Authors: Evelyn Anthony
Tags: #Fiction, #Espionage, #Mystery & Detective, #General
fiends of ambition and love of achievement. As a child, he only enjoyed something if no one else could do it. He had nearly killed himself rock-climbing in the Pennines. The rope held and the Spencer-Barr luck with it. The next time he attempted that particular climb, he reached the top in record time. He said of himself that he had no nerves; this wasn’t accurate. He had a finely tuned and ultra-sensitive nervous system, which supplied his intellect with the imaginative fuel it needed, but he was always master of himself. That was why Brigadier White’s department was his chosen venue; it required exceptional skills to be a successful Intelligence operative. He scorned the word counter-spy as over-dramatic. Intelligence was now a science, an exercise in technology allied to human intellect. The world and the forces directing the destiny of its peoples seemed like a gigantic jigsaw of interlocking parts, each part an independent puzzle where the shape of every piece could alter just as it began to fit. He finished brushing his teeth, took a mouthful of water and spat out the froth. Mary Walker was a director of a fine art gallery in London;
they had met at an exhibition and she seemed to fall in love with him almost at once. He was very fond of her indeed; she was a clever girl, with a head for business, and she constantly told him how wonderful he was. And she had improved his sex life. Jeremy was good at everything, except making love. His temperament was too intense, his energies diverted into too many channels to leave him much sexual drive. He was a bad lover, who couldn’t relax, and until he met Mary, he’d avoided relationships with women. They damaged his ego and made him aware of a deficiency in himself that he couldn’t put right. She was three years younger than he, divorced while in her early twenties, and she had the skill and patience to nurse them through to a satisfying love-life. He really might have married her, he thought suddenly, if he hadn’t been told that at this stage in his career a wife would be a hindrance. So he had told her he was going to New York, and expected to be out of England for two years. He was touched and flattered when she cried. He made up his mind to buy her a nice present, something to remind her of him when she wore it. He went back into the bedroom, and she woke up, throwing the bedclothes aside, one arm across her eyes against the daylight. There was only a month left before he took up the American post. He wanted to make the best of it.
“It’s ten o’clock,” he said.
“I’ll bring you some coffee.”
“Thank you, darling.” She watched him, smiling, as he left the room. She could hear the dash of water in the kettle, because the kitchen was very close. He showed her little considerations like bringing her coffee in bed over the weekends. He loved her in his own way, and she didn’t ask for more than he could give. She was going to miss him very much. And anyway, New York wasn’t all that far. She could make trips to see him. He wouldn’t find another girl who understood him as well as she did. Two years wasn’t all that long. Jeremy didn’t know it, but she was a very determined person, and she wanted to get married. The worst way to go about it was to fuss him with too much sex. She used to show-jump as a teenager, and she remembered the adage, always end on a good note. Last night had been particularly successful. She would leave it there. She got out of bed, put on her silk pyjamas, brushed her hair, and was sitting up wearing her glasses and reading the Telegraph when he came back. They drank their coffee and discussed the news in perfect amity. He had planned a drive into the country and lunch at a well-known riverside hotel. They both liked to do something at weekends. He couldn’t have endured a day spent in idleness. That evening she was taking him to a friend’s Chelsea house for drinks. They were both looking forward to their day together.
“Charley, darling,” Mrs. Graham said anxiously, ‘have you seen Davina this morning she looks like death! “
“She looks very tired,” her daughter said.
“Maybe she didn’t sleep.”
“I think she overworks,” Mrs. Graham said. Charley had slept late; she was coming down the stairs as Davina was going out. She spread a slice of toast with butter and marmalade. She’d noticed the dark shadows under the eyes; if it hadn’t been Davina a ribald explanation would have come to mind. The Pole had followed her. Charley had given him her most brilliant smile. She had almost expected him to come to her bedroom door last night. When he didn’t she went to sleep instead.
“I saw her going out with Pavel,” she said to her mother.
“Where were they going?”
“She said they were going to walk through the woods,” Mrs. Graham answered.
“You know Mother-I don’t believe her about Pavel. I think there’s something brewing there. Who on earth goes for a walk at this time in the morning? I think she wants to take him off alone.”
“Oh, darling, don’t be silly. Davina’s never been like that. You were the one who went off hand-in-hand to our woods and came back with the poor man looking like a dog following a bone!” Charley burst out laughing.
“It doesn’t sound very romantic, does it? You are beastly, Mother, putting it like that. Besides, I always went for walks at a civilized time, not at a horrible hour like half past nine! Do you remember that nice Tony French? The one who was Brian’s best man? “
“I do,” her mother said.
“Give me some tea, will you?”
“He asked me to marry him,” Charley giggled.
“After he’d got his divorce, of course.” She went on laughing and spilled tea into the saucer.
“Aren’t they funny, men? And there was Brian snarling and snapping with jealousy. Why did he have to change after we got married such a pity. We really could have had fun. But it was nothing but his bloody business after the first year. Oh, dear, never mind… I wonder what they’re doing out there?”
“Davina and Pavel? I don’t know; walking I imagine.”
“Through the dew and the nettles,” Charley said.
“I wonder what they talk about? World affairs or trade behind the Iron Curtain. I’d love to be a bird in a tree in those woods!”
“Finish your breakfast darling, and get dressed,” her mother said.
“And you’re not to be mischievous when they come back. Davina won’t like being teased.”
“No, she never did like it,” Charley said.
“She’s never forgiven me for Richard. You know that, don’t you?”
“She will,” Mrs. Graham said soothingly.
“Just as soon as she’s found somebody of her own and she’s happy, you’ll be friends again.” Charley got up and slipped an arm round her mother’s shoulders. She kissed her lightly on the cheek.
“You’re such a sweet optimist. Let’s hope you’re right.” She went upstairs to dress.
“I thought of staying,” Sasanov said.
“Of making contact with the West and working with them like Penkovsky. But in Russia the life of a traitor is short. I wouldn’t have lasted long enough. So I made plans to come over. I gave a long report on Jacob and his wife; whatever I said couldn’t harm him but I tried to clear her of political activity. It didn’t make any difference. She will be an old woman when she comes back from twelve years’ hard labour. Probably she’ll die too. She wasn’t a strong girl.”
“How long did you take to make up your mind?” Davina walked beside him. The grass was very wet, but a bright sunshine filtered through the trees, and there was a smell of green things growing, mixed with the pungent earth. It was a clear, glorious morning.
“I can remember the day. Really it was the middle of the night. August 20th. We were in the country for the week end. My wife was asleep beside me. I hadn’t made love to her for months. Not since Jacob’s death. She didn’t ask me why; she knew how disturbed I was, how unhappy. She was asleep and I was awake. I knew I couldn’t go on living as I’d done before. I couldn’t go on with the KGB. Their job was to track down people like the Belezkys, and bring them to the authorities to punish. To put in asylums and destroy them with drugs and torture. Or to send them to the Gulag, like Jacob’s wife, who’d never done anything but love him.
“I made my choice then. I would defect. I slept afterwards, for the first time in many, many weeks.”
“You had to leave your family,” she said.
“How could you justify that?”
“Because I couldn’t take them,” he answered.
“I knew I had to go alone. Nobody could blame them if they were left behind. So long as they knew nothing, they would be safe. That’s what I thought then. Now, I’m not sure any more. I have that one photograph of them walking in the street. And your promise that they are free and well. ” He stopped and looked at her.
“Have you lied to me? Tell me. I must have the truth now.”
“I haven’t lied,” Davina answered.
“They’re perfectly all right.” He turned away and began walking.
“I have something your Brigadier wants,” he said.
“More than just information. I can tell him how to make use of it. I can put a weapon in his hands that will save the Middle East and the oil.”
“If you tell me,” she said, and she managed to keep the excitement out of her voice, “I’ll put it to him. And we can work out a deal together.”
“I don’t want to live the rest of my life in this little country,” he said.
“It suffocates me. I want my wife and daughter with me. I’ll work with your people for two years. After that, I’ll choose where we want to go.”
“That’s very reasonable,” she said.
“I’m sure he’ll agree to that.” Sasanov quickened his pace.
“He’ll agree to anything I ask,” he said.
“But I don’t want words from him. I want Fedya and my daughter here, beside me. Then I will talk to him and his people. They come over first.” They had reached the end of the little wood; they came out into the sunshine, at the top of a rolling field. The views across the hills were so spectacular that Davina caught hold of his sleeve and made him stop. The village church probed a grey stone finger of steeple into the sky, and the majestic undulations of Salisbury Plain stretched out on either side of them like a coloured quilt.
“Look at that,” she challenged.
“How can you-say you’d suffocate here!” He saw her smile at him, and slowly he smiled back.
“You would only understand if I could show you Russia,” he said.
“One day, maybe you will go there. Then you’ll think of me.” They began to walk across the brow of the field: the constant wind that swept across the Plain whipped at Davina’s hair and stung their faces.
“Supposing your family won’t come over,” she said.
“Then what happens?”
“You must get a message to them from me. I know they will come.”
“But you’ve got to face the alternative,” she persisted.
“What will you do if they refuse? Or we fail” If they refuse,” he said,” I will go back. “
“You can’t!” Davina swung round on him, both hands holding her flying hair off her face. The wind rose suddenly and buffeted them. She said again, “You can’t - you’ll be killed! If they did that to Belezky, what do you think will happen to you?” He took her hand and turned her round; with their backs to the wind they broke into a stumbling run down the hill to the shelter of the wood. He shouted his answer.
“I can make a deal; there was no deal for Jacob and the others. For a man who goes to the West and then comes home, there is always forgiveness.”
“I can’t hear you properly,” she said.
“Oh, this damned wind…” They were in shelter as quickly as the wind had caught them. The sky was serenely blue, and the sun shone. A flock of little clouds flew past them to the west.
“I can protect myself,” he said.
“I can be publicly rehabilitated. And perhaps I can work against them from inside. “
“Then you won’t stay without your family?”
“All right,” she nodded.
“Then we’ll just have to get them for you. Do you want to walk down to the village; it’s very pretty. You’ve never been into a pub, have you?”
“Are you sure your Brigadier would allow it?” he asked her.
“I don’t believe he’s let you take me off without some security arrangements.”
“I’m quite sure he hasn’t,” she said.
“But we won’t see them. Not unless you go off on your own.”
“Take me to your pub, then,” Sasanov said.
“But please, not to drink your beer!” She laughed and said, “I promise.” There was a fine colour in her face; the shadows of their sleepless night no longer showed; the severe hairstyle was in total disarray, and she looked younger, more buoyant. As they walked down the road towards the little village pub, she took his arm possessively. Sasanov knew how she was feeling. The long months of patience had ended in success. Professionally, she was elated, and excited. And she had stepped across the barrier that was her best protection. He was a man and not a challenge any more. A man who had chosen her bed in preference to the sister who had undermined her confidence and somehow earned her hatred. He amused himself wondering which of the parked cars in the village street be longed to the Brigadier’s surveillance men, and whether some of them were crowded round the bar inside the pub. He remembered the postcard she bought him at Stonehenge. He had no money.
“Lend me something,” he murmured to her.
“I want to pay for what we drink.”
“Most men don’t mind these days if a woman treats them,” Davina said.
“I mind,” Sasanov retorted.
“Lend me the money.”
“I’m surprised Russians are so old-fashioned,” she whispered.
“Here’s five pounds. I’ll have a glass of white wine.” He took the money from her and shouldered his way to the bar. Davina saw a man reading the Mirror in a corner seat lower the paper just enough to take a look at him. Special Branch, she said to herself. Or the Department’s own surveillance team. He talks so confidently of going back to Russia if things don’t work out. She folded her hands and studied her nails; if she painted them they would look quite nice. He must know what he was talking about. It was just that she couldn’t imagine the Brigadier letting him go. They stayed in the bar till half-past twelve. When they left to go back up the drive to the house, the man reading the newspaper put it on the table beside him, and stood in the window for a minute. The driver of a parked Ford Cortina on the other side of the road started the engine and began to cruise in the same direction till he saw the man and woman turn in at the gate and disappear. He made a note that they were arm-in-arm and seemed to be on very close terms. He spoke quietly into a radio telephone and went on past Marchwood House. Someone else would take over from him for the afternoon.