There was a deep difference of temper between the two peoples. Though the Russian revolutionaries had prided themselves on their materialism, the Russian people retained a strong though unacknowledged tendency towards mysticism. Their veneration of Lenin, which centred round his embalmed body in the Kremlin, was originally simple respect for the founder of the new order; but little by little it acquired a character which would have called from Lenin himself condemnation and ridicule. The phraseology of dialectical materialism came to be fantastically reinterpreted in such a way as to enable the populace to think of ‘matter’ as a kind of deity, with Marx as the supreme prophet and Lenin as the terrestrial incarnation of the God himself. Marx’s system was scientific in intention, and it claimed to be an expression of intelligence operating freely on the data of social life. But the early Marxists had insisted, quite rightly, that reason was no infallible guide, that it was an expression of social causes working through the individual’s emotional needs. This sound psychological principle became in time a sacred dogma, and during the height of Russian imperial power the rejection of reason was as complete and as superstitious as it had been in Nazi Germany. Men were able, while accepting all the social and philosophical theories of Marx, to indulge in all kinds of mystical fantasies.
“As, however, I understand you have nearly finished the novel La Vendee, perhaps you will favour me with a sight of it when convenient. — I remain, etc., etc.,
I thought it my duty to hint at the discomfort my aunt would sustain, from living in a continual state of guerilla warfare with Mrs. Crupp; but she disposed of that objection summarily by declaring that, on the first demonstration of hostilities, she was prepared to astonish Mrs. Crupp for the whole remainder of her natural life.
Suddenly, from somewhere outside, there was the sound of voices. They came nearer, several of them, jabbering urgently.
I stood and watched, fascinated. Thereabouts the lawn was cut to the edge of a low cliff, about twenty feet high, below which is a fishing pool, and there were some rough-hewn benches and tables for people to sit and picnic. The car tore on, and now, whether or not it hit a bench, its speed would certainly get it to the lake. But it missed all the benches and, as I put my hand up to my mouth in horrified excitement, it took off over the edge and landed flat on the water with a giant splash and crash of metal and glass. Then, quite slowly, it sank, nose down, in a welter of exhaust gas and bubbles, until there was nothing left but the trunk and a section of the roof and rear window slanting up toward the sky.
"I see." Major Townsend put on a thoughtful expression. "Well, just let me make a telephone call or two and I'll see what can be done." He got to his feet. "Seen today's Times?" He picked it up and handed it to Bond. It had been specially treated to give good prints. Bond took it. "Shan't be long."
“Wow, that’s really something, uh … else,” I said.
Tiger laughed and translated for the herdsman, who also laughed and looked at Bond with some respect. Money changed hands, and with much happy talk between Tiger and the herdsman and final bows they got back into the car and drove into the village, where they were welcomed into a shuttered and discreet restaurant, polished, spotless and blessedly deserted. Tiger ordered and they sat in wonderful Western chairs at a real table while the usual dimpling waitresses brought sake. Bond swallowed down his first flask at one long gulp to wash away the rasp of the gin. He said to Tiger, 'And now, what was that all about?'
"We stayed in those woods for six months," continued Drax proudly, "and all the time we reported back to the Fatherland by radio. The location vans never spotted us. Then one day disaster came." Drax shook his head at the memory. "There was a big farmhouse a mile away from our hideout in the forest. A lot of Nissen huts had been built round it and it was used as a rear headquarters for some sort of liaison group. English and Americans. A hopeless place. No discipline, no security, and full of hangers-on and shirkers from all over the place. We had kept an eye on it for some time and one day I decided to blow it up. It was a simple plan. In the evening, two of my men, one in American uniform and one in British, were to drive up in a captured scout car containing two tons of explosive. There was a car park-no sentries of course-near the mess hall and they were to run the car in as close to the mess hall as possible, time the fuse for the seven o'clock dinner hour, and then get away. All quite easy and I went off that morning on my own business and left the job to my second in command I was dressed in the uniform of your Signal Corps and I set off on a captured British motor-cycle to shoot a dispatch rider from the same unit who made a daily run along a near-by road. Sure enough he came along dead on time and I went after him out of a side road. I caught up with him," said Drax conversationally, "and shot him in the back, took his papers and put him on top of his machine in the woods and set fire to him."
Bond had no idea if his thin bluff had worked. He didn't give much for their chances. Doctor No, and Doctor No's story, exuded impregnability. The incredible biography rang true. Not a word of it was impossible. Perhaps there were other people in" the world with their private kingdoms-away from the beaten track, where there were no witnesses, where they could do what they liked. And what did Doctor No plan to do next, after he had squashed the flies that had come to annoy him? And if-when-he killed Bond and the girl, would London pick up the threads that Bond had picked up? Probably they would. There would be Pleydell-Smith. The evidence of the poisoned fruit. But where would Bond's replacement get with Doctor No? Not far. Doctor No would shrug his shoulders over the disappearance of Bond and Quarrel, Never heard of them. And there would be no link with the girl. In Morgan's Harbour they would think she had been drowned on one of her expeditions. It was hard to see what could interfere with Doctor No-with the second chapter of his life, whatever it was.
She halted. Bond noticed that the head of the receptionist bent a fraction lower over his visitors' book.
One of the main factors in the waning of the will for the light in this period was the attitude of the intellectuals. The academics, musicians, painters, cinema-artists, and, above all, the writers flagrantly betrayed their trust. In all these groups there were persons of four types. Many were paid servants of the government, engaged on propaganda through work which was ostensibly independent. These were concerned chiefly to put a good complexion on the regime, and to praise the fundamental principles of the synthetic faith, in particular the virtues of acquiescence and obedience, and the ecstasy of cruelty. Still more numerous were the independent but futile intellectual ostriches who shut their eyes to the horror of their time and won adulation and power by spinning fantasies of self-aggrandizement and sexual delight, distracting men’s attention from contemporary evils with seductive romances of other ages and other worlds, or with exalted and meaningless jargon about a life after death. There were also large numbers of progressive intellectuals. These saw clearly enough that contemporary society was mortally sick, and in a dream-like, unearnest way they expounded their tenuous Utopias, in which there was often much common sense and even wisdom; but they preached without that fury of conviction which alone can rouse men to desperate action. And they themselves lived comfortably upon the existing system, in their flats and suburban houses. Vaguely they knew that they ought to give up all for the revolution; but being what they were, they could not. The fourth type were the very few sincere and impotent rebels, who flung away their lives in vain and crazy attempts to be great prophets.
鈥楾his evening ... Herbert asked M. about the Conference. 鈥淚 thought the first day nice, when Mrs. Perkins presided,鈥 said she. I laughed a little again, and, I think, complimented her on her sincerity.... It was clear that M. did not admire my way of presiding. Now, I had been voted thanks at the meeting; but dear M.鈥檚 honesty made me feel more than I had done before that I had not been very efficient. It is a good thing to know the truth.
How nearly it had come, thought Bond, to being stilled. How nearly there might be nothing now but the distant clang of the ambulance bells beneath a lurid black and orange sky, the stench of burning, the screams of people still trapped in the buildings. The softly beating heart of London silenced for a generation. And a whole generation of her people dead in the streets amongst the ruins of a civilization that might not rise again for centuries.