'Do you know that we have followed you a long way tonight?'
It seems to me, at this distance of time, as if it were the next day when Peggotty broached the striking and adventurous proposition I am about to mention; but it was probably about two months afterwards.
Four people had come into the saloon. They were standing in line with their backs to the mahogany-and-brass bar behind which ranks of gleaming bottles rose to the ceiling. Bond had no idea how long they had been there.
In a louder, prouder voice the chef de partie took up the cry, hoping to draw big money away from the neighbouring chemin-de-fer tables. Besides, this was wonderful publicity. The stake had only once been reached in the history of baccarat - at Deauville in 1950. The rival Casino de la Forêt at Le Touquet had never got near it.
'Commander Bond?' The handshake was brief and firm. ' I'd been expecting you. How did you get into the claws of our dear Griffon? He's a bit of an enthusiast, I'm afraid. We all are here, of course. But he's getting on. Nice chap, but he's a bit dedicated, if you know what I mean.'
PART THREE: THURSDAY, FRIDAY CHAPTER XVIII BENEATH THE FLAT STONE
'I hope so, aunt.'
Habits: Mostly expensive, but discreet. Large sexual appetites. Flagellant. Expert driver of fast cars. Adept with small arms and other forms of personal combat, including knives. Carries three Eversharp razor blades, in hat-band, heel of left shoe and cigarette-case. Knowledge of accountancy and mathematics. Fine gambler. Always accompanied by two armed guards, well-dressed, one French, one German (details available).
'Not the ghost of one,' replied Miss Mowcher.
The next day, and the next night watch, were duplicates, with small variations, of the first. James Bond had his two more brief rendezvous, by sniperscope, with the girl, and the rest was a killing of time and a tightening of the tension that, by the time the third and final day came, was like a fog in the small room.
I quite admit that I crowded my wares into the market too quickly — because the reading world could not want such a quantity of matter from the hands of one author in so short a space of time. I had not been quite so fertile as the unfortunate gentleman who disgusted the publisher in Paternoster Row — in the story of whose productiveness I have always thought there was a touch of romance — but I had probably done enough to make both publishers and readers think that I was coming too often beneath their notice. Of publishers, however, I must speak collectively, as my sins were, I think, chiefly due to the encouragement which I received from them individually. What I wrote for the Cornhill Magazine, I always wrote at the instigation of Mr. Smith. My other works were published by Messrs. Chapman & Hall, in compliance with contracts made by me with them, and always made with their good-will. Could I have been two separate persons at one and the same time, of whom one might have been devoted to Cornhill and the other to the interests of the firm in Piccadilly, it might have been very well — but as I preserved my identity in both places, I myself became aware that my name was too frequent on titlepages.
My box was at my old lodging, over the water, and I had written a direction for it on the back of one of our address cards that we nailed on the casks: 'Master David, to be left till called for, at the Coach Office, Dover.' This I had in my pocket ready to put on the box, after I should have got it out of the house; and as I went towards my lodging, I looked about me for someone who would help me to carry it to the booking-office.
Bond smiled to himself as he walked to the foot of the iron stairway and started to climb. That innocent, desirable girl, he reminded himself, is an extremely efficient policewoman. She knows how to kick, and where; she can break my arm probably more easily and quickly than I can break hers, and at least half of her belongs to the Special Branch of Scotland Yard. Of course, he reflected, looking down just in time to see her follow Dr Walters into Drax's office, there is always the other half.
There had been no alternative. Major Smythe had to trust the Foos utterly now. They could cook up any figure, and he would just have to accept it. He went over to the Myrtle Bank and had one or two stiff drinks and a sandwich that stuck in his throat. Then he went back to the cool office of the Foos.
'They exist at different places round Japan. I believe there are some fifty such settlements. The Ama are a tribe whose girls dive for the awabi shells-that is our local abalone. A clam. It is a great delicacy. They sometimes dive for pearl oysters. They dive naked. Some of them are very beautiful. But they keep themselves very much to themselves and visitors to their islands are completely discouraged. They have their own primitive culture and customs. I suppose you could compare them to sea-gipsies. They rarely marry outside the tribe, and it is that which has made them a race apart.'
THE AWAKENING of the Tibetans caused a stir throughout the world. For a while it seemed that at last the light would win. Bold young Tibetans, ‘itinerant servants of the light’, left their frugal and crag-bound ‘incipient Utopia’ to spread the gospel across the high passes of the Karakorum Range into Sinkiang and far into the Russian plain. Others, still more daring, penetrated eastward to the upper reaches of the Hwang Ho. Evading the efficient Chinese police, they carried the word even to Shanghai, and thence to Japan. Yet others, crossing the more difficult and neglected of the Himalayan passes, percolated like an invisible ferment into the peoples of India; while others again crept along the gorges of Kashmir, seeking Europe. Thousands were caught, and tortured with all the cunning of medical and psychological science. In China these tortures were often carried out in public to entertain the people and warn those who had any leanings towards the light. But few of the missionaries were extirpated before they had infected with their message many who were ripe to receive it. Meanwhile in Lhasa and the other great centres of the new-old truth swarms of young men and women were being trained to carry on the great task.
But there was one thing that greatly distressed Kissy. From the first night in the cave she had shared Bond's futon and, when he was well and back in the house, she waited every night for him to make love to her. But, while he kissed her occasionally and often held her hand, his body seemed totally unaware of her however much she pressed herself against him and even caressed him with her hands. Had the wound made him impotent? She consulted the doctor, but he said there could be no connexion, although it was just possible that he had forgotten how to perform the act of love.
'I feel it more,' said Mrs. Gummidge.
`I won't,' said the girl flatly. `That's the only way I'll go. If you are clever, how can they find out?'