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where the American might be? Wulff had once been a very good man. He had
covered a lot of wild country long ago. Now he was an administrator and
content to be so.
"You spoke to him?"
"He was cooperative. He went back to the house of Zhikarev with me, but
Zhikarev was gone."
"Gone?"
"Not at home."
"You went inside?"
"We did. Everything looked much the same, except that the bale of furs had
been unpacked and placed with other furs of their kind. There were no signs of
hurried packing. It looked like he had just stepped out."
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"But you do not believe it?"
"I do not. I think Stegman frightened him. I think he is gone. I may be wrong,
but I do not believe he will come back. Or, let us say, I do not think he
planned to come back."
"But he may?"
"As a precaution I suggested to their commanding officer that the border
guards be replaced for a few days. That the guards be given some leave and
others put in their places." She smiled. "Just in the event that Zhikarev had
made some friends along the border."
"Good! Very, very good! A friend of Zhikarev might also befriend a friend of
his. You ordered the arrest of Zhikarev?"
"I did."
Zamatev walked to the window and looked out. The little car was farther down
the street tonight. He gave it a glance only. This was a lead, although a slim
one, scarcely more than that found by Alekhin.
If the American was an Indian he must also be a trapper. Were they not all
hunters and trappers? If so, he might be catching fur to raise money he would
need and to pay his way now. In any event, he could not afford to ignore any
lead.
"You are tired."
"Not too tired."
He smiled. "Go home and get some rest. It will be busy around here tonight."
"We know nothing," she warned. "It is only the furs."
"And the man Zhikarev, who disappeared. It is only the guilty who flee."
"It is sometimes as dangerous to be merely suspect," she said. "Zhikarev had
been questioned before, by Stegman."
"And others."
He paused, thinking about it. "We must find him, but Wulff may know something.
He is one who always knows more than he says and uses it for his own benefit.
This time he will use it for mine."
"Be careful of him. He has friends."
He got out his maps after she had gone and studied them. Kyra and Stegman had
gone to the Sinyaya and found nothing, and so they might be anywhere. They had
sold their furs in Aldan.
Because it was nearby? Or because they knew a buyer who would ask no
questions? Of course, for the profit that could be made, there might be many
such. But supposing they were near Aldan? He drew a mental circle around the
area and began studying the streams. It was wild country once one got away
from the city itself. The Sinyaya was far from Aldan. It was not even close.
It was closer to Yakutsk.
He considered that. A possible buyer in Yakutsk? Of course, in such a large
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place there was certain to be one or more than one. Stegman would know. He had
worked out of Yakutsk at one time and knew them all.
It was three o'clock in the morning before Alekhin arrived. He came quietly,
sat down, and listened.
He had only just come from the taiga, and when Zamatev told him of the furs
his face revealed nothing, but he was smiling inwardly. Of course! The man was
an Indian. He could hunt and trap. If he had found a good place to hide and a
way to sell the furs he trapped, he should have made some money before warm
weather. With money in his pocket and a change of clothes he would be harder
to find. He might even leave the forest.
Zamatev shook his head. Not Makatozi. He would stay in the forest. Besides he
did not know the language. How long to learn to speak Russian? Even a little
bit?
"You do not believe in the furs?" Zamatev demanded.
"I believe. This man is a good trapper, I think. I think you waste time,
Alekhin can catch him. Only Alekhin."
"I want him alive."
Alekhin shrugged. "Always somebody died. Some like to fight me, so I kill. Why
not?"
"A man named Borowsky came with the furs. He was not alone. They came to
Aldan."
Alekhin considered that. There would be tracks. Borowsky was not the American,
who knew so well how to hide a trail. Borowsky would have left something, but
finding where he had come into the town would be difficult.
"I will look." Alekhin looked over at Zamatev. "He will fight, this one. If he
fights, I kill him."
"I do not want him killed! Do you understand? I want him alive!" He paused.
"You are a shrewd man, Alekhin. You have trapped animals, why not a man? Trap
him, and bring him to me. When he has told me what I want, you can have him."
Alekhin considered that. To trap him? That would be amusing. He would like to [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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