James Bond was running out of his Morland specials. He would soon have to start on the local stuff. He also had to collect his thoughts. This was rather like being involved in a Summit meeting between the United Kingdom and Japan. He felt way out of his depth. He took a cigarette and lit it. It burned rapidly with something of the effect of a slow-burning firework. It had a vague taste of American blends, but it was good and sharp on the palate and lungs like 90 proof spirits. He let the smoke out in a quiet hiss and smiled. 'Mr Tanaka, ? these are matters for political historians. I am concerned with much lower matters. And matters concerning the future rather than the past.'
EASTSIDER STAN LEE
Scaramanga lowered his voice. Now Bond could only hear disjointed words. The sweat ran down from his ear as he pressed it to the base of the champagne glass. "Our train trip . . . rats in the cane . . . unfortunate accident . . . before I do it ... one hell of a shock . . . details to myself . . . promise you a big laugh." Scaramanga must have sat back again. Now his voice was normal. "So you can rest easy. There'll be nothing left of the guy by this evening. Okay? I could get it over with now by just opening the door. But two blown fuses in two days might stir up gossip around here. And this way there'll be a heap of fun for everyone on the picnic."
I have never written three novels in a year, but by following the plan above described I have written more than as much as three volumes; and by adhering to it over a course of years, I have been enabled to have always on hand — for some time back now — one or two or even three unpublished novels in my desk beside me. Were I to die now there are three such besides The Prime Minister, half of which has only yet been issued. One of these has been six years finished, and has never seen the light since it was first tied up in the wrapper which now contains it. I look forward with some grim pleasantry to its publication after another period of six years, and to the declaration of the critics that it has been the work of a period of life at which the power of writing novels had passed from me. Not improbably, however, these pages may be printed first.
But it so happen'd, in this her Journey, that she lost her Way, and got, she knew not how, into a fine Park, amongst Trees, Firs, Thickets, Rabbet-burrows, and such like; nor knew she where she was, nor which Way to go; but standing still a little while to consider, she heard a Tomtit sing in a Tree, as her musing Fancy made her imagine,
'Now that he's got a brother, I mean,' said Peggotty.
'How's mama, dear Peggotty? Is she very angry with me?'
The state of your health, the state of the weather, the wonders of nature - these are things that rarely occupy the average man's mind until he reaches the middle thirties. It is only on the threshold of middle-age that you don't take them all for granted, just part of an unremarkable background to more urgent, more interesting things.
In fact, Bond was secretly delighted. He knew what Mary couldn't know-that M. was telling him that he had won his spurs back. But he certainly wasn't going to show his pleasure to Mary Goodnight. Today she was one of the wardresses confining him, tying him down. He said grudgingly, "Not bad for the old man. But all he wants is to get me back to that bloody desk. Anyway, it's a lot of jazz so far. What comes next?" He turned the pages of his book, pretending as the little machine whirred and clicked not to be interested.
Sources: Own archives and scanty material made available by Deuxième Bureau and CIA Washington.
Sluggsy came back to the counter. He said angrily, "You've got a big keister giving me that crap. Cheap little hustler! I'll give you something to make you tired." Suddenly there was an obscene little black leather cosh in his hand. He brought it down with a dull whack on the counter. It left a deep dent in the formica. He began to move stealthily round the edge of the counter, humming to himself, his eyes holding mine. I backed up into the far corner. This was going to be my last gesture. Somehow I must hurt him back before I went under. My hand felt for the open cutlery drawer and suddenly I dipped in and flung, all in one motion. His duck wasn't quick enough, and the silver spray of knives and forks burst round his head. He put a hand up to his face and backed away, cursing. I hurled some more and then some more, but they only clattered inoffensively round his hunched head. Now the thin man was moving fast across the room. I grabbed the carving knife and made a dash for Sluggsy, but he saw me coming and dodged behind a table. Unhurriedly, Horror took off his coat and wrapped it round his left arm; then they both picked up chairs and, holding the legs out like bulls' horns, they charged me from both sides. I made one ineffectual slash at an arm, and then the knife was knocked out of my hand and all I could do was to get back behind the counter.
The girl stood away from the table. She undid her blouse and threw it on the floor. Then her skirt. Under the glint of moonlight she was a pale figure with a central shadow. She came to Bond and took him by the hand and lifted him up. She undid his shirt and slowly, carefully took it off. Her body, close to him, smelled of new-mown hay and sweet pepper. She led him away from the table and through a door. The filtering moonlight shone down on a single bed. On the bed was a sleeping-bag, its mouth laid open.
The gradual failure of agriculture was of course a very slow process. Ordinary citizens of the empire did not notice it. True, there were great desert tracts in which the ruins of former farmsteads might be observed; but the slow-witted populace never dreamed that this was a symptom of an ever-spreading disaster. Only by comparing the present output with past records could the trouble be realized. But the records and the sacred proportions of agricultural production were known only to the ‘mystery’ of agriculture, in fact to the heads of the world agricultural system. These magnates knew vaguely that something was wrong; but since for sundry reasons it was unlikely that there would be trouble in their day, they held their tongues. The decline was in fact easily concealed, because, while supplies were dwindling, the population of the world was also rapidly decreasing.