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"How will the girl get over the wire?"
"It is already cut where you climb. There is a small gap. You have one minute to reach the wall. Goodbye."
They got out of the car, all three of them. Leamas took Liz by the arm, and she started from him as if he had hurt her.
"Good-bye," said the German.
Leamas just whispered, "Don't start that car till we're over."
Liz looked at the German for a moment in the pale light: she had a brief impression of a young, anxious face; the face of a boy trying to be brave.
"Good-bye," said Liz. She disengaged her arm and followed Leamas across the road and into the narrow street that led toward the wall.
As they entered the street they heard the car start up behind them, turn and move quickly away in the direction they had come.
"Pull up the ladder, you b.a.s.t.a.r.d," Leamas muttered, glancing back at the retreating car.
Liz hardly heard him.
* * 26 * In from the Cold
They walked quickly, Leamas glancing over his shoulder from time to time to make sure she was following. As he reached the end of the alley he stopped, drew into the shadow of a doorway and looked at his watch.
"Two minutes," he whispered.
She said nothing. She was staring straight ahead toward the wall, and the black ruins rising behind it.
"Two minutes," Leamas repeated.
Before them was a strip of thirty yards. It followed the wall in both directions. Perhaps seventy yards to their right was a watchtower; the beam of its searchlight played along the strip. The thin rain hung in the air, so that the light from the arc lamps was sallow and chalky, screening the world beyond. There was no one to be seen; not a sound. An empty stage.
The watchtower's searchlight began feeling its way along the wall toward them, hesitant; each time it rested they could see the separate bricks and the careless lines of mortar hastily put on. As they watched the beam stopped immediately in front of them. Leamas looked at his watch.
"Ready?" he asked.
Taking her arm he began walking deliberately across the strip. Liz wanted to run but he held her so tightly that she could not. They were halfway toward the wall now, the brilliant semicircle of light drawing them forward, the beam directly above them. Leamas was determined to keep Liz very close to him, as if he were afraid that Mundt would not keep his word and somehow s.n.a.t.c.h her away at the last moment.
They were almost at the wall when the beam darted to the north, leaving them momentarily in total darkness. Still holding Liz's arm, Leamas guided her forward blindly, his left hand reaching ahead of him until suddenly he felt the coa.r.s.e, sharp contact of the cinder brick. Now he could discern the wall and, looking upward, the triple strand of wire and the cruel hooks which held it. Metal wedges, like climbers' pitons, had been driven into the brick. Seizing the highest one, Leamas pulled himself quickly upward until he had reached the top of the wall. He tugged sharply at the lower strand of wire and it came toward him, already cut.
"Come on," he whispered urgently, "start climbing."
Laying himself fiat he reached down, grasped her upstretched hand and began drawing her slowly upward as her foot found the first metal rung.
Suddenly the whole world seemed to break into flame; from everywhere, from above and beside them, ma.s.sive lights converged, bursting upon them with savage accuracy.
Leamas was blinded, he turned his head away, wrenching wildly at Liz's arm. Now she was swinging free; he thought she had slipped and he called frantically, still drawing her upwards. He could see nothing--only a mad confusion of color dancing in his eyes.
Then came the hysterical wail of sirens, orders frantically shouted. Half kneeling astride the wall he grasped both her arms in his, and began dragging her to him inch by inch, himself on the verge of falling.
Then they fired--single rounds, three or four, and he felt her shudder. Her thin arms slipped from his hands. He heard a voice in English from the Western side of the wall: "Jump, Alec! Jump, man!"
Now everyone was shouting, English, French and German mixed; he heard Smiley's voice from quite close: "The girl, where's the girl?"
s.h.i.+elding his eyes he looked down at the foot of the wall and at last he managed to see her, lying still. For a moment he hesitated, then quite slowly he climbed back down the same rungs, until he was standing beside her. She was dead; her face was turned away, her black hair drawn across her cheek as if to protect her from the rain.
They seemed to hesitate before firing again; someone shouted an order, and still no one fired. Fmally they shot him, two or three shots. He stood glaring around him like a blinded bull in the arena. As he fell, Leamas saw a small car smashed between great lorries, and the children waving cheerfully through the window.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
JOHN LE CARRE is the pseudonym of David Cornwell. Born in 1931, he attended the universities of Berne and Oxford, taught at Eton and later entered the British Foreign Service. He has been described in _The New York Times_ as belonging to the select company of such spy and detective story writers as Arthur Conan Doyle, Das.h.i.+ell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald. His first two novels were _Call for the Dead_ (1961) and _A Murder of Quality_ (1962). His third novel, _The Spy Who Came in from the Cold_ (1963), was greeted with great enthusiasm and secured his worldwide reputation. Mr. le Carre is also the author of _The Naive and Sentimental Lover_, _The Looking Gla.s.s War_, _A Small Town in Germany_, _Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy_, _The Honourable Schoolboy_, _Smiley's People_, _The Little Drummer Girl_, _A Perfect Spy_, and _The Russia House_.