Graham Greene
beetling brows. Then he added quickly, with a sinister laugh, “See that lamp upon the table? Well, within is a powerful explosive. Three minutes from now the oil will be exhausted and then it will explode, and you, together with this house, will be blown to atoms!”
    â€œYou fiends!” I shrieked, glancing at the innocent-looking table-lamp, “then you intend that I shall die! This is a dastardly plot.” I struggled frantically to free myself. The chair had not, however, recovered its proper position, and my legs, being up in the air, rendered me entirely helpless.
    I lay like a trussed fowl while the two hired assassins laughed in my face.
    â€œQuick!” cried the beetle-browed man to his companion. “Let us get out of it!” And they both hurriedly left, locking the door behind them—left me there to my terrible fate!
    I was horrified. I shouted for help, but to my appeal came no response. My eyes were fixed upon that fatal lamp. It seemed to possess a weird fascination for me. Only a few moments remained, and I should be hurled into eternity.

    t was on the very eve of our departure that I received a signal from Moscow marked “Top Secret and Priority.” I decoded it personally and took it at once to the Chief of Staff, Voitenkov. The C.O., General Kraft, had left for the Soviet Union that afternoon. Voitenkov spread it out on his desk and his eyebrows twitched a little. He nodded, but said nothing.
    The signal read: “Render harmless Agent 063, found to be a British spy.”
    Now Agent 063 was no ordinary agent. Before I left Moscow I had decoded many reports supplied by him which were of the highest value to the Soviet Union. Agent 063, I discovered when I arrived in Sinkiang, was actually the Chinese Governor of Yarkand, a huge man who could hardly squeeze his fat legs into an ordinary chair. He was a well-known figure to most of us, and came frequently to our headquarters with his adjutant to visit General Kraft. On these occasions he wore Chinese-style trousers, top-boots which had to be specially made for him, and a light leather civilian top-coat. Owing to his eminence, he met all important visitors to the district, and was able to supply us with a mass of inside information about missionaries, traders and others who were said to be carrying on pro-British propaganda. There is no doubt that Agent 063 had given immense help to the Soviet expedition. It is also certain that he had acquired an intimate and accurate knowledge of our activities.
    As for the rest of the signal, “render harmless” is a recognised formula used in secret communications with places outside the Soviet Union; it simply means “execute.”
    Voitenkov quickly drew up a plan to implement Moscow’s instructions. A Chinese interpreter whom we knew as “Peter”and who was on good terms with the Governor, was at once sent to invite him to visit our headquarters that evening, as General Kraft wished to say goodbye before his return to the Soviet Union. It was not likely that the Governor would refuse such an invitation from the Soviet Commander, and he duly appeared.
    As soon as he entered he was seized and bound, and was taken to the interrogator’s room. The interrogation lasted about fifteen minutes. Though I was not present I later saw the brief interrogation report, which indicated that Agent 063 had been accused of being a British spy but had denied it. Apparently he had been completely dumbfounded by the charge and by the speed of events.
    Meanwhile three of my wireless operators had been given the task of digging a large grave in the earth floor of the corridor outside our office.
    Agent 063 was carried out, his mouth gagged and his hands bound behind his back and was laid face downwards in the corridor alongside the grave. While the engine of a motor-truck in the nearby courtyard was accelerated with tremendous din,

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