Tanner's Tiger Page 8

“Is she all right?”

“-Canadian Mounted Police. I-”

“Where’s Minna?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know, sir. I-”

“You don’t know?”

“No. I-”

“My little girl is missing.”

“Yes, sir. I know.”

“You don’t know anything about her? Where she is?”


“Then, uh, what are you doing here?”

“I’m afraid I have to place you under arrest, sir.”

“Illegal entry,” he was saying. “Suspect that’s the only charge you’ll have to contend with, Mr. Tanner. They’ve been going easy on subversion and conspiracy charges, especially with regard to foreigners. My guess is you’ll just be charged with illegal entry.”

“How about mopery?”

He ignored this. “You’ll have to come with us now, sir.”


“My fellow officer is waiting downstairs.”

“Oh. My little girl-”

“Yes, sir. That would be Minna, sir?”

“She’s lost.”

“I’m certain we’ll be able to locate her, sir.”


“Children do turn up, don’t they, sir? If you’ll come downstairs with me now, sir…”

I turned around. There was a window. If I wanted to, I could make a run for it, crash through the glass, and wait below on the sidewalk for them with a leg or two broken. It seemed foolhardy. They always get their man, anyhow, and if I were going to be gotten, I decided I might as well be intact at the moment of capture.

I followed him down the stairs. Outside, at the curb, another uniformed Mountie stood alongside a splendid pair of chestnut horses. This second Mountie was almost as tall as Sergeant Rowland, who in turn was almost as tall as the horses. He said, “Tanner?”

I nodded. It seemed a little late to deny it.

“Now, that’s a bit of luck, isn’t it?” he said to Rowland. “No one with him, I don’t suppose?”

“Room was empty.”

“A shame, but at least we let him go to ground. Not enough to get the fox, you ought to know the location of the foxhole as well. Wonder how many more of the terrorists we’ll find in this bloody hotel.”

“I just came here,” I said, “because they had a room available.”

They ignored me. “Might be worth posting a man here,” Rowland said. “Might mention as much back at the post.”

“Might do.”

“How did you find me?”

They looked down at me again. “Left a trail a yard wide, you did,” said the one who wasn’t Rowland.

“At the fair?”

“At the fair. That page coming over the public address – now, we couldn’t honestly miss that, could we?”

I had wondered myself at the advisability of using my own last name when paging Minna, but hadn’t seen any enormous drawback. Immigration officers and customs inspectors may have lists of undesirables, and when they do, I am usually on them. But the Expo, even with the cute little passports they gave out, seemed a different sort of proposition.

“And what with your name and picture circulated just this morning all over the country-”


“Illegal entry,” said Rowland. “Crossed the border at Buffalo-Fort Erie. Why, Fort Erie had it on the wire middle of yesterday afternoon. And I’d say the government had your photograph on file. Don’t know as I would have recognized you from it, but with the page and all…”

Somehow or other Jerzy Pryzeshweski had fouled things up. It had not occurred to me that it was unsafe to abandon a Polish truckdriver with a blowout. Evidently the problem of getting back across the border had been insurmountable for him, and he had blown up as thoroughly as his tire.

“Followed you all the way from the fairgrounds, we did,” Sergeant Rowland said. “A good thing those buses make plenty of stops en route.” He reached up to pat the neck of one of the horses. “Old Chevalier here had himself a merry ride.”

“You followed me from Expo on horseback,” I said.

“We did, indeed.”

“Oh,” I said. I looked up at them and at the horses and at the sky. It was warmer than ever. Probably, I thought, as warm as New York. Perhaps even warmer. We need never have left, Minna and I. We could still be there, and in that case I would not be under arrest and Minna would not be lost and-

“Illegal entry,” I said.

Sergeant Rowland nodded.

“What will they do to me?”

“Deport you, I’d guess. Wouldn’t you say, Tom?”

“Sometimes, now, there’ll be a jail sentence, but that’s if they should press charges for what you’ve done in Canada. Not likely, I shouldn’t think. Simple deportation for illegal entry, especially what with the Buffalo police pressing for extradition for a more serious crime.”

“For a what?”

“Kidnap, wasn’t it, Tom?”

“Kidnaping, forcing the victim to convey you across an international boundary, and I’m not certain what else.” He smiled winningly. “Don’t think you’ll have to worry about being kept long in Canada, Mr. Tanner. Just long enough for them to process the paperwork, don’t you know, and then ship you back to the Stateside people.”

“Of course you’ll be questioned, I’d say. Contacts in Montreal and I don’t know what. Why, I don’t know but that they’ll want to know more than a little about your terrorist friends and what they have planned. But you’ll be in an American jail before long.”

If I ever got out of jail, which seemed less likely by the minute, I would have to do something about Jerzy Pryzeshweski. Something terminal.

“About the girl,” I said.

“The girl?”

“My daughter. Minna.”

“Oh, yes.”

“I really have to find her,” I said. “You see, she disappeared. Here one minute, then gone.”

“Of course she’s in the country illegally, too-”

“Well, the hell with that,” I said. “I just want her with me.”

“Turn up soon, I suspect. Think so, Will?”

“They generally do,” Rowland said.

“That’s wonderful,” I said, “but-”

“Trust they’ll take it up with you once we get back to the station. Tom, you lead the way on Chevalier, how’s that? And Mr. Tanner and I will follow on Prince Hal.”

“Prince Hal is that horse,” I said.

“Why, right you are, sir. Now, if you’ll just ride up forwards like, not too far up on his neck but leaving the saddle for me, and I’ll give you a hand up if the stirrup’s not easy for you, and-”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I said.

They weren’t. I have ridden horses before, and I do not doubt that I will do so again, but I would much prefer not to. I don’t mind donkeys, nor do I much mind riding on a cart behind a horse or a mule or whatever, but bouncing along on top of a horse makes me feel like a horse. Or a part of one, anyway. Sergeant Rowland gave me a hand up, and I landed very unpleasantly with a leg on either side of the beast, and Tom got onto the other horse, and Rowland leaped deftly into the saddle behind me. Chevalier led the way and we followed on Prince Hal, and by this time, as you may well imagine, quite a crowd had collected. I guess the populace had gotten the gist of things, because a few sympathizers shouted “Québec Libre!” from the sidelines, and one spectator actually had the effrontery to pelt poor old Chevalier with an egg. Most of the crowd, however, either had no political sympathies for me or preferred to keep them hidden. As far as they were concerned, it was all an interesting spectacle; the cheer they raised was nonpartisan, expressing equal enthusiasm for the Mounties, for me, and for the two splendid, if uncomfortable, animals who carried us.

“Not much of a hand at this sort of thing, sir? If you try to move when he moves, do you see-”

“He bounces,” I said.

“A good gait, he has. You move with him, see.”

I moved with him whether I wanted to or not. We cut west on Ste. Catherine, moving inexorably toward downtown Montreal. I asked where exactly we were going and Rowland gave me the address, but it didn’t do me much good; it was a street I hadn’t heard of before. It didn’t really matter, I decided. Uncomfortable as the ride might be, the next few days or weeks or months promised to be considerably less comfortable.

I couldn’t take the kidnaping charge seriously; Jerzy would withdraw that soon enough, one way or the other. But there was still enough potential doom in the air without it. And Minna’s absence, I decided, was far more sinister than I had at first realized. Perhaps the Cubans had machine-gunned her in the courtyard. Perhaps the Argentinians had kidnaped her for the white slave trade. Perhaps some agents from the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic had recognized her as the rightful Queen of Lithuania. Perhaps someone from the Israeli Pavilion wanted to use her blood to make unleavened bread. Perhaps-

Hell. I had accepted the Cuban Pavilion assignment, after having been provided with every possible opportunity to cop out. Now it was impossible to carry it out. Everything had already gone wrong, and once I disappeared inside whatever sort of fortress the Royal Canadian Mounted Police maintained for American kidnapers, I would be completely out of control; even more things could go wrong, and there wouldn’t be anything on earth I could do about them.

There is a sort of situation in which the thinking processes quickly wither utterly away, leaving in their wake an animal who lives wholly in the present and responds automatically and instinctively. And so, though I would rather prefer to say that I planned what happened next, I can honestly make no such claim. It sort of happened.

We were approaching the intersection of Ste. Catherine and Rue de la Something. The light was green. Chevalier and Tom had already crossed the intersection, and we were moving into it, Prince Hal and Rowland and I. I was perched on the horse’s neck and feeling like one, and Sergeant Rowland had one arm over my shoulder, the reins in his hand, and Prince Hal, for his part, was proceeding at what I guess was a brisk trot.

So I grabbed the reins in one hand and tugged back hard, and then I dropped them momentarily to take Rowland’s arm in both hands, one at the elbow and the other back near the shoulder. I couldn’t really get my back into the maneuver, but the sudden cessation of forward movement on Prince Hal’s part made up for what I lacked in leverage, and I supplied a sort of pivotal movement with my shoulders and ducked my head and threw up and out with both arms, and Sergeant William Rowland of the RCMP sailed over first my head and then Prince Hal’s head before landing upon his own.

I sort of bounced backward, aiming for the saddle. This didn’t work as well as it might have – I hadn’t remembered about the saddle horn – but I did wind up in the right place. I snatched up the reins in my right hand. I’m not sure which hand you’re supposed to hold the reins in, if it matters. I aimed my feet at the stirrups and couldn’t reach them. So I pulled Prince Hal’s head around sharply to the right, and I kicked my unstirruped feet into the sides of his rib cage, and the noble beast took off down Rue de la Something as if someone had told him the randiest mare in creation was waiting at the next corner.

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