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Authors: Lynette Silver

In the Mouth of the Tiger

BOOK: In the Mouth of the Tiger
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In the MOUTH of the TIGER

Derek Emerson-Elliott and Lynette Silver

First published in 2014 by

Sally Milner Publishing Pty Ltd

734 Woodville Road


© Derek Emerson-Elliott and Lynette Silver 2014

Design: Anna Warren, Warren Ventures Pty Ltd

Editing: Anne Savage

Printed in China

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry

Silver, Lynette, author.
In the mouth of the tiger / Lynette Silver ; Derek Emerson Elliott.
9781863514576 (paperback)
Other Authors/Contributors:
Emerson Elliott, Derek, author.
Dewey Number:

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the copyright owners and publishers.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Authors' Note

In the Mouth of the Tiger
is a novel, set within the context of real events. The main characters and most of the minor characters are real people or are based on real people, and they did many of the things ascribed to them. Denis Elesmere-Elliott is based on the real-life MI6 agent Denis Emerson-Elliott, whose secret intelligence work is referred to in Lynette Silver's book
Deadly Secrets
. Denis's wife Nona, the heroine of the story, also existed, and her background and early life were as depicted in the book. In real life, Norma Emerson-Elliott (nee Orlov) died tragically young.

At the time of the story, Britain ruled the whole of the Malayan Peninsula as part of her Empire.

Military Intelligence 5 (MI5) and Military Intelligence 6 (MI6) are British Intelligence organisations. MI5 concentrates on counter-intelligence (the protection of British interests from foreign spies), while MI6 undertakes active espionage abroad. At the time of the story, Security Intelligence Far East (SIFE) was a special British Intelligence organisation set up in Singapore to combat the spread of Communism in South-East Asia. It comprised agents from both MI5 and MI6 and from other more shadowy organisations, and it carried out its work with utter ruthlessness and complete success.

There are two intelligence hypotheses at the heart of the story. The first is that, with the secret approval of Stewart Menzies, the Chief of MI6, British intelligence ‘leaked' critical military intelligence obtained through the highly secret Enigma decrypts to the Russians in 1943, despite direct orders to the contrary from Winston Churchill. That Enigma intelligence (called ‘Ultra' material) was passed to the Russians is now accepted as fact, following discoveries made after the war. The illegal transfer of this vital military intelligence to the Russians helped them win the battle of Stalingrad – and thus probably the war.

The second hypothesis, that MI6 manoeuvered the Malayan Communist Party into staging its attack on British authority in 1948 (known as the Malayan Emergency), is more speculative, but it is also consistent with all the known facts. The Communists, lauded for their resistance against the Japanese during the war, were poised to win the first elections in a Malaya approaching independence. To stop the possible election of a Communist government in Malaya, MI6 used a ‘plant' in the Communist Party (Chin Peng, the Party's leader) to take his people into the jungle in a rebellion doomed to fail.

Ian Fleming once said that he gave his creation, James Bond, character traits borrowed from real-life intelligence officers with whom he had worked. He certainly worked with Denis Emerson-Elliott, and Denis had many of the character traits given to Bond – including urbanity and charm wedded to an utterly ruthless commitment to the cause at hand. Denis was the Personal Assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence in Australia just as Fleming was the Personal Assistant to the British Director of Naval Intelligence. In a curious echo of James Bond's famous 007 number, Denis's secret service identification number was BB 007.

Foreign words and phrases

: spelling of Malay words follows the form used at that time.

ayer limou
: lime drink

: man of Chinese-Malay descent

: young or secondary (regrowth) jungle

: hoe

: fish

: palace

: street, walk

jalan chepat
: walk fast

: platform

: village

: labourer

: to eat

makan kechil
: snack, appetisers

: woman of Chinese-Malay descent; also a style of cooking

: village green, field

: machete

: headman

: fan

: wild ox

: barbarian

: whisky and soda

tanah merah
: red earth

: businessman, business leader

tuan besar
: boss, master, important man



“If there is one thing that sums up for me

the lush, fragile beauty of Malaya between

the wars, it is the scent of Frangipani...”


Chapter One

ost families, like most nations, have their Foundation Myths. Their Dreamtimes. Stories from a Golden Age when the sun always shone and heroes walked the land. My own family has its Foundation Myth. A lovely myth set long ago in a distant land, about a beautiful girl who fell in love with a handsome English adventurer and lived with him happily ever after in a sprawling mansion by the sea.

And like all good Foundation Myths, my family's story is based on fact. I know, because I was that young girl, and I still have photographs of that time. I have them with me now, curled and faded brown after sixty years, but full of light, and grace, and happiness. There is a photo of me with my chestnut mare, Dame Fashion, and one of my husband on his stallion Thor. And one of Brown Rascal, the children's pony, attended by its two syces and with a little blond boy on its back – dear Tony, who is smiling confidently for his Daddy though I remember how frightened he was.

I also have photos of Whitelawns, our lovely home set on terraced lawns above the sparkling sea, with its turrets on either side and its deep, shady verandahs. We called it Whitelawns because we saw it first at night, with its broad lawns painted white by the moon.

But like all Foundation Myths, ours was always only partly true. There were dark, dangerous currents beneath the happiness, debts of honour, and something else that even I could never have guessed at. And at the centre of that myth, at the centre of that enigma, was my husband.

I dreamt about Denis years before I met him. I don't mean that metaphorically, in the sense that he was the man of my dreams, but quite literally. He appeared in my dream exactly as he was to appear when I met him in real life, at the Selangor Club in 1936: a rather tall man with level blue-grey
eyes, a firm jaw, and a broad mouth in which there always seemed to lurk the hint of a quiet smile.

I was fifteen at the time of my dream, a gangling schoolgirl with a crush on the Scarlet Pimpernel and a head full of silly romantic notions. If I had invented a man of my dreams he would have been witty and foppish, like Sir Percy Blakeney, or arrogant and coldly enigmatic, like Mr Darcy in
Pride and Prejudice
. No, I am quite certain that it was the real Denis who visited me in my dream that night in 1934, to prepare me for the future. He said things that have resonated down the years, and that make sense to me even today as I potter about my cosy retirement flat at Bateman's Bay, bored out of my mind and longing for the old days.

I had gone to sleep quite frightened, as I often did in my large, dark bedroom upstairs in the big house in Penang where I was boarding while my mother travelled overseas. The bright moonlight provided no comfort, lighting up as it did the huge, carved pieces of mahogany furniture with which the room was stuffed, and the dark oil paintings that crowded the walls. I have hated heavy, dark furniture ever since, which is why we were to have nothing dark or heavy in Whitelawns. Even the dining table at Whitelawns was enamelled pale green, and when Amah and I laid it for a dinner party, the silver cutlery, the delicate white side-plates, and the candles in their tiny crystal bowls seemed to float on its surface as if on the surface of a pond.

My sleep had been disturbed by the irrational fears that the room engendered, by real fears of Captain Ulrich and his wife, the owners of the house, and by the insistent calls of a fever bird from somewhere outside in the tangled garden. I had already woken once, to lie stiff and frightened with eyes wide open as I tried to work out what had roused me, only to drift back into that confused, fitful realm of sleep to which I had become accustomed.

And then I had my dream. It was what they call today a ‘lucid' dream, because I knew at the time that I was dreaming. In my dream, Denis came into my room, sat on the chair by my bed, and lit the pressure lamp on my bedside table. I distinctly remember the scratch of the match, the hiss as the lacy mantle became incandescent, and the squeak of the chair as he sat back comfortably, to contemplate me with a quiet smile.

I made an attempt to get out of bed, but he held up a hand. ‘Don't get up, Nona,' he said softly. ‘I'm not here for a social visit, but we do need to talk. One day you will be coming away with me, but in the meantime you must stop being afraid. You are an awful lot better than this crowd you're with now,
and you mustn't let them get you down.'

‘How will it be when I come away with you?' I asked. It seemed the most natural thing in the world to accept his quiet words as the literal truth, and I wanted to know what it would be like when we were together.

BOOK: In the Mouth of the Tiger
7.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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