JANE DASHED through the village in a blind panic, pushing people aside, cannoning into walls, stumbling and falling and getting up again, sobbing and panting and moaning all at the same time. "She must be all right," she told herself, repeating it like a litany; but just the same her brain kept asking Why didn't Chantal wake up? and What did Anatoly do? and Is my baby hurt?

She stumbled into the courtyard of the shopkeeper's house and climbed the steps two at a time to the roof. She fell on her knees and pulled the sheet off the little mattress. Chantal's eyes were closed. Jane thought: Is she breathing? Is she breathing? Then the baby's eyes opened, she looked at her mother, and - for the first time ever - she smiled.

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Jane snatched her up and hugged her fiercely, feeling as if her heart would burst. Chantal cried at the sudden squeeze, and Jane cried, too, awash with joy and relief because her little girl was still here, still alive and warm and squalling, and because she had just smiled her first smile.

After a while Jane calmed down, and Chantal, sensing the change, became quiet. Jane rocked her, patting her back rhythmically and kissing the top of her soft, bald head. Eventually Jane remembered that there were other people in the world, and she wondered what had happened to the villagers in the mosque, and whether they were all right. She went down into her courtyard, and there she met Fara.

Jane looked at the girl for a moment; silent, anxious Fara, timid and so easily shocked: where had she found the courage and presence of mind and sheer nerve to conceal Chantal under a rumpled sheet while the Russians were landing their helicopters and firing their rifles a few yards away? "You saved her," Jane said.

Fara looked frightened, as if it had been an accusation.

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Jane shifted Chantal to her left hip and put her right arm around Fara, hugging her. "You saved my baby!" she said. "Thank you! Thank you!"

Fara beamed with pleasure for a moment, then burst into tears.

Jane soothed her, patting her back as she had patted Chantal's. As soon as Fara was quiet Jane said: "What happened in the mosque? What did they do? Is anyone hurt?"

"Yes," said Fara dazedly,

Jane smiled: you couldn't ask Fara three questions one after another and expect a sensible answer. "What happened when you went into the mosque?"

"They asked where the American was."

"Whom did they ask?"

"Everyone. But nobody knew. The doctor asked me where you and the baby were, and I said ! didn't know. Then they picked out three of the men: first my uncle Shahazai. then the mullah, then Alishan Karim, the mullah's brother. They asked them again, but it was no use, for the men did not know where the American had gone. So they beat them."

"Are they badly hurt?"

"Just beaten."

"I'll take a look at them." Alishan had a heart condition, Jane recalled anxiously. "Where are they now?"

"Still in the mosque."

"Come with me." Jane went into the house and Fara followed. In the front room Jane found her nursing bag on the old shopkeeper's counter. She added some nitroglyc-erin pills to her regular kit and went out again. As she

headed for the mosque, still clutching Chantal tightly, she said to Fara: "Did they hurt you?"

"No. The doctor seemed very angry, but they didn't beat me."

Jane wondered whether Jean-Pierre had been angry because he guessed that she was spending the night with Ellis. It occurred to her that the whole village was guessing the same thing. She wondered how they would react. This might be the final proof that she was the Whore of Babylon.

Still, they would not shun her yet, not while there were injured people to be attended to. She reached the mosque and entered the courtyard. Abdullah's wife saw her, bustled over importantly, and led her to where he lay on the ground. At first glance he looked all right, and Jane was worried about Alishan's heart, so she left the mullah -  ignoring his wife's indignant protests - and went to Alishan, who was lying nearby.

He was gray-faced and breathing with difficulty, and he had one hand on his chest: as Jane had feared, the beating had brought on an attack of angina. She gave him a tablet, saying: "Chew, don't swallow it."

She handed Chantal to Fara and examined Alishan quickly. He was badly bruised, but no bones were broken. "How did they beat you?" she asked him.

"With their rifles," he answered hoarsely.

She nodded. He was lucky: the only real damage they had done was to subject him to the stress that was so bad for his heart, and he was already recovering from that. She dabbed iodine on his cuts and told him to lie where he was for an hour.

She returned to Abdullah. However, when the mullah saw her approach he waved her away with an angry roar. She knew what had infuriated him: he thought he was entitled to priority treatment, and he was insulted that she had seen Alishan first. Jane was not going to make excuses. She had told him before that she treated people in order of urgency, not status. Now she turned away. There

was no point in insisting on examining the old fool. If he was well enough to yell at her, he would live.

She went to Shahazai, the scarred old fighter. He had already been examined by his sister Rabia, the midwife, who was bathing his cuts. Rabia's herbal ointments were not quite as antiseptic as they should be, but Jane thought they probably did more good than harm on balance, so she contented herself v/ith making him wiggle his fingers and toes. He was all right.

We were lucky, Jane thought. The Russians came, but we escaped with minor injuries. Thank God. Perhaps now we can hope they will leave us alone for a while - maybe until the route to the Khyber Pass is open again. . . .

"Is the doctor a Russian?" Rabia asked abruptly.

"No." For the first time, Jane wondered just exactly what had been in Jean-Pierre's mind. If he had found me, she thought, what would he have said to me? "No, Rabia, he's not a Russian. But he seems to have joined their side."

"So he is a traitor."

"Yes, I suppose he is." Now Jane wondered what was in old Rabia's mind.

''Can a Christian divorce her husband for being a traitor?''

In Europe she can divorce him for a good deal less, thought Jane, so she said: "Yes."

"Is this why you have now married the American?"

Jane saw how Rabia was thinking. Spending the night on the mountainside with Ellis had, indeed, confirmed Abdullah's accusation that she was a Western whore. Rabia, who had long been Jane's leading supporter in the village, was planning to counter that accusation with an alternative interpretation, according to which Jane had been rapidly divorced from the traitor under strange Christian laws unknown to True Believers and was now married to Ellis under those same laws. So be it, Jane thought. "Yes," she said, "that is why I have married the American."

Rabia nodded, satisfied.

Jane almost felt as if there were an element of truth in the mullah's epithet. She had, after all, moved from one

man's bed to another's with indecent rapidity. She felt a little ashamed, then caught herself: she had never let her behavior be ruled by other people's expectations. Let them think what they like, she said to herself.

She did not consider herself married to Ellis. Do I feel divorced from Jean-Pierre? she asked herself. The answer was no. However, she did feel that her obligations to him had ended. After what he's done, she thought, I don't owe him anything. It should have come as some kind of relief to her, but in fact she just felt sad.

Her musings were interrupted. There was a flurry of activity over at the mosque entrance, and Jane turned around to see Ellis walk in carrying something in his arms. As he came nearer she could see that his face was a mask of rage, and it flashed through her mind that she had seen him like that once before: when a careless taxi driver had made a sudden U-turn and knocked down a young man on a motorcycle, injuring him quite badly. Ellis and Jane had witnessed the whole thing and called the ambulance - in those days she had known nothing of medicine - and Ellis had said over and over again: "So unnecessary, it was so unnecessary."

She made out the shape of the bundle in his arms: it was a child, and she realized that his expression meant that the child was dead. Her first, shameful reaction was to think Thank God it's not my baby; then, when she looked closely, she saw that it was the one child in the village who sometimes seemed like her own - one-handed Mousa, the boy whose life she had saved. She felt the dreadful sense of disappointment and loss that came when a patient died after she and Jean-Pierre had fought long and hard for his life. But this was especially painful, for Mousa had been brave and determined in coping with his disability; and his father was so proud of him. Why him? thought Jane as the tears came to her eyes. Why him?

The villagers clustered around Ellis, but he looked at Jane.

"They are all dead," he said, speaking Dan so that the

others could understand. Some of the women began to weep.

"How?" Jane said.

"Shot by the Russians, each one."

"Oh, my God." Only last night she had said None of them will die - of their wounds, she had meant, but nonetheless she had foreseen each of them getting better, quickly or slowly, and returning to full health and strength under her care. Now - all dead. "But why did they kill the child?" she cried.

"I think he annoyed them."

Jane frowned, puzzled.

Ellis shifted his burden slightly so that Mousa's hand came into view. The small fingers were rigidly grasping the handle of the knife his father had given him. There was blood on the blade.

Suddenly a great wail was heard, and Halima pushed through the crowd. She took the body of her son from Ellis and sank to the ground with the dead child in her arms, screaming his name. The women gathered around her. Jane turned away.

Beckoning Fara to follow her with Chantal, Jane left the mosque and walked slowly home. Just a few minutes ago she had been thinking that the village had had a lucky escape. Now seven men and a boy were dead. Jane had no tears left, for she had cried too much: she just felt weak with grief.

She went into the house and sat down to feed Chantal. "How patient you have been, little one," she said as she put the baby to her breast.

A minute or two later Ellis came in. He leaned over her and kissed her. He looked at her for a moment, then said: "You seem angry with me."

Jane realized that she was. "Men are so bloody," she said bitterly. "That child obviously tried to attack armed Russian troops with his hunting knife - who taught him to be foolhardy? Who told him it was his role in life to kill Russians? When he threw himself at the man with the Kalashnikov, who was his role model? Not his mother. It's

his father; it's Mohammed's fault that he died; Mohammed's fault and yours.'"

Ellis looked astonished. "Why mine?"

She knew she was being harsh, but she could not stop. "They beat Abdullah, Alishan and Shahazai in an attempt to make them tell where you were," she said. "They were looking for you. That was the object of the exercise."

"I know. Does that make it my fault that they shot the little boy?"

"It happened because you're here, where you don't belong."

"Perhaps. Anyway, I have the solution to that problem. I'm leaving. My presence brings violence and bloodshed, as you are so quick to point out. If I stay, not only am I liable to get caught - for we were very lucky last night -  but my fragile little scheme to start these tribes working together against their common enemy will fall apart. It's worse than that, in fact. The Russians would put me on public trial for the maximum propaganda. 'See how the CIA attempts to exploit the internal problems of a Third World country.' That sort of thing."

"You really are a big cheese, aren't you." It seemed odd that what happened here in the Valley, among this small group of people, should have such great global consequences. "But you can't go. The route to the Khyber Pass is blocked.'

"There's another way: the Butter Trail."

"Oh, Ellis . . . it's very hard - and dangerous." She thought of him climbing those high passes in the bitter winds. He might lose his way and freeze to death in the snow, or be robbed and murdered by the bandits. "Please don't do that."

"If I had another choice I'd take it."

So she would lose him again, and she would be alone. The thought made her miserable. That was surprising. She had only spent one night with him. What had she expected? She was not sure. More, anyway, than this abrupt parting. "I didn't think I'd lose you again so soon," she said. She moved Chantal to the other breast.

He knelt in front of her and took her hand. "You haven't thought this situation through," he said. "Think about Jean-Pierre. Don't you know he wants you back?"

Jane considered that. Ellis was right, she realized. Jean-Pierre would now be feeling humiliated and emasculated: the only thing that would heal his wounds would be to have her back, in his bed and in his power. "But what would he do with me?" she said.

"He will want you and Chantal to live out the rest of your lives in some mining town in Siberia, while he spies in Europe and visits you every two or three years for a holiday between assignments."

"What could he do if I were to refuse?"

"He could make you. Or he could kill you."

Jane remembered Jean-Pierre punching her. She felt nauseous. "Will the Russians help him to find me?" she said.

"Yes."

"But why? Why should they care about me?"

"First because they owe him. Second because they figure you will keep him happy. Third because you know too much. You know Jean-Pierre intimately and you've seen Anatoly: you could provide good descriptions of both of them for the CIA's computer, if you were able to get back to Europe."

So there would be more bloodshed, Jane thought; the Russians would raid villages, interrogate people, and beat and torture them to find out where she was. "That Russian officer . . . Anatoly, his name is. He saw Chantal." Jane hugged her baby tighter for a moment as she remembered those dreadful seconds. "I thought he was going to pick her up. Didn't he realize that, if he had taken her, I would have given myself up just to be with her?"

Ellis nodded. "That puzzled me at the time. But I'm more important to them than you are; and I think he decided that, while he wants eventually to capture you, in the meantime he has another use for you."

"What use? What could they want me to do?"

"Slow me down."

"By making you stay here?"

"No, by coming with me."

As soon as he said it she realized he was right, and a sense of doom settled over her like a shroud. She had to go with him, she and her baby; there was no alternative. If we die, we die, she thought fatalistically. So be it. "I suppose I have a better chance of escaping from here with you than of escaping from Siberia alone," she said.

Ellis nodded. "That's about it."

"I'll start packing," said Jane. There was no time to lose. "We'd better leave first thing tomorrow morning."

Ellis shook his head. "I want to be out of here in an hour."

Jane panicked. She had been planning to leave, of course, but not so suddenly; and now she felt she did not have time to think. She began to rush around the little house, throwing clothes and food and medical supplies indiscriminately into an assortment of bags, terrified that she would forget something crucial but too rushed to pack sensibly.

Ellis understood her mood and stopped her. He held her shoulders, kissed her forehead and spoke calmly to her. "Tell me something," he said. "Do you happen to know what the highest mountain in Britain is?"

She wondered if he was crazy. "Ben Nevis," she said. "It's in Scotland."

"How high is it?"

"Over four thousand feet."

"Some of the passes we're going to climb are sixteen and seventeen thousand feet high - that's four times as high as the highest mountain in Britain. Although the distance is only a hundred and fifty miles, it's going to take us at least two weeks. So stop; think; and plan. If you take a little more than an hour to pack, too bad - it's better than going without the antibiotics."

She nodded, took a deep breath and started again.

She had two saddlebags that could double as backpacks. Into one she put clothes: Chantal's diapers, a change of underwear for all of them, Ellis's quilted down coat from

New York, and the fur-lined raincoat, complete with hood, that she had brought from Paris. She used the other bag for medical supplies and food - iron rations for emergencies. There was no Kendal Mint Cake, of course, but Jane had found a local substitute, a cake made of dried mulberries and walnuts, almost indigestible but packed with concentrated energy. They also had a lot of rice and a lump of hard cheese. The only souvenir Jane took was her collection of Polaroid photographs of the villagers. They also took their sleeping bags, a saucepan and Ellis's military kitbag, which contained some explosives and blasting equipment - their only weapon. Ellis lashed all the baggage to Maggie, the unidirectional mare.

Their hurried leavetaking was tearful. Jane was embraced by Zahara, old Rabia the midwife, and even Halima, Mohammed's wife. A sour note was introduced by Abdullah, who passed by just before they left and spat on the ground, hurrying his family along; but a few seconds later his wife came back, looking frightened but determined, and pressed into Jane's hand a present for Chantal, a primitive rag doll with a miniature shawl and veil.

Jane hugged and kissed Fara, who was inconsolable. The girl was thirteen: soon she would have a husband to adore. In a year or two she would marry and move into the home of her husband's parents. She would have eight or ten children, perhaps half of whom would live past the age of five. Her daughters would marry and leave home. Those of her sons who survived the fighting would get married and bring their wives home. Eventually, when the family grew too large, the sons and the daughters-in-law and the grandchildren would begin to move out to start new extended families of their own. Then Fara would become a midwife, like her grandmother Rabia. I hope, Jane thought, that she'll remember a few of the lessons 1 taught her.

Ellis was embraced by Alishan and Shahazai, and then they left, to cries of "God go with you!" The village children accompanied them to the bend in the river. Jane paused there and looked back for a moment at the little huddle of mud-colored houses that had been her home for

a year. She knew she would never come back; but she had a feeling that, if she survived, she would be telling stories of Banda to her grandchildren.

They walked briskly along the riverbank. Jane found herself straining her ears for the sound of helicopters. How soon would the Russians start looking for them? Would they send a few helicopters to hunt more or less at random, or would they take the time to organize a really thorough search? Jane did not know which to hope for.

It took them less than an hour to reach Dasht-i-Rewat, "The Plain with a Fort," a pleasant village where the cottages with their shaded courtyards were dotted along the northern bank of the river. Here it was that the cart track -  the pitted, snaking, now-you-see-it-now-you-don't dirt path that passed for a road in the Five Lions Valley - came to an end. Any wheeled vehicles robust enough to survive the road had to stop here, so the village did a little business horse trading. The fort mentioned in the name was up a side valley, and was now a prison, run by the guerrillas, housing a few captured government troops, a Russian or two, and the occasional thief. Jane had visited it once, to treat a miserable nomad from the western desert who had been conscripted into the regular army, had contracted pneumonia in the cold Kabul winter, and had deserted. He was being "reeducated" before being allowed to join the guerrillas.

It was midday, but neither of them wanted to stop and eat. They hoped to reach Saniz, ten miles away at the head of the Valley, by nightfall; and although ten miles was eo great distance on level ground, in this landscape it could take many hours.

The last stretch of the road wound in and out between the houses on the north bank. The south bank was a cliff two hundred feet high. Ellis led the horse and Jane carried Chantal in the sling she had devised, which enabled her to feed Chantal without stopping. The village ended at a water mill close to the mouth of the side valley called the Riwat, which led to the prison. After they had passed that point, they were not able to walk so fast. The ground

began to slope up, gradually at first and then more steeply. They climbed steadily under the hot sun. Jane covered her head with her pattu, the brown blanket all travelers carried. Chantal was shaded by the sling. Ellis wore his Chitrali cap, a gift from Mohammed.

When they reached the summit of the pass she noted, with some satisfaction, that she was not even breathing hard. She had never been this fit in her life - and she probably never would be so again. Ellis was not only panting but perspiring, she observed. He was in quite good shape, but he was not as hardened to hours of walking as she was. It made her feel rather smug, until she remembered he had suffered two bullet wounds just nine days ago.

Beyond the pass, the track ran along the mountainside, high above the Five Lions River. Here, unusually, the river was sluggish. Where it was deep and still the water appeared bright green, the color of the emeralds which were found all around Dasht-i-Riwat and taken to Pakistan to be sold. Jane had a fright when her hypersensitive ears picked up the sound of distant aircraft: there was nowhere to hide on the bare clifftop, and she was seized by a sudden desire to jump off the cliff into the river a hundred feet below. But it was only a flight of jets, too high to see anyone on the ground. Nevertheless, from then on Jane scanned the terrain constantly for trees, bushes and hollows in which they might hide. A devil inside her said You don't have to do this, you could go back, you could give yourself up and be reunited with your husband, but somehow it seemed an academic question, a technicality.

The path was still climbing, but more gently, so they made better speed. They were delayed, every mile or two, by the tributaries which came rushing in from the side valleys to join the main river. The track would dive down to a log bridge or a ford, and Ellis would have to drag the unwilling Maggie into the water, with Jane yelling and throwing stones at her from behind.

An irrigation channel ran the full length of the gorge, on the cliffside high above the river. Its purpose was to

enlarge the cultivable area in the plain. Jane wondered how long ago it was that the Valley had had time and men and peace enough to carry out such a big engineering project: hundreds of years, perhaps.

The gorge narrowed and the river below was littered with granite boulders. There were caves in the limestone cliffs: Jane noted them as possible hiding places. The landscape became bleak and a cold wind blew down the Valley, making Jane shiver for a moment despite the sunshine. The rocky terrain and the sheer cliffs suited birds: there were scores of Asian magpies.

At last the gorge gave way to another plain. Far to the east, Jane could see a range of hills, and above the hills were visible the white mountains of Nuristan, Oh, my God, that's where we're going, Jane thought; and she was afraid.

In the plain stood a small cluster of poor houses. "I guess this is it," said Ellis. "Welcome to Saniz."

They walked into the plain, looking for a mosque or one of the stone huts for travelers. As they drew level with the first of the houses, a figure stepped out of it, and Jane recognized the handsome face of Mohammed. He was as surprised as she. Her surprise gave way to horror when she realized she was going to have to tell him that his son had been killed.

Ellis gave her time to collect her thoughts by saying in Dari: "Why are you here?"

"Masud is here," Mohammed replied. Jane realized that this must be a guerrilla hideout. Mohammed went on: "Why are you here?"

"We're going to Pakistan."

"This way?" Mohammed's face became grave. "What happened?"

Jane knew she had to be the one to tell him, for she had known him longer. "We bring bad news, my friend Mohammed. The Russians came to Banda. They killed seven men - and a child. ..." He guessed, then, what she was going to say, and the look of pain on his face made Jane want to cry. "Mousa was the child," she finished.

Mohammed composed himself rigidly. "How did my son die?"

"Ellis found him," said Jane.

Ellis, struggling to find the Dari words he needed, said: "He died . . . knife in hand, blood on knife."

Mohammed's eyes widened. "Tell me everything."

Jane took over, because she could speak the language better. "The Russians came at dawn," she began. "They were looking for Ellis and for me. We were up on the mountainside, so they didn't find us. They beat Alishan and Shahazai and Abdullah, but they didn't kill them. Then they found the cave. The seven wounded mujahideen were there, and Mousa was with them, to run to the village if they needed help in the night. When the Russians had gone, Ellis went to the cave. All the men had been killed, and so had Mousa - "

"How?" Mohammed interrupted. "How was he killed?"

Jane looked at Ellis. Ellis said: "Kalashnikov," using a word that needed no translation. He pointed to his heart to show where the bullet had struck.

Jane added: "He must have tried to defend the wounded men, for there was blood on the point of his knife."

Mohammed swelled with pride even as the tears came to his eyes. "He attacked them - grown men, armed with guns - he went for them with his knife! The knife his father gave him! The one-handed boy is now surely in the warrior's heaven."

To die in a holy war was the greatest possible honor for a Muslim, Jane recalled. Little Mousa would probably become a minor saint. She was glad that Mohammed had that comfort, but she could not help thinking cynically: This is how warlike men assuage their consciences - by talk of glory.

Ellis embraced Mohammed solemnly, saying nothing.

Jane suddenly remembered her photographs. She had several of Mousa. Afghans loved photos, and Mohammed would be overjoyed to have one of his son. She opened one of the bags on Maggie's back and rummaged through the medical supplies until she found the cardboard box of

Polaroids. She located a picture of Mousa, took it out and repacked the bag. Then she handed the picture to Mohammed.

She had never seen an Afghan man so profoundly moved. He was unable to speak. For a moment it seemed that he would weep. He turned away, trying to control himself. When he turned back, his face was composed but wet with tears. "Come with me," he said.

They followed him through the little village to the edge of the river, where a group of fifteen or twenty guerrillas were squatting around a cooking fire. Mohammed strode into the group and without preamble began to tell the story of Mousa's death, with tears and gesticulations.

Jane turned away. She had seen too much grief.

She looked around her anxiously. Where will we run to if the Russians come? she wondered. There was nothing but the fields, the river and the few hovels. But Masud seemed to think it was safe. Perhaps the village was just too small to attract the attention of the army.

She did not have the energy to worry anymore. She sat on the ground with her back to a tree, grateful to rest her legs, and began to feed Chantal. Ellis tethered Maggie and unloaded the bags, and the horse began to graze the rich greenery beside the river. It's been a long day, Jane thought; and a terrible day. And I didn't get much sleep last night. She smiled a secret smile as she remembered the night.

Ellis got out Jean-Pierre's maps and sat beside Jane to study them in the rapidly fading evening light. Jane looked over his shoulder. Their planned route continued up the Valley to a village called Comar, where they would turn southeast into a side valley which led to Nuristan. This valley was also called Comar, and so was the first high pass they would encounter. "Fifteen thousand feet," said Ellis, pointing to the pass. "This is where it gets cold."

Jane shivered.

When Chantal had drunk her fill, Jane changed her diaper and washed the old one in the river. She returned to find Ellis deep in conversation with Masud. She squatted beside them.

"You have made the right decision," Masud was saying. "You must get out of Afghanistan, with our treaty in your pocket. If the Russians catch you, all is lost."

Ellis nodded agreement. Jane thought: I've never seen Ellis like this before - he treats Masud with deference.

Masud went on: "However, it is a journey of extraordinary difficulty. Much of the trail is above the ice line. Sometimes the path is hard to find in the snow, and if you get lost there, you die."

Jane wondered where all this was leading. It seemed to her ominous that Masud was carefully addressing Ellis, not her.

"I can help you," Masud went on. "But, like you, I want to make a deal."

"Goon," said Ellis.

"I will give you Mohammed as a guide, to take you through Nuristan and into Pakistan."

Jane's heart leaped. Mohammed as a guide! It would make a world of difference to the journey.

"What is my part of the bargain?" Ellis asked.

"You go alone. The doctor's wife and the child stay here."

It was heartbreakingly clear to Jane that she must agree to this. It was foolhardy for the two of them to try to make it alone - they would probably both die. This way she could at least save Eilis's life. "You must say yes," she told him.

Ellis smiled at her and looked at Masud. "It's out of the question," he said.

Masud stood up, visibly offended, and walked back to the circle of guerrillas.

Jane said: "Oh, Ellis, was that wise?"

"No," he said. He held her hand. "But I'm not going to let you go that easily."

She squeezed his hand. "I ... I've made you no promises."

"I know," he said. "When we get back to civilization, you're free to do whatever you like - live with Jean-Pierre, if that's what you want, and if you can find him. I'll settle for the next two weeks, if that's all I can get. Anyway, we may not live that long."

That was true. Why agonize over the future, she thought, when we probably don't have a future?

Masud came back, smiling again. "I'm not a good negotiator," he said. "I'll give you Mohammed anyway."

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