A12 The Russia House by John Le Carre

A12 The Russia House by John Le Carre

Author:John Le Carre
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
ISBN: 9780340924334
Publisher: Hodder Pb
Published: 1989-05-22T17:25:36+00:00


Encryptions decrypted. Telemetry en clair. Retrospective code-breaks to help us check it out. The unbuggered head-on truth, before it gets repainted for Moscow consumption. All right, he's potty. Who isn't, who's any good?' He took a last swig from his glass and I saw that the centre of his face was a crimson mass of pain and embarrassment and indignation. 'Life's a botch,' he explained, as he shoved the glass into my hand.

The next I knew, he had slipped past us up the stairs and we heard the steel doors successively open and slam shut behind him till he had reached the street.

'Walter was a liability,' Clive explained to me tersely next morning, when I bearded him. 'To us he was merely eccentric perhaps. But to others It was the nearest I had ever known him come to acknowledging the existence of sex. He quickly censored himself. 'I've given him to Training Section,' he continued with a return to his most frigid manner. 'He raised too many eyebrows on the other side.'

He meant, on the other side of the Atlantic.

So Walter, wonderful Walter, disappeared and I was right, we never saw the Mormons again and Clive never once referred to them. Were they mere messengers from Langley, or had they formed their verdict and exacted their punishment? Were they from Langley at all, or from one of the mushrooming groups of initials that Ned had so objected to when he complained to Clive about the Bluebird distribution list? Or were they Ned's greatest of all pet hates--tame psychiatrists?

Whatever they were, the effect of them was felt all through the Russia House, and Walter's absence yawned at us like a shell-hole made by our best ally's guns. Bob felt it and was ashamed. Even hard-faced Johnny remained ill at ease.

'I'll want you nearer to the operation,' Ned told me.

It seemed a wretched consolation for Walter's disappearance.

'You're on edge again,' said Hannah as we walked.

It was lunchtime. Her office was close to Regent's Park.

Sometimes on warm days we would share a sandwich together. Sometimes we even did a bit of zoo. Sometimes she gave the Cancer Institute a rest and we ended up in bed.

I asked after her husband, Derek. He was one of the few subjects we had in common. Had Derek lost his temper again? Had he beaten her up?

Sometimes, in the days when we had been full-time lovers, I used to think it was Derek who held us together. But today she didn't want to talk about Derek. She wanted to know why I was on edge.

'They sacked a man I rather liked,' I said. 'Well, not sacked, but threw him on the rubbish heap.'

'What did he do wrong?'

'Nothing at all. They just decided to see him in a different fight.'

'Why?'

'Because it suited them. They withdrew their tolerance of him in order to satisfy certain requirements.'

She thought about this. 'You mean that convention got the better of them,' she suggested. Like you, she was saying. Like us.

Why do I keep coming back to her, I wondered.



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