IT WAS a week later. Bond stood at the open window of the seventh-floor office of the tall building in Regent's Park that is the headquarters of the Secret Service. London lay asleep under a full moon that rode swiftly over the town through a shoal of herring-bone clouds. Big Ben sounded three. One of the telephones rang in the dark room. Bond turned and moved quickly to the central desk and the pool of light cast by the green shaded reading-lamp. He picked up the black telephone from the rank of four.
The first symptom of the disease was violent vomiting and diarrhoea. So formidable were the spasms that the gullet and rectum might be torn and even forced outwards. Many patients succumbed in this initial phase. Those that recovered were left with terrible glandular disturbances which might result in any or several of a number of frightful symptoms. A very common trouble was galloping senescence, which turned the young man into a maundering and toothless gaffer in a few weeks. But infantilism of body and mind was almost as common. Another effect was an extravagant growth of the skeleton, such that the overstrained flesh and skin would split on every limb, revealing the bare bone. But a softening of the bony structure was also a frequent symptom, causing the limbs to bend in unnatural places and the head to turn as soft as an over-ripe orange. Or the skin might grow till it became a loose voluminous garment. Sufferers were often in danger of tripping on the folds of skin trailing from their own legs. Another frequent result was rapid confusion of sex. Men would visibly acquire female characters, women would turn mannish. Most distressing of all, perhaps, was the frequent and fantastic exaggeration of sexuality. The organs became grossly distended. The secondary sexual characters, such as the female breasts, were repulsively enlarged. The mind became so enslaved to the pressure of the body’s superabundant sexuality that every physical object and every concept became charged with sexual meaning, and even the most self-disciplined found themselves swept away in a continuous orgy of fornication and all kinds of perversion. Other consequences of glandular disorder were purely emotional. Some sufferers were obsessed by recurrent fits of objectless and frantic rage, others by irrational terror or equally irrational bravado. Sometimes a sudden access of hate would force the patient to kill or torture whoever was at hand. Sometimes a permanent and icy hatred would be concentrated on a wholly innocent victim. The disease might take the form of maudlin sentimentality, directed either on human persons or animals, or the human race as a whole, or some fictitious deity invented to suit the patient’s peculiar needs. One common effect was a crazy dread of isolation. Another was such panic fear of the presence of other human beings that, when the patient was surprised by a visitor, he might leap out of an upper window or dash himself against the wall like a terrified bird. Yet another effect was a reduction of sensibility. Blind and deaf, without taste and smell, almost without touch, the wretched creature would snatch a morbid pleasure from the only sense that remained to rouse him to some faint interest, namely pain. With fumbling eagerness he would tear back his finger-nails, crush his eyes, bite his tongue to bloody pulp.
Pussy Galore said sternly, 'If you set fire to that thing I swear I'll kayo you with my gold brick.' She took a threatening hold of the bar.
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.
But James Bond twisted like a dying animal on the ground and the iron in his hand cracked viciously again and again-five times-and then fell out of his hand onto the black earth as his gun hand went to the right side of his belly and stayed there, clutching at the terrible pain.
'In due course I shall write the whole story down. Then perhaps the world will acknowledge the type of man who has been living among them. A man not only unhonoured and unsung, but a man'-Blofeld's voice rose almost to a scream -'whom they hunt down and wish to shoot like a mad dog. A man who has to use all his wiles just to stay alive! Why, if I had not covered my tracks so well, there would be spies on their way even now to kill us both or to hand us over for official murder under their stupid laws! Ah well, liebe Irma,' the voice was more rational, quieter, 'we live in a'world of fools in which true greatness is a sin. Come! It is time to review the other detachments.'
How seriously did he feel about the whole question, Bond wondered as, at nine o'clock, he walked out of his flat and down the steps to his car? Was he just being petty and obstinate? Had he constituted himself into a one-man opposition only to give his teeth something to bite into? Was he so bored that he could find nothing better to do than make a nuisance of himself inside his own organization? Bond couldn't make up his mind. He felt restless and indecisive, and, behind it all, there was a nagging disquiet he couldn't put his finger on.
Mr. Snowman laughed. "You might still find that operating in the Shires or in Ireland, but it hasn't been the fashion at London sale rooms since I've been attending them."