Already the weaker brethren were openly demanding surrender and even plotting betrayal. But betrayal turned out to be impossible because it involved spiritual disintegration, and therefore surrender to the all-pervading virus.
Sister Lily gave a squeak of dismay. "Oh, but really." She sounded genuinely embarrassed. "Sister Rose, the key, quickly. I've said again and again that patients are never to be brought in like that." There was impatience and distaste in her voice. "Really, that outside staff! It's time they had a talking to."
The planet which had once and again haltingly attained the lucid mentality sank now for ever into torpor. For no species remained on earth capable of evolving to the human level. The torch which had fallen from the hand of man could never be picked up and carried forward by a fresh runner. For incalculable aeons, for a period immeasurably longer than the whole career of mankind, the terrestrial globe spun and circled, its surface possessed by a host of lowly creatures.
Thinking of all this, as a novelist surely must do — as I certainly have done through my whole career — it becomes to him a matter of deep conscience how he shall handle those characters by whose words and doings he hopes to interest his readers. It will very frequently be the case that he will be tempted to sacrifice something for effect, to say a word or two here, or to draw a picture there, for which he feels that he has the power, and which when spoken or drawn would be alluring. The regions of absolute vice are foul and odious. The savour of them, till custom has hardened the palate and the nose, is disgusting. In these he will hardly tread. But there are outskirts on these regions, on which sweet-smelling flowers seem to grow; and grass to be green. It is in these border-lands that the danger lies. The novelist may not be dull. If he commit that fault he can do neither harm nor good. He must please, and the flowers and the grass in these neutral territories sometimes seem to give him so easy an opportunity of pleasing!
'Vairry good, Mr Du Pont. A cocktail to start?'
Bond turned off the main road into the drive and followed it down between high Victorian evergreens to the gravel sweep in front of just the sort of house that would be called The Grange - a heavy, ugly, turn-of-the-century mansion with a glass-enclosed portico and sun parlour whose smell of trapped sunshine, rubber plants and dead flies came to Bond in his imagination before he had switched off the engine. Bond got slowly out of the car and stood looking at the house. Its blank, well-washed eyes stared back at him. The house had a background noise, a heavy rhythmic pant like a huge animal with a rather quick pulse. Bond assumed it came from the factory whose plumed chimney reared up like a giant cautionary finger from the high conifers to the right where the stabling and garages would normally be. The quiet watchful facade of the house seemed to be waiting for Bond to do something, make some offensive move to which there would be a quick reply. Bond shrugged his shoulders to lighten his thoughts and went up the steps to the opaque glass-panelled door and pressed the bell. There was no noise of it ringing, but the door slowly opened. The Korean chauffeur still had his bowler hat on. He looked without interest at Bond. He stood motionless, his left hand on the inside doorknob and his outstretched right pointing like a signpost into the dark hall of the house.
Outside, the man began walking swiftly towards Conduit Street. James Bond got unhurriedly into a taxi with its engine running and its flag down. He said to the driver, "That's him. Take it easy."
"I don't mind. I've got no secrets. But you first."