At this time I was three years at Harrow; and, as far as I can remember, I was the junior boy in the school when I left it.
Now he too could smell the land. It had no particular scent. It was just something new in the nose after hours of clean sea. He could make out the white fringe of surf. The swell subsided and the waves became choppier. "Now, cap'n," called Quarrel, and Bond, the sweat already dropping off his chin, dug deeper and more often. God, it was hard work! The hulking log of wood which had sped along so well under the sail now seemed hardly to move. The wave at the bows was only a ripple. Bond's shoulders were aching like fire. The one knee he was resting on was beginning to bruise. His hands were cramped on the clumsy shaft of a paddle made of lead.
guanera-that's the guano island."
Bond stitched a cheerful, relaxed expression on his face and said no thanks, and gave a lighthearted account of his day while an artery near his solar plexus began thumping gently as tension built up inside him like a watchspring tightening. Finally his small talk petered out and he lay down on his bed with a German thriller he had bought on his wanderings, while Captain Sender moved fretfully about the flat, looking too often at his watch and chainsmoking Kent filter-tips through (he was a careful man) a Dunhill filtered cigarette holder.
Bond reflected on the problem as he collected the sheaf of hundred thousand and then the sheaves of ten thousand franc notes. With another part of his mind, he had a vision of tomorrow's regular morning meeting of the casino committee.
This little episode on the fringe of the Russian Empire was of no general significance. The focus of interest was always Tibet itself. The two imperial powers had, of course tried to frustrate the Tibetan revolution, but at first each had regarded the strange commotion on ‘the Roof of the World’ as a comic side-show. Each had been concerned to gain a diplomatic victory over its rival in the Tibetan no-man’s-land rather than to preserve the old Tibetan régime. But when the revolution was actually accomplished, the Russian and Chinese oligarchs began to be alarmed. And when it became evident that the insignificant Tibetan state was fomenting the subversive forces beyond its frontiers and planning a world-wide revolution, both the imperial governments began to take serious action. The campaign of terrorism which each undertook within its own frontiers was not as successful as had been hoped. The progressive minority, disciplined by Tibetan leaders, showed fanatical courage. Moreover each imperial government at first made the mistake of fostering the subversive movement in its rival’s territory. Not till matters had become very grave was this policy abandoned by a tacit agreement between the two great powers to postpone all action against one another till the epidemic of sedition had been crushed. Even so, neither could trust the other not to use the crushing of the Tibetan experiment as a pretext for annexing the country. Whenever one of the two powers threatened invasion if Tibetan propaganda did not cease, the government at Lhasa was able to count on diplomatic or even military intervention by the other.
Bond said equably, 'I'll tell you after those ten minutes are up.'
'I assure you, aunt,' said I, 'I have been quite unhappy myself all night, to think of Dora's being so. But I had no other intention than to speak to her tenderly and lovingly about our home-affairs.'
Monarch of the drums
Gala Brand walked back into her own office and started slitting open the letters. Only two more flight plans, for Thursday and Friday and then, on her figures or on a different set, the set in Drax's pocket, the gyros would be finally adjusted and the switch would be pulled in the firing point.
My two elder brothers had been sent as day-boarders to Harrow School from the bigger house, and may probably have been received among the aristocratic crowd — not on equal terms, because a day-boarder at Harrow in those days was never so received — but at any rate as other day-boarders. I do not suppose that they were well treated, but I doubt whether they were subjected to the ignominy which I endured. I was only seven, and I think that boys at seven are now spared among their more considerate seniors. I was never spared; and was not even allowed to run to and fro between our house and the school without a daily purgatory. No doubt my appearance was against me. I remember well, when I was still the junior boy in the school, Dr. Butler, the head-master, stopping me in the street, and asking me, with all the clouds of Jove upon his brow and the thunder in his voice, whether it was possible that Harrow School was disgraced by so disreputably dirty a boy as I! Oh, what I felt at that moment! But I could not look my feelings. I do not doubt that I was dirty — but I think that he was cruel. He must have known me had he seen me as he was wont to see me, for he was in the habit of flogging me constantly. Perhaps he did not recognise me by my face.
The sentence was never finished. Suddenly a few feet away the entire plate-glass window shivered into confetti. The blast of a terrific explosion, very near, hit them so that they were rocked back in their chairs. There was an instant of silence. Some objects pattered down on to the pavement outside. Bottles slowly toppled off the shelves behind the bar. Then there were screams and a stampede for the door.
I had myself some experience in Louisiana with the work of moulding plantation hands into disciplined soldiers and I was surprised at the promptness of the transformation. A contraband who made his way into the camp from the old plantation with the vague idea that he was going to secure freedom was often in appearance but an unpromising specimen out of which to make a soldier. He did not know how to hold himself upright or to look the other man in the face. His gait was shambly, his perceptions dull. It was difficult for him either to hear clearly, or to understand when heard, the word of instruction or command. When, however, the plantation rags had been disposed of and (possibly after a souse in the Mississippi) the contraband had been put into the blue uniform and had had the gun placed on his shoulder, he developed at once from a "chattel" to a man. He was still, for a time at least, clumsy and shambly. The understanding of the word of command did not come at once and his individual action, if by any chance he should be left to act alone, was, as a rule, less intelligent, less to be depended upon, than that of the white man. But he stood up straight in the garb of manhood, looked you fairly in the face, showed by his expression that he was anxious for the privilege of fighting for freedom and for citizenship, and in Louisiana, and throughout the whole territory of the War, every black regiment that came into engagement showed that it could be depended upon. Before the War was closed, some two hundred thousand negroes had been brought into the ranks of the Federal army and their service constituted a very valuable factor in the final outcome of the campaigns. A battle like that at Milliken's Bend, Mississippi, inconsiderable in regard to the numbers engaged, was of distinctive importance in showing what the black man was able and willing to do when brought under fire for the first time. A coloured regiment made up of men who only a few weeks before had been plantation hands, had been left on a point of the river to be picked up by an expected transport. The regiment was attacked by a Confederate force of double or treble the number, the Southerners believing that there would be no difficulty in driving into the river this group of recent slaves. On the first volley, practically all of the officers (who were white) were struck down and the loss with the troops was also very heavy. The negroes, who had but made a beginning with their education as soldiers, appeared, however, not to have learned anything about the conditions for surrender and they simply fought on until no one was left standing. The percentage of loss to the numbers engaged was the heaviest of any action in the War. The Southerners, in their contempt for the possibility of negroes doing any real fighting, had in their rushing attack exposed themselves much and had themselves suffered seriously. When, in April, 1865, after the forcing back of Lee's lines, the hour came, so long waited for and so fiercely fought for, to take possession of Richmond, there was a certain poetic justice in allowing the negro division, commanded by General Weitzel, to head the column of advance.
'That's a good one!' interjected Bond. Sable Basilisk smiled and continued:
There was for some time in existence a society of Owenites, called the Co-operative Society, which met for weekly public discussions in Chancery Lane. In the early part of 1825, accident brought Roebuck in contact with several of its members, and led to his attending one or two of the meetings and taking part in the debate in opposition to Owenism. Some of us started the notion of going there in a body and having a general battle: and Charles Austin and some of his friends who did not usually take part in our joint exercises, entered into the project. It was carried out by concert with the principal members of the Society, themselves nothing loth, as they naturally preferred a controversy with opponents to a tame discussion among their own body. The question of population was proposed as the subject of debate: Charles Austin led the case on our side with a brilliant speech, and the fight was kept up by adjournment through five or six weekly meetings before crowded auditories, including along with the members of the Society and their friends, many hearers and some speakers from the Inns of Court. When this debate was ended, another was commenced on the general merits of Owen's system: and the contest altogether lasted about three months. It was a lutte corps-à-corps between Owenites and political economists, whom the Owenites regarded as their most inveterate opponents: but it was a perfectly friendly dispute. We who represented political economy, had the same objects in view as they had, and took pains to show it; and the principal champion on their side was a very estimable man, with whom I was well acquainted, Mr William Thompson, of Cork, author of a book on the Distribution of Wealth, and of an "Appeal" in behalf of women against the passage relating to them in my father's Essay on Government. Ellis, Roebuck, and I took an active part in the debate, and among those from the inns of Court who joined in it, I remember Charles Villiers. The other side obtained also, on the population question, very efficient support from without. The well-known Gale Jones, then an elderly man, made one of his florid speeches; but the speaker with whom I was most struck, though I dissented from nearly every word he said, was Thirlwall, the historian, since Bishop of St. David's, then a Chancery barrister, unknown except by a high reputation for eloquence acquired at the Cambridge Union before the era of Austin and Macaulay. His speech was in answer to one of mine. Before he had uttered ten sentences, I set him down as the best speaker I had ever heard, and I have never since heard any one whom I placed above him.
I am interested in this man [wrote C.C.] and I have caused, inquiries to be made on a somewhat wider front than usual, since it is not common to be confronted with a secret agent who it at once so much of a public figure and yet appears to be infinitely successful in the difficult and dangerous field of his choice-that of being, in common parlance, "a gun for hire." I think I may have found the origin of this partiality for killing his fellow men in cold blood, men against whom he has no personal animosity but merely the reflected animosity of his employers, in the following bizarre anecdote from his youth. In the travelling circus of his father, Enrico Scaramanga, the boy had several roles. He was a most spectacular trick shot, he was a stand-in strong man in the acrobatic troop, often taking the place of the usual artiste as bottom man in the "human pyramid" act, and he was the mahout, in gorgeous turban, Indian robes, etc., who rode the leading elephant in a troupe of three. This elephant, by the name of Max, was a male, and it is a peculiarity of the male elephant, which I have learned with much interest and verified with eminent zoologists, that, at intervals during the year, they go "on heat" sexually. During these pe-. nods, a mucous deposit forms behind the animal's ears and this needs to be scraped off since otherwise it causes the elephant intense irritation. Max developed this symptom during a visit of the circus to Trieste, but, through an oversight, the condition was not noticed and given the necessary treatment. The big top of the circus had been erected on the outskirts of the town adjacent to the coastal railway line and, on the night which was, in my opinion, to determine the future way of life of the young Scaramanga, Max went berserk, threw the youth, and, screaming horrifically, trampled his way through the auditorium, causing many casualties, and charged off across the fairground and onto the railway line, down which (a frightening spectacle under the full moon which, as newspaper cuttings record, was shining on that night) he galloped at full speed. The local carabinieri were alerted and set off in pursuit by car along the main road that flanks the railway line. In due course they caught up with the unfortunate monster, which, his frenzy expired, stood peacefully facing back the way he had come. Not realizing that the elephant, if approached by his handler, could now be led peacefully back to his stall, the police opened rapid fire and bullets from their carbines and revolvers wounded the animal superficially in many places. Infuriated afresh, the miserable beast, now pursued by the police car from which the hail of fire continued, charged off again along the railway line. On arrival at the fairground, the elephant seemed to recognize his home, the big top, and, turning off the railway line, lumbered back through the fleeing spectators to the centre of the deserted arena, and there, weakened by loss of blood, pathetically continued with his interrupted act. Trumpeting dreadfully in his agony, the mortally wounded Max endeavoured again and again to raise himself and stand upon one leg. Meanwhile the young Scaramanga, now armed with his pistols, tried to throw a lariat over the animal's head while calling out the "elephant talk" with which he usually controlled him. Max seems to have recognized the youth and-it must have been a truly pitiful sight-lowered his trunk to allow the youth to be hoisted to his usual seat behind the elephant's head. But at this moment the police burst into the sawdust ring, and their captain, approaching very close, emptied his revolver into the elephant's right eye at a range of a few feet, upon which Max fell dying to the ground. Upon this, the young Scaramanga who, according to the press, had a deep devotion for his charge, drew one of his pistols and shot the policeman through the heart, and fled off into the crowd of bystanders pursued by the other policemen who could not fire because of the throng of people. He made good his escape, found his way south to Naples, and thence, as noted above, stowed away to America.
Janet reporting it to be quite ready, I was taken up to it; kindly, but in some sort like a prisoner; my aunt going in front and Janet bringing up the rear. The only circumstance which gave me any new hope, was my aunt's stopping on the stairs to inquire about a smell of fire that was prevalent there; and janet's replying that she had been making tinder down in the kitchen, of my old shirt. But there were no other clothes in my room than the odd heap of things I wore; and when I was left there, with a little taper which my aunt forewarned me would burn exactly five minutes, I heard them lock my door on the outside. Turning these things over in my mind I deemed it possible that my aunt, who could know nothing of me, might suspect I had a habit of running away, and took precautions, on that account, to have me in safe keeping.
M. G. writes: