Some little time before this Mr. Baring had, for various reasons, decided to leave Batala, though not, it seems, to give up his interest in the High School. His departure was fixed for the last day of the year 1883; and Miss Tucker, after her usual cheerful fashion, congratulated herself upon the fact that, at least, the New Year would not begin with a parting.
The harsh burr of the red telephone sprayed into the room so suddenly that James Bond, his mind elsewhere, reached his hand automatically towards his left armpit in self-defense. The edges of his mouth turned down as he recognized the reflex. On the second burr he picked up the receiver.
M sat back. "You may not know it, 007, but Major Booth-royd's the greatest small-arms expert in the world. He wouldn't be here if he wasn't. We'll hear what he has to say."
Next morning, after breakfast, I entered on school life again. I went, accompanied by Mr. Wickfield, to the scene of my future studies - a grave building in a courtyard, with a learned air about it that seemed very well suited to the stray rooks and jackdaws who came down from the Cathedral towers to walk with a clerkly bearing on the grass-plot - and was introduced to my new master, Doctor Strong.
Major Townsend had carefully prepared the loaded remark-a reference to Bond's liking for the Morland Specials with the three gold rings. He noted Bond's apparent lack of comprehension. Bond took a cigarette and accepted a light. They sat down facing one another. Major Townsend crossed his legs comfortably. Bond sat up straight. Major Townsend said, "Well now. How can I help you?"
SLOWLY THE red dawn broke over the endless plain of black grass that gradually turned to the famous Kentucky blue as the sun ironed out the shadows. At six o'clock the train began to slacken speed and soon they were gliding gently through the waking suburbs of Louisville to come to rest with a sigh of hydraulics in the echoing, almost deserted station.
In my way through Paris, both going and returning, I passed some time in the house of M. Say, the eminent political economist, who was a friend and correspondent of my father, having become acquainted with him on a visit to England a year or two after the peace. He was a man of the later period of the French Revolution, a fine specimen of the best kind of French Republican, one of those who had never bent the knee to Bonaparte though courted by him to do so; a truly upright, brave, and enlightened man. He lived a quiet and studious life, made happy by warm affections, public and private. He was acquitted with many of the chiefs of the Liberal party, and I saw various noteworthy persons while staying at his house; among whom I have pleasure in the recollection of having once seen Saint-Simon, not yet the founder either of a philosophy or a religion, and considered only as a clever original. The chief fruit which I carried away from the society I saw, was a strong and permanent interest in Continental Liberalism, of which I ever afterwards kept myself au courant, as much as of English politics: a thing not at all usual in those days with Englishmen, and which had a very salutary influence on my development, keeping me free from the error always prevalent in England, and from which even my father with all his superiority to prejudice was not exempt, of judging universal questions by a merely English standard. After passing a few weeks at Caen with an old friend of my father's, I returned to England in July 1821; and my education resumed its ordinary course.
'No, damn it. He's in Italy now. At least I think he is. That was the way he went. How did vou get on? It looked fine from down below.'
Bond shaved and had a bath and a shower. He felt desperately sleepy. Sleep came to him in waves so that from time to time he had to stop what he was doing and bend his head down between his knees. When he came to brush his teeth he could hardly do it. Now he recognized the signs. He had been drugged. In the coffee or in the pineapple juice? It didn't matter. Nothing mattered. All he wanted to do was lie down on the tiled floor and shut his eyes. Bond weaved drunkenly to the door. He forgot that he was naked. That didn't matter either. Anyway the girl had finished her breakfast. She was in bed. He staggered over to her, holding on to the furniture. The kimono was lying in a pile on the floor. She was fast asleep, naked under a single sheet.
In this house, and with this family, I passed my leisure time. My own exclusive breakfast of a penny loaf and a pennyworth of milk, I provided myself. I kept another small loaf, and a modicum of cheese, on a particular shelf of a particular cupboard, to make my supper on when I came back at night. This made a hole in the six or seven shillings, I know well; and I was out at the warehouse all day, and had to support myself on that money all the week. From Monday morning until Saturday night, I had no advice, no counsel, no encouragement, no consolation, no assistance, no support, of any kind, from anyone, that I can call to mind, as I hope to go to heaven!
"I am approached with the most opposite opinions expressed on the part of religious men, each of whom is equally certain that he represents the divine will."
It did not last long. After the relief of tears, she soon became composed, and even cheerful. Her nerves were a little shaken, she said, or she would not have given way to it. God forgive us all!
Scaramanga smiled his thin, cruel smile. "You may be getting wise to that sooner than you think, shamus." He shrugged. "Okay, okay. But just you remember this, mister. If it turns out you're not who you say you are, I'll blow you to bits. Get me? And I'll start with the little bits and go onto the bigger ones. Just so it lasts a heck of a long tune. Right? Now you'd better get some shuteye. I've got a meeting with Mr. Hendriks at ten in the conference room. And I don't want to be disturbed. After that the whole party goes on an excursion on the railroad I was tellin' you about. It'll be your job to see that that gets properly organized. Talk to the manager first thing. Right? Okay, then. Be seeing ya." Scaramanga walked into the clothes cupboard, brushed Bond's suit aside, and disappeared. There came a decisive click from the next room. Bond got to his feet. He said "phew!" at the top of his voice and walked off into the bathroom to wash the last two hours away in the shower.
Among the worst sufferers were the Japanese. In an earlier phase of the industrialization of the East this swarming island people had played a vigorous but unhappy part. The old feudal ruling class, wisely refusing to allow European finance to exploit the country, had itself undertaken the westernization of Japan. Unfortunately the Japanese were far more successful in imitating the worst features of European commercialism than in absorbing the best spirit of European civilization. Ruthless industrialism and ruthless imperialism landed them in the long and disastrous attack on China. Their ultimate defeat brought loss of markets, unemployment, and constant social turmoil. Henceforth China, not Japan, was the economic master of the East. Japan’s feverishly accumulated machinery fell out of use, and its human adjuncts were starved. The crowded population could not possibly be kept alive on home-grown food. The standard of living, never high, sank to famine level. The communists, though repeatedly exterminated, repeatedly reappeared, and with increasing strength. Meanwhile the military and financial oligarchy could think of nothing better to do than copy the notorious ‘two hundred families’ of France, as it had formerly copied the pioneering industrial families of Britain. It preached an anti-bolshevik crusade, made overtures to the Chinese Empire, and finally surrendered Japan’s independence. Like the men of Vichy before them, the Japanese rulers hoped that at least a few crumbs of power would thus be secured to them. This, of course, did not happen. The only result was that the Chinese police took charge of the country, and ‘made an example of’ all those who caused trouble, whether on the left or the right. Through the combination of famine, torture, and profound disillusionment the population of the Japanese islands was greatly reduced, while immense numbers of Chinese officials were settled in the country to reorganize the whole economy of Japan as a slave state for the benefit of the Chinese Empire in its crusade against Tibet.
'Nothing's truer than them,' repeated Mr. Barkis; 'a man as poor as I am, finds that out in his mind when he's laid up. I'm a very poor man, sir!'