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TitleThe Light of Day
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Table of Contents
                            CHAPTER ONE
Document Text Contents
Page 1

by Unknown

The Light of Day

Scanned 2004/12/12 afmg


First published by Wm.HeinemannLtd 1962

First issued inFontanaBooks 1972
Second Impression December 1974

©Eric Ambler, 1962
All rights reserved

Made and printed in Great Britain by William Collins Sons & Co Ltd Glas‐


conditions of sale:

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or

otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publish‐
er’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is
published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed
on the subsequent purchaser

Page 2


It came down to this: if I had not been arrested by the Turkish police, I

would have been arrested by the Greek police. I had no choice but to do as this
man Harper told me. He was entirely responsible for what happened to me.

I thought he was an American. He looked like an American—tall, with the
loose, light suit, the narrow tie and button-down collar, the smooth, old-young,
young-old face and the crew cut. He spoke like an American, too; or at least like
a German who has lived in America for a long time. Of course, I now know that
he is not an American, but he certainly gave that impression. His luggage, for in‐
stance, was definitely American: plastic leather and imitation gold locks. I know
American luggage when I see it I didn’t see his passport.

He arrived at the Athens airport on a plane from Vienna. He could have
come from New York or London or Frankfurt or Moscow and arrived by that
plane—or just from Vienna. It was impossible to tell. There were no hotel labels
on the luggage. I just assumed that he came from New York. It was a mistake
anyone might have made. This will not do. I can already hear myself protesting
too much, as if I had something to be ashamed of; but I am simply trying to ex‐
plain what happened, to be completely frank and open.

I really did not suspect that he was not what he seemed. Naturally, I ap‐
proached him at the airport. The car-hire business is only a temporary sideline
with me, of course—I am a journalist by profession—butNickihad been com‐
plaining about needing more new clothes, and the rent was due on the flat that
week. I needed money, and this man looked as if he had some. Is it acrime to
earn money? The way some people go on you would think it was. The law is the
law and I am certainly not complaining, but what I can’t stand is all the humbug
and hypocrisy. If a man goes to the red light district on his own, nobody says
anything. But if he wants to do another chap, a friend or anacquaintance, a good
turn by showing him the way to the best house, everyone starts screaming blue
murder. I have no patience with it. If there is one thing I pride myself on it is my
common sense—that and my sense of humour. My correct name is Arthur Simp‐
son. No! I said I would be completely frank and open and I am going to be. My
correctfullname is ArthurAbdelSimpson. TheAbdelis because my mother was
Egyptian. In fact, I was born in Cairo. But my father was a British officer, a reg‐
ular, and I myself am British to the core. Evenmy background is typically

Page 85

obviously panting for her to come again. I wondered how much she had tipped

‘I’ll try and make it tomorrow. Thank you again.’ She gave him the smile.
To me, she said: “Let’s go,’

I drove off. As soon as we got on to the cobbles the panel started to vibrate. I
immediately pressed my knees against it and the vibration stopped; but I was re‐
ally scared now. I didn’t think that she would notice that the screws were out;
but Fischer or Harper certainly would, and there was this unknown we were go‐
ing to meet. I knew that I had somehow to replace the screws while the car was
at the airport.

‘Is the plane on time?’ she asked.
A donkey cart came rattling out of a side street at that moment, and I made a

big thing of braking and swerving out of its way. I didn’t have to pretend that the
cart had shaken me up. I was shaken up all right. My call toTufanand the argu‐
ment with him had made forget completely about calling the airline. I did the
best I could.

‘They didn’t know of any delay,’ I said; ‘but the plane was making an inter‐
mediate stop. ‘Would you like me to check again?’

‘No, it’s not worth it now.’
‘Did you enjoy the Seraglio, Miss Lipp?’ I thought if I kept talking it might

quieten my stomach down a bit.
‘It was interesting.’
‘The Treasury is worth seeing, too. Everything the Sultans used was covered

with jewels. Of course, a great many of the things were gifts from kings and em‐
perors who wanted to impress the Sultans with their greatness. Even Queen Vic‐
toria sent things.’

‘I know.’ She chuckled. ‘Clocks and cut glass.’
‘But some of the things are really incredible, Miss Lipp. There are coffee

cups sculptured out of solid amethyst, and, you know, the largest emerald in the
world is there on the canopy of one of the thrones. They even did mosaic work
with rubies and emeralds instead of marble.’ I went on to tell her about the gem-
encrusted baldrics. I gave her the full treatment. In my experience every normal
woman likes talking about jewels. But she didn’t seem much interested.

Well,’ she said, they can’t be worth much.’
‘All those hundreds and thousands of jewels, Miss Lipp! ‘ My leg was get‐

ting stiff trying to stop the panel vibrating.
I wriggled surreptitiously into a new position.
She shrugged. The guidetoldme that the reason they have to close some

rooms on the days theyopenuptheothers is because they’re understaffed. The rea‐

Page 86

son they’re understaffed is because the government hasn’t the money to spend.
That’s why the place is so shabby, too. Pretty well all of the money they have for
restoration goes into the older, the Byzantine buildings. Besides, if all those
stones were real gems they’d be in a strong-room, not a museum. You know,
Arthur, quite a lot of these old baubles turn out in the end to be just obsidian and

‘Oh these are real gems, Miss Lipp.’
‘What’s the biggest emerald in the world look like, Arthur?’
‘Well it’s pear-shaped, and about the size of a pear, too.’
‘Smooth or cut?’
‘Couldn’t it be green tourmaline?’
Well, I suppose Idontknow really, Miss Lipp. I’m not an expert.’
‘Do you carewhichit is?”
I was getting bored with this. ‘Not much. Miss Lipp,’ I answered. ‘It just

makes a more interesting story if it’s an emerald.’
She smiled. ‘It makes a more amusing story if it’s not. Have you ever been to

the mysterious East?’
‘No, Miss Lipp.’
‘But you’ve seen pictures. Do you know what makes those tall pagodas glit‐

ter so beautifully in the moonlight?’
‘No, Miss Lipp.’
‘They’re covered with little pieces of broken bottle glass. And the famous

emerald Buddha in Bangkok isn’t emerald at all; it’s carved from a block of or‐
dinary green jasper.’

‘Little known facts,’ I thought ‘Why don’t you send itmto theReader’s Di‐
gest?’ Ididn’t say it, though.

She took a cigarette from the gold case in her bag and I fumbled in my pock‐
et for matches; but she had a gold lighter, too, and didn’t notice the matches I
held out to her.‘Haveyou always done this sort of work?’ she asked suddenly.

‘Driving? No, Miss Lipp. Most of my life I have been a journalist. That was
in Egypt When the Nasser crowd took over, things became impossible. It was a
matter of starting again.’ Simple, straightforward—a man who has suffered the
slings and arrows of outrageous fortune but wasn’t looking for anyone’s shoul‐
der to weep on.

‘I was thinking about the traveller’s cheques,’ she said. ‘Is that what you
meant by “starting again”?’

‘I’m sorry Mr Harper had to tell you about that.’ It was no surprise, of
course, that Harper had told her; but with so many other things on my mind—

Page 169

that the granting of the travel document did not constitute recognition of any
claim I had made or might make to United Kingdom citizenship. When I had
signed it, I told him what he could do with it

But on the way back to Athens in the plane, it gave me an idea.
I had been thinking aboutNickiand wondering whether I would stop on my

way to the flat and buy her a stone marten stole. She’d been hankering after one
for a long while, and I thought that with the American notes I had I might get a
good fur really cheaply—for thirty or forty dollars perhaps. I would be ‘papa’ for
at least a month. That is, if she hadn’t moved out while I had been away. I was
deciding that I had better make sure of that first when the stewardess stopped by
my seat.

‘Your nationality, sir?’
‘British.’ I said.
Shehanded me a passport control card to fill in andmovedon to the next seat.
I had said ‘British’ without thinking. Why? Because I consider myself

British, because IamBritish.
I took out the travel document and looked at it carefully. It, too, said I was

British. And yet they had made me sign a paper which said in effect that I
wasn’t. Therefore, the travel document could be considered an admission of my
claim. The paper was unimportant because I had signed that under duress. You
cannot take away a man’s nationality by refusing to recognize his right to it. The
1948 Act is quite clear. The only way you can lose British nationality is by re‐
nouncing it. I haven’t renounced mine at any time. Specifically, I did not re‐
nounce it by taking that Egyptian passport. Since the Egyptians say that my
Egyptian naturalization is null and void because I made false statements, then
itisnull and void—allof it

The British Government can’t have it both ways. Either I am Egyptian or I
am British. The Egyptians say I am not Egyptian and never have been.Isay that I
am not Egyptian and never have been. Myfamerwas a British officer. I am

That is why I have been so completely frank and open. I am not asking to be
loved. I am not asking to be liked. I do not mind being loathed, if that will make
some pettifogging government official happier. It is a matter of principle. If nec‐
essary, I shall take my case to the United Nations. They caned the British after
Suez; they can cane them again for me. Sheep I may be; and perhaps certain per‐
sons find my breath displeasing; but I am no longer merely indignant. I am angry

I give the British Government fair warning. I refuse to go on being an
anomaly. Is that quite clear? Irefuse!

Page 170

Eric Ambler

Aworld of espionage and counter-espionage, of sudden violence and treach‐

erous calm; of blackmailers, murderers, gun-runners—and none too virtuous
heroes. This is the world of Eric Ambler. ‘Unquestionably our best thriller writ‐
er.’Graham Greene.’He is incapable of writing a dull paragraph.’Sunday
Times.’Eric Ambler is a master of his craft.’Sunday Telegraph

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