Instead, you get Janet Tate.’
“Who was already in Vietnam and due home on leave, so they saved on the fare.’ Drummond grinned. ‘Never look a gift horse in the mouth, Fergy.’
Ferguson frowned slightly. ‘She’s a nice girl, Jack. A hell of a nice girl. I wouldn’t like to see her get hurt.
‘So?’ Drummond said coolly.
Ferguson sighed. ‘All right, let it go. What have you got for me this time?’
Drummond took several spools of film from his pocket and pushed them across. That’s the lot You’ve got the whole Balpur-Tibet border region now..
Drummond nodded. Trip before last A good job, too. Cheung decided to fly in with me on the last trip, so I couldn’t have set the camera up if I’d wanted to..
Ferguson smiled and shook his head. ‘Our Nationalist friends are still at it, are they? I wonder what Washington would say if they knew?’
‘I couldn’t care less,’ Drummond said. ‘A couple more trips and I’m through. I’ve told Cheung that already.’
Ferguson applied a match to the bowl of his old briar pipe and coughed as the smoke caught at the back of his throat. ‘How did you find things last trip? Any signs of Chinese activity?’
‘Swinging on the end of a rope,’ Drummond said. ‘Moro and his band dealt with a cavalry patrol in their own inimitable fashion, that’s all.’
‘Nothing else? You’re sure about that?’
Drummond nodded. ‘Moro says that all the activity’s Still in the Aksai-Chin, Ladakh region. No sign of any large scale interest in the Balpur border area at all.’
That’s strange, you know. They’ve claimed it officially and the brutal truth is they’re on pretty firm ground this time, historically speaking.’
‘They can have it, for all I care,’ Drummond said. ‘Another month, and I’m out.’
Ferguson poked a match into the end of his pipe to clear the air hole and said casually, ‘What were you thinking of doing?’
‘Nothing you’d be interested in. I’m finished, Fergy. I’ve had enough. How long have I given you now; four years, five? I’ve played this sort of game on every border from Sarawak to Kashmir. I can’t go OB forever. Nobody can.’
‘You’ve done a good job, Jack. Fm not denying that,’ Ferguson said. ‘But you’ve been well paid.’
‘What about last year when the Indonesians shot me down in Borneo?’ Drummond reminded him. They chased me through that jungle for three weeks before I managed to scramble across the border.. He ran a finger down the ugly scar that stretched from his left eye to the corner of his mouth. ‘I spent a month in hospital and what happened. You paid me the same as always. No more, no less.’
Ferguson sighed, took an envelope from his pocket and pushed it across. Three thousand, deposited as usual with your Geneva bankers. You know how to get in touch with me if you change your mind.’
‘That’ll be the day.’ Drummond opened the envelope, examined the deposit slip, then put it ia his wallet. ‘It’s been fun, Fergy.’
He moved along the deck to the gangplank and stepped on to the wharf. ‘One more thing, Jack,’ Ferguson called. ‘Don’t forget who the Beaver belongs to when you’ve finished up there. Government property, you know.’
‘And just how would you like to set about proving that?’ Drummond said and started to laugh as as walked away along the wharf.
JANET stepped out of the shower, dried herself quickly and went into the bedroom, the towel wrapped around her slim body. The window to the terrace was open and she stood in the shadows and looked out. A bank of cloud rolled away from the moca and
Juma was bathed in a hard white light, fiat-roofed houses straggling down to the river below. The night sky was incredibly beautiful with stars strung away to the horizon where the mountains lifted uneasily to meet them.
It was peaceful and quiet, a dog barking hollowly somewhere in the night. In the streets below, she could see torches flaring and then a drum started to beat monotonously, joined a moment later by some stringed instrument, and the sound of laughter drifted up on the warm air.