Tanner's Tiger Page 17

“Enough,” the man was saying now. “Enough, more than enough.” He lowered the gun and pocketed it. “You will understand that I have as little use for such passwords as you yourself, but at such times one cannot do less than display maximum caution.” He smiled savagely. “Of course I heard the shots. I was on the water when they sounded, and made my approach in silence. How was I to know who triumphed, eh? You could have been dead, and your assailants after me. Eh?”

“Of course.”

“You have the money?”

“Yes,” I said, wondering idly what money he meant, and who he was, and what Arlette had said to him, and what, for that matter, we were all of us doing here. “Yes,” I said, “I have it.”

“Very good. You will want this, of course.”

He handed me a flat black attaché case. I took it by the handle and ran my hand over the side of it. Fine leather, soft, smooth.

“And I will want – the paper sack? Yes?”

“But certainly,” I said, and handed him our sandwiches and burglar tools.

He patted it lovingly, then turned from us and tossed the sack into his own boat. He turned to face us again. “You might tell the man that we can undertake to ship more frequently if the market position holds up. You will tell him that?”


“I myself am only a courier. I speak messages as they are given to me, just as I relay parcels as I receive them. No offense?”

“None at all.”

“I am glad,” he said. He smiled again, like a wolf baring its teeth, vaulted into his boat, and turned a key in the ignition. His engines roared into life and his boat dashed off to the east.

Without a word, Arlette and I got into our own little boat. I bent over the little outboard motor and cranked it.

“The sound of the engine,” she began.

“The hell with it,” I said. “I want to get out of here in a hurry.”

The engine caught. I spun the boat around and headed back in the direction from which we had come; the opposite direction the larger vessel had taken. I wanted to get as far away from him as possible. I did not ever want to see that man again.



“This satchel.”


“Do you know what is in it?”


“Neither do I. Why did he take our sandwiches?”

“Perhaps he was hungry.”

She lapsed into a hurt silence. I piloted our little boat through the dark waters. Everything had gone quietly mad. I felt as though we were playing out parts in a script based upon a painting by Salvador Dali. Who was the dead man? Who killed him and why? Where did the other man come from, and why had he given us the satchel, and what was he talking about, babbling that the bullet that would kill him had not been cast? And Arlette-

“You knew the answer,” I said suddenly.


“You knew the rest of the password.”

“What password?”

“The bullet that would kill him.”

“Evan, are you feeling well?”

“No,” I said, “but that has nothing to do with it. Look, he pointed a gun at us. At me, actually. And he said something about a bullet-”

“‘The bullet that will kill me is not yet cast.’”


“Was that a password?”

“It seems so. And you answered him. Didn’t you know it was a password?”

“But no.”

“Then how in hell-”

“It was a saying of Napoleon,” she said.

I thought for a moment. She was right, I thought – it was a saying of Napoleon, uttered in 1814 at Montereau. It was the sort of smart-ass remark military leaders are apt to make, especially when they’re sitting in tents a few miles behind the front lines.

So Napoleon said it. Wonderful. And the man with the gun might easily have been nutty enough to think he was Napoleon. But-

“You answered him,” I said.


“Are you Josephine or something?”

She frowned. “Evan, you must be very tired. You had no sleep tonight and I doubt that you slept much last night either. As soon as we return to the apartment-”

“You answered him.”


“What did you say?”

“I continued the oath.”

“The oath?” I looked at her. “What oath?”

“The Bonapartiste oath.”


“He seemed to be waiting for an answer, and-”

“Yes, of course.”

“So I continued the oath.” She hesitated for a moment. “It would perhaps be better if you did not tell the others, but I am a Bonapartiste. I do not believe that it is incompatible with the movement for the liberation of Quebec, although there are those who would disagree with me. But should not French Canada and France herself be united under a strong leader, a single leader who is a descendant of the great Napoleon himself and who will again restore French glory and French empire throughout the world and who will-”

“Oh,” I said.


“That man spoke with an unusual accent.”


“A Corsican accent, wasn’t it?”

She thought it over. “It is possible. I could not say.”

“I think it was. It sounded a little like French spoken by an Italian, didn’t it? A Corsican accent.”

“Napoleon was a Corsican.”


“So the man was a Bonapartiste, Evan. It is simple, no? I did not think the Cause had much activity in this hemisphere, but-”

I shook my head. “I do not think the man was a Bonapartiste.”

“But of course! You yourself said he was a Corsican, and he recited the oath, the beginning of the oath-”

“I think he used the oath as a password. A fairly natural password for a Corsican, I guess.”


“A Corsican coming to Montreal to exchange a parcel for some money.”

“But we gave him sandwiches and tools,” she said. “And my cigarettes. Damn, I want a cigarette!”

“You’ll have to wait. He didn’t know we gave him sandwiches and tools. He thought we gave him money.”

“I see.”

I don’t know whether she did or not, but I did. The Corsican had come to meet someone, someone who was carrying a consignment of cash. The man with the money was ambushed and shot, and had left his blood all over the plastic lawn at the Man In The Home Pavilion. His murderers took the cash, and Arlette and I went on to meet the Corsican.

And gave him lunch. And took, in return, what?

I had a fair idea.

They grow it in Turkey, in huge fields where the workers earn fifteen or twenty cents a day. They ship it to France, where the men of the Union Corse, the Corsican Mafia, refine it carefully in hidden laboratories. Then they ship it to Canada, and there French Canadians buy it and cut it and parcel it out and ship it once more to New York and Philadelphia and Chicago and Detroit.


I managed to sail us back to where Arlette’s friend had left the boat for us. I tied up the boat, and Arlette and I returned to her apartment. Dawn was breaking by the time we got back. Arlette tore open a pack of Gauloise and lit a cigarette. I sat down on the bed and opened the attaché case, and inside were three cylindrical tins. I managed to open one of them, wet a finger, dipped it into the white powder, and licked it.


“What is it, Evan?”

I capped the tin, returned it to the case. I sat with the case open on my lap and looked down at the three tins. The Union Corse was not going to be happy about this, I thought. Neither, for that matter, were the men who were supposed to be on the receiving end of the shipment. Nor the ultimate consumers, who would start walking up the walls when the supply ran thin.


“It’s heroin,” I said quietly. “Three kilos of it, I guess. Enough heroin to turn on half the world.”

She had dozens of questions. She wanted to know why we had it and whose it was and what I proposed to do with it. I couldn’t answer the last question and didn’t have the strength to answer the others. I just sat there and looked at the three tins and thought about Mounties and Cubans and French Canadians and Corsicans and wondered, without particularly caring, which of them would kill me first.

Arlette finished her cigarette, then got undressed and into bed. She was quite surprised, and perhaps a little bit hurt, when I did not want to make love. She found it difficult to understand. I sat with her until she fell asleep, and then I found the brandy bottle and communed with it until it was empty.

The sun came up, hot as ever. I prowled through Arlette’s cupboards until I found an old bottle of cooking sherry, and I drank that, too. On the seven o’clock newscast I learned that a body had been discovered at the Expo site, and that foul play was feared. At eight o’clock I discovered that De Gaulle had made a forceful speech at Lyon, coming out foursquare for the independence of Quebec. At eight thirty Arlette’s radio assured me that a spokesman for Mrs. Battenberg had denied that Free Quebec sentiment would affect plans for a royal visit to the fair.

At nine o’clock fingerprints on the murder gun were positively identified as belonging to Evan Michael Tanner, American, fugitive from justice, kidnaper, terrorist, and killer.

I looked at the heroin and wished I had a hypodermic needle.

Chapter 12

“Of course you realize that it is suicide.”

“I know this,” Emile said. “Utter suicide. You would not have a chance.”

“I do not expect a chance. I am not a fool, Evan.”

I doubted this. I looked at Emile, then glanced at the bed where Arlette was still sleeping. It was somewhere around noon and she was still asleep and I envied her. Insomnia, I decided, was more curse than blessing. Arlette managed to escape the slipstream of human madness for eight hours out of every twenty-four. God, how I envied her.

I looked again at Emile. He was seated, with Jean and Jacques Berton crouching at his right like couchant lions while Claude hulked grimly at his left. He didn’t look mad, I thought. And when he spoke, he seemed quite calm and rational. Until one happened to pay attention to his words.

“I am not afraid to die, Evan.”

“It is not a question of personal fear. The movement-”

“The movement needs our deaths more than our lives.” The sentence has at least as grand a ring to it in French as in English. “The movement cries out for martyrs, Evan. The MNQ is – admit it – in many quarters no more than a joke. A majority of those who sympathize with us nevertheless regard us as cranks, as unworldly fanatics. Is it not so?”

“All extremist movements begin in that fashion, Emile-”

“And how is public opinion changed?”

I didn’t get a chance to answer that one. “By fire and blood,” Claude cut in. He coughed and spat for emphasis. “By the grand act, by sacrifice.”

“Exactly,” said Emile. “Exactly. The grand act, bold and daring and dramatic. The act need not be logical. It may be senseless, it may be foredoomed to failure. This does not matter. But it must be an act that brings counteraction, an act that yields a crop of martyrs for the cause. The soil of liberty is fertilized by the blood of martyrs. You know this is true, Evan. You know full well that nothing rallies the public to a cause like the demonstrated willingness of patriots to die for it.”

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