“What in the hell are you doing here?’ he demanded.
Tm sorry,. she said, her face serious. ‘Hamid’s gone off for the night Before he left he called and told me you were out here. I thought you might like to take me to dinner or something.’
‘Exactly what I intended to do.’
The two porters had stopped working and glanced at Samil uncertainly. Drummond was still holding the Garrand in both hands, close to his chest and Janet said gravely, ‘Hamid said he thought you were loading motor spares.’
He put the rifle back with the others, wiped his hands clean oa a lump of cotton waste and nodded to Samil..You finish up here. Nothing to worry about, I’ll handle it’
He turned, straightening his tie. ‘How did you get here?’
‘I came in a tonga from the hotel. I told the driver to wait.
‘Shall we go, then?’
He took her arm, aware of the stiff restraint, the tilt of her chin and knew that in some way he had disappointed her. In the tonga she sat silently in her corner, as far away from htm as possible and Drummond chuckled.
Tm sorry to spoil the image of the big bad gunrunner for you, but Ali knows damn well what I fly up to Sikkim in boxes labelled Machine Parts..
She turned quickly in the darkness and he was aware of her perfume, delicate oa the cool air.
‘So does everyone else including the Khan himself.’ He groped for her hand in the darkness and held it tight ‘Look, Fll tell you about it because it’s coming to an end anyway and because I don’t want my dinner spoiled. I’ve been looking forward to it’
‘Go on,’ she said.
.Thers’s a Chinese gentleman called Cheung tjp at
Sadar. He’s been there for six or seven months now. He’s supposed to be a general merchant, but he happens to be an agent of the Chinese Nationalist Government on Formosa. He supplies the guns and I run them over the border into Tibet.’
To help Tibetan guerrilla fighters against the Communist government?’
She reached over and touched his arm, the breath going out of her in a gentle sigh. ‘Oh, Jack. I’m so glad.’
‘Well that’s a hell of a thing for a clean living Quaker girl to say,’ he said. ‘And don’t go putting me on any pedestal. I do it for hard cash, not out of any political idealism.’
‘You don’t think the Tibetans stand any chance of winning then?’
He laughed harshly. ‘Not in a thousand years. Their battle will be won or lost in other places. Vietnam, Malaysia, Sarawak, perhaps on the floor of the United Nations. But to hell with that Where would you like to eat?’
‘Somewhere full of colour, not just a tourist trap. I want to see the real India.’
‘Good for you. We’ll make a woman of you yet.”
They were moving into the centre of Juma now and he tapped the driver on the shoulder and told him to stop. ‘We’ll walk from here. You want to see the real India, I’ll show it to you.’
He paid the driver, took her arm and they moved along the street As they neared the centre, it became busier and busier. Vendors of cooked food squatted inside their wooden stalls beside charcoal fires, busy with their pans, the scent of spices and cooked meats pungent on the cooling air.
And then they turned into the old quarter where lamps hung from the houses and the bazaar was even more crowded than during the daylight hours as people walked abroad to savour the cool night air.
The pavements were jammed with wooden stalls, overflowing with masses of paper flowers, shoddy plastic sandals imported from Hong Kong, aluminium pots and pans looking somehow incongruous and out of place.
Craftsmen sat cross-legged in their booths behind the stalls of the brass merchants, still plying their ancient craft next to the silversmiths and the garment-makers where they embroidered dancing girls’ clothes.
There were Bohara carpets, rugs from Isfahan and, at-the far end, prostitutes waiting in their booths, unveiled and heavily painted, and even here the curtain of night, the flickering lamps shining on cheap bangles and jewellery, cloaked the filth and disease, the squalor of the daylight hours.