That gentle creature, after a moment's thoughtful survey of the carpet, delivered herself with much dry unction as follows.
A garage would be dangerous. He might decide to fill up with petrol. And perhaps he also carried his money in his hip-pocket. But was there an hotel? Yes, she remembered, the Thomas Wyatt just outside Maidstone. And it had no petrol pumps. She started to fidget slightly. She pulled the coat back on to her lap. She cleared her throat.
'I say,' growled Mr. Barkis, 'it was all right.'
'It doesn't sound very demokorasu to me.'
In The Claverings I did not follow the habit which had now become very common to me, of introducing personages whose names are already known to the readers of novels, and whose characters were familiar to myself. If I remember rightly, no one appears here who had appeared before or who has been allowed to appear since. I consider the story as a whole to be good, though I am not aware that the public has ever corroborated that verdict. The chief character is that of a young woman who has married manifestly for money and rank — so manifestly that she does not herself pretend, even while she is making the marriage, that she has any other reason. The man is old, disreputable, and a wornout debauchee. Then comes the punishment natural to the offence. When she is free, the man whom she had loved, and who had loved her, is engaged to another woman. He vacillates and is weak — in which weakness is the fault of the book, as he plays the part of hero. But she is strong — strong in her purpose, strong in her desires, and strong in her consciousness that the punishment which comes upon her has been deserved.
'Oh, Trot, Trot! And so you fancy yourself in love! Do you?'
She put out a tentative hand, as if for reassurance that she had done the right thing. Bond took it and patted it absent-mindedly while his mind chewed on this new complication. He said, "The man's here all right. So's a gunman called Scaramanga. You might as well know, Mary, that Scaramanga killed Ross. In Trinidad." She put her hand up to her mouth. "You can report it as a fact, from me. If I can get you out of here, that is. As for Hendriks, he's here all right, but he doesn't seem to have identified me for certain. Did H.Q. say whether he was given a description of me?"
There was a heavy rumble above their heads as the dome divided and swung open.
After a little Consideration, my Landlady, with much Goodness, sent for the Officers of the Parish, to ingage on her behalf; that they might leave her in Repose, 'till Time should find out the Gentleman; or get some Accommodation with her Parents; after which she sent her Maid with her to her Lodging; recommending her to the Care of her Landlady, with Assurance of Payment.
Bond turned his glasses on the restaurant enclosure. The two men had gone. Bond's eyes followed on across the track to where the lights were flashing on the big board. The favourite was now No3, at 2 to i on. Come Again had gone out to evens. Shy Smile was quoted at 20 to i, but he went down to :8s as Bond watched the board.
The slow breakdown of communications had, of course, involved a constantly increasing infringement of the sacred formulae for international trade. In the heyday of the empire the provinces had been highly specialized for particular forms of agriculture, mining, and manufacture. Specialization had been encouraged by the early world-governments, for individuals, social classes, and peoples. Everything must be done to increase dependence on the imperial organization and the government. No region must be self-sufficient, no individual a person of all-round development. No one must ever be more than a cog in the great machine or a specialized cell in the great body politic. But now the failure of communications forced the peoples to change their whole economy or be extinguished. The great change was of course unplanned or misguided. The paucity of intelligence and the sanctity of the traditional economy made conscious planning impossible. New industries had to sprout in every region; but lack of inventiveness and organizing talent, and the universal condemnation of novelty, forced the pioneers to flounder along under a heavy cloak of subterfuge and self-deception. Inevitably the standard of living in each province deteriorated. Little by little the flood of mass-produced machine-made goods gave place to a miserable trickle of the crudest hand-made makeshifts produced by local craftsmen who were hampered not only by innate obtuseness, but by lack of all traditional technique, and also by the enervating sense that their occupation was sinful.
Bond said seriously, 'Well, you're a damned good girl. As a matter of fact it's going to be the hell of a rush getting down the bare bones of a report. And I've got something for the lab to do. Will there be someone there?'
But for the high-lights on the satin of the shawl-cut lapels, he might have been faced by the thick bust of a black-fleeced Minotaur rising out of a green grass field.
Through the next day, Bond's excitement mounted. He found an excuse to go into the Communications Section and wander into the little room where Miss Maria Freudenstein and two assistants were working the cipher machines that handled the Purple Cipher dispatches. He picked up the en clair file-he had freedom of access to most material at headquarters-and ran his eye down the carefully edited paragraphs that, in half an hour to so, would be spiked, unread, by some junior C.I.A. clerk in Washington and, in Moscow, be handed, with reverence, to a top-ranking officer of the KGB. He joked with the two junior girls, but Maria Freudenstein only looked up from her machine to give him a polite smile and Bond's skin crawled minutely at this proximity to treachery and at the black and deadly secret locked up beneath the frilly white blouse. She was an unattractive girl with a pale, rather pimply skin, black hair and a vaguely unwashed appearance. Such a girl would be unloved, make few friends, have chips on her shoulder-more particularly in view of her illegitimacy-and a grouse against society. Perhaps her only pleasure in life was the triumphant secret she harbored La that flattish bosom-the knowledge that she was cleverer than all those around her, that she was, every day, hitting back against the world-the world that despised, or just ignored her, because of her plainness-with all her might. One day they'd be sorry! It was a common neurotic pattern-the revenge of the ugly duckling on society.
She asked, when all was told, where we were to be communicated with, if occasion should arise. Under a dull lamp in the road, I wrote our two addresses on a leaf of my pocket-book, which I tore out and gave to her, and which she put in her poor bosom. I asked her where she lived herself. She said, after a pause, in no place long. It were better not to know.
On the beaten stretch of sand below where James Bond was sitting, two golden girls in exciting bikinis packed up the game of Jokari which they had been so provocatively playing, and raced each other up the steps towards Bond's shelter. They flaunted their bodies at him, paused and chattered to see if he would respond, and, when he didn't, linked arms and sauntered on towards the town, leaving Bond .wondering why it was that French girls had more prominent navels than any others. Was it that French surgeons sought to add, even in this minute respect, to the future sex-appeal of girl babies?