Tanner's Tiger Page 12

“You should not leave the apartment. I will go.”

“All right.”

Once again she purchased all the papers, the English-language ones as well as the French, and once again I worked my way through all of them. There was some marvelous copy about me that Arlette insisted upon clipping. I was presently the object of the greatest manhunt in Montreal ’s history since Francois Somebody butchered seven young boys with a straight razor in 1911. I was somewhat relieved to learn, however, that I had not butchered anyone. A dozen persons had been treated for injuries in the auto wrecks Prince Hal had caused, but all but two had been sent home immediately, and those two would live.

So would Sergeant William Rowland, RCMP, although it would be a while before he was back on a horse. He had landed on his head, all right, but I guess his Smoky The Bear hat served a purpose, because he came out of it alive. He had a fractured skull, but it takes more than that to impair a Mountie.

Prince Hal had not turned up by presstime. I found this pleasing news, too, and only hoped the little boy was taking good care of him.

And I, I was thoroughly castigated by every newspaper around. It no longer looked as though my capture would result in prompt extradition to the States. The Canadian authorities had a score of their own to settle with me, and charges would be brought against me for everything from subversive conspiracy, malicious mischief, resisting an officer, assault with a deadly weapon (a horse?), and unlawful flight to running a red light and jaywalking. By the time they sent me back to face the kidnaping charge, I would be at least a hundred and fifty-three years old.

It looked as though it would not be a good idea to let them catch me.

It also looked as though the police did not have Minna, did not know where she was, and did not especially care. Almost all of the papers mentioned the girl, referring to her variously as my daughter and my “young female friend” – I suppose they planned to add statutory rape to my list of crimes. The general journalistic opinion seemed to be that Minna was being cared for by terrorists with whom I was associated, although one scandal sheet – in French, yet – hinted that I had murdered her and floated the body out to sea.

I put the last paper aside and looked up at Arlette, who had been waiting more or less patiently.


“They don’t have her.”

“Who does?”

I stood up, performed my caged-lion imitation, then turned to face her again. “I keep coming back to those damned Cubans,” I said. “I can’t think what motive they might have had-”

“Nor could I. After all, she is not the Queen of England!”

She was the someday Queen of Lithuania, but I had not brought this fact to Arlette’s attention. She was also my little friend and ostensible daughter, but I had similarly failed to tell Arlette that I was an American agent, much as I had failed to tell the Chief that I wasn’t. I had to agree, though, that she was not the Queen of England.

“Let’s forget motive,” I said. “I have a hunch something funny is going on in the Cuban Pavilion. If she had just gotten lost, she would have gotten found by now. Even if something, uh, bad happened to her” – I did not want to think about this – “uh, they would know by now. I think she must have been kidnaped, and the only place that could have happened was inside that Cuban nuthouse.” I began pacing again. “Something’s going on there. I walked through the place twice yesterday and couldn’t figure it out, but there is sure as hell something going on. If I took another look around-”

“It is impossible, Evan. You would be recognized.”

“I could disguise myself-”

“Your photograph is everywhere. Even if you covered your head with a paper sack, you would be recognized. I will go.”


“Of course. Am I wanted by the police? Am I one to arouse their suspicions? Am I even one who has been within the pavilion? No, no, no. And so why should I not go?”

“You wouldn’t know what to look for.”

“What would you look for?”

“Well, uh-”

“You see?” She spread her little hands in triumph. “Even you do not know what it is that you wish to find. And so I will go. It is settled.”

“You really ought to be careful.”

“Of what?”

“Don’t do anything, well, unusual.”

She smiled reminiscently. “Sometimes I am fond of doing unusual things, cabbage.”

“I know.”

“Or perhaps you do not regard as unusual-”

“I know, I know.”

She stepped close to me. Her hand fastened on my upper arm. It was impossible to believe that just a little while ago she had emerged from bed looking like incipient death. But most people, and especially women, look better entering a bed than leaving it.

“Emile will arrive in an hour,” she said.

“How unfortunate.”

“You do not recall? He wishes to meet with you to plan the arrangements for the Queen.” Her eyes flashed. “I know you will develop a brilliant plan, Evan. It is vital to us.”

“I know.”

“And when he arrives, I will leave. Or perhaps I will go just before he gets here, to the fair. To the Pavilion of Cuba. You follow me?”


“Pardon? But Emile will not arrive for an hour, cherished one. If I were in fact Jeanne d’Arc I might choose to spend that hour in prayer, beseeching my Maker for guidance. How I worshiped the Maid when I too was intact! I addressed my prayers to her, I wished to grow up in her image.” She shook her head sadly. “And then when I was just fifteen, a boy touched me right here, can you imagine?” I could imagine. “And I had the most extraordinary reaction! And since then, why, I have been a terrible woman! A creature of the Devil himself, do you not agree?”

“The spawn of Satan.”

“But certainly.” She shook her head again. “Since then I cannot so much as light a candle to Sainte Jeanne. How could I do this? It would shame me. It would be – Evan, do not touch me like that.”

“Why not?”

“Because I will have the most extraordinary reaction.”

“Well, fine. My own reaction-”

“Ah, but of course! Two portions of eggs, no?”

“It would not have done to let them go to waste.”

“Nor would it do to let this go to waste. Let us become unclad, eh?”

And shortly before Emile arrived (and shortly after we did): “I will tell you this about the Maid, Evan.”


“In a way, I am her superior. I blaspheme, you say?”

“I say no such thing-”

“But my words are true. With all of this, I remain passionately devoted to my country, to my people. But if Jeanne had ever had a taste of this, she would have let France go hang. I swear it!”

Emile brought friends. The Berton brothers, Jean and Jacques. Both were about my height, with wavy black hair, long, straight noses, and sharply defined features. I could not place their accents at first but later learned that they were from Algeria. Though still in their middle twenties, both had fought valiantly with the OAS in a last-ditch attempt to keep Algeria in French hands. Before De Gaulle managed to disunite the two countries, it had seemed that only two possible solutions to the Algerian question existed – one might liquidate eight million Arabs or one million French colons. Jean and Jacques had done their best to bring the former solution into being.

Jean, the older of the two by a year, had annihilated a variety of persons by hurling bombs into markets in the Casbah. Jacques had raided a Moslem hospital, firing Sten gun bursts into bedridden Arabs. They had not exactly played by the Marquis of Queensbury rules, but then neither had the FLN. When The Magnificent Charles began to cool things, both Jean and Jacques did what they could to cool him instead, and failed.

It had thus become imperative for them to leave Algeria and to stay out of France. They went at first to Israel – though they were not Jews, they were anxious for the opportunity to go on killing Arabs. Their OAS experience, however, had not prepared them for the task of distinguishing between enemy Arabs and the presumably friendly Arab citizens of Israel, and it presently behooved them to find another home. They were now in Montreal; I wondered where they would go next.

“I have brought Jean and Jacques to this meeting,” Emile said, “not only because they are experienced and intelligent” – the brothers beamed – “but also because they are among the more levelheaded and peaceable of our contingent.”

The brothers exchanged glances.

“They realize the distinction between valid political action and the perpetration of an outrage. While such as Claude-”

“Claude is a fool,” Jean said.

“A madman,” Jacques echoed.

“It would be sheer folly,” said Jean, “to assassinate the Queen.”

“Before,” said Jacques, “our demands have been announced.”

“If they are then refused, it is another matter.”

“Then she would of course be killed. She would be tried, found guilty, and executed.”

“There is a difference between execution and assassination.”

“The difference between planned terrorism and madness.”

I looked at Emile, who looked substantially less alarmed than I felt he ought to. If these bright boys were his moderates, I didn’t want to have anything to do with his extremists.

“The longest journey begins with a single step,” he said.

“In the wrong direction?”

He sighed. “One takes things a step at a time, my friend. A step at a time. One must not be too intent on working out every little detail too far in advance. The picture can change, is it not so?” He drew on his pipe. “One has a vision, a picture of a bright tomorrow. But it is not sufficient merely to have a vision. One must take steps to achieve it.”

“I could not agree more. But-”

“But no. One takes steps. One feels one’s way, and when two forks in the road present themselves” – or even one fork, I thought – “one unerringly selects the right path. If the vision is always in sight, if the steps are certain-”

“If anything happens to Mrs. Battenberg, they’ll be able to bury Quebec in a matchbox.”

“Mrs. Battenberg? I do not-”

“Her married name. Before he changed it. The hell with it. I’m getting a headache.”

“You have been thinking too much.” He shook his head in reproach. “It is no time for thought, my comrade. We must plan.”

I honored that statement with a moment of silent devotion, and then we did in fact get down to the serious madness of planning Mrs. Battenberg’s abduction. One of the OAS lads unfolded a map, and we spread it out on the floor and huddled over it, tracing the route that the regal barge was virtually certain to take, noting the natural defenses that presented themselves, and taking into account everything but the tides and the signs of the zodiac in planning our ambush.

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