Castle To Castle Part 13

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"You did call me a Jew, didn't you, Doctor? Yes, I know, you weren't the only one . . . There was also Je suis partout! Je suis partout!"

"Not in so many words, Monsieur le President! . . . they didn't call you that in so many words! but I did, Monsieur le President!"

"Ah, I like that! Right to my face!"

He bursts out laughing . . . he's not a bad sort . . . but he didn't take me by surprise, I knew what was going to happen . . . inevitable! . . .

"But you wrote the same thing yourself!"



"Oh, that was for my constituents . . . in Aubervilliers!"

"I know! I know, Monsieur le President!"

Something else on his mind . . .

"But you, Doctor, why are you here? . . . why are you in Siegmaringen? . . . they tell me you complain a good deal . . ."

Who did he think he was fooling?

"If I'm here, Monsieur le President, it's entirely thanks to you! you absolutely refused to send me anywhere else! You could have! Absolutely!"

I'm beginning to get sore! hell! his air of innocence! I know what I'm saying! . . . it would suit that scowling Arab for me to pay for the whole gang! to take the rap for all those lousy three-timing connivers! to foot the bill! and as long as we're talking frankly . . . and he's fooling around putting me on trial . . . it's my turn to bring up a few unpleasant truths! . . . I'm not dozing any more! . . .

"You found a spot for Morand! you found a spot for Maurois! . . . and Fontenoy! you found a spot for Fontenoy! . . . you found a spot for your daughter!"

"That's enough! That's enough, Celine!"

He stops me . . . I had a dozen more . . . a hundred!

"You found a spot for Brisson . . . Robert! you found a spot for Morand! I was right there . . . in his house!"

I don't pull any punches . . . I've got a memory like an elephant . . . people always think they can con me, my dumb look . . .

He has to have the last word . . .

"Then you know what people say about you?"

"Me? . . . I'm of no interest! . . . better talk about the big news . . . would you care to hear some really interesting news, Monsieur Le President?"

"Where did you get it?"

'In the street! . . . really hot! . . . and very convenient for you. . ."

"Spit it out! Quick!"

"Well . . . the story is that the Russians are going to fight the Americans! there you are, Monsieur le President! . . ."

"That's what they're saying in Siegmaringen?"

"Absolutely!"

He thinks it over . . .

"The Russians fight the Americans? That's absolutely stupid and inept, Doctor! Have you stopped to think?"

"No . . . but that's what they're saying!"

"But that would mean chaos, Doctor! . . . chaos! do you know what chaos is?"

"Quite well, Monsieur le President!"

"You've never been in politics?"

"Oh, so little . . . and really I'm so incompetent . . ."

"Then you can't understand! you don't know what chaos is!"

I've some little idea . . ."

"No! . . . you don't know! I'll tell you! Chaos, Doctor, is a Julius Caesar in every village! . . . and twelve Brutuses to a county!"

"I believe you, Monsieur le President!"

I won't let him have his last word!

"But I'm not Caesar, and you could perfectly well have found a spot for me . . . like Morand, Jardin, and the rest of them! . . . I wasn't asking you for much . . . I wasn't asking for an Embassy! . . . you didn't do a thing! . . . I wasn't Brutus either! . . . you'd have handed me over to the Fifis if I hadn't come to Germany!"

I stick to my guns! . . . I know my stuff . . . absolutely sincerely right! . . . I'm the lightest man in Europe! and the least appreciated! I've got fifty Nobel prizes coming to me!

"No, Monsieur lePresident, I wouldn't be here!"

I want him to know!

He picks up his phone.

"I'm calling Bichelonne, I want him to hear you! . . . I want a witness! everybody's curious to know what you think! now everybody will know! . . . and not just me! . . . that I lured you into a trap here . . . an ambush?"

"Exactly, Monsieur le President!"

He's got Bichelonne on me phone . . .

"Do you know what Celine has been telling me? . . . he says I'm a crook, a no-good, a traitor, and a Jew!"

"Not all that! you're exaggerating, Monsieur le President!"

"No, Celine! . . . that's what you think! and you're entitled to your opinions! . . ."

He keeps on at the telephone . . . he talks . . . not about me any more . . . one thing and another . . . I watch him while he's talking . . . I see him on the slant, in profile . . . oh, I had the right idea! . . . if I wanted to compare him to somebody . . . I can still see him . . . somebody from now . . . I'd put him between Nasser and Mendes . . . the profile, the smile, the complexion, the Asiatic hair . . . one thing is sure! underneath the banter, he can't stand my guts . . . he was exactly in tune with present-day France, pure and sure, and pro-flunkarino . . . they shouldn't have drilled him, he was worn at least ten Mendeses!

"Come on over!"

He insists . . . Bichelonne isn't in the mood . . . he needs coaxing . . .

"He's coming!"

And there he is . . . not the Afro-Asiatic type . . . oh no, not he! he was the big blond type . . . his head was really enormous! A giant spermatozoid! . . . all head! . . . Bonnard is the same . . . the giant spermatozoid type . . . giant tadpoles . . . one more millimeter they'd be on exhibit . . . in a jar! . . . oh, it's Bichelonne all right! . . . but say . . . I can hardly recognize him . . . so drawn and pale . . . a sad state. . . trembling . . . that's why he hadn't wanted to come . . . Laval doesn't give him time to recover . . . He starts right in . . . He wants Bichelonne to listen! he's too upset, he doesn't hear a thing . . .

"What are you trembling about, Bichelonne?"

Good reason . . . plenty good reason . . . he tells us . . . he's stammering with emotion! . . . they've broken a windowpane on him! . . . one of the windows in his room! . . . Laval has had ten broken! . . . he tells us all about it . . . he's kidding Bichelonne . . . nothing to tremble about! . . . but Bichelonne isn't joking . . . not at all! . . . he wants to know who? . . . how? . . . why? . . . a stone? . . . a bullet? . . . a plane? . . . propeller blast? . . . a cyclone? that's what kills him, not knowing who? . . . how? . . . why? . . . Bichelonne is no canary . . . not at all, but here all of a sudden he's panicked . . . not knowing why? and how? . . . flummoxed! . . . the planes come so near his window! . . . they practically graze it! . . . but maybe a bullet from the street? . . . maybe? . . . he hasn't found any! . . . he's looked all night! . . . meticulously! . . . the ceiling . . . the walls . . . nothing! . . . naturally he doesn't give a shit about what the President wants him to know! that I called him this! and that! he doesn't listen! his windowpane! his windowpane! . . . how? who? . . . that's what interests him! . . . Laval is wasting his breath . . . Bichelonne paces the whole length of the immense First Empire desk! . . . his hands clasped behind his back . . . thinking . . . thinking hard! . . . his problem! . . . Laval starts all over again: I've accused him of this . . . and that! . . . he gilds the lily! . . . I've called him a contemptible swine for saving Morand, Jardin, Guerard! and a hundred others! a thousand others! and deliberately sacrificing me! . . . a private racial grudge! . . . so the niggers of Leclerc's army would find me here! and chop me into small pieces! . . . absolutely premeditated!

I wasn't going to interrupt him! he was in full swing!

"Bravo, Monsieur lePresident!"

Plea for the prosecution! I applaud! . . . He's prosecuting himself! . . . before another High Court! . . . the HighCourt of the imagination! . . . like the other . . . Both museums! . . .

"Bravo, Monsieur le President!"

He's turned me into the Supreme High Court! . . . Bichelonne doesn't listen, not interested . . . he paces, he mutters . . . suddenly he fires a question at Laval!

"What do you think?"

He doesn't give a damn about what I've said . . . or not said! . . . his problem is his window! he goes on pacing . . . limping . . . not the "distinguished limp" in his case . . . a real claudication! . . . a fracture that hasn't knit right . . . in fact he wants to have it fixed, to be operated before our return to France! . . . operated right here in Germany! . . . by Gebhardt! . . . I know Gebhardt well . . . another character! A fraud, I'd thought at first . . . not at all! . . . he'd been a general on the Russian front for six months . . . in command of a panzer panzer team . . . and for six months he'd been chief surgeon of the enormous S.S. hospital in Hohenlychen, East Prussia . . . you'd have taken him for a charlatan, too . . . a clown! . . . I was mistaken . . . I sent a friend of mine . . . extremely anti-Boche . . . to watch him operate . . . this S.S. surgeon Gebhardt was very skillfull . . . nuts? . . . definitely! in his super-hospital in Hohenlychen there were six thousand surgery patients, a city, four times the size of Bichat! . . . he staged football games with one-legged teams . . . war cripples . . . he was cracked like the supermen of the Renaissance . . . he excelled in two, three rackets . . . tank warfare, surgery . . . ah yes, and singing! . . . I heard him at the piano . . . very amusing . . . he improvised . . . there I'm a good judge . . . during the Hitler period the Boches came close to developing a race of Renaissance men . . . this Gebhardt was one of them! . . . Bichelonne was another . . . in a different way . . . he was a Polytechnician! . . . There hadn't been a genius like him since Arago . . . what impressed me was his memory! . . . prodigious! . . . in the Vichy government he'd been in charge of the railroads . . . making them run come hell or high water! a labor of Hercules! . . . every line, switch, timetable, and detour in his head! . . . to the minute! . . . to the second! . . . with all the culverts,tracks, and stations that were blown up every night! It was no joke! and patching! and mending! and rerouting! and getting her moving again! . . . and two seconds later more dynamite . . . someplace else! The Fifis wouldn't let him sleep! Europe will never recover from that dynamiting mania! hysterics and pie crust! everything sky-high! . . . the habit has sunk in! . . . it'll take the atom bomb to make the place normal and livable again! and now this business with the windowpane . . . stone? bullet? propeller? Bichelonne couldn't take it . . . his nerves were on edge from Vichy . . . and now this window-pane was too much! . . . from the street? . . . from the air? . . . I understood . . . his nerves were shot . . . team . . . and for six months he'd been chief surgeon of the enormous S.S. hospital in Hohenlychen, East Prussia . . . you'd have taken him for a charlatan, too . . . a clown! . . . I was mistaken . . . I sent a friend of mine . . . extremely anti-Boche . . . to watch him operate . . . this S.S. surgeon Gebhardt was very skillfull . . . nuts? . . . definitely! in his super-hospital in Hohenlychen there were six thousand surgery patients, a city, four times the size of Bichat! . . . he staged football games with one-legged teams . . . war cripples . . . he was cracked like the supermen of the Renaissance . . . he excelled in two, three rackets . . . tank warfare, surgery . . . ah yes, and singing! . . . I heard him at the piano . . . very amusing . . . he improvised . . . there I'm a good judge . . . during the Hitler period the Boches came close to developing a race of Renaissance men . . . this Gebhardt was one of them! . . . Bichelonne was another . . . in a different way . . . he was a Polytechnician! . . . There hadn't been a genius like him since Arago . . . what impressed me was his memory! . . . prodigious! . . . in the Vichy government he'd been in charge of the railroads . . . making them run come hell or high water! a labor of Hercules! . . . every line, switch, timetable, and detour in his head! . . . to the minute! . . . to the second! . . . with all the culverts,tracks, and stations that were blown up every night! It was no joke! and patching! and mending! and rerouting! and getting her moving again! . . . and two seconds later more dynamite . . . someplace else! The Fifis wouldn't let him sleep! Europe will never recover from that dynamiting mania! hysterics and pie crust! everything sky-high! . . . the habit has sunk in! . . . it'll take the atom bomb to make the place normal and livable again! and now this business with the windowpane . . . stone? bullet? propeller? Bichelonne couldn't take it . . . his nerves were on edge from Vichy . . . and now this window-pane was too much! . . . from the street? . . . from the air? . . . I understood . . . his nerves were shot . . .

It wasn't only his nerves they had wrecked! . . . his leg, too! . . . he'd been riding in a car . . . a little bomb! plump! plump! happy landing, your Excellency! . . . he'd been on his way to the Ministry of Information . . . three fractures that hadn't knit right, they'd have to break his leg again to get it straight . . . and he wanted it done right away, in Germany! he didn't want to go back to Paris in this condition! he knew Gebhardt slightly . . . he was dead set on going up there to Hohenlychen . . . Gebhardt had offered . . . it didn't sound very good to me . . . I hadn't much faith in Gebhardt . . . he was sold on him . . . okay . . . he had the faith . . . okay . . . but this situation! . . . my goodness! he kept mumbling instead of listening to Laval . . . pacing the whole length of the big First Empire desk . . . mumbling the pros . . . and the cons . . . a bullet? . . . a propeller tip? . . . sunk in his meditations . . . he was pretty funny with his enormous head . . . but Laval wasn't amused! . . . in fact he was getting good and sick of him! . . . he hadn't sent for him to pace and mumble about a windowpane . . . he wanted him to listen! "Look at that! . . . are you looking, Doctor? . . . he's not listening! . . . his windowpane! . . . all he cares about is his windowpane! . . ." happy landing, your Excellency! . . . he'd been on his way to the Ministry of Information . . . three fractures that hadn't knit right, they'd have to break his leg again to get it straight . . . and he wanted it done right away, in Germany! he didn't want to go back to Paris in this condition! he knew Gebhardt slightly . . . he was dead set on going up there to Hohenlychen . . . Gebhardt had offered . . . it didn't sound very good to me . . . I hadn't much faith in Gebhardt . . . he was sold on him . . . okay . . . he had the faith . . . okay . . . but this situation! . . . my goodness! he kept mumbling instead of listening to Laval . . . pacing the whole length of the big First Empire desk . . . mumbling the pros . . . and the cons . . . a bullet? . . . a propeller tip? . . . sunk in his meditations . . . he was pretty funny with his enormous head . . . but Laval wasn't amused! . . . in fact he was getting good and sick of him! . . . he hadn't sent for him to pace and mumble about a windowpane . . . he wanted him to listen! "Look at that! . . . are you looking, Doctor? . . . he's not listening! . . . his windowpane! . . . all he cares about is his windowpane! . . ."

Laval calls me to witness . . .

It couldn't go on like that! Laval knew the way . . . the one way to shake him out of his meditations: to ask him a stickler! no matter what! . . . put a different bee in his bonnet!

Tell me, Bichelonne . . . I'd appreciate it . . . I used toknow . . . I've forgotten . . . I need it for a little paper I'm doing . . . the capital of Honduras?"

Bichelonne pulls up sharp . . . now he's listening . . . he's not mumbling any more . . . he's going to answer . . .

"Tegucigalpa, Monsieur le President"

"No, no! I'm sorry, Bichelonne . . . British Honduras?"

"Belize, Monsieur le President!"

"Area, Bichelonne?"

"21,000 square kilometers . . ." l'Principal products?"

"Mahogany . . . resin . . ."

"Fine! Thank you, Bichelonne!"

Bichelonne gets back to his window . . . pacing and limping again . . . but he's a little less preoccupied . . . Belize has done him good . . .

"Tell me, Bichelonne, as long as I've got you here . . . I need your help again . . . I used to know all those things! . . . I've forgotten! . . . tungsten, Bichelonne? . . . Rochat is always talking about it . . . he took some away with him . . ."

"Atomic weight 183.9 . . . density 19.3 . . ."

Once he'd got that off his chest, Bichelonne sat down . . . He's tired of pacing . . . he massages his leg . . . Laval sees his chance . . . he goes to the mirror, smoothes his cowlick . . . he straightens his tie . . . he's going to give us some more High Court! . . . ah, not so fast! not so fast! . . . I've got a few words to say too! always listening to other people . . . a little wave of pride comes over me! . . . not very bright of me! . . . I thought I'd shut them up once and for all! I was quick to regret it! I still regret it! I seldom let myself go . . . but I'd been listening to them too long! . . .

"Here," I said, "Take a look at this!"

I put my cyanide down on the table in front of them . . . on Laval's desk . . . my little phial . . . out of my pocket! . . . as long as they're talking about rare metals! . . . I've always got my cyanide on me! . . . ever since Sartrouville . . . here, they can see it. . . and the red label . . . they both look . . .

I was always being asked for cyanide . . . I always said I didn't have any . . . oh, they're not bashful . . . not these two . . . they're arguing already which one gets it! . . . it's all right with me . . . I've still got three phials . . . sealed the same way . . . same cyanide . . . the trouble is that they'll blab . . . sure to! . . . and I'd never mentioned it to anybody . . .

"Can I have it? Can I have it?"

Both of them . . . oh, they're not joking any more!

"Share it!"

Let them work it out between themselves . . . Then I change my mind . . .

"No . . . don't fight . . . I'll give you each one! Once it's open, you know, once it catches the humidity, it's no good!"

"But when? . . . but when?"

Ah, now they're beginning to take me seriously! I take another phial out of another pocket . . . and still another out of my lining! I don't tell them the whole story, my hems are full of little packets . . . I don't want to be caught without it . . . okay! . . . I can see they respect me now . . . they've stopped talking . . . but they're happy . . . they'll talk again . . . nothing good!

"What can I do for you, Doctor?"

"Monsieur le President, if you'll kindly listen to me . . . in the first place don't open the phial . . . in the second place don't tell anybody . . ."

"Yes . . . that goes without saying! but yourself? . . . you must have some little wish?"

I get another little idea! I'd always refused everything! everything! . . . but the way things are . . . what difference does it make?

"Well, Monsieur le President, you could appoint me governor of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon . . ."

No point in pussyfooting!

"Granted! . . . it's a promise! . . . you'll make a note of it, Bichelonne?"

"Certainly, Monsieur le President!"

Laval has a little question though . . .

"Who gave you that idea, Doctor?"

"Just like that, Monsieur le President! the beauties of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon! . . ."

Castle To Castle Part 13

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Castle To Castle Part 13 summary

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