ii. Decline of Population
As the centuries passed, the various new vistas became more and more fully explored and exploited. The golden age gave place to a silver age devoted to minute intensive cultivation of the heavily cropped ground of human experience. Only the steady though slow rise in average and superior intelligence prevented stagnation by making it possible to dig more thoroughly into the familiar soil.
But Bond knew of the stigma the girl would carry for the rest of her life. The Casinos of France are a strong trade union. They have to be. Tomorrow the telegrams would go out: 'Madame la Contesse Teresa di Vicenzo, passport number X, is to be put on the black list.' That would be the end of her casino life in France, in Italy, probably also in Germany, Egypt and, today, England. It was like being declared a bad risk at Lloyd's or with the City security firm of Dun and Bradstreet. In American gambling circles, she might even have been liquidated. In Europe, for her, the fate would be almost as severe. In the circles in which, presumably, she moved, she would be bad news, unclean. The 'coup du ddshonneur' simply wasn't done. It was social ostracism.
The next door, obviously the entrance to one of the public rooms, had a simple latch to it. Bond bent and put his eye to the keyhole. Another dimly lit interior. No sound! He eased up the latch, inched the door ajar, and then open, and went through. It was a second vast chamber, but this time one of baronial splendour - the main reception room, Bond guessed, where Blofeld would receive visitors. Between tall red curtains, edged with gold, fine set-pieces of armour and weapons hung on the white plaster walls, and there was much heavy antique furniture arranged in conventional groupings on a vast central carpet in royal blue. The rest of the floor was of highly polished boards, which reflected back the lights from two great oil lanterns that hung from the high, timbered roof, similar to that of the entrance hall, but here with the main beams decorated in a zigzag motif of dark red. Bond, looking for places of concealment, chose the widely spaced curtains and, slipping softly from one refuge to the next, reached the small door at the end of the chamber that would, he guessed, lead to the private apartments.
'Well,' returned Mr. Dick, scratching his ear with his pen, and looking dubiously at me. 'So the books say; but I don't see how that can be. Because, if it was so long ago, how could the people about him have made that mistake of putting some of the trouble out of his head, after it was taken off, into mine?'
There was a clang and two sharp cracks as they flashed past the Chevrolet. A handful of safety glass showered round Bond. Ernie Cureo swore and the car gave a swerve and then got back on its course.
It was then that Bond leant slightly forward.
He sat immobile, not touching his own cards.
Now you've gained the other person's attentionthrough your open body language, your eye contact andyour beaming smile. What that person is picking up subconsciouslyis an impression not of some grinning,gawking fool (though you may briefly fear you look likeone!) but of someone who is completely sincere.
Bond skipped two pages containing details of a number of petty smuggling cases and studied the 'Summary of Conclusions' from which he deduced, with some irritation, that he would have to think of some place other than his armpit for carrying his .25 Beretta the next time he travelled abroad. He made a mental note to discuss the problem with the Technical Devices Section.
'This is not the Berlitz School of Languages, Head of S. If you want to show off your knowledge of foreign jawbreakers, be good enough to provide a crib. Better still, write in English.'
As it was, the conduct of some of us was very bad. There was a comfortable sitting-room up-stairs, devoted to the use of some one of our number who in turn was required to remain in the place all night. Hither one or two of us would adjourn after lunch, and play ecarte for an hour or two. I do not know whether such ways are possible now in our public offices. And here we used to have suppers and card-parties at night — great symposiums, with much smoking of tobacco; for in our part of the building there lived a whole bevy of clerks. These were gentlemen whose duty it then was to make up and receive the foreign mails. I do not remember that they worked later or earlier than the other sorting-clerks; but there was supposed to be something special in foreign letters, which required that the men who handled them should have minds undistracted by the outer world. Their salaries, too, were higher than those of their more homely brethren; and they paid nothing for their lodgings. Consequently there was a somewhat fast set in those apartments, given to cards and to tobacco, who drank spirits and water in preference to tea. I was not one of them, but was a good deal with them.
Fitz-Ullin, who was saying something aside to Julia, coloured, laughed, and replied, “I read the deeds over very attentively, I assure you, ma’am, in the library, on my first getting out of the carriage, before I came into the breakfast-room.”
For Safety, run into a Lyon's Den.
Of Framley Parsonage I need only further say, that as I wrote it I became more closely than ever acquainted with the new shire which I had added to the English counties. I had it all in my mind — its roads and railroads, its towns and parishes, its members of Parliament, and the different hunts which rode over it. I knew all the great lords and their castles, the squires and their parks, the rectors and their churches. This was the fourth novel of which I had placed the scene in Barsetshire, and as I wrote it I made a map of the dear county. Throughout these stories there has been no name given to a fictitious site which does not represent to me a spot of which I know all the accessories, as though I had lived and wandered there.
So it had been Drax's deal the hand before. That might be important. Bond lit a cigarette and reflectively examined the back of Drax's head.