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The Five Arrows   By: (1913-)

Book cover

First Page:

E text prepared by Mark C. Orton, Mary Meehan, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team (http://www.pgdp.net)

Transcriber's note:

Extensive research indicates the copyright on this book was not renewed.

THE FIVE ARROWS

by

ALLAN CHASE

Random House New York

Chapter one

The governor's wife pointed across the bay to a speck in the black sky. Ground lights in Catanzas were focusing their blue shafts on the speck, moving as the plane moved, one light trying to lead the ship.

A thin stream of glowing red and orange tracer bullets soared up at the plane from the Catanzas side of the bay. A moment passed before the Governor's guests on the terrace of La Fortaleza could hear the muffled thud thud of the distant ground batteries. Someone, the wife of a visiting government official, exclaimed, "My goodness, I've only seen this in the newsreels before!"

Now the plane veered, slowly, and the lights from the San Juan side joined the Catanzas batteries in pinning the plane to the dark clouds. The sleeve target fastened to the tail of the plane could now be seen from the terrace. Most of the Governor's guests gasped as the first bright jets of tracers missed the silver sleeve and sailed into the black void above it. The ack ack batteries were speaking with more harshness now; one of them, planted between two brick buildings, added crashing echoes to their own reports as the guns went off.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor was still very much a topic of conversation on the island; the submarine nets in the bay were joked about at the dinner table, but the jokes arose from a profound sense of gratitude for the nets, the planes, the ships which were the island's defenses against the undersea raiders that stalked the sea lanes between the ports of the mainland and San Juan.

The plane shifted course again, now headed directly toward La Fortaleza. Through the increasing din of the ground guns, the Governor's young military aide, Lieutenant Braga, could barely hear the ring of the telephone nearest the terrace. He took the call, then returned to the terrace and tapped one of the guests on the shoulder. "It's for you, Mr. Hall," he said. "It's Tom Harris at Panair."

Matthew Hall stood up quietly and walked into the cavernous reception room. He walked carefully, with the steel spring tread of a man who seems to expect the floor to blow up under him at any moment. For thirty three years Matthew Hall had walked as other men. Since he was not conscious of his new walk, he could not say when it had become part of him. His friends had first noticed it in Paris, in '39, but had expected it to wear off as soon as the prison pallor disappeared. The pallor had gone; the walk remained.

Hall's head and shoulders and hands were part of this walk. He moved with his head forward and his shoulders hunched, with his hands slightly cocked, almost like a fighter slowly advancing to mid ring. The shoulders were broad and thick, so broad that although Hall was of more than average height they made him appear shorter and chunky.

The face of Matthew Hall had changed, too, with his walk. There were the obvious changes: the deep channel of a scar on his broad forehead, the smaller one on his right jaw. The nose had changed twice, the first time in 1938 when it was broken in San Sebastian. It had swelled enormously and then knit badly and nearly two years later a New York surgeon had done an expensive job of rebreaking and resetting the nose. Some bones had been taken out and the once classic lines were now slightly flattened. The scars and the dented nose blended strangely well with the jaws that had always been a bit too long and the soft brown poet's eyes which had so often betrayed Hall. With his eyes, Hall spoke his contempt, his anger, his amusement, his joy. The eyes unerringly spoke his inner feelings; they were always beyond his control.

Changes more subtle than the scars and the flattened nose had come over Hall's face within the past few years... Continue reading book >>




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