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Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha

by Dorothy Gilman

  • ISBN: 9780449209837
  • ISBN10: 0449209830

Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha

by Dorothy Gilman

  • List Price: $7.99
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • Publish date: 10/01/1988
  • ISBN: 9780449209837
  • ISBN10: 0449209830
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Description: 1 It was raining--a driving spring rain that slashed at the windows--and Mrs. Pollifax hoped that it was not raining in the wilds of Vermont, where Cyrus had gone for a ten-day bird-watching expedition that would find him crouching for hours in the shrubbery or ensconced in a tree with field glasses. She had remained behind--quite wisely, she thought now--to deal with the carpenters swarming over the old house they''d bought, and to which they were adding a greenhouse for her geraniums, a bird-watching balcony for Cyrus and a bay window that was to be placed slightly off-center, a decision that deeply pained Mr. Lupalak, the contractor, a man who liked to dot every i and cross every t. Indeed from the part in the exact center of his dark hair it was plain that symmetry was a passion with him; Mr. Lupalak was a man to be watched. Standing at the window and staring out at the very green, very wet landscape, Mrs. Pollifax wondered for the first time if she were really going to like the country. She could admire the sweep of green lawn--wet; the curve of road beyond-- the spire of a church barely visible above a dripping willow tree; but it was certainly a scene that lacked movement, sound and drama. When the carpenters left--they were making a great deal of noise in the basement this morning, cutting beams for the balcony--she wondered if it were not going to seem, perhaps, a trifle ... unoccupied? She knew that out there in the grass and among the hollows there was a teeming wildlife--mice, toads, ants and there were rumors of a hedgehog behind the stone wall--but what the scene plainly lacked, she thought, was people. Mrs. Pollifax enjoyed people: of all shapes, sizes, types and temperaments. And then quite suddenly, as if the fates had eavesdropped, there was movement in that placid landscape as a car drove down Route 2, stopped, backed, turned and raced up the driveway toward her, sending plumes of water into the air as it hurtled through puddles to come to a stop near her front door. "Now who ...'" murmured Mrs. Pollifax. From the car emerged a very pleasant-looking young man wearing a boisterous glen-plaid suit and matching vest, and carrying an attaché case: a man very familiar and dear to her who reminded her at once that her past included not only the growing of prize-winning geraniums but a great deal of drama, excitement, danger and people. She had opened the door to him even before he reached it. "Bishop!" she cried. "What a surprise! How on earth--!" "Devil of a time finding you," he said, giving her an exuberant hug. "I hear the sound of buzz saws from somewhere--are they building you an ark?" She laughed. "It doesn''t always rain in the country and if you''d only called first I could have given you terribly efficient directions. I''ll put on some coffee. Oh, it''s good to see you, come and look at our house." "Love to," he said. "Where''s Cyrus?" "He left three days ago; he''s in Vermont." "Uh-oh," said Bishop. "Mrs. Pollifax gave him a quick, attentive glance. Not a social call, she thought, and felt a curious little stirring of anticipation and excitement, "Now that''s a strange reaction," she told him. He ignored this. "Put the coffee on and show me around--unless you charge for a guided tour. I''ve not much time," he added parenthetically as he dropped his attaché case on the pink-and-red flowered couch. Mrs. Pollifax led him from room to room: upstairs to the three gabled bedrooms, two of them with fireplaces; downstairs through the kitchen into the dining room with its flagstoned terrace just beyond, and then into the greenhouse, which as yet lacked glass. She took him into the basement and introduced him to Mr. Lupalak, who regarded Bishop''s plaid suit with something approaching awe, and to everything Bishop responded with exactly the right words, but Mrs, Pollifax felt that his mind was elsewhere, and she wondered. They arrived back in the dining room at last, where Mrs. Pollifax poured coffee for them both, brought out napkins, sugar, a plate of macaroons, and sat down to face him across the polished trestle table. Behind Bishop the wind and rain attacked the sliding glass doors, the flagstoned terrace glistened wetly and one lone forsythia bush struggled bravely to brighten the scene with color. "And how is Carstairs?" inquired Mrs. Pollifax, nibbling on a macaroon. "Fine," said Bishop. "Considering the sedentary life he leads, full of stress and tension, I regard him as a medical phenomenon. He resists running, jogging and even walking, and in effect defies every known law of health. And how is Cyrus?" he asked with equal politeness. "Bird-watching." He nodded. "And you''re still Mrs. Reed-Pollifax?" "Defying every known law of convention, yes," she responded, "Cyrus insisted. An interesting silence fell between them as Bishop eyed her speculatively and she in turn waited patiently. "All right, Bishop," she said at last, smiling. "You can''t possibly expect me to believe that you just happened to be in the neighborhood." "No," he said, eating his third macaroon. "No what?" He swallowed. "No I didn''t happen to be in the neighborhood," he admitted cheerfully. "I needed a plane, a taxi, a limousine and a rented car to reach you. Except I''d expected Cyrus to be here." "He isn''t," she pointed out. "No, but we thought this time, now that you''re married and all--however, it can''t be helped. The thing is," he said, "we need you. Need you badly, and at once." "For what?" she asked, "and what does ''at once'' mean?" He put down his cup of coffee. "If you can help us," he said quietly, "it means now. No time to call or collect Cyrus, no time for anything. You''d leave with me now, within the hour." With a glance at his watch he added, "By twelve noon." "Mrs. Pollifax glanced at her own watch: it was exactly five minutes after eleven. "Bishop! And you took fifteen minutes to tour the house!" He smiled sheepishly. "I had some thinking to do--reassessing--and damn it I can''t help my having been brought up to be polite and all that sort of thing--and we did expect Cyrus to be here, but his absence doesn''t change our needing you. Actually rather desperately," he admitted. Of course it was quite impossible, she told herself, she was too involved--and there was the bay window, and Cyrus not knowing--"Why me?" she asked. "And where?" "Hong Kong," said Bishop. Hong Kong ... the sun shone in Hong Kong, she remembered. Brilliantly. "You remember Sheng Ti?" asked Bishop. She did indeed remember Sheng Ti. Not many months ago she had sat under a culvert with him in a Chinese town called Turfan, and after hearing how he was hai fen, or a "black person" in China, living without paper or home or identity, she had persuaded her co-agent to smuggle him out of China along with the man named Wang Shen whom they''d been sent into the country to rescue. She nodded. "Of course I remember Sheng Ti--a very intelligent young man, his talents absolutely wasted as an outcast, or hooligan, as they call it." "You''re aware that he''s in Hong Kong?" "You told me so at our wedding. It sounded," she added tartly, "as if you didn''t know what else to do with him and he was simply dumped there." Bishop said dryly, "Well, no one had anticipated your largesse, you know; we''d expected two men to come over the mountains and through Kashmir, not three. Except he wasn''t exactly dumped in Hong Kong, as you phrase it--you do us a disservice there--he was placed there. With one of our agents." "Oh!" she said. "Yes, and to put it in a nutshell, my dear Mrs. Pollifax--because the hands on that clock behind you are relentlessly in motion--we are growing very very worried about that agent, and your friend--your friend Sheng Ti--is the only person in a position to give us some clues." "What would he know?" she said doubtfully. "He works for the man, he''s on the premises, we know that much from our Hong Kong contacts. The agent''s name is Detwiler, he''s a Eurasian, his cover a business called Feng Imports, Ltd., a small business importing diamonds and gems of all kinds. Old Feng runs the shop, Detwiler handles the importing, and Sheng Ti is one of two employees in the shop." "And you''re worried about Detwiler ...'" "I can''t tell you how worried," said Bishop. "The man knows too much, he has a lot to offer. He went too far in his last report, the information he sent the department so patently false that we went back over previous ones and discovered that beginning about two months ago he''s been feeding us doctored information. In a word, something''s up, he''s double-crossing us, and we suspect he''s into something self-serving, nefarious and quite detrimental to our interests. Certainly he''s no good to us anymore and we have every intention of finding out why, who he''s working for now, what information he''s been selling elsewhere and what the hell''s going on. What''s more," he added, "someone''s put the fear of God--or Satan, perhaps--into your friend Sheng Ti." Startled, she said, "How do you know that?" &n
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Gilman, Dorothy. MRS. POLLIFAX AND THE HONG KONG BUDDHA. NY: Fawcett, c1986, 1988 printing. 217pp. fine mass market paperback.
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