From his window overlooking Dzerzhinsky Square, newly-appointed Assistant Deputy Stanislav Ivanovich Paslov watched Moscow’s colorless inhabitants scurrying beneath the Lubyanka’s terrifying shadow and felt the world shrinking around him. The Cold War was going well for the legion of gray-suited bureaucrats who went about their business in the Soviet Union’s corridors of power. For Paslov that was both the joy and the misery of it.
As recently appointed General with responsibility for Soviet espionage cells in Western Europe, Paslov occupied a second-floor corner office in the Lubyanka with a view across the square and on to the bustling Teatralny Proezd. In keeping with his newly-promoted status, the party had gifted him the use of a Black Sea dacha, just to the west of Yalta in the Crimean Oblast. Much to his wife’s annoyance, Paslov and his stubborn Bolshevik conscience flatly refused to even visit it.
His was one of the few voices of reason in an otherwise bellicose Kremlin, but as a mere assistant deputy in the Ministry for State Security, or MGB, it was a voice ignored by many. Paslov was a spymaster with few equals, a man of vision and guile, and champion of the proletarian cause. Many held him in high esteem, but those in the highest positions of power and influence held a wider divergence of opinion.
To the ageing Joseph Stalin, the paranoid Soviet supremo, he was an unknown quantity and therefore untrustworthy, but then Stalin thought that of everyone around him. To the great and terrible Mingrelian Monster, Deputy Premier and Head of State Security Lavrenti Beria, he was as close to a friend as Beria could boast. To Beria’s uneasy ally, Georgy Malenkov, he was a voice of calm, a man of reason, and something of a liability. To the scheming alliance of Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev he was a conduit to Beria, and potential co-conspirator in the forthcoming battle for Presidium supremacy.
Not that Paslov’s physical appeal was the stuff of a young woman’s dreams, neither was his physique hewn from the granite of more conventional Soviet heroes. Stanislav Paslov was small in stature and slight of frame, standing less than five feet, nine inches tall, and weighing less than one hundred and twenty pounds. A pock-marked complexion and bad teeth bore testament to formative years of poverty and malnutrition under the Romanovs. Over thirty years of sacrifice in the Bolshevik cause, topped off with two years in a Nazi concentration camp, had aggravated that earlier decay.
On the far side of his office door a young and attractive typist called Valeriya wiggled and giggled while she typed and filed his reports, and a stern and formidable middle-aged secretary called Liliya glared her authority, managed his diary, and kept his confidence.
On the nearside of his office door Stanislav Paslov was doing as he always did first thing each morning, reading his mail and sifting through the regular mundane correspondence from his many informers in western Europe. On this particular morning, though, his usual routine had been disrupted and his curiosity elevated by two separate reports.
The reports originated from unrelated sources in London and Paris, and offered evidence of a high-level conspiracy involving British Intelligence. This, in itself, was unremarkable and of little interest. Since the defections of the two Cambridge spies, Burgess and Maclean, a nose-out-of-joint British Intelligence community regularly conspired to even the score with Moscow. What was more remarkable, and of significantly greater interest to Stanislav Paslov, was the ‘someone’ with whom the British allegedly conspired.
The individual’s identity remained shrouded, but it had to be someone in a position of significant power and influence, and probably a member of the Presidium. Paslov reasoned this to be true, because the alleged conspiracy involved a promise of Soviet withdrawal from strategic areas of Europe in return for western aid.
With the latest round of bloodthirsty purges, Joseph Stalin’s stranglehold on the Soviet Union was stronger than ever, but now even the redoubtable Stalin was beginning to show his age. Like predatory vultures hovering in the skies above the Kremlin, Moscow’s most ambitious were gathering and watching and waiting. The Georgian tyrant clearly wouldn’t last for ever, but while his terror apparatus still reined in the iron fist of Lavrenti Beria only a handful of the most powerful men in Moscow could credibly offer the west any such undertaking.
The London report had originated from conversations overheard by a low-level mole in the British Foreign Office. That was routine enough and convincing enough, but taken in isolation it could be dismissed as the sort of well-intentioned disinformation that is often the result of agents picking up on idle office gossip and unsubstantiated rumor.
However, the Paris report could never be dismissed as any kind of gossip, or well-intentioned disinformation. The Paris report would have to be the result of an incredibly complex and malicious web of lies, fiction, and disinformation, or it would have to be true.
The initiating field agent had been Jacqueline Sobell, a young French national and disciple to the cause, whose career with the MGB had begun more than three years earlier.
As he studied photographs, read the background and psychological profiles, listened to the many recordings and interviews, and pieced together the whole sordid story, Stanislav Paslov found himself increasingly intrigued by the beautiful features, complex psyche, and undoubted tragedy that was Jacqueline Sobell.
Born into poverty among the backstreets of Paris in November 1929, Jacqueline Sobell had grown from spindly-limbed infant into a mature and sophisticated young woman. Her bearing was tall and elegant, the buttocks firm, the breasts proud, the waist pinched, the legs long and slender. When she moved she moved with sensuality and grace. When she returned a furtive glance or impertinent stare, the features that stunned were classically French: the skin soft and clear, the eyes brown, the teeth white and even, and the lips full.
Although her psychological profile highlighted an apparent taste for the darker eccentricities of human desire, Jacqueline Sobell’s skills profile spoke of an alert and inquiring mind, an aptitude for languages, and a quickness to learn.
Impressed by her profile, and privately enamored of the young woman’s obvious beauty, Stanislav Paslov studied the photographs of her before moving on to read the original MGB selection recommendations and reports.
The background and psychological reports were comprehensive and harrowing. They recorded that Jacqueline Sobell’s parents had been killed in 1943, while working for the communist resistance. Orphaned and vulnerable, the teenage Jacqueline had been ‘taken in’ by a female friend of the family, who immediately put her to work in one of the occupying forces’ backstreet brothels. The trauma of that experience, allied with the resulting emotional void, had left the young woman a borderline misanthrope with deep and permanent psychological scarring that manifested itself in a need to subjugate any feelings of tenderness or affection.
In addition to her understandable mistrust of womankind, and an equally understandable contempt for man, the death of Jacqueline’s parents and her appalling wartime experiences had also left the young woman harboring a fanatical resentment of all things politically right wing and a corresponding admiration for all things to the political left.
As she blossomed from sullen and abused teenager into sophisticated Parisian call girl, the underlying anger and resentment in Jacqueline Sobell festered and increased, until one cool April morning in 1949 when she sashayed into the Soviet Union’s Paris Embassy and boldly offered her services to the communist party.
Some months later, while trawling the cocktail bar at the George Cinq, she was approached by an agent from the Soviet Embassy, who told her that she had been specifically chosen to serve the Party and the cause. The same man also told her that she should immediately make her way to Austria, and to The Grand Hotel Wien in central Vienna, where a room had been reserved for her, and she would be further contacted.
Eighteen months after that, at the age of twenty-two, the now Moscow-trained Jacqueline Sobell received her first assignment.
Armed with fictitious references, and installed in a three-roomed apartment in one of the lesser sections of the 14th arrondissement, she was ordered to secure a position at the British Embassy in Paris. Once employed, she was to maintain a low profile, keep any friendships at arm’s length, perform given tasks to the best of her ability, and await further instructions.
And so she duly and religiously applied for various positions within the embassy, until securing a post as a junior clerk and part-time translator in the main procurement section. Armed with an array of Moscow-honed skills that lay well above and beyond the demands of her new and menial occupation, Jacqueline Sobell settled into a laborious daily routine that left little opportunity for social relationships and none for the darker excesses of her former life.
As anticipated, the work itself proved both repetitive and undemanding, but her willing attitude and strict adherence to Moscow directives gradually earned Jacqueline Sobell a reputation as a hardworking, conscientious, and reliable employee. It was a reputation that was to prove vital to the young woman in disguising her true and nefarious intent.
Around six months of boredom and frustration later she received further instructions and her second assignment, but this time the orders included a specific target and an objective.
Her target was Jeremy Beauchamp, ostensibly a senior British Embassy bureaucrat but in reality the head of SIS in France, an organization more commonly known as MI6. Her objective was to befriend and seduce the man into a clandestine affair, leading to the compromising of his position within British Intelligence and eventual recruitment by the Soviet MGB.
Stanislav Paslov picked up the file on Jeremy Beauchamp, and cast his mind back. He remembered both the man and the assignment well. It had been one of the first clandestine operations that a newly-promoted Comrade General Stanislav Ivanovich Paslov had sanctioned upon his arrival at the Lubyanka. At the time he hadn’t taken that much notice of the young Jacqueline Sobell, but he did recall having once met the aristocratic and pompous Jeremy Beauchamp.
It had been late 1945, at a postwar conference. Paslov had been a relatively junior representative of the NKVD. Jeremy Beauchamp had been a corresponding member of the British Foreign Office contingent. Paslov recalled Beauchamp as a tall, austere, and strait-laced bureaucrat, with immaculately-tailored clothes and handcrafted shoes. A slightly-hooked nose had lent an aristocratic distinction to features that showed little emotion, while his thin pale lips had sneered their condescension, and his pale-blue eyes had gazed unblinkingly down on Stanislav Paslov.
When Paslov had pronounced Beauchamp’s name phonetically, Beauchamp haughtily explained that the name should be pronounced Beecham, with the first syllable pronounced as in sandy beach or beech tree. Paslov had sneered at the pretension. Each man had taken an equal and instant dislike to the other.
Following their clash of personalities, Paslov had dismissed Beauchamp as a colorless and uninspiring character, unlikely to progress and unworthy of further consideration.
Paslov later conceded that it had been naïve of him, a prejudiced assessment that had been both emotive and inaccurate. He smiled a sardonic smile as he picked up that erroneous report from seven years earlier, and once again read through his subjective conclusions and recommendations. At the time Stanislav Paslov had been wrong about Jeremy Beauchamp, he knew that now, but it had taught him a valuable lesson. Never again would he allow his emotion to overrule his objectivity.
He placed the report to one side, and then picked up the profile and background report on Beauchamp.
Born into a wealthy and aristocratic family, Jeremy Bertrand Beauchamp was an only child, whose dictatorial father had once enjoyed a successful and all-consuming diplomatic career with the British Raj. In true-blue tradition Beauchamp’s downtrodden mother had also marched to the sound of the subcontinent’s diplomatic guns, leaving her young son’s emotional development to chance, and his formal education to the tender mercies of Harrow School and Caius College.
In the spring of 1929, Jeremy Beauchamp’s mother died of complications resulting from undiagnosed amebic dysentery. Beauchamp inherited her considerable estate. Far from taking her passing in his stride, his father never recovered from the loss. Distraught at her death, he retired from the diplomatic corps and eventually became a recluse within his own estate on the outskirts of Toulon, leaving son and heir and now Foreign Office rising star to manage the family fortune and establish his own niche within the circles of diplomacy.
Two years later, at the age of 31, the socially eligible and reputedly boorish Jeremy Beauchamp married the considerably younger Dorothy Onslow-Brown.
Known to her close friends as Dot or Dotty, Dorothy Onslow-Brown was a po-faced, slightly plump, and unapologetically snobbish product of Roedean, Château Mont-Choisi, and the debutante production line. She was the only daughter of his second cousin, and heiress to a shipping fortune. He was the last in a long line of titled diplomats and wealthy landowners.
The result of all that inbreeding, indoctrination, human tragedy, parental abdication, old money, and establishment rank closing was an emotionally barren and mismatched couple in a socially venerated but entirely loveless marriage.
Twenty-odd years on, the still slightly plump and now openly disenchanted Dorothy Beauchamp cared nothing for what her husband did or said. She lived only for fashionable Paris society, the latest guaranteed weight-loss diet, and the fawning attendance and youthful vigor of a succession of Gallic gigolos.
In addition to the openly-scornful Dorothy, Jeremy Beauchamp also boasted two plump and precocious teenage daughters, who disliked both parents in equal measure. The girls consequently spent a large part of their year at a Surrey boarding school, and the remainder with a doting maiden aunt at a fashionable address in South West London.
And so with Beauchamp’s two daughters farmed out to upper-class convention, and the snobbish Dorothy spending most of her time in upmarket hotels, struggling in and out of obscenely expensive dresses that were always one size too small, the stage was perfectly set for Jacqueline Sobell to instigate the seduction, compromise, and possible turning of the Paris Head of MI6.
As Paslov reached for the various reports on the specific operation, he once again studied the photographs of Jacqueline Sobell. There was no question. She was a stunning young woman. He could quite see why Beauchamp had been so captivated, and why seducing such a solitary and boorish target as Jeremy Beauchamp had involved so little effort on her part. He put down the photographs and returned to the girl’s written report; an impressive document containing neither self-aggrandizement nor false modesty, but an honest assessment of her own skills and allure, and a concise relating of the pertinent facts.
The seduction had been simplicity itself. An apparently inadvertent collision in the corridor between consummate beauty and boorish masculinity had sent Jacqueline Sobell sprawling, offering a clumsy aristocrat a momentary contact with yielding femininity, a brief whiff of intoxicating perfume, and a fleeting and provocative glimpse of silk stocking tops and lace-trimmed suspenders.
As painted fingertips scrambled to restore demurity, a breathless gasp of feminine shame and a pair of fluttering and heavily-mascaraed eyelashes completed the ruse and compounded his confusion. The lonely and vulnerable Jeremy Beauchamp had been instantly captivated. He rushed to assist, helped her to her feet, blurted a string of apologies, and then stuttered his way through a fawning appraisal of her beauty.
Finally, and to the great relief of the young seductress, he offered to make amends for his clumsiness by inviting her to lunch.
Jacqueline bedded him that very afternoon.
Following their initial and wretchedly perfunctory liaison in the discreet shadows of an unpretentious hotel behind the Place Pigalle, Jacqueline Sobell persuaded her instantly infatuated beau to rent an expensive apartment just a little farther north, on the famed artists’ hill at Montmartre. There, the young seductress spent many further torrid afternoons and evenings provoking and satiating his lust, introducing him to shameful acts of delicious wickedness, and building his confidence in both her benignity and his own imagined sexual prowess.
However, for all of her undoubted bedroom skills, and for all of her carefully worded inducements, Jeremy Beauchamp steadfastly refused to discuss any aspect of his clandestine work. At first this understandable reticence was indulged by Jacqueline’s masters at the Soviet Embassy, but as weeks turned to months it became the cause of increasing concern.
But then, six fruitless months into the affair, on a fateful December afternoon in 1952, the floodgates suddenly burst.
It had been in the wake of a particularly shameless performance that she had turned to view his anticipated gratitude and seen instead a look of abject misery. Curious, she moved closer, brushed her fingertips across his cheek, and asked him what was wrong.
“What is it, my love? Why is there such sadness in your eyes? Did I not please you?”
He had squirmed a little, and looked uncomfortably back at her.
“Of course you did. You always please me. It is just that. . .”
“What? What is it, my love?”
He had looked even more uncomfortable, and failed to meet her eyes as he spoke.
“I’m so sorry, my darling, but I can’t tell you. . . security, you see.”
After so much time, energy, degradation, and abject boredom spent in search of one possible indiscretion, Jacqueline Sobell hadn’t been about to leave it at that. She frowned, and pouted back at him.
“Security. . ? But do you not understand; you are my security and my life, and I am yours? Can you not see that? Can you not see that our love is all that is important? No one else matters. Nothing else could possibly compare to that.”
With carefully rehearsed speech delivered, she had flounced from the bed to stand naked and sulking at the mirror. He had instantly and dutifully rushed to put his arms around her. The willful and manipulative Jacqueline later reported that she had felt almost sorry for the poor infatuated wretch as she snuggled back into his arms and listened to his declaration of love.
“Of course you are, my darling. Of course our love is all that matters. You are everything to me. It is just that. . .”
He seemed to be having difficulty in confiding in her. Jacqueline knew the why, but she didn’t know the what, and she needed to know the what. She turned to face him and pout her unhappiness. It achieved the desired effect, and she had felt the adrenaline surge through her veins as she heard him say, “Alright, my darling, but you must never breathe a word of what I am about to tell you, never, you understand? It would be the finish for both of us.”
She had quickly sought to further encourage and reassure him.
“Of course. I am not a child. Everything that we do and everything that we say in this room is between us. I would never speak of it to another soul. It is far too precious to me. You are far too precious to me.”
That was partly true. She would never tell another soul, unless asked. She had no need to. The cameras across the street and the battery of microphones strategically placed around the apartment would do that for her.
Jeremy Beauchamp seemed finally ready to bare his soul, destroy his career, and betray his country. Jacqueline Sobell waited, almost not daring to breathe.
“There is a man, in Russia, a very important man. He wants to negotiate with the West. He is offering to withdraw Soviet forces from large parts of Europe. I think we are going to come to some sort of agreement with him.”
She had giggled at the apparent absurdity.
“Do you seriously believe that Stalin would ever agree to such a thing?”
It had been her first mistake. She should never have shown such political awareness. She had known it from the moment she saw confusion cloud his features.
But then, and to her considerable relief, he shrugged and said, “Stalin knows nothing about it. They say he is seriously ill. They say his heart is weak. They say it is only a matter of time before somebody new takes over. . . I don’t know, but I think it could be our man.”
“And what if Stalin recovers from his illness? What if he doesn’t die?”
“Our man claims that Stalin will be dead within six months. . . He has guaranteed it.”
Again she had immediately and instinctively scoffed at the notion.
“But how could anyone possibly guarantee. . .” The inference had slowly dawned. “Oh! Oh, I see. He means that he will. . .”
She looked nervously across at Beauchamp. He looked solemnly back at her as he repeated his earlier warning.
“Exactly. . . And now you see why you must never talk about this?”
With her pulse racing and her thoughts in turmoil, Jacqueline nodded her agreement and tried to recover her composure. She returned to the bed and crooked a provocative finger at him. When an obedient beau rejoined her she reached out and tugged him nearer, drawing his head to her breasts and wrapping her legs around his torso.
“And so that was what you were so afraid to tell me? That was all it was? Some crazy Russian, making foolish promises he will probably never keep? Who cares about all that? It is only silly games and stupid politics.” She sniffed a feigned indifference, and gently stroked her fingertips across his temple as she casually added, “Who is this crazy Russian, anyway, and why would you believe what he says?”
Jeremy Beauchamp snuggled closer and closed his eyes. Jacqueline’s studied him. She recalled that he had recently seemed tense and ill at ease, but now he looked more relaxed than he had for some time. She continued to soothe his fevered brow, and smiled to herself as she watched the remnants of that tension seeping out of him. It seemed that confession truly was good for the soul. Finally he answered the all-important question.
“I don’t know who he is. They wouldn’t give me his name, but I do know that he is a very important official in the Soviet Union, and not just that. He is very, very close to Stalin, maybe close enough to overthrow him. Maybe even close enough to kill him.”
“But I still do not see why you are so upset about all this?”
Beauchamp sat up, opened his eyes, and looked intently at her.
“Because I was the one his people initially contacted. . . three weeks ago, when I was in Vienna. I handled all the early arrangements, but now there is going to be a face-to-face meeting between this man and someone from our government, I assume, to finalize and seal the agreement. It will probably take place in France. . . right here in my territory.”
Jacqueline feigned a polite and perfunctory interest.
“And so that is good. . . No?”
Jeremy Beauchamp failed to return her smile. The tension had returned to tighten and line his features. He looked thoroughly miserable as he shook his head.
“No, it is not good, because London called this morning. They are taking over all negotiations. My office is not to be involved anymore. It can only mean that. . . that they don’t trust me.”
“So, who cares if they do not trust you? You hate your work. You want only for us to be together. You told me.”
She tried to pull him back into her arms, but he resisted.
“Yes, but don’t you see, my darling? If they don’t trust me, it means they are probably going to replace me, send me back to London. I don’t care about that, but what will we do then? What will happen to us, and to our love? You see, our love is the only thing that makes my life bearable. I couldn’t go on if I didn’t have you.”
During her post-operation debriefing Jacqueline Sobell admitted to having been doubly concerned, but not by any consideration of Jeremy Beauchamp’s obvious misery. Jacqueline Sobell had been concerned by her own suddenly vulnerable position within the MGB. Treason of any form in the Soviet Union, and especially treason among the recently anointed and expanded Presidium, was not something that any sane individual wanted to be aware of, and certainly not involved in.
She also admitted that she had been concerned about the possible fallout from Jeremy Beauchamp’s forfeited position as the head of SIS in France. Why did the British no longer trust him? Was it because of his involvement with her? Were they watching him? Had they found out about her? Was she about to be arrested?
Jeremy Beauchamp must have seen the apprehension in her eyes, because he placed a comforting hand over hers and then said, “Don’t let it worry you, my darling. I will find a way out of this. You don’t need to worry about it. We will be together. I promise.”
It had been her second mistake in as many minutes. Her expression had betrayed her true thoughts. Thankful for his misreading of them, she allowed the look of apprehension to fade and replaced it with a smile of mischief. It was clearly time for a distraction, time to disrupt his thoughts before he married her two stupid errors to one very real possibility.
And Jacqueline Sobell was an expert at distracting men.
She slid from the bed and went to collect the fastenings, then returned and took each of his unresisting hands and feet in turn. Carefully and deliberately, she bound them to the bedstead, and then stood back to study his nervous anticipation and consider her options. She pouted in feigned indecision, and then smiled a capricious intent as she leisurely straddled his tethered frame.
For a few moments Stanislav Paslov sat studying the photographs of Jacqueline Sobell and listening to the tape player.
He couldn’t see the erotic intensity of the desolate soul that lay within Jacqueline Sobell, or hear the emotional anguish of her heart. All he could see was the perfect symmetry of her nakedness, caught in a crude sequence of monochrome tableaux by the hidden camera lens across the street. All he could hear were her murmurs of sadistic intent and gasps of violent arousal, and Jeremy Beauchamp’s answering groans of agony and cries of ecstasy, captured by impassive microphones and recorded by emotionless machines.
Paslov listened to the frenzied activity for a few moments longer before deciding that he had heard enough. Any continued monitoring of the pitiful Jeremy Beauchamp’s descent into depravity could only further disgust the sensitivities and do nothing to further his investigation.
He switched off the tape player, and returned his attention to the two reports. He was looking for inconsistencies, chronological mismatches, discrepancies of fact, conflicting statements and so forth. He was also searching for any consistencies that were just a little too consistent: unusual or esoteric phrases that had been used in both reports, or similarly worded descriptions of the mystery Presidium member. He found nothing of any note. The information both looked and sounded genuine.
He moved on to scan the watch report on Jeremy Beauchamp’s trip to Vienna. The assigned team there had seen nothing out of the ordinary, but then Beauchamp’s trip to the Austrian capital had been for a planned and routine series of administrative meetings. The watching team had consequently been low-level daytime monitors. The Vienna MGB hadn’t bothered to assign the much larger and more diligent 24-hour surveillance squads, because they hadn’t anticipated that anything unusual or suspicious might occur.
How wrong they had been.
A sudden knock on the door preceded the formidable Liliya, who marched into the room.
“I am sorry, Comrade General, but this could not wait. Comrade Colonel Gerasimov came to the office a few minutes ago. He insisted on speaking with you.”
Paslov knew Gerasimov well. Fyodor Gerasimov was an ambitious junior colonel on Nikolai Bulganin’s staff. He had a well-founded reputation for underhandedness. Paslov held an intense dislike for him.
“He would only say that it is an urgent matter of state security. I sent him away. I said you were not to be disturbed. I said I would call him when I had spoken to you.”
Paslov had expected as much. He shook his head and snapped back, “Were it not about state security, I would not expect to be interrupted.” He gave a heavy sigh. “I am too busy today. Tell him to return tomorrow at precisely two o’clock. He can have five minutes then.”
“Yes, Comrade General.”
Paslov studied his capable assistant, knowing there had to be more to her interruption than the underhanded Gerasimov and his demand for a meeting. She looked uncomfortable.
“There was something else?”
“Yes, Comrade General.”
“Well. . ? What is it?”
She turned to quietly close the door to the outer office. With the door secured, she drew closer to Paslov and placed a buff-colored folder on his desk. He didn’t pick it up.
“What is that?”
“Another urgent report, Comrade General, from London.”
“From the embassy?”
“No, Comrade General. It is from an old friend of yours.”
“Comrade Major Olga Leonova.”
Paslov felt a sudden welling of emotion. Olga Sergeyevna Leonova had been Stanislav Paslov’s only other love; a brief and heated affair from almost thirty years earlier, when they had both been young and full of passion. Each had subsequently moved on to other passions and other loves. He had met and fallen in love with Anna. She had married a young Ukrainian naval officer, who had been killed on active service. Since their marriage, both he and Anna had remained close friends with Olga Leonova. He tried not to show his concern as he asked, “What does she say?”
“She says we have a traitor in Moscow. She says he is at the very top.”
He saw the hesitation in her. There was clearly more. “And. . ?”
“And, he has given up the entire Curzon Street operation.”
Once again, Paslov felt the shock go through him. He sat processing the information, and then barked at Liliya.
“Comrade Major Leonova, she is safe?”
“I believe so, Comrade General. . . For the time being.”
“Get her out. . . Now!”
“Yes, Comrade General.”
Liliya turned and hurried to the door. Paslov stopped her.
“Wait a moment. Where is Philby?”
She looked confused.
“Comrade Philby left SIS eighteen months ago. He has given us little or nothing of any value since.”
Paslov was becoming exasperated.
“I did not ask you that, Comrade. I asked you where he is.”
She momentarily scowled, but then apologized.
“I am sorry, Comrade General. I believe that Comrade Philby is currently in Vienna. . . Meeting old friends and looking for work, or so we are told.”
In his impatience and concern for Olga Leonova, Paslov had spoken too harshly. He smiled an apology. “I am sorry, Liliya. I did not mean to snap at you.” She offered an uncharacteristic and fleeting smile of her own, and the tension between them dissolved. He returned to the subject of ‘Kim’ Philby.
“As for Comrade Philby. . . Tell Vienna to get hold of him, would you, Liliya? He may not be so valuable to us these days, but he still has old friends and old contacts in SIS. Now, more than ever, we need some eyes and ears over there. Tell Philby that I want him back in London, and I want him there as soon as possible. Tell him I need to know just what the hell is going on over there.”