The Night of Morningstar
From this printing: Only one thing is known for sure about The Watchmen – theyre dangerous. Professional, far-ranging and lethal. A firing squad assassination at the Turkish Embassy in Madrid, the demolition of a dam in Utah and a nuclear plant in Haute Savoie, the kidnap and execution of a Soviet general in Cracow.
And now The Watchmen have a bigger plan. Operation Morningstar is planned to plunge the western world into a night of chaos.
But first, The Watchmen want to take out Modesty Blaise. The man to do the job is the man once known as The Graduate. He hates Modesty and Willy and that hate goes back a long way. lts a long and slow-burning fuse that was lit way back when Modesty wound up her Network in the Middle East.
Willie Garvin picked the blind girl up by her slender waist and lifted her over.
"Show off," said Collier.
They were following the footpath across the fields that lay between Modesty's cottage and the village of Benildon, in Wiltshire, returning from the White Hart where they had gone for a Sunday morning drink at Modesty's urging while she prepared lunch.
"Dinah's lost weight, you're not looking after er properly," said Willie as he climbed the stile.
"Ha! And whose fault's that?" Collier demanded aggressively. "From the moment you and Modesty vanished into the blue and Weng couldn't say where, she started worrying herself sick about the pair of you. So what happens? You both come back more or less in one piece, or two pieces I suppose, but I ended up with an emaciated wife."
"You were just as bad," said Dinah, "going through the papers with a toothcomb every morning, spilling your cornflakes, being bad tempered, forgetting where you'd parked the car."
"Oh rubbish, that's just senility, sweetheart. I gave up worrying about the pair of them long ago. Besides, what were their dangers compared to mine? Yet are they emaciated? Did any of you fret away so much as one poor scruple of flesh on my account?"
Dinah said, "What were your dangers, tiger?"
"My darling, how can you ask? I walked unarmed into a room occupied by the countess, widow of the late Earl St. Maur, didn't I? I should have been provided with a whip and a chair, and had men on hand with pistols ready to fire blanks. God knows why Tarrant picked on me for that charade, anyway."
Willie took Dinah's arm and they moved on along the footpath. "It ad to be somebody in the know, Steve," he said, "and there aren't many about. Tarrant didn't want to use one of is professionals. He wanted someone with an impeccable background, to give the story artistic verisimilitude," Willie pressed Dinah's arm. "Someone intelligent, suave, reliable, and well known in academic circles."
"Ah, I can see his point," Collier acknowledged graciously. "But I wasn't warned of the danger, was I?"
Dinah said, "Oh, come on. Are you sticking to this story that you nearly got raped by a countess?"
"You weren't there," said her husband with feeling. "She'd just returned from a ride, and she received me in the stables. I tell you, if old Collier hadn't put in a bit of very nifty footwork she'd have had her wicked way with him there and then in the straw. She wears tight riding breeches, which means you can see what her thighs are like, and they're . . . well, daunting to say the least. Even her horse looked a bit compressed in the middle to me."
Dinah said, "Sounds like you passed up the experience of a lifetime, honey."
"It would have been my last experience. We moved into the house for sherry, and with it came an invitation for lunch, declined, followed by an extraordinary peripatetic conversation in which we covered quite a distance, including three occasions when I only just got out of a corner before she trapped me. I was petrified." Collier shook his head solemnly. "If that woman had managed to get me between her legs I'd have ended up like an empty toothpaste tube. Next time Tarrant wants a job like that done he can send Willie. I'll do the easy bits, like sinking drillships."
Peter O´Donnell, The Night of Morningstar, 1982