“Where is Madame Reynal? Our rendezvous is with her,” pursued Soller.
Paul Reynal looked at him sharply. Solange? What was she? “Soller! What does my wife have to do with this?”
Soller looked around at him. “Our instructions are to hand you into the custody of your wife, and to no others.” He let his eyes rove around the armed men with their Schmeissers.
“Commandant Gadda!” Reynal called to Gadda. The blond giant drew himself to attention.
“Where is my wife?”
In answer, Gadda nodded his head away down the slope. “Waiting in your car, mon Général. It has been a long wait. I could not ask her to climb this far.”
“Of course not. You were right.” He turned to Soller. “Well. If it is your intention to release me, as you say,” he smiled around at the surrounding commandos, “and it seems now that you have little choice in the matter—you will have to enter Spain to do so.”
Soller nodded without hesitation. “Then we will enter Spain, but only if I have your guarantee of safe return as a ‘man of honour’.” Sarcasm was heavy on the words. “Bearing in mind,” he said, raising his voice, “that you are in the midst of us now, and any attack on us would mean your death also.”
The lines around Gadda's mouth went white. Reynal looked at him. “Michel. May I give such a guarantee?” The giant seemed for a moment to wrestle with a hatred stronger than himself, then he nodded with difficulty.
“We do not want these pigs of patos. We are here to escort you, mon Général. There will always be other times, other places for them.”
The Général smiled. “Then I suggest that we join my wife.”
Slowly the party moved forward, the barbouzes clustering like cruisers around a merchantman, themselves surrounded by the Gadda commandos, Schmeissers unwavering. Down the slope they moved, feet crunching on the slack rock.
When they were within a hundred metres of the car men began to rise from the surrounding cover, all well-armed, their sandy clothing meshing with the landscape. Beyond the limousine the Spanish soldier remained seated on a rock as if alone on the mountain. Soller's eyes took them all in. This shows evidence of considerable organisation, he pondered. They don't look like Colons, either... Here and there he spotted the fair colouring of Germans, and a number of totally unFrench faces. Fit, and obviously highly trained ... and at least a platoon of them... this deserves further investigation! Have we been fondly imagining that the Secret Army Organisation has died and worrying about Mouvement Occident all this time while they gather strength here? On the surface he began to take care that his hand was far enough away from his gun to belay accidents. “Halt!” rapped out Gadda's voice. The party stopped immediately, the barbouzes looking around, weighing up the situation.
At the same time Solange Reynal appeared from the Delahaye, dressed completely in white, eyes shaded by a large white sunhat. Without hesitation she walked straight to Paul Reynal and stood looking at him.