- زمان مطالعه 9 دقیقه
- سطح متوسط
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
The old man now known as Jean Pierre Fontaine cried silently as he knelt beside the bed, his face close to his wife’s, his tears falling on the cold flesh of her arm. She was dead, and the note by her white hand said it all: Now we are both free, my love.
They were both free. She from the terrible pain, he from the price demanded by the Jackal for the comfort of her last days. He had known for months that his wife had pills which would end her life quickly if the pain became too great. He had frequently searched for them but he had never found them. There was a small box beside the bed, and it was empty.
Footsteps. The nurse! She had come out of her room, but she must not see his wife lying dead! Fontaine pushed himself up from the bed, wiped his eyes, and hurried to the door. The nurse stood just outside, her arm raised to knock.
“Sir!… You surprised me.”
Jean Pierre stepped out, quickly closing the door behind him.
“Regine is finally asleep,” he whispered. “This terrible storm has kept her up for most of the night.”
“To business,” said the nurse, walking away from the door. “Are you prepared?”
“It will be a matter of minutes,” replied Fontaine, heading for the table where his killing equipment lay in the locked drawer.
“There is a slight change in the course of action.”
“Oh?” the old Frenchman said. “At my age changes are not welcome.”
“These are orders from Paris. Do you wish to question them?”
“No.” Fontaine shook his head.
“So, listen - there will be a fire in Villa Fourteen, three away from ours. There will no doubt be a great deal of confusion, with the storm and everybody shouting and calling for help. That will be your signal. Use the confusion, get through, and kill the woman and her children. But don’t go immediately. It will take me some time - five minutes, maybe twenty - to do what I have to do. Wait until I return to Villa Eleven before you leave.”
“May I ask - it will take you five minutes, maybe twenty, to do what?”
“You’re a fool, old man. What must be done.”
The nurse pulled her raincoat around her and walked to the front door of the villa.
“Get your equipment together and be out of here in three minutes,” she commanded.
The door swung back with the wind as the woman opened it. She went outside into the heavy rain, pulling it shut behind her. Astonished and confused, the old Frenchman stood still, trying to make sense of what was happening. The nurse was also a killer. So why had he been sent thousands of kilometers to do the work that another person could do just as well, and without the pretence of his arrival?
Fontaine walked rapidly to the nurse’s bedroom door and opened it. He began to pull apart the woman’s room - suitcase, closet, clothes, bed, dressing table, writing desk… the desk. The drawer was locked. A heavy lamp sat on the desk, a thick metal base. He picked it up, pulling out the cord, and hit the drawer hard. He pulled it open and stared in horror at what he saw.
Next to each other in a plastic case were two hypodermic needles. They were filled with yellowish liquid - he did not need to know the chemicals. Liquid death in the veins.
Nor did he have to be told for whom they were intended. He pictured the two bodies beside each other in bed - it would have looked as if he and his wife had decided to die together. How thoroughly the Jackal had planned everything. But this wasn’t the contract that the old man had with his employer. His wife was supposed to die naturally, when her time came.
As the old Frenchman went outside, the heavy rain fell, the blasts of wind throwing him off balance as he made his way up the path toward Villa Fourteen. He wiped his face with his left hand, his right hand gripping the weapon, a gun lengthened by a silencer.
Stop her! What was she doing? What did the fire she talked about mean?… Then he saw it - a huge burst of flame in a window of Villa Fourteen!
Fontaine reached the front door, but it was locked. He raised the handgun, fired twice, and blew the lock apart.
Inside. The screams came from beyond the door of the main bedroom. The old Frenchman moved toward it, his legs unsteady. With what strength he had left, he kicked the door open and saw a scene that he knew had to come from hell.
The nurse, with Prefontaine’s head in a wire, was forcing her victim down into the gasoline fire on the floor.
“Stop!” screamed the man known as Jean Pierre Fontaine. “Enough! Now! You are dead!”
Through the rising, spreading flames, the Frenchman fired and the nurse died.
The storm had blown away when the early morning light broke over the eastern horizon. The first boats slowly moved out toward the Fishing grounds, because the catch of the day meant one more day’s survival. Marie, her brother, and the two old men were around a table on the balcony of an unoccupied villa. Over coffee, they had been talking for most of an hour. The old, false hero of France, who had finally betrayed his betrayer and told them everything he knew, had been assured that all the correct arrangements would be made for his wife. If it was possible, he wanted her to be buried on the islands.
“It’s possible,” said Johnny St. Jacques. “Because of you, my sister’s alive.”
“Because of me, young man, she might have died.”
“Would you have killed me?” asked Marie.
“If I had not seen the needles? I don’t know. I might have felt that I owed the jackal your death, but certainly not the children’s.”
“God, you are a killer,” said the brother quietly.
“I am many things. I don’t ask forgiveness in this world.”
“Many of us need forgiveness,” remarked Brendan Patrick Prefontaine, former judge in Boston, as he touched the raw, tender skin of his neck below his burned white hair. “You see in front of you a criminal, justly tried and justly convicted.”
Marie looked at him. “I don’t understand why you came here,” she said.
“Well, as I told you, the man who paid me to find out where you’d gone also paid me a large sum of money to keep the information to myself. So I thought, if the little I knew brought so much, much more might come if I learned a little more.”
“I want the name of your client,” said Marie.
“We don’t need that,” said St. Jacques. “Conklin knows it. And we don’t need the judge here.”
“Maybe we do,” said Marie. “He could support Conklin’s story when we tell it to certain people in Washington.”
“I would be happy to,” said Prefontaine. “I’m with you.”
The telephone rang inside the villa. Johnny St. Jacques rose out of his chair but was blocked by his sister, who raced through the doors into the living room. She picked up the phone.
“It’s Alex,” said the breathless voice on the line. “God, I’ve had this thing on redial for three hours! Are you all right?”
“There was a storm. It knocked out the phones. What about David? We need him - the Jackal will be here tomorrow!”
“What? How do you know.”
“An old man told me… never mind. Just tell David to get here.”
“David will be there, you know that.”
“Yes, I do… because he’s Jason Bourne.”
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