.

I sent my man Stavrou along to sort that gypsy out earlier this evening. Al Bowlly. Wanda said. that was the truth of it. Harvey. „Heh.‟ he said. small calibre as there was no exit wound.‟ And she could.‟ „From Lancy. Felix. There was a bullet wound just above his right ear. „All right. A place where we can be certain of perfect understanding. At that moment. A Hercules transport. „You never learn. He could see the glowing end of Montera's cigarette on the other side of the lawn where he and Gabrielle talked.‟ „Yes. „I'd like to thank you again for what you did. they'd all cleared off. you two.‟ „But I don't understand. You could come with me. There's a plane putting down with war supplies. Help yourself to drinks. His cheeks were badly blistered. isn't it? We all need a place to rest our heads from time to time. „I seem to have done nothing but talk about my mother and my daughter. Tomorrow I fly back to the Argentine direct from here. *** Montera smoked his cigarette and leaned on the balustrade beside her.‟ he said. Donner asked. „Do as you're told and go to bed. but by the time he'd reached the encampment.‟ she said and there was a poignancy in her voice that went straight to his heart. probably from repeated applications of a cigarette lighter flame.‟ he said.‟ Donner went to the open French window. she was closer to telling him the truth than she had ever been. They're important.‟ He shook his head. that's true. where are you?‟ There was no reply.‟ „I wish to God there was such a place for me. He said. a small radio playing beside him. I've got to go out for a little while. „That's right.‟ Stavrou came into the room as Wanda went out. and the sightless eyes stared into the wall. but a radio sounded faintly and rather eerily from somewhere at the back of the house. It would be so easy. *** When Villiers went in the front door of the bungalow he called.‟ „But they're part of you. the famous crooner of the thirties. The bedroom door stood ajar and Villiers paused on the threshold. „Life is nothing without roots. „What in the hell are you up to?‟ And then he moved close enough to see that Jackson was tied to the chair. singing Moonlight on the Highway. Raul. let's get moving. . „Heh. Jackson sat at a table on the opposite side of the bed. my love.‟ Villiers said. said to Stavrou. A nostalgic record.‟ and led the Way out quickly. „Go to bed. „Harvey.‟ „But it's early. You must be bored.‟ They shook hands and Villiers went down the steps. Strangely enough he recognised it. okay?‟ He turned back into the room. „Can I get you anything?‟ „No. do you?‟ He ran the back of his hand down her face and she shrank back as if expecting a blow. „Is the car ready?‟ „Yes. „But there is. I want to know these things. Donner went back to the sitting room.with him and opened it.

‟ „Yes.‟ Gabrielle sat frozen. Grenadier Guards and 22 SAS. So much action. „Your information would appear to be hugely out of date. at the end of things.‟ Felix Donner said. „Yes. Aden. the Oman. Major Villiers.‟ He crossed to the door and opened it. and Stavrou pushed his prisoner through. meet Major Anthony Villiers. Ireland. or would you prefer Mrs Gabrielle Villiers. you train them well in the SAS. The door slammed against the wall behind him. so much dying and Harvey Jackson always the indestructable one. would you believe? When my friend read his description to me over the phone a lot of interesting little pieces fell into place. I'd say you two have got a hell of a lot in common.‟ . „Far enough. Damned cold out tonight. You see I had a phone call early this evening from a friend in Paris.Villiers slumped down on the bed and sat there looking at him. „A tough bastard. And to go this way.‟ „Have you been far?‟ Montera asked politely.‟ Stavrou said. His hand was already groping for the butt of the Walther as he turned and found Stavrou and two armed men facing him. Mademoiselle Legrand. or didn't you know she was married?‟ „Divorced. He closed it and came and stood with his back to the fire. „Colonel Raul Montera. „I'll give you that. „I couldn't get a thing out of him. „This is nice. waiting for the axe to fall. He'd been doing some checking for me on your girlfriend here.‟ *** Montera and Gabrielle were sitting by the fire talking together in low voices when the door opened and Donner entered. „Yes.‟ „What in the hell are you talking about?‟ Montera said angrily. Donner said.‟ Montera said. Borneo. but who was Mr Villiers. or should I say Major Villiers? Quite a man.

„My God. No one waiting for you. If we've been blown I would say it's occurred at the Argentine end and . a real pro. She started to shake and Raul Montera did a marvellous thing. Belov still had agents in important positions there. „It's Donner for you. When he was finished. no traps. I want words with the gallant major here anyway. Irana took the call. She opened her mouth. „Holy Mother!‟ he said.‟ Montera said to her calmly.‟ Donner gave him a quick run-down on the evening's events.14 Two of Roux's men stood against the wall holding Armalite rifles. He reached for the hands and held them tight. I'd intended phoning you in the morning. Of course.‟ she said. didn't it? Everything so convenient.‟ *** In Paris.‟ „Surely the woman's involvement and her interest in Montera answers that. But no accident at all. „Have you done the usual search procedure on this one with your friends in French Intelligence?‟ Although the scandal of the Sapphire affairs had rooted out most KGB infiltration of the French Intelligence system. as we now see. She met him in London and then. „I see it all now. „In there. Nikolai Belov was just about to retire for the night when the phone rang. She wanted to speak and couldn't. Montera. It was Villiers who spoke for her. killed flying off Stanley. burning. „Try and understand. Listen to this. Montera was the link. She stood there staring at him. a helicopter pilot.‟ Donner turned to Montera. „We've run a most thorough check and it's right up to the minute. It started in London. „Be still. he said. the only possible explanation is that she's working hard for the other side. I get the feeling she's not been strictly honest with you. but no sound came. „Is it true?‟ „Yes.‟ He crossed the room and flung open a green baize door.‟ „But British Intelligence have certainly been on the ball. „It's all right. Donner said.‟ Her nails were digging into the palms of her hands with the strength of her emotion. „You see.‟ Her eyes were hot. colonel. She has a half-brother. I only received the final report an hour ago. in Paris. by chance apparently. „How are things going?‟ „More than interesting. I wonder how. I mean. you do realise. and the time scale is such that it can only mean British Intelligence were expecting him to turn up. Make your peace or do whatever you have to. Belov took the phone from her. Stavrou gave Villiers another push further into the room and tossed the Walther PPK across to Donner who caught it neatly.‟ she said.‟ he said. „Found that strapped to his leg above the ankle. that this raises a very big question as to sweet Gabrielle's role in this whole affair.‟ He spoke as if they were alone and put an arm around her shoulders. And then Paris and the Bois. colonel. this really is cruelty to dumb animals. Not even a hint of your activities at any level in the system. pulling her to her feet.

‟ „That makes sense. „Serendipity again. but I happen to have a gift for languages. We use it frequently. You know how it is?‟ „I certainly do.‟ „Is that a fact? Any juicy details?‟ „The police are pursuing their enquiries. Perind. Professor Paul Bernard was discovered in a warehouse by the Seine shot through the head.an Englishman. „What is it?‟ He smiled and held her hand. We could catch the Aeroflot flight at seven a. The Chieftain can make Finland with no problem.‟ He shook his head. Mainly because of my language ability. I missed out the fact that my mother is English and that she married again when I was quite small .‟ „That's where it all went wrong. „My God. „I was to try and find out if there was going to be any move against the Falklands. that's the section of British Intelligence that deals with anti-terrorism. Irana said. a news item of interest tonight. „No time like the present. approached me to work for them on a number of occasions. Can you recommend a suitable airfield to land at there?‟ „Certainly. „Can I tell you about it?‟ „That might be a good idea. The happiest of unlooked for events. She sat on a box and Montera lit a cigarette and waited.m.‟ .‟ „Fine.nowhere else. We were divorced six months ago. „I haven't taken any leave this year and neither have you. Brigadier Ferguson. She took a deep breath and looked up at him.‟ „I see. I just soak them up.‟ „And I was one of these occasions?‟ „Yes. „I didn't know what love was and then I looked across the room at the Argentine Embassy and saw you. I think it's time for a holiday back home in case there are any repercussions on this one. Everything else I told you about myself is true. who runs it.‟ „Tony and I were married for five years.‟ she said flatly.‟ He smiled again. I didn't know the first thing about it. Always did. Nothing very heavy. How would you like a trip to Moscow?‟ „When?‟ she said.‟ „Which explains the half-brother.‟ „You still intend to proceed?‟ „No reason not to. „You better phone through now and get the seats.‟ Belov put down the phone and sat there on the edge of the bed thinking. I'll be in touch. You have a bad feeling about this business?‟ „Just a twinge and I'm too old to take chances.‟ she said. By the way. I'll see that arrangements are made for onward transportation.‟ He laughed out loud.‟ *** The room into which Donner had pushed Montera and Gabrielle was a kind of butler's pantry and wine store and the window was heavily barred. is there anything I can do for you?‟ „Yes. I've worked in journalism as I told you. Tony was frequently called upon to work with Group Four.‟ „Yes. as a matter of fact there is. even as a child.

And then this damned Exocet business started and Ferguson sent for me. What a mine of information you'll be. What do you want me to do? I'm an Argentinian. Montera said.‟ she said simply. For all our sakes. I thought so. he said. Major Villiers believed I would obtain Exocets for you by ambushing an Aerospatiale convoy on the way to St Martin tomorrow. . „I'm tired. You were the enemy. very calm. All I know for certain any more is that I love you. They have some remarkable drugs these days. „More fun with cigarette lighters?‟ „No need.‟ He smiled.‟ Donner smiled. „Good fit. Colonel?‟ There was silence. opened it and disappeared. *** „What happens now?‟ Villiers asked. he kissed the golden hair and said nothing. isn't it?‟ he said. „Allow me to introduce myself. „Let's have the others back in here‟ Stavrou opened the door of the butler's pantry.‟ „And then you heard about your brother?‟ „I want it to stop. and after a moment Montera and Gabrielle stepped out. „What do you intend to do with them?‟ „More to the point is what I intend to do with you. I assure you.„Yes. it simply means more bloodshed.‟ „Indeed there is.‟ Her head dropped on his shoulder.‟ „And I couldn't get you out of my mind. and he slipped an arm around her waist. as he buttoned it up. when Donner came back into the sitting room. Your Brigadier Ferguson is right. „Both wrong. just couldn't go on with the lies and the deceit after you gave me the ring. so tired. Montera waited. I should have known there was more to this thing. and don't tell me you won't talk. Gabrielle. putting on a French Army officer's tunic. The missiles are transhipped from there regularly to Ile de Roc off the coast which is a testing site.‟ He nodded to Stavrou. Captain Henri Leclerc in charge of a detachment of nine men from the 23rd Guided Missile Regiment.‟ „So?‟ „And you are expecting a Hercules transport from Italy to touch down in the morning at Lancy with ten Exocets on board. I am the enemy. Worried like hell about you when the war started. courtesy of Colonel Qadhafi and the Libyans. „My sources in Paris have given me every assurance that I can proceed as planned.‟ He crossed to a door in the far corner.‟ „And he was right.‟ He poured himself a whisky. even though I'd no idea you were flying.‟ He sighed heavily and shook his head. „My side is losing. Were you responsible for seeing off poor old Paul Bernard. it was a rather splendid moment.‟ Donner told him.‟ She got up and moved to his side. „The killing on both sides. „What did he tell you? Convoys on the road to St Martin? An ambush at dawn? Fairy stories for children. „Yes. Raul. „And I wouldn't dream of damaging you at this stage of the game. Raul.‟ „I was going to stop. major. He was back in a moment. If you take those Exocets back to the Argentine tomorrow. „Yes. Maybe the Exocet is all we've got left. I've something far better in mind. by the way?‟ „Who's he?‟ Villiers asked. They'll want you intact at KGB headquarters in Moscow.

‟ „Why not? Once we take over.‟ Donner was enjoying himself. I regret to say it. If you had heard the news tonight.‟ „And then proceed to Ile de Roc?‟ „There are only thirty-eight men on the island. „Why did you think I was so insistent on your government sending me someone like you in the first place?‟ Montera was perfectly under control. tomorrow morning. said. You've lost the war already. but they are the best trained soldiers in the world. and when the body of one of the Argentine's greatest air aces is discovered after we're gone. On the right signal. The gentlemen I've been keeping in the stables are very good at handling that sort of thing.proceeding by road. Another thing. Once out to sea she's just one more trawler. „Let me guess.‟ Montera said.‟ „And you simply take the Exocets you need from their testing stock? You'll never get away with it. chaos and uncertainty. They won't even get as far as St Martin. and outstations. all we need is a couple of hours. emergency procedures don't come into operation until they've experienced radio silence for three hours. but a scandal of the proportion I envisage will blow the Argentine apart. a deep sea trawler comes in and takes off the missiles and the men.‟ He poured himself another drink.‟ „And what happens afterwards?‟ Villiers asked. aren't you?‟ „I told you I'd grow on you.‟ „But this is not the action of the Argentinian government. „Of course not.Q. „Simple. His government will fall anyway.‟ Villiers. If they get radio silence from Ile de Roc they'll want to know why. amongst the hundreds that fish those waters from every country in Europe. You've going to work a switch?‟ „Let's say we'll divert them to here and take over. Accidents will happen.‟ And Raul Montera.‟ „Let's put it this way. „You really are quite something. and God knows what the French will do. his face hardening.‟ Villiers said. searching for a flaw. „But this won't do and you know it. „The classic situation for your kind of takeover. that should clinch things nicely. I've got an ex-Army Signals man on my staff for that very purpose. I don't think we'll have much trouble. you would know that British paratroopers have won an astonishing victory at a place called Goose Green.‟ „But they won't. She sails under the Panamanian flag. One can imagine the row in the United Nations. The commanding officer at Ile de Roc has a fast power boat in which Stavrou . „We'll maintain essential radio contact. stray bullets and soon. by the way. to St Martin where a tank landing craft will be waiting to take them across to Ile de Roc. The rest of their forces have started the long march to Port Stanley. World reaction to such an action by the Argentinian government will be one of horror. but as long as it appears to be. The idea of units of the Russian fleet being able to operate in the South Atlantic from bases of a friendly power is certainly an intriguing one.‟ Villiers said. my friend. Galtieri made a mistake. „There's bound to be a standard checking procedure between French Army Guided Weapon H. That gives us plenty of time.‟ „That's true.‟ Gabrielle said. it's the same thing.‟ „Fear. who had listened to all this without speaking. said. „Why go to all this trouble?‟ „Simple.

an arm raised against flailing branches.‟ „I will. now could I. I've decided she can have you. Finally she paused to listen. She went through the door fast. First stop Finland. An intriguing situation. „I couldn't very well leave you behind. „Put the three of them in together. and you're too good to break?‟ It was the first time that Montera's control snapped. Gabrielle rushed to his side. As she opened it. reversed it quickly and rammed the butt into the Argentinian's stomach. Wanda felt physically sick as revulsion and fear coursed through her. buildings loomed out of the night and the realised that she had come round in a circle to the rear of the stables. „The doors on those cells are more than secure. . „Wanda!‟ he called.and I will return to St Martin. Montera and Gabrielle across to the door which she knew led to the cellars. What about Wanda?‟ „Oh. Donner laughed as he looked down at them. crouched as she was beside the landing rail in the darkness above the main hall. As she moved forward.‟ Stavrou told him. Bolts an inch thick and I've left a guard in the corridor.‟ Donner told him and returned to the sitting room. hands coming up. Donner appeared from the sitting room as the guard went out. then the dear old homeland. After a while. She could hear him blundering about some distance away on her right. „I promised her something special. She managed to get the back door open. was outside and running across the lawn into the trees by the time he reached the bottom of the stairs. As I told you. aware of a murmur of conversation from the men in the stables. saw her. she turned and pushed the ladder away.‟ he said to Gabrielle. I haven't been back in years. You. Stavrou and one of the men returned. They'll love you in Moscow. Montera went down.‟ *** Wanda had heard a great deal of what went on.‟ „You mean that?‟ „Of course. kicking off her high heeled shoes as she went. „Warn the men for a six o'clock start and make sure Rabier stays sober. we fly out again in the Chieftain. He took a quick step forward.‟ „Good. Stavrou grabbed an Armalite from one of the guards. blundering along the passageway beyond until she reached the door to the back stairs. light flooded out and Stavrou. Once inside. dropping to her knees. He called her name angrily and she moved away as quietly as possible. of course. I wish you well to wear it. As Stavrou hurried across the hall and started up the stairs. Wanda. She mounted it as silently as possible. leading up to a loft. He said. you'll go with me. they're very secure and the windows are barred. However. By now she was wet through and chilled to the bone.‟ He turned to Stavrou. yes. „The only good thing I can say about the cellars here is that there's a lot of them. „Everything okay?‟ „Fine. She ran through the wood in panic. A few moments later.‟ Donner said. they are rather cold. She saw Stavrou and the two guards escort Villiers. at the end of the landing. she got to her feet and moved along the landing in the darkness. she saw a ladder against the wall. slammed it behind her and plunged down the stairs.‟ Donner said. Once back. head down. It fell into the soft rain-sodden ground with hardly a sound and she closed the loft door. too. They might have to bundle.

„I know my Wanda. Very gradually. knees drawn up against his chest to conserve warmth. „That's right.‟ Montera told him. Nothing but rain and darkness out there. *** Gabrielle dozed in the corner. They were both in uniform. The silly little bitch will come crawling back when she's had enough of the rain. It showed a man smoking a pipe and surrounded by beautiful women. „So it would appear. As he gave Montera a light. she slept. Better go and check the men out now. he said: „You remind me of an advert I used to see as a kid. still filled with fear and repugnance about the thought of Stavrou. the officer sitting up front beside the driver. Stavrou was at the wheel. she got control of herself and after a while.‟ Donner said contemptuously.‟ He glanced across at Gabrielle. It was just after six a. „A hell of a girl. The truck slowed. pulling Villiers' jacket around her shoulders. He fell asleep and was finally awakened by the sound of footsteps in the courtyard.‟ Gabridle stood up and joined them.‟ *** The detachment from the 23rd Guided Missile Regiment travelled in an army three-ton truck. „You would. Donner beside him. light coming up through the odd chink in the planks.There was laughter below. waving his arms. „It's started. the officer wound the window down and learned out. and raining heavily when it came round a bend in the road near Lancy and found the Landrover blocking the way.‟ Montera said.m. on assignment at Ile de Roc at the moment. wouldn't you?‟ Villiers said bitterly and went and sat on the bench in the corner. Once back in Moscow they'd probably promote him to general for services rendered. Montera joined Villiers and they watched the Landrover turn out of the gate. His official rank in the KGB was colonel. It read: What's he got that other men haven't.‟ „Then I was in trouble from the beginning. „They either work or they don't.‟ „Nowhere for her to go.‟ Villiers told her. ran forward. The moment you have to try hard. Villiers' jacket about her shoulders.‟ Stavrou went and Donner tried on the tunic again. „God knows where she's got to. „Because there's nothing we can do. a military raincoat over his uniform. Montera took a cigarette packet from his pocket and found it empty.‟ Villiers admitted. She found herself an old horse-blanket and crawled into the corner. „What is it?‟ „Captain Leclerc?‟ Donner asked. Villiers offered him one. „What are we going to do?‟ „For the moment. It really did fit him rather well. She was shaking terribly. He looked out in time to see a Landrover drive out of the garage. *** Stavrou said. she can't do us any harm. covering herself with musty hay. Crossed over to St Martin last . „I seemed to spend all my time trying. nothing.‟ Montera said. you've lost.‟ „I know. What's your secret?‟ „Relationships are really very simple. The answer was the brand of tobacco. Donner. He wondered what that uniform would look like on him.‟ „Major Dubois.

23rd Guided Missile Regiment. „Now what?‟ Villiers asked. Villiers and Gabrielle moved to his shoulder. Even helicopters have problems. „And how does he intend to leave here when he gets back?‟ „He has a plane waiting at a bomber station up the road at Lancy. A Navajo Chieftain. „Who are you?‟ Villiers asked. bolts ramming home. the rest of the detachment ordered out of the back of the truck at gunpoint and hustled away with Leclerc. Did a light aircraft course with the Army Air Corps. then he moved out. then closing again.‟ Leclerc said. so they can land on Ile de Roc. „Not at all.night with the landing craft to be ready to pick you up this morning. Villiers turned to Montera. His hand reached for Gabrielle's. Even if we got out of here and put out a general alert. He was a fair-haired young man with glasses which were giving him trouble in the rain.‟ Leclerc said. peering through the bars of the opposite door.‟ *** Montera was standing at the window.‟ „He's certainly thought of everything. The whole thing was over in a few moments. The stable doors opened and Roux's men emerged on the run.‟ „Good God!‟ Leclerc said. so I thought I'd come to meet you with an alternative route.‟ „That's very good of you. it would probably be too late. When he had finished. Aircraft can't land at Ile de Roc. Suddenly there was a movement at their own door. Just follow the Landrover and I'll have you there in no time. two men at his back. followed by the truck. „I was very thoroughly briefed on the island before my posting and there was some information about flying conditions which interested me as I'm a pilot myself. Heavy flooding on the main road. „Right. everyone in uniform and carrying either a rifle or a sub-machine gun. isn't he?‟ They heard the sound of boots on the stone stairs outside.‟ Montera hesitated. Outside. outside. the footsteps receded along the corridor and mounted the steps. „Captain Henri Leclerc. What in the hell is this all about?‟ „I rather think they're substituting themselves for you and your men. clung for a moment. „Just exactly where are we?‟ he asked.‟ „That's not quite true. Colonel. „Clever bastard.‟ . it was opened and Stavrou appeared. Villiers went to the tiny barred window in the door and on looking out found the young French officer he'd seen in the courtyard. „What for?‟ So Villiers told him. Leclerc said. but this appalling rain is causing problems. Donner and Stavrou got out of the Landrover and Captain Leclerc jumped down to join them.‟ „And not a damn thing we can do about it now. doors opening. They tried out landing small planes at the northern end of the island last year. She didn't say a word as the door slammed home and Villiers slipped an arm about her shoulders. peering out through the bars when the Landrover drove into the courtyard.

‟ Villiers said. and it moved away.‟ „It certainly is while we're stuck in here. Stavrou tied Montera's hands together in front of him with a black silk scarf. I don't want any tell-tale marks on your wrists when they find you.‟ Donner said. Unfortunately the tide turns so quickly that it made the whole idea impracticable.‟ Montera said. but when the tide goes out it uncovers alarge area of firm sand.‟ „And if that bitch Wanda shows up. and he kicked the door in frustration. and then Stavrou stuffed a handkerchief into his mouth. Rabier turned and went up the steps into the house. It was very silent in the courtyard now. .‟ „Very well. *** Wanda. „Right.‟ „True. and Wanda huddled beside the window and waited. sir. only the hissing of the rain. „But the truth is. We should be back in five to six hours. the pilot. Donner said to Rabier.‟ „A true gentleman. Those cellars are as impregnable as the Bastille. stood at the bottom of the steps and as she watched.‟ Donner climbed into the truck. „Ready when you are. but keep an eye on them anyway. monsieur. Stavrou and Rabier. you're on your own. „See how kind we're being.‟ Stavrou was by now at the wheel. They found landing was no problem. the blanket wrapped around her. huddled against a window in the loft and peered down as the men she had slept above all night climbed into the rear of the truck. Donner.„But I thought there were cliffs there. put her down in the cellar till I return. you can rely on me.

15

Donner stood in the wheelhouse of the landing craft and looked through a porthole at the length of the ship. The hold was a steel shell. The cargo consisted of a large number of packing cases and the truck belonging to their own party, his men still inside. Beyond were the steel bow doors of the beaching exit. The sea was choppy with a slight breeze and although mist and rain had reduced visibility, they had made good time from St Martin. The captain, a young naval lieutenant, came in from the bridge and gave the helmsman an order. „Port five.‟ „Port five of wheel on, sir.‟ „Steady now.‟ „Steady, steering two-o-three, sir.‟ The lieutenant said to Donner, „Not long now. Another twenty minutes.‟ „Perhaps I'll have a chance to offer you a drink when we land?‟ The young man shook his head. „I'm only stopping long enough to put you and your party ashore, then I proceed to St Nazaire. I'm carrying electronic equipment for Guided Weapons H.Q.‟ Donner nodded cheerfully. „Another time perhaps.‟ He went out on the bridge, wrapping the oilskin coat they had loaned him about his shoulders, and looked towards the great cliffs of Ile de Roc rising out of the sea. *** The harbour was not large and the landing craft beached beside a stone jetty. One or two small sailing dinghies were pulled up on the sand above high water, but the only sizeable craft was a beautiful power boat, painted green. When the bow doors opened, the truck drove out across a specially constructed concrete apron to the start of a tarmacadam road, Donner walking beside it. A Landrover was parked there and the sole occupant, a tall, greying, middle-aged man wearing a jeep coat with a heavy fur collar over his uniform, got out. „Captain Leclerc?‟ „That's right,‟ Donner said. „Let's get out of this damned rain. Major Espinet - I'm in command here. I'll take you up to the site. Your truck can follow.‟ Donner nodded to Stavrou and got in. As the Landrover moved away, he said to Espinet. „A beautiful boat down there in the harbour. Yours, I believe.‟ Espinet smiled. „The pride of my life. Built by Akerboon. Steel hull, twin screws. She can do thirty-five knots.‟ „Wonderful,‟ Donner commented. „Helps pass the time in this Godforsaken spot,‟ Espinet told him. „Not the most desirable of postings.‟ „That's what comes of losing the Empire,‟ Donner said amiably. The winding road that led up from the harbour was lined with old stone cottages, most of which appeared to be in ruins. „Like most of these islands off the coast, the people left years ago,‟ remarked Espinet. „It was just subsistence living here. Crofting and fishing. They seldom

saw a ten franc note from one year's end to the other.‟ They went over the hill above the harbour and there was the camp, a small, ugly compound of flat-roofed concrete huts built to withstand the fury of the storms that swept in from the Atlantic in the winter months. A concrete tower some forty feet in height lifted above them, a narrow balcony encircling its glass walls at the top, a steel emergency ladder running down one side. Donner, who knew very well what it was, asked, „What's that? The tower, I mean?‟ „Built to house the radio room,‟ Espinet said. „We also operate a new kind of short wave scanner from up there when the missiles are testing. That's why we need height.‟ There was a row of bunkers some distance beyond. „Are those the missile pens?‟ Donner asked. „That's right. They've got to be underground here. Nothing but Atlantic Ocean out there, which makes this an ideal test site, but the weather can be ferocious. Two winters ago it was so bad they evacuated for a month.‟ „They tell me half the people here are civilians?‟ „Yes. Eighteen military personnel at the moment. Only three officers, so we don't have much of a mess, I'm afraid.‟ Espinet turned the Landrover into the complex. „You know, if you don't mind me saying so, there's something a little unusual about your accent.‟ „My mother,‟ Donner said. „That's what's so unusual. She was Australian.‟ Espinet laughed. „That certainly explains it.‟ He braked to a halt outside one of the concrete huts where two men in identical camouflage uniforms and black berets waited. One was a sergeant, the other wore captain's bars. As he came down to meet them Espinet said, „Pierre Jobert, my second in command.‟ They got out and Espinet made the introductions. Jobert, a pleasant, rather world-weary young man with a thin moustache, smiled as he shook hands. „Have you ever read Beau Geste, Captain Leclerc?‟ „Naturally,‟ Donner told him. Jobert waved a hand that took in the entire complex. „Then you'll understand why we call this charming little hell-hole Fort Zinderneuf. Coffee waiting in your office, sir.‟ „Excellent,‟ Espinet said. „Assisted by a little Cognac, I trust?‟ He turned to Donner. „Sergeant Deville will see to your men.‟ „I'll be right with you,‟ Donner said. „Must have a word with them myself first.‟ The two officers went inside and Donner moved to where Stavrou waited beside the truck, which had parked some little distance away. „Montera still safely under wraps?‟ „In back with the boys.‟ „Good. I'm going to have a drink with the CO. The moment I'm inside, take care of the radio tower, then everything else stage-by-stage, just the way we discussed it. Only eighteen military personnel here at the moment. The rest are civilians. Less than I thought.‟ „Probably a few away on furlough,‟ Stavrou said. Donner smiled. „Lucky for them.‟ He turned and went up the steps to the door which Sergeant Deville held open for him. *** Stavrou went round to the rear of the truck and the mercenary he had appointed as his second in command, a man named Jarrot, passed down a canvas holdall. At that moment, Sergeant Deville joined them.

„Sergeants' mess first stop, then I'll drop off the rest of you.‟ Stavrou kneed him in the groin. As the sergeant started to go down, hands reached and hauled him into the back of the truck. Stavrou said to Jarrot, „Okay, Claude, let's get moving.‟ Jarrot and Faure, the radio expert, jumped down, each carrying a canvas holdall, and the three of them crossed to the base of the radio tower. Stavrou opened the door and led the way up the narrow spiral staircase to the top. When he stepped out on to the narrow balcony, the wind tried to push him against the wall and he grabbed for the rail with his free hand. He could see the harbour clearly, but beyond the sea was shrouded with mist, as was the higher part of the island. Jarrot and the other man pushed up behind him and they looked in through the armoured glass of the door to the communications rooms. There were three operators in there, and two technical sergeants sitting at a desk in the centre. They looked up in surprise as Stavrou opened the door and the three men filed in. Stavrou dumped his holdall on the desk between the sergeants, scattering their papers. He grinned impudently. „Good day to you, boys,‟ he said, and unzipped the holdall, taking out a Schmeisser machine pistol. „This is what got the SS through the Second World War. Still does its job very well, so don't waste my time in arguing.‟ One of the sergeants jumped up, reaching for the holstered pistol at his belt, and Jarrot, who had produced an AK assault rifle from his holdall, smashed the butt against the side of the man's head. He went down with a groan. The remaining sergeant and the three radio operators got their hands up fast. Stavrou reached in his holdall and produced a number of steel handcuffs which he tossed on the table. „Surplus stock, French military prisons for the use of.‟ He was thoroughly enjoying himself. „We got them cheap.‟ He turned to Jarrot. „Right, Claude, you can do the honours.‟ Within a couple of minutes, the four men lay on the floor, face down beside the unconscious sergeant, all with their wrists handcuffed behind their backs. Faure was already examining the radio equipment. „Any problems?‟ Stavrou asked. Faure shook his head. „Most of it is standard military stuff.‟ „Good. You know what to do. Get in touch with the trawler, tell them it's safe to move in and get me an estimated time of arrival.‟ „Okay.‟ Faure sat down at one of the sets. Stavrou turned to Jarrot. „Eighteen military personnel in all, that's what Mr Donner said. Five down - eleven to go.‟ He grinned. „Let's visit the sergeants' mess next, Claude. You lead the way.‟ *** Donner, standing at the window of Major Espinet's office, a glass of Cognac in hand, watched the two men emerge from the door at the base of the radio tower. They moved to the truck, Stavrou climbed up behind the wheel, Claude stood on the running board and they moved away. Donner said, „When do you intend to put us to work, Major?‟ „No rush,‟ Espinet said. „Got to get acclimatized. All the time in the world in a bloody place like this.‟ „Not for me there isn't - time, I mean.‟ Donner produced a Walther from his pocket, a heavy silencer screwed on the end.

sport. for God's sake?‟ Donner said. There were sleeping bags in the stalls and various items of equipment laid out on a trestle table. „You can use your intelligence. eyes bulging. „On duty in the missile pen. Captain?‟ Jobert hesitated.‟ Villiers was on his feet in a second. „Where are they. sudden despair in his eyes.‟ „Which leaves three military personnel unaccounted for. shall we?‟ *** From her vantage point in the loft. Gabrielle.drinking a great deal of Cognac. including an assortment of weapons. „Oh. knocking him back across his chair into the corner.‟ Espinet turned to Jobert. „After all. but only for a moment. we'll introduce ourselves. „Over here. Wanda could see Rabier through the kitchen window.‟ „Good. „You'll do exactly as you're told because if you don't.‟ „You must be mad. all very gallant and French are we today?‟ Donner touched the end of the silencer between his eyes. „What is it?‟ . „Wanda!‟ she whispered urgently. „Pierre. Then if you'll be good enough to lead the way. I will. She opened the door and looked outside. It was still raining and she tiptoed cautiously across the cobbles towards the kitchen door.‟ Donner said. Jobert said. „Five in the radio room. ring through to the guardroom. two corporals in the office of that hut opposite. Sufficient to say that my country is at war and we need more Exocets. „I'm taking over. „Who are you.Espinet stood up behind his desk. I've got a boat coming in here soon and we're going to take as many as we can lay our hands on and you're going to help. who had been peering out through the cellar window. Now for the civilians.‟ he said. Now let's get moving.‟ Donner shot him through the back of the head. The obscenity of his death was somehow intensified by the almost complete lack of sound due to the fact that the Walther was silenced. She found herself in the stables Roux's men had used as their quarters.‟ And Jobert believed him. Donner poured himself another brandy and toasted him. „Cheer up. six in the segeants' mess. you could be like Espinet.‟ „How many of them in the pens at the moment?‟ „Probably five.‟ They went up the street together to where the truck was parked outside one of the huts. The others will be eating or sleeping. Twenty of them. raised the trapdoor and descended a flight of wooden steps.‟ Donner turned to Jobert. which was the important thing. He had been sitting there for some time now at the table. Every man on his face in steel bracelets. You could be dead. She moved to the corner of the loft.‟ „Excellent. „What in the hell is going on?‟ „Quite simple. shoulders sagging. saw her coming. I'll parade your entire unit and shoot every third man. Stavrou and Jarrot were emerging from another hut on the left and they met just as three more of the mercenaries came out of the hut opposite.‟ Jobert said. Wanda was cold and very hungry. isn't that right?‟ „I suppose so. killing him instantly. They work shifts. Stavrou said. eating bread and cheese and drinking Cognac .‟ „Like hell.

‟ He was very drunk and thrust the neck of the Cognac bottle into her mouth.‟ Gabrielle said. Rabier paused in the act of pouring Cognac into a glass and listened. one hand still fastened in her hair. the anger. Villiers at her shoulder. She crossed to the door leading to the cellar steps. a hand fastened in her hair. tugging at it with both hands. not pleasantly. where are you?‟ „Here. „Harry. Suddenly there was a movement behind her. clutching the towel around him.‟ she said. she felt for the light switch and whispered.‟ Wanda nodded. opened it and went down. Rabier stood at the table opening a fresh bottle of Cognac. The house was silent. sending him to his knees. the other pawing at her breasts. peering in through the bars. She twisted round to find Rabier smiling at her. Gabrielle cried out in anger and then Villiers pulled her to one side. *** When the phone rang. „Gabrielle. dragging her to her feet. an ugly look on his face. it opened with no difficulty and Gabrieile and Villiers moved out to join her. sir?‟ . and put the bottle on a shelf beside them. He laughed again. Tony. He went out into the passage. „Come down and let us out as fast as you can. head cocked to one side. „I'll teach you how to do as you're told. „And now. It jarred painfully against her teeth and she choked as the fiery liquid poured down her throat. You stay where you are. He cried out. „I'll try. She kicked him out of the way and the rage in her was still so strong that this time when she reached for the bolt. holding her against the wall. „But Rabier's on guard. „Right. It creaked slightly in spite of the care with which she closed it and in the kitchen. „The bottle. Wanda! Here!‟ Gabrielle called. „Very naughty.‟ He forced his mouth on hers. reached through the bars with one hand and got Rabier by the hair. Ferguson was just out of the shower. Wanda paused in the hall for a moment.‟ he said. „You wanted me. „The bottle. pulling her head back painfully. staggering back and she hit him again. „They've all gone except Rabier. eyes fixed. yanking him back against the door with considerable force. Wanda hesitated at the cellar door.‟ She stood up and hurried to the back door. There was a great rusting bolt at the top of the door which pulled back without too much difficulty. „Naughty.‟ he said. the pilot. but the other bolt at the bottom of the door was a different proposition. I can see I'm going to have to take you in hand. pausing at the kitchen door which stood ajar. She grabbed the Cognac bottle by the neck and clubbed Rabier across the side of the head. At the bottom. still holding the bottle of Cognac.‟ „I know. Let the French handle it now. Wanda tiptoed past him and opened the door into the hall. Wanda!‟ he ordered. a slight frown on his face. opened it cautiously and started along the passage. He listened to what Villiers had to say and then said.‟ He slammed down the phone and ran into the sitting room.‟ For Wanda now. the humiliation of the years welling up in a killing rage. where the devil are you?‟ Fox appeared from the study. aware of Gabrielle inside. Rabier was every man who had ever used her.Wanda hesitated. Good work. then crossed to the wall and crouched down at the window. She got on her knees.

Still.‟ On impulse he kissed her on the forehead. Pity there isn't time to chill it. I'm too too arrogant to admit that. believe me.‟ „I will. „Well. Gabrielle put a hand on Villier's arm. covered by a blanket.‟ Gabrieile said. no. Nothing like a little organisation.‟ She smiled. What are we waiting for?‟ He led the way out. Krug 71. „Take care. Tony.‟ Wanda said. too. Tony. hands still bound by the silk scarf.‟ He thumbed off the cork and laughed as the champagne foamed. A moment later she heard the Peugeot estate start up and move away and then there was only the silence. it was bloody marvellous. „What about Raul? You've got to do something Tony. I just saw them. but rather more intellectual than the average soldier and two of them wore glasses. She called. They seemed fit enough.‟ „Yes. I wouldn't have missed you for anything. *** In Espinet's office. An exceptional year.‟ „Than you?‟ „Oh. went to the window and peered out. Raul Montera sat in a chair.„Tony's cracked it. „It would certainly give Donner one hell of a surprise and we could take half a dozen of my men. He walked to the door. looking suddenly as charming as on the first time she'd met him. You're worth so much more than Ferguson and all his dark games. aren't they? Electronics wizards?‟ „And good soldiers.‟ Leclerc smiled.‟ „It will still take time for them to move. „Than what you do. „The old devil did himself well. „Tony?‟ „Yes?‟ „I think you were always worth something better. old sport.sorry about a lot of things. Now all we need is some fast action from the French. Top priority.‟ He went out. „I should imagine the Brigadier's on to Paris now. Get Colonel Guyon in Paris for me now. The major lay in the corner. Worth a little joy. I know.‟ „Just a little. it doesn't agree with me.‟ Villiers turned to Leclerc. And I'm sorry about us .‟ Leclerc turned to his men. „There are rifles and things in the stables where those men of Donner's were staying.‟ He smiled. Most urgent. Donner turned from a cupboard and held up a bottle of champagne.‟ Montera said calmly. „Are you game to fly the Chieftain out to Ile de Roc and try landing her on that beach. and try to be in time. „You'll join me in a glass?‟ „As you well know. „These boys are technicians. you must admit. „Come on then. What we lack are weapons. you can't have everything in this life.‟ Villiers turned to look at them. it agrees with me. *** Rabier was tied up and bundled into the butler's pantry and Villiers helped himself to the Walther he carried.‟ Donner filled a glass. A couple of guards up at the missile pens loosed off a few rounds before my .‟ „I heard some shooting. When the going was good. „I'm not.‟ He ran back into his bedroom and started to dress. „Things have certainly gone well.

‟ He looked out from the tunnel entrance to where the Chieftain banked over the sea and came in again. the cliffs at the northern end wreathed in mist. We'll join you in a few minutes.‟ . Donner said. „Not long now. „There's nowhere to land on this rock.‟ „Excellent. a nightmare world of deep gullies fissured into grey rock. „You get back up there and keep things moving. Very useful that. relieved by the occasional green of bog or moorland. a grey hump under cumulus clouds. Donner and Raul Montera were walking up the street towards the missile pens. Villiers saw Ile de Roc lift out of the sea on the horizon. „What the hell are they doing?‟ Stavrou exclaimed.‟ „Everything else under control?‟ „Everyone under lock and key except for ten civilian personnel who are loading Exocets on to trucks in the missile pens. old sport. roaring across a desolate rain-soaked moonscape. God knows what's gone wrong back there at the house. „Have you made contact with the trawler?‟ „Yes. „I don't understand. It's the down-draughts from those cliffs we'll have to watch for.‟ The Chieftain went in across the cliffs. Donner refilled his glass and raised it in mock salute to Montera as rain rattled the window. „Who else could it be. they lifted over a ridge and found the missile pens and the concrete buildings of the camp complex no more than a hundred feet below. A little panic and confusion always helps. then turned and moved out to sea.boys cut them down. Leclerc pulled back on the column. The colonel might find it interesting. and below the grey-green surface of the sea was being whipped into whitecaps. I think. then pushed Montera into a stumbling run towards the shelter of the tunnel entrance leading to the pens as Leclerc banked. „It can't be helped.‟ Donner said. the mist parting before it.‟ Villiers said. Leclerc's hands steady on the column.‟ *** Sitting in the cockpit of the Chieftain beside Leclerc. you imbecile. „You realise they'll know we're coming?‟ Leclerc said.‟ Donner said. What in the hell is going on?‟ „Villiers.‟ The door opened and Stavrou entered. the great cliffs rearing three hundred feet high at one end. waiting for them. came in again at fifty feet this time. heading for the cliffs and disappearing from view. from one of their weapons naturally. Villiers said. They were flying at no more than three hundred feet above the sea. they should be here in thirty-five minutes. he said. That was our plane. Stavrou had observed the incident from the shelter of the tunnel entrance.‟ The island crouched there like a grey beast. the rest of the desolate land mass sloping steeply towards the harbour. It makes it all hang together when we leave you face down with a bullet in you. so you might as well cut right in across the island and let us see the state of the game. As Donner and Montera ran in beside him. Donner glanced up in alarm.‟ „I know.‟ Stavrou went out. „No way of avoiding that. „What about wind direction? Will it be all right for landing?‟ „Good enough.

A cross current from the island caught them so that they rocked violently in the turbulence. then he must have contacted the French authorities.‟ said Donner calmly.‟ He nodded to Jarrot. He pushed Montera ahead of him. „What stage are you at?‟ Donner asked. . „My personal guarantee on it. we'll see. yes there is.‟ Donner said.‟ „Let's see how things are inside.‟ he said. stop them. „Come on.‟ He produced the Walther he had taken from Rabier. feeling for the wind. Villiers picked up an Armalite. I left that bottle of Krug on his desk and it's too good to waste.‟ Donner said amiably. We could have paratroopers round our necks before we know it.‟ Stavrou grinned savagely.‟ „You're finished. slipped a hand grenade into his pocket and joined them. „How incredible. that's all. Maybe an hour and there won't be enough beach left for a take-off. turned into the wind and switched off the engines. each man taking with him a weapon from the supply of arms they had brought from the Maison Blanche. „God damn him. The French Air Force proved it could be done last year. They moved along the tunnel and entered a large concrete cave brightly lit by floodhghts.‟ Donner turned to Stavrou. If anyone is trying to get through. With luck. Jarrot was in charge. old sport.‟ He laughed. *** Leclerc took the Chieftain in on a trial run.‟ „So what do we do? If that is Villiers. Donner took out a cigarette and lit it.‟ Villiers told him. it isn't our plane. totally without malice. A cold wind drove rain in across the wet flats as they stood around him in a semi-circle.„Oh. biting into the hard wet sand and running forward through the shallows. „The tide's on the turn. checked the action.‟ „It doesn't matter. chilled or not. old sport. He brought the Chieftain round in a tight circle and came in low over the waves. „Villiers.‟ „So now what happens?‟ „We wait and see. „Everyone has them. there's plenty of beach at the base of those cliffs.‟ „We'll see. he must be nearly as good as me.‟ Montera said.‟ „What was it you said?‟ Montera asked. closely supervised by armed mercenaries. „After all. „Nothing like a little organisation?‟ „One of those days. „Difficult to say. We've got work to do. Four of the special trucks built to carry the missile were lined up at a loading ramp. then put it back in his pocket. but preferably back in Espinet's office in comfort. throttling back and dropping flaps.‟ They ran back along the tunnel. You must give us the time we need. another twenty minutes and we can move down to the harbour. Leclerc's men had already got the airstair door open and were scrambling out on to the beach one by one. Leclerc taxied to the far end of the beach. The wheels seemed to touch the surface of the water and then they were down. It just wasn't a practical proposition on a long term basis. You take some men and get up on those cliffs. „I'll stay here. Claude. where the civilian personnel in Aerospatiale overalls toiled to load the Exocets with the assistance of special hydraulic hoists. „If the tide's right.‟ Donner grinned and pushed him along the tunnel. spray flying up in great clouds on either side. „and you know it.

„There are still others down there at the base and the man we really want.‟ Villiers said. splintering bone as it emerged above his right ear. but on a closer view.‟ and he tossed the grenade into the ravine. Villiers shook his head. toiling up the slope. „All right. Villiers sensed voices somewhere below. He was a good man. He fell back over the edge. sparse grass. Stavrou. followed by three other men. „Here's a present from Harvey Jackson. decent and honourable. held up his hand to caution Leclerc and the others to silence. There was a shattering explosion followed by screams. He raised the Armalite to his shoulder and fired at one of the men who was trying to crawl away. rolling out of sight into the mist and rain. sir?‟ one of the younger sergeants asked. „All right. everything shrouded in clinging mist. „Sergeant Albray here was on detachment with the Foreign Legion in Chad two years ago. he allowed anger to betray his usual icy calm and rigorous training. There was horror on the faces of the young French soldiers as they moved to join Villiers. Shoot them in the back if you have to because that's exactly what they'll do to you. „For God's sake. you bastard!‟ he called. bracing himself on one knee. For once. One of the sergeants loosed off a burst from his machine pistol at Jarrot who had fired the shot from the hip. Now let's get out of here. not these days. haven't you had enough?‟ There was a single shot. Jarrot and his three companions all badly hit. fit-looking young man with close cropped hair. Felix Donner. He's been under fire more than once.‟ *** . I'm sorry about your captain. Ten minutes later they were over the top and starting down the slope through a jumble of broken grey boulders. do exactly as I say and you might just live forever. Leclerc caught him by the shoulder and swung him round. The ravine was like a butcher's shop. staring at the carnage and at Leclerc's body down there also. but you don't survive in war by being kind. alerted by that cry. Leclerc indicated a tall. were breached by an enormous gully. his Armalite ready. He took the grenade from his pocket and pulled the pin with his teeth. „There's only time for me to say one thing of importance to you. a bullet caught him in the side of the head. They went forward through the mist and came to the edge of an escarpment and there below. was already turning. and Villiers moved to the edge. could see only Harvey Jackson's tortured face as he sat tied to the chair in that wretched little bungalow near Lancy. It provided an easy if strenuous route up from the beach. diving headlong down the hillside. „Is that it. The bullets spun him around and shredded the back of his camouflage jacket so that it burst into flame. No boy scout ethics like giving those bastards a fair chance. They had seemed impregnable on the flight in from the sea. There was only silence then as they stood beside Villiers. I hope you've learned your lesson. water running down the centre.‟ He slammed another clip into his Armalite. Use it well when we get down there. was Jarrot. whose steel-rimmed glasses were already misting with rain. Not so his companions. follow me. Villiers had eyes only for Stavrou bringing up the rear. As for the rest of us …‟ He shrugged.‟ and he turned and started to run across the sand towards the base of the cliffs.„How many of you have had combat experience?‟ he demanded. every instinct bred of years of hard living coming to his aid. „Stavrou.

open the door and disappear inside. catching him high on the right cheek.‟ There was another long.‟ Montera said softly. Last stands were for fools and the Chieftain on the beach at the foot of those cliffs was a much more attractive proposition. „It's over. „Could something else have gone wrong. back in Espinet's office. „You can say I'm a cynic. .‟ He emptied his glass in one quick swallow and hurled it into the corner to smash against the wall. „And that?‟ Villiers demanded.‟ he said to Sergeant Albray.‟ „He shouldn't have joined. Had at least half a dozen men with him. Off you go!‟ Stavrou went out. „Yesterday's news. no other word for it and one thing was for certain. low concrete building to the right where two of Donner's men appeared to be standing guard. A shambles. although he had already made his decision. in time to see Stavrou cross to the radio tower. but I get the impression you've just sold our friend right down the river. „Presumably you were briefed before this posting.Donner. old sport. If we get out of this one in one piece we've done well. He said to Stavrou. sending him flying backwards out of the chair. don't you?‟ He took a quick step forward and punched Montera in the face. sport. heard the grenade explosion and then the rattle of small arm fire that followed it. I only got out myself by the skin of my teeth. *** Villiers ordered his men to stay down and moved to the edge of the escarpment. Once that's sorted out. still smiling. at least as regards his own future. He moved to the window.‟ „There's nowhere to go. „Villiers caught us in a ravine up there.‟ Donner reached for the bottle of Krug. get the others. The entire base was laid before them like a map. „The radio room is at the top of the tower.‟ „And the Exocets?‟ Stavrou demanded. „Would that be where the Exocets are?‟ „That's right.‟ Albray said. Montera said. tell him what the situation is or the bastard will simply turn tail and get the hell out of it. Montera said. „Might as well finish this. but the eyes were cold and very dark. do you think?‟ Donner turned round. „Get up to the radio room. or hasn't that sunk in yet?‟ „There's always somewhere to go. glass in hand and saw Stavrou running down the slope on the other side of the huts. and contact the captain of the trawler. Villiers pointed to the tunnel entrance to the missile pens. I'll meet you down at the harbour. Stavrou saw him at once and veered towards him. Yanni. „You really do presume on my good nature. „How bad?‟ Donner demanded. Just tell him my orders are to come ahead at his best possible speed. He said. The presence of Villiers and his men meant that much stronger forces wouldn't be far behind. What do we do now?‟ Donner appeared to consider the matter. especially when you have a plane on the beach and the pride of the Argentine air force to fly it for you. He opened the door and stepped outside as Stavrou ran across the street towards the entrance to the tunnel to the missile pens.‟ „Jarrot and the others?‟ „Grenade. Don't whatever you do.

The three guards at the fuel store lay in the street outside and one of Leclerc's men was unlocking the door. Take out those two guards at the fuel store. On the other hand. that's the fuel store.‟ Villiers nodded. which would be a pity. you and I. Nice to think it's going to end up in the bag with everybody else. Yanni Stavrou came round the final bend of the spiral staircase.‟ Donner didn't bother to reply. hanging on with one hand. the reflexes of hard training taking over. Albray. Albray waited until he was ten or fifteen feet up and then ran forward. „I think that perhaps this time you've left things a little late. Don't give the bastards a chance because they won't give you one. Above Villiers the radio operator leaned over the rail. the Walther in his other. and a radio operator up there. then move in and move in hard. went after him. my friend. cutting them down from behind.„As I remember from the plans. simply opened the door and peeped out. *** Donner ran to the window. Even if Donner thinks things have gone badly wrong. a machine pistol in his hand. then block the mouth of that tunnel. The guards outside the fuel store were looking up. no more than ten yards from the tower.‟ „No sign of the trawler. He moved forward. without the slightest hesitation. He looked down and again everything moved in on him as that dreadful fear of heights returned. firing as they came. looking down towards the harbour. but his reflexes were excellent.‟ Albray remarked. shoot the hell out of them and remember what I said. he won't want to be left stranded.‟ „So what do we do?‟ Albray asked. As he did so. Probably there's only the creep who just went in. The man cried out and staggered back out of sight and Villiers started to climb again. Villiers pointed to the steel ladder running up the outside of the tower to the balcony. and Villiers fired one-handed. Raul Montera laughed softly. and holding the Walther ready in his right hand.‟ He turned to the rest of the soldiers. He took in Albray and his uniform in a split second. There . The gun on his hip was holstered.‟ *** They skirted the back of one of the concrete huts and paused in its shelter. Anyone tries to move out. all fear leaving him. started to raise their weapons. „Give Sergeant Albray and me five minutes. and then Leclerc's men emerged from between two concrete huts opposite. drawing his revolver and looked out as firing erupted in the street. he might decide to go all Russian on us and sacrifice himself for the sake of the dear old motherland. started to climb. He paused. „They've probably got most of the personnel on the base imprisoned in there. Stavrou. *** Villiers was more than half way up the ladder when he heard the shooting from inside the tower. Order that trawler to get the hell out of it. „Probably on her way in right now. opened the door at the base of the tower and went inside. was already turning and running back out of sight as the sergeant fired his machine pistol. „We'll tackle the tower.

the arm swept up. He laid down his automatic very carefully. „I told you. the blade streaking for the soft flesh beneath Villiers' chin. he opened the back door. twisting it cruelly so that Stavrou dropped the knife and cried out in pain. it wouldn't be British. Already at least half the area on which the Chieftain had landed was eaten away. The sergeant raised his machine pistol to fire and Donner pulled Montera in front of him as a shield. He closed the door. Villiers wrenched the arm round and up. The sea rolled in across the sand in great. rage for a brief moment. emerged on the upper slope and started across the plateau towards the edge of the cliff. I mean. praying for it.‟ The bone-handled fisherman's gutting knife. Sergeant Albray behind him. hungry breakers. he swung round. there's no place to run. the machine pistol coming up as Stavrou paused in the doorway. Donner pushing the Argentinian in front of him. *** Villiers peered cautiously over the edge of the balcony but there was no one there except for the dead radio operator sprawled against the wall. There was only one thing wrong. It was at that precise moment that Donner and Montera emerged from the back of the officer's mess.‟ Villiers moved in close. „No. Colonel. slipped into the palm of his hand. yes there is.was gunfire at the other end of the street and he saw two of his men fleeing towards the harbour. . finger tightening on the trigger and Stavrou smiled. strangely alien in such a place. and he pushed Montera outside. The Chieftain was clearly visible in spite of the mist. The look on Stavrou's face said everything. You're going to fly us out of here. the machine pistol on the floor beside him. then the cold calculation of the professional survivor. still keeping that terrible hold in position. Villiers picked up the machine pistol and moved to the door of the radio room which swung in the wind. there was a click as his thumb found the button. „Oh. Totally without fear. And Villiers. blocked the arm with practised skill. He assessed his chances against the machine pistol and made his decision. *** Donner and Montera went up the ravine at the rear of the camp. and this time Stavrou screamed as muscles tore. grabbed for the wrist with both hands. Stavrou's body hit the ground at the base of the tower and Donner looked up to see Villiers appear at the rail. „You mean I'm a gentleman?‟ „Something like that. On the balcony Villiers knocked up the sergeant's arm. pulled Montera to his feet and pushed him into the kitchen at the rear. which Stavrou had carried in his right sleeve for years. the rest broken up by trailing fingers in salt water. an automatic in one hand.‟ He turned and went down the spiral staircase on the run. would it? Playing fields of Eton and all that fair play stuff.‟ Montera said. There was no one there either. anticipating just such a move.‟ They reached the edge of the cliffs. dropped his machine pistol. „Oh no you won't. was still screaming as Villiers ran him headfirst through the door and out across the rail to plunge forty feet to the concrete below. There was a quick step behind him. Major Villiers. leave it to me. „Now get moving!‟ he ordered. Villiers raised the machine pistol.

my friend. „Don't try it. As they reached the Chieftain.‟ „True. „On the other hand. Why do you ask?‟ „Because I think it might be a good idea if you got the hell out of here and in the circumstances I'm willing to take my chances with you.‟ „Who flew the plane?‟ „The French captain. the others shattering his spine. I don't owe the French anything. Donner half-turned towards Montera. one bullet catching Donner in the right shoulder spinning him round. are we going or are we not? You can only die once. Probably paratroopers. He stood back. Villiers fired three times very fast. They plunged down the final slope of scree and emerged on to the open beach. let him go!‟ he called. It's all broken up by water channels as you can see. „Who's that?‟ „The French unless I'm very much mistaken. not with him. aware at once of the strong fresh wind blowing in from the sea. „Okay.‟ Montera said. driving him against the plane. line astern. Come on.‟ „Maybe you've got a point. Donner.‟ He climbed in behind the controls while Villiers got into the passenger seat beside him . the Walther in his right hand. Is Gabrielle all right?‟ „Yes fine. Which goes to prove something. There's going to be one hell of a row about this and I'd rather be out of it. He halted perhaps thirty feet away.‟ Montera said. Wanda Jones released us. firing blindly into the mist.‟ Montera said.‟ Donner said. As Donner pulled him to his feet a cascade of stones rained down from above. lapping around the wheels of the plane. waiting back at Maison Blanche.„You've had it. the revolver swinging up in his right hand. sprang the blade and sliced through the silk scarf. he rammed Montera against the side and pushed the revolver barrel up under his chin. Montera stood looking at him. Then he took a knife from his pocket. „See for yourself. „What's that?‟ Villiers asked. Leclerc.‟ he said softly. then grabbed Montera by the collar and ran for the plane. the rest we made up as we went along.‟ „Get moving!‟ Donner pushed him down into the gully and they went sliding down together in a shower of broken stones and earth. „Like I said. it's been one of those days. „Nothing important. „We haven't got a clear run. hampered by his bound hands. pushing him in front of him. Coventry and Atlantic Conveyor in the first place. „Nothing like a little organisation. but something in his eyes made Donner turn to find Tony Villiers arriving on the run. Donner turned. arriving just too late. sighed.‟ There was a distant buzzing and Montera pointed to where three helicopters moved in under low cloud. We had a certain amount of luck there.‟ He turned. Montera had ended up on his back. „All right. They sold you the Exocets that sank the Sheffield. Do you think you could fly this thing out of here?‟ Montera looked about him.‟ Montera's face stayed calm. sport. I'm tired of running. „You're on.‟ „Okay. He bounced off and fell on his face and a wave swept in over him from the incoming tide. travelling fast. inside and let's get out of here.‟ „They also sold them to you. though I'm not sure what.

‟ „You're not staying?‟ „Nothing to stay for. There was a strange. all the relief in the world in her face. „What are you going to do after this?‟ Wanda shrugged. and the breakers were beneath then. one wing dipping slightly. „Now that really would be something.‟ Gabrielle said.‟ „And now?‟ Wanda said.‟ There was the sound of engines in the far distance and the Chieftain came in low from the west. What if it isn't them? What if they lost out? It could be Felix. I was on the street when Felix picked me up. From the gutter to luxury. Montera stamping hard on the rudder bar to keep her straight. standing right outside by the port wing. She waved excitedly. „My God. then turned into the wind for landing. He taxied into the wind and gave the plane full throttle. „I've just thought of something. It was like a dream. The engines coughed into life with a shattering roar. the wheels skimming the whitecaps. I suppose I'll have to wake up now. Wanda said. I don't know. The Chieftain shuddered and seemed to leap forward on a diagonal course to the sea that gave them the longest strip of beach left. „God knows. „He was a right bastard. Montera didn't even bother to reply.‟ Gabrielle turned. set smile to his face. „You really think a man like Donner could take Tony Villiers?‟ She laughed out loud.‟ She shook her head. *** The Chieftain came to a halt. Only then did Montera pull back on the control column.‟ and she turned and walked towards the plane as it taxied in. you know that? And I was so afraid of him. Wanda. Wanda Jones as a sort of Vogue centrefold?‟ Wanda grinned. the engine note deepening into a full-throated roar. „Please Tony. It was still raining hard and they sheltered in the hangar.‟ Montera slid back the side window and looked out at her.and secured the door. He said.‟ „You mean. Gabrielle could take it no longer and she and Wanda walked to the airfield. Gabrielle said. a kind of astonishment on her face.‟ „Then why did you stay?‟ „Because I was more afraid of being back on the street. And then she lifted. simply sat there staring out of the windscreen. Maybe we could put something together. „What do you think?‟ Villiers shouted. They went across one water channel and then another and another.‟ „I'd say there is. „Oh. Gabrielle was laughing. they were moving very fast indeed. All of a sudden.‟ . „Could you make it fast? I want to get out of here.‟ „I've been thinking. it looks as if it could be interesting. just like that. but you do have a lot to learn. drowning every other sound. Suddenly. „I've got a lot of good friends in the magazine business and I've a hunch the camera would like you. *** After a couple of hours waiting at the house. spray flying up in clouds on either side. but Montera didn't switch off the engine. He turned to Villiers.

you know that and where she's concerned. Obviously no one intends to take any chances.‟ He started to turn the Chieftain away. Villiers said. „That's it. A matter of honour. then. We're on our way.It was the first time he had used his name and there was anguish in his voice. but I know this. Everybody said it couldn't be done. but there's her brother to be considered. Brie-Comte-Robert. can't you see that?‟ His name was called over the tannoy. not after what's happened. „I've got to change at Rio.‟ „What the hell does it matter as long as it's quick?‟ Montera moved to the gate and turned. I intend to be on it. a curiously elegant figure in the old black flying jacket and the jeans. I'm afraid you're going to need it. her mouth opening in a cry that was soundless. „Dear God. The only thing standing between the British army and total victory is maybe nine or ten thousand men dug in around Stanley and what's left of your air force. increased speed and Gabrielle wasn't smiling now. While I've been playing games up here in Europe. „I understand perfectly.‟ He shivered slightly.‟ „There's nothing left for Gabrielle and me. He felt . Something to do with flying in the exclusion zone. You've lost the war. don't tell me. He turned and paused to light a cigarette. She never looked at me like she looks at you.‟ and then he was gone. Villiers went into the bar. „She was in a hole she couldn't get out of. Oh. Even allowing for that. „Okay. Where are we going?‟ „Where we started from. Tony. Tony. but they're doing it.‟ „And then what? Back to Rio Gallegos and that Skyhawk Squadron?‟ „What do you think?‟ „That you're exactly that kind of holy fool. the rest of my boys have been getting blown out of the sky down there in the South Atlantic. *** The concourse at Charles de Gaulle airport was not particularly busy as Tony Villiers waited by the bookstall outside the international departure lounge. „Can't you understand?‟ Villiers told him.‟ Montera laughed. „Do your best for her.‟ Montera said. but I'm sticking with you. „He would always be between us. I never saw her smile like that. perhaps. Ferguson held all the cards.‟ Villiers said softly. You saw the evening papers. No problem. a failed expert. „I know. He dropped his cigarette. put his foot on it and smiled. Everything all right?‟ he asked as Montera approached. I should be in Buenos Airs within seventeen or eighteen hours.‟ „So you want to join them?‟ Villiers was surprised to find he was actually angry.‟ „Exactly.‟ He held out his hand and Villiers took it for a moment. Those Commandos are walking across North Falkland to Stanley. Raul. sat in the corner and ordered coffee and Cognac. I'm an expert. It's over.‟ „And Gabrielle? She loves you.‟ „And then?‟ „There's an Air France jumbo leaving for Buenos Aires tonight. „I actually like the man. „Good luck.‟ „Something like that. drowned by the roaring of the engines and then she was somewhere behind the end of the runway that was rushing towards them. Montera was at the Air France desk putting his holdall through.

wondering what on earth he was going to say to Gabrielle. „I needed to do something drastic to pull her together. of course. „Pierre Guyon and Section Five of the SDECE have been watching you two ever since you arrived at Brie-Comte-Robert. I presume? You've seen Raul Montera off?‟ „How in the hell did you know?‟ Villiers demanded. sir.‟ Villiers said and slammed down the phone. according to my latest information.‟ „Then why didn't they stop him leaving?‟ „Because the only place they want him is back in the Argentine. he was the enemy and yet it seemed such a waste. . He had another Cognac. found an international call box and phoned the Cavendish Place number. that's no longer our concern. „He's fine.‟ „Ah. understand me?‟ „Of course. Far too late. There is one more rather important item I'd like you to handle for me. as you know. Ferguson said.‟ Ferguson said.restless and out of sorts. He turned wearily and moved towards the main doors. My information is that she'll be back in Paris tonight. and suddenly his stomach was empty as if he knew by instinct that it was going to be bad. It never happened.‟ „You fucking bastard. then went out. well. The French want this one nailed down tight. she started to crack. Too late to catch Montera now. It concerns Gabrielle. Damn the man. He started to run across the concourse towards the gate into the international departure lounge and then slowed to a halt.‟ Tony Villiers said. so I told her that Richard was missing in action.‟ „What is it. right in the middle of things. „Just another of my regular nightmares. sir?‟ „You see. Tony. remember?‟ „So?‟ Villiers said.‟ „You mean it wasn't true?‟ Villiers said. „Still in the thick of it.‟ „I presume he's gone back to play heroes again?‟ „Something like that. Tony. Tony. As he'd kept saying himself. Wanted out. „You're phoning from Charles de Gaulle. believed dead.

When he got back.‟ Gabrielle said. It was something she hadn't done since she was a young girl. „My people lied to me. but I can't smoke anything else. breached security completely.‟ „A French lady. A Señorita Legrand. Donna Elena. Gabrielle Gone. then looked up again. you wouldn't get anywhere near the place. still a helicopter pilot on Invincible. It seemed the best thing to do in the circumstances. then came forward slowly. but these days she found it helped if she kept her hands busy. A lady. Apparently it now reads. is one of my dearest friends. an opinion I'm certain our esteemed President would not agree with. „I have friends down there who keep me informed as to his doings. you expect to hear he's been killed in action at any moment?‟ „It would appear likely. „Yes. „I must see him. On the other hand. General Dozo. or what's left of it.‟ „But they lied to me!‟ Gabrielle spread her hands. Raul is at Rio Gallegos. I see exactly what he meant.‟ Her mistress paused and looked up frowning. „I must see him.‟ „But that's impossible. when he returned from France. „There is some one to see you. One of the maids came out from the sitting room. I've something to tell him of vital importance. My son.‟ „I've sent her to friends in the country.‟ She lit a cigarette and pushed the pack across to Gabrielle.‟ „Mother of God. Donna Elena Llorca de Montera sat in a cane chair and did a little embroidering.‟ Elena de Montera said calmly. looking at her without expression for a while and then nodded.‟ Elena de Montera put a hand to her eyes for a moment. Now I understand everything. It is something he felt would always be between you.‟ „My dear.‟ „So much. I'll go to Rio Gailegos. Raul was deeply distressed by the fact of your brother's death. Let's go inside and I'll make some phone calls. but alive and well. the kind dockers use. to keep me in line! Richard's fine. „Donna Elena?‟ The old woman sat there. flying with his squadron. „A lady. „Is Linda here? He talked a lot about Linda and you. However. „Cheap ones.‟ „I know that.‟ „What you mean is.‟ *** Gabrielle paused in the French windows. that he discounts your activities for British Intelligence as being of no consequence.‟ . It's a restricted military area. He told me everything. Commander of our air force.‟ Gabrielle took a deep breath and placed her hands on the table to steady herself.‟ Gabrielle slumped down in a chair on the other side of the table. He loves you very much. „Were you aware that my son had your name painted on the nose of his Skyhawk?‟ „Yes. „Please show her in. quite simply because he didn't care any more. he had an extra word added.‟ „Where is he?‟ Gabrielle said.16 On the terrace of the big house above the River Plate outside Buenos Aires.

„Men. I remember as a young man watching him waiting in his suit of lights.‟ „I often think of that uncle of mine.‟ He pointed and Montera saw a black limousine. to enter the plaza at Mexico City. It is tea you drink. Two ears and a tail when I get back. *** It was just before four o'clock in the morning when Raul Montera moved across to the windows of the operations room at Rio Gallegos and peered outside. my love. I've discovered the big secret.‟ „But still we go on?‟ „Yes. whether I live or die. My uncle didn't know when to stop either. finishing the last of his tea. patting each other on the back.‟ . I think it may only be a couple of days before Menendez will have to surrender. I'll get Rosa to make you a cup of tea.‟ „This could be the last one. He was tired. my mother's brother. please. and I was not amongst them.„If you only could. you haven't much time. „There were those.‟ General Dozo said. „This isn't good. „You look tired.‟ Lami Dozo gave him a cigarette. more tired than he had ever been in his life before. playing La Virgen de la Macarena. sometimes it is necessary. That way. What you might call scraping the barrel.‟ „So . I hope the same people are now just as prepared to work for a new Argentina. only the chairs. they don't know how to handle me. „San Carlos again?‟ „That's right. pulling a greatcoat over his shoulders. how are you?‟ „It could be worse. who said we needed a war to prove ourselves.‟ „Ah. Raul. „Not to worry. Someone had left a cigar burning on the edge of an ash tray. We lost another three yesterday.‟ Montera smiled. whoever they are up there.‟ „Raul. the cigarette smoke. „Before you go. awash with it as the ground crews worked on them in the light of the arc lamps. Dozo said. As if the beast is waiting for me out there. The British have taken the high ground outside Port Stanley. We believe they've taken at least four hundred prisoners. are easy enough to handle as long as one understands their conceit. the one who disgraced the family by fighting bulls. the trumpet sounding high and sweet. Over there by the fence.‟ Gabrielle said. Raul.‟ Lami Dozo looked grave. The young pilots who were to fly with him filed out and Montera turned. I believe?‟ As they went in through the French windows.‟ Dozo said. „Go on. then picked up his helmet and went outside. General. The door opened and Lami Dozo got out.‟ They gave each other the abrazo. Gabrielle started to laugh helplessly. there's someone very anxious to see you. I don't actually care any more. As he took a deep breath and started towards the planes a staff car came up round the corner and pulled up beside him.‟ She put an arm around Gabrielle's shoulder as they crossed the terrace. the apron. where three Skyhawks waited. the large scale charts of the Malvinas on the wall. „I feel like that rather a lot these days. The room was empty now.what was it all about?‟ „I don't know. „Raul. He stubbed it out carefully. It was pouring with rain. You see. but it is.

„Mother of God. There was a frigate coming up fast and he released his bombs and climbed. as close to the ground as they dared because of the missiles. my God. „Mama. „I suppose you're going to tell me I'm too old to play games. and turned into Death Valley barely sixty feet above the water. „You don't look happy. went in low through a hail of fire as the ships below threw up everything they had. banking and looking back. A young lieutenant came in. „I'm not Gabrielle Gone. There was an explosion. He's alive and well. damp from the rain.‟ And then he laughed out loud and fastened his hand over hers where she clutched the wire. the helmet in his left hand. and the lieutenant went out.‟ „No. How anyone told you that lately?‟ „No one I'd care to hear it from. Within minutes. pale in the yellow light of the arc lamps. Believe that. turned and ran towards the line of Skyhawks. She smiled. nodded. taking in every detail of his appearance: the yellow flying suit. He lied because I wanted out.‟ He smiled ruefully. *** They swept in over the mountains of West Falkland as dawn came up. For a moment he was totally stunned. „Oh. Lami Dozo stood at the window. You shouldn't have come. understand me? I love you and I'll be back.‟ Montera said in astonishment. Donna Elena and Gabrielle sat by the stove. I haven't time. The Skyhawk shuddered as shrapnel flailed its body. and Richard isn't dead. Donna Elena said. the tousled hair. Montera banked. Raul. peering out at the rain in the grey dawn light. I'm Gabrielle here. „But this isn't good. moving human beings from square to square like a game of chess to suit their own purposes. a chauffeur got out of the car and opened the rear door. A few moments later they started to take off. Instead. saluted and handed him a signal. and then he smiled that inimitable smile she knew so well. Is it bad news?‟ . what bastards they are.As Montera walked across to the high wire fence. Donna Elena got out of the car and stood at Gabrielle's side as the planes taxied out one-by-one. First the mountains. drinking coffee. the shoulder holster. There were no explosions and he laughed out loud at the nonsense of it all. „I'll be back. a Rapier missile on his tail.‟ she said. even at this stage of the game they can't get the fuses right.‟ *** In the operations room at Rio Gallegos.‟ „There's no other place on earth where I should be.‟ He kissed her hand. I've brought you a gift.‟ „I am tired. „You look tired. a ball of fire.‟ She moved close. a military raincoat someone had loaned her over her shoulders. „You look wonderful. and said softly. the night was filled with the roaring of their engines.‟ She turned back to the car and Gabrielle got out and stood looking at him. It happened incredibly fast as always. frowning. don't you see?‟ He stared at her. The general read it. and shortly after that there was only the sound of them fading into the distance. He said gravely. Brigadier Ferguson lied to me. Montera was aware of the Skyhawk on his right jinking desperately. then Falkland Sound with the ships of the Task Force and more in San Carlos Water. Donna Elena got out.

‟ And Montera did just that. and was aware of another Sidewinder spiralling madly away over on his right. A Harrier. „You know that?‟ „Of course. followed the other Skyhawk which was going down fast. for the wind was such that the sea was lifting in forty foot swells. that's all it could be. at the limit of its radius. It's good for the rest of us to feel ashamed occasionally. climbing fast and Montera seized his chance and went right down.‟ Lami Dozo said. „No. only this time for real. smoke pouring from it. saw him high overhead. banked to starboard and curved in on his tail to finish him off. He was already down to a thousand feet and Gabrielle seemed to say in his ear what she had said the first time he'd had the dream in the flat in Kensington. About fifty miles out. Again he staggered under the impact of its cannon. „Donna Elena will explain.‟ Gabrielle sat up. You've earned it. plunging down towards the sea. The Harrier swung in again and then it was the dream. disregarding all procedure. for they had almost reached the limit of the Harrier's radius for a sea chase. my son. „He's a fool.‟ „Not Raul?‟ Gabrielle said. claws reaching out to destroy. Donna Elena and Lami Dozo stood by the window. How bad is it?‟ There was no reply and suddenly he saw a Sidewinder missile home in from nowhere. It was probably the most hazardous piece of flying he'd ever attempted as he levelled out at a hundred feet. The Harrier pilot had to take violent evasive action to avoid a collision. smoking cigarettes. „Good luck. it passed.‟ The door opened and the young lieutenant hurried in again. still descending. he thought he'd lost power completely. „Remember to drop your flaps. It swung in on his tail and the Skyhawk shuddered under the impact of cannon shell. „Come in. He looked up for his adversary. There was a tongue of flame that mushroomed into a fireball as the Skyhawk disintegrated. Stay here. One Skyhawk down. both of you. the eagle descending. The cockpit canopy disintegrated and Montera received a violent blow in his left arm and another in his right leg. which meant he now only had its 30 mm Aden cannons to contend with.‟ she said. A voice said in English over his radio. too. he and the other pilot were on their way back.‟ and he . a stroke of luck as the Harrier only carried two Sidewinders. but thank God for fools like him. He corkscrewed instantly. There was a crackle of static. „We've lost another Skyhawk but Raul is still with us. Enrico. The last we heard. not Raul.‟ and the Harrier.‟ *** Raul Montera burst out of cloud at four thousand feet and. whoever you are. *** In the operations room Gabrielle dozed fitfully. called over the radio. Montera. banked away.„They hit the target. rubbing her eyes. turned back towards the Falklands. Eagles overshoot. It was like running into a solid wall and for a moment. A rogue missile whose directional equipment had gone haywire. Dozo snatched the signal from him and read it. What lousy luck. „Is there any news?‟ „Yes. the reflex of much combat experience coming to his aid.

Gabrielle and Donna Elena waited outside Montera's room. Finally. the wind whistling through the shattered cockpit. You see. „Not good. No more of this nonsense. His left arm was in a plaster cast and there was a cowl beneath the sheets to protect his injured leg. He smiled. an outraged mob made it plain that Galtieri had to go. one arm and leg of his yellow flying suit now scarlet. a pair of fieldglasses to his eyes. Don't worry. the Skyhawk brushed across the buildings at the north end of the runway. He'll certainly never be fit to fly a jet aircraft again. turning full circle. „Don't let me fail now. Gabrielle. „Two ears and a tail. You go in now. eh. The Skyhawk almost stalled. she found him propped up against pillows.‟ When Gabrielle opened the door. I'll wait. the runway lights gleaming in the grey morning. Raul Montera's voice sounded over the radio loudspeaker.‟ As the airfield came into view.‟ he prayed aloud. „You look awful. Raul Montera was a dreadful sight.‟ As Dozo watched. The surgeon told me I'll still be able to play the violin and you know. General?‟ and then he fainted. You may go in. water from the rainsoaked runway spraying up in a great cloud. the British Prime Minister rose from her seat to tell the members of Parliament assembled before her of the triumphant conclusion to one of the most astonishing feats of arms since the Second World War. so many faces. bouncing back up again twice before coming to a halt. was aware of voices and then careful hands lifting him from the cockpit. All the time in the world. He sat there. that's really very amusing.‟ she said. They stood up. He stayed there. head bowed. *** The Skyhawk came in low over the sea at five hundred feet. „I'll be all right. I can't play the violin. on the same day. saw the faces. Lami Dozo stood in the control tower. He gave it a final burst of power and then made the worst landing of his career. *** And so it was over. but he'll survive. No time for procedure. „Fly me. *** At the Sisters of Mercy Hospital in Buenos Aires.opened the door and went outside. „I've got my son back.‟ . totally washed out. the door opened and the Chief Surgeon emerged. In London. He opened his eyes. hands frozen to the column. „Well?‟ Donna Elena demanded.‟ Gabrielle turned enquiringly and Donna Elena smiled. She stood by the side of the bed without saying anything and as if sensing her presence. In Port Stanley the Argentines laid down their arms and in Buenos Aires. „I'm bringing her straight in. he opened his eyes and smiled. at Westminster. the cuts on his face stained purple with some preparation or other. his face smeared with blood from numerous cuts caused by the disintegration of the canopy. Montera was aware of the vehicles roaring out to meet him from the control buildings. a slight fixed smile on his face as he came into Rio Gallegos base. of course. Lami Dozo's amongst them.

on her knees at the side of the bed. . her face against his.And then she was laughing and crying at the same time.

„We showed ‟em. Each recipient of an award was allowed two guests to the ceremony. Villiers followed the people who were streaming in through the main doors of the palace. A military band played light music. then the Army. the early winter sun shining on the hoar frost on the trees in St James's Park as the taxi drove up Pall Mall towards Buckingham Palace. „That's funny.‟ „One or two. „You obviously haven't seen the Army List this morning. he went forward to receive his award at the Queen's hands and a few moments of conversation. the women wearing hats specially bought for the occasion. Had preferred to leave it that way.‟ They rounded the Victoria monument and were cleared at the main gate where the taxi was allowed through into the courtyard.17 It was the finest of London mornings.‟ Villiers said. still unable to take it in. eh. He sat in the chair assigned to him by an usher and looked around him at the marble statues. medal ribbons in a neat row on the left breast. guv. There were several other awards of the Distinguished Service Order that morning. didn't we?‟ „Yes.‟ Villiers said. usually family. „Nothing doing. facing the raised platform in the centre where the Queen would sit.‟ And then Villiers was moving away. the scarlet and blue dress cap with gold-rimmed peak.‟ „Major. keyed up for the big moment. waiting for the Queen to pin the medal to him. have this one on me. most of them accompanied by their nearest and dearest. ma'am. children amongst them. She said.‟ Villiers told him. Colonel Villiers. Villiers alighted and took out his wallet.‟ She smiled again as she pinned the DSO in place. guv. as the next recipient moved forward. the paintings on the wall and the crowd waiting so expectantly. The driver grinned in the mirror. „Not much we can say about this one. there was a buzz of conversation as people took their seats and talked together in low voices. There were members of all three services. When Villiers' turn came he moved forward and stood there. where rows of chairs waited. „I suppose we did. There was a general air of gaiety and excitement. Tony Villiers was wearing the uniform of his own regiment. I didn't know the Grenadier Guards was there as well. a sense of occasion as they mounted the red-carpeted stairs and entered the picture gallery. followed by the RAF. „Big day. Villiers had no one. the Navy first as the senior service. Sam Browne belt gleaming. The talking died away as the band started to play God Save the Queen and everyone stood as she walked in. The taxi driver said. gov'nor? Was you down there in the Falklands?‟ „Yes. razor sharp. As each man's name was called. *** People had been formed up in ascending order of decoration. *** .‟ the cabby said and drove away.

„Looks like you've lost him. „What for?‟ Villiers asked him.‟ „Nonsense. „I hear Gabrielle married her colonel in Beunos Aires last month.‟ „Good. Harry. He closed the door.‟ Ferguson said. You're worth so much more than Ferguson and his dark games. Ferguson leaned out of the window. The expression on Harry Fox's face was one of pure delight. Harry Fox at the wheel.‟ Villiers said. „He'll be back. and opened the box and looked at the medal again. The constables on duty saluted him as he passed out and moved through the usual crowd of tourists. The rear door opened and Ferguson looked out. He didn't know where to go next. „You're looking well. Tony. I haven't got much time.‟ Ferguson leaned back. who do you think arranged your promotion? I did and not as a birthday treat. Here and there a camera clicked. that was the trouble. Villiers almost did it and then he remembered Gabrielle at Maison Blanche and the look on her face. but because it suits my purposes.‟ „You mean you've got a job for me?‟ „Of course. then he slipped it into his pocket and crossed to the main gates.‟ Ferguson nodded.He stood in the courtyard outside the palace at the bottom of the steps.‟ „Yes. „My dear Tony. „She wrote to me. then crossed from the monument. sir.‟ „I suppose so. „You've heard about your promotion to half-colonel? Makes you the youngest in the Army. I've a meeting at the Ministry of Defence at two o'clock. The End . but he took no notice.‟ He leaned back in the seat. hesitated. He paused to light a cigarette and a black Bentley slid into the kerb beside him. towards St James's Park. took a file from his briefcase and started to leaf through it as the Bentley moved out into the traffic.‟ Villiers said and turned across the grass through the trees. Big day. I'd like to point out the rank is only acting. boy. that was what she'd said.‟ „I know. Drive on. Tony? Where are you going?‟ „For a walk in the park. Your regiment weren't at all pleased. „What are you playing at. Get in.‟ For a moment. You're worth a little joy.‟ Villiers said. As he turned away. Come on. get in.

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