The Spanish Gambit
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From Stephen Hunter, whose first two novels established him as a master of the espionage thriller, comes a richly detailed, spellbinding tale of international intrigue set against the cataclysm of the Spanish Civil War.
The poem, originally published in the February 1931 number of Denis Mason's foolish rag The Spectator and later the title of Julian's sole collection of verse, from Heinemann in November of the same year, was never far from the major's consciousness. He could recite it. Achilles, ' ri)of, on your wire, the scream lost in your ripped lungs, Achilles, fool, they took your lips, Achilles, fool, you let them have your tongue. We are the tendentious genet-atioii, A c-hillev, Fool No wiresfor uv; our lips will stay Our own.
So soon. Oh, Lemontov, you clever, treacherous bastard. Of them all, my brave boys whom I taught so well, I should have foreseen it would be you. Tchiterine was hardworking, dull, brave, a zealot. Another was nakedly ambitious, a stupid peasant boy dead set on rising above himself by sheer will. Still another was a coward, a schemer, a weakling. You, Lemontov, you were the brilliant one. A Jew like myself, of course. So smart, so full of ideas, so crackling with insight and enthus' I iasm. if Lemontov had fled to the Americans, the Americans knew.
For if Julian were gone, there was nothing left to do, except save himself. If Koba's hounds are to hunt me, let them hunt me hard. "Best get going', chum," said the little English captain, then turned away and headed back to his men gathered at the other end of the trench. But Levitsky suddenly felt naked and vulnerable. Without his mission, he was just a man. His death, which might have had political meaning, suddenly had only a personal one. It was as if his life, in all its fragility, had been handed back to him.
I will do it. I will spy for you. " When he spoke, he believed it. At the center of his being, in his heart, in his brain, in his soul: he believed it. The escape, coming by freak luck the next day, changed nothing. When eventually, after a series of colorful but now almost completely forgotten adventures, the major reached home, he had taken a convalescent leave and gone to the hills of Scotland and lived like a hen-nit in a cottage high up for a year. It was a place without mirrors. For a long time, the major could not deal with the image of his own face.
As soon as she saw that he wouldn't look up, she knew she was in trouble. When a man didn't look at her, it meant he'd already seen her and been somehow hurt by her beauty, and would therefore go to great lengths to show her how unimpressed he was, or how indifferent he could be. At last he looked up. He had pate, pimply skin and blondish hair and large circles under his eyes. Though he wore the khaki Asalto mono and a brace of pouches and holsters and belts about him, he was clearly not Spanish but some kind of Russian or European and rather pleased with his own authority.