The croupier slipped Bond's two cards across to him with the tip of his spatula. Bond, still with his eyes holding Le Chiffre's, reached his right hand out a few inches, glanced down very swiftly, then as he looked up again impassively at Le Chiffre, with a disdainful gesture he tossed the cards face upwards on the table.
They wrangled cheerfully over the respective merits of English and American sports cars until they came to the Westchester County toll and then, fifteen minutes later, they were out on the Taconic Parkway that snaked away northwards through a hundred miles of meadows and woodlands, and Bond settled back and silently enjoyed one of the most beautifully landscaped highways in the world, and wondered idly what the girl was doing and how, after Saratoga, he was to get to her again.
In July, 1864, Washington is once more within reach if not of the invader at least of the raider. The Federal forces had been concentrated in Grant's lines along the James, and General Jubal Early, one of the most energetic fighters of the Southern army, tempted by the apparently unprotected condition of the capital, dashed across the Potomac on a raid that became famous. It is probable that in this undertaking, as in some of the other movements that have been referred to on the part of the Southern leaders, the purpose was as much political as military. Early's force of from fifteen to sixteen thousand men was, of course, in no way strong enough to be an army of invasion. The best success for which he could hope would be, in breaking through the defences of Washington, to hold the capital for a day or even a few hours. The capture of Washington in 1864, as in 1863 or in 1862, would in all probability have brought about the long-hoped-for intervention of France and England. General Lew Wallace, whose name became known in the years after the War through some noteworthy romances, Ben Hur and The Fair God, and who was in command of a division of troops stationed west of Washington, and composed in part of loyal Marylanders and in part of convalescents who were about to be returned to the front, fell back before Early's advance to Monocacy Creek. He disposed his thin line cleverly in the thickets on the east side of the creek in such fashion as to give the impression of a force of some size with an advance line of skirmishers. Early's advance was checked for some hours before he realised that there was nothing of importance in front of him; when Wallace's division was promptly overwhelmed and scattered. The few hours that had thus been saved were, however, of first importance for the safety of Washington. Early reached the outer lines of the fortifications of the capital some time after sunset. His immediate problem was to discover whether the troops which were, as he knew, being hurried up from the army of the James, had reached Washington or whether the capital was still under the protection only of its so-called home-guard of veteran reserves. These reserves were made up of men more or less crippled and unfit for work in the field but who were still able to do service on fortifications. They comprised in all about six thousand men and were under the command of Colonel Wisewell. The force was strengthened somewhat that night by the addition of all of the male nurses from the hospitals (themselves convalescents) who were able to bear arms. That night the women nurses, who had already been in attendance during the hours of the day, had to render double service. Lincoln had himself in the afternoon stood on the works watching the dust of the Confederate advance. Once more there came to the President who had in his hands the responsibility for the direction of the War the bitterness of the feeling, if not of possible failure, at least of immediate mortification. He knew that within twenty-four or thirty-six hours Washington could depend upon receiving the troops that were being hurried up from Grant's army, but he also realised what enormous mischief might be brought about by even a momentary occupation of the national capital by Confederate troops. I had some personal interest in this side campaign. The 19th army corps, to which my own regiment belonged, had been brought from Louisiana to Virginia and had been landed on the James River to strengthen the ranks of General Butler. There had not been time to assign to us posts in the trenches and we had, in fact, not even been placed in position. We were more nearly in marching order than any other troops available and it was therefore the divisions of the 19th army corps that were selected to be hurried up to Washington. To these were added two divisions of the 6th corps.
The Chief of Staff looked at the retreating back. He said, under his breath, "You coldhearted bastard!" Then, with his usual minute thoroughness and sense of duty, he set about the tasks he had been given. His not to reason why!
'I can quite understand that.' Bond's voice was thoughtful, judicious. 'I'd like to be able to do some work on that. What were your parents' names? I must have them first.'
Before starting to America I had completed Orley Farm, a novel which appeared in shilling numbers — after the manner in which Pickwick, Nicholas Nickleby, and many others had been published. Most of those among my friends who talk to me now about my novels, and are competent to form an opinion on the subject, say that this is the best I have written. In this opinion I do not coincide. I think that the highest merit which a novel can have consists in perfect delineation of character, rather than in plot, or humour, or pathos, and I shall before long mention a subsequent work in which I think the main character of the story is so well developed as to justify me in asserting its claim above the others. The plot of Orley Farm is probably the best I have ever made; but it has the fault of declaring itself, and thus coming to an end too early in the book. When Lady Mason tells her ancient lover that she did forge the will, the plot of Orley Farm has unravelled itself — and this she does in the middle of the tale. Independently, however, of this the novel is good. Sir Peregrine Orme, his grandson, Madeline Stavely, Mr. Furnival, Mr. Chaffanbrass, and the commercial gentlemen, are all good. The hunting is good. The lawyer’s talk is good. Mr. Moulder carves his turkey admirably, and Mr. Kantwise sells his tables and chairs with spirit. I do not know that there is a dull page in the book. I am fond of Orley Farm — and am especially fond of its illustrations by Millais, which are the best I have seen in any novel in any language.