'If you please, sir,' I faltered, 'if I might be allowed (I am very sorry indeed, sir, for what I did) to take this writing off, before the boys come back -'
Bond found his voice saying those words that he had never said in his life before, never expected to say.
Bond said indifferently, 'That's too much.' Then, as if he thought better of it, thought he might win, he said - with just the right amount of craft mixed with reluctance - 'Of course you can say that was "found money". I won't miss it if it goes again. Oh, well, all right. Easy come easy go. Level match. Ten thousand dollars it is.'
It was ten o'clock when I went out. Many of the shops were shut, and the town was dull. When I came to Omer and Joram's, I found the shutters up, but the shop door standing open. As I could obtain a perspective view of Mr. Omer inside, smoking his pipe by the parlour door, I entered, and asked him how he was.
'Well, well!' she said, smiting her small knees, and rising, 'this is not business. Come, Steerforth, let's explore the polar regions, and have it over.'
' Oh, if that's all, Master Copperfield,' said Uriah, 'and it really isn't our umbleness that prevents you, will you come this evening? But if it is our umbleness, I hope you won't mind owning to it, Master Copperfield; for we are well aware of our condition.'
Mrs. Montgomery looked at Julia, whose blushes, as she embraced her grandmamma, confirmed what Fitz-Ullin had said. “Kneel, my children,” said the old lady, in a faltering tone. “It is as it should be!” and she rose in her bed as she spoke, and blessed them tenderly and solemnly, uniting their hands; while Mr. Jackson entering, a species of explanation was given, in which, however, the name of Henry was not mentioned. Mrs. Montgomery, detaining Julia, dismissed both the gentlemen. They, before their return to the breakfast-room, took a short walk on the lawn, during which Fitz-Ullin made Mr. Jackson acquainted with those particulars respecting the conduct of Henry, which it had been necessary to conceal from Mrs. Montgomery. Thus satisfying his kind preceptor of his reasons for not only concealing his attachment to Julia, but suffering every one to believe him lost to his friends and to society, from the effects of a disappointment in another quarter.
We spoke in whispers; listening, between whiles, for any sound in the room above. I had not thought of it on the occasion of my last visit, but how strange it was to me, now, to miss Mr. Barkis out of the kitchen!
Doctor No said benignly. "I expect you are both hungry. Pray be patient. I will be brief. So, if you recall, there I was, in Milwaukee. In due course, I completed my studies and I left America and went by easy stages round the world. I called myself 'doctor' because doctors receive confidences and they can ask questions without arousing suspicion. I was looking for my headquarters. It had to be safe from the coming war, it had to be an island, it had to be entirely private, and it had to be capable of industrial development. In the end I purchased Crab Key. And here I have remained for fourteen years. They have been secure and fruitful years, without a cloud on the horizon. I was entertained by the idea of converting bird dung into gold, and I attacked the problem with passion. It seemed to me the ideal industry. There was a constant demand for the product. The birds require no care except to be left in peace. Each one is a simple factory for turning fish into dung. The digging of the guano is only a question of not spoiling the crop by digging too much. The sole problem is the cost of the labour. It was 1942. The simple Cuban and Jamaican labourer was earning ten shillings a week cutting cane. I tempted a hundred of them over to the island by paying them twelve shillings a week. With guano at fifty dollars a ton I was well placed. But on one condition-that the wages remained constant. I ensured that by isolating my community from world inflation. Harsh methods have had to be used from time to time, but the result is that my men are content with their wages because they are the highest wages they have ever known. I brought in a dozen Chinese Negroes with their families to act as overseers. They receive a pound a week per man. They are tough and reliable. On occasion I had to be ruthless with them, but they soon learned. Automatically my people increased in numbers. I added some engineers and some builders. We set to work on the mountain. Occasionally I brought in teams of specialists on high wages. They were kept apart from the others. They lived inside the mountain until their work was done and then left by ship. They put in the lighting and the ventilation and the lift. They built this room. Stores and furnishings came in from all over the world. These people built the sanatorium faзade which will cover my operations in case one day there is a shipwreck or the Governor of Jamaica decides to pay me a call." The lips glazed into a smile. "You must admit that I am able, if I wish, to accord visitors a most fragrant reception-a wise precaution for the future! And gradually, methodically, my fortress was built while the birds defecated on top of it. It has been hard, Mister Bond." The black eyes did not look for sympathy or praise. "But by the end of last year the work was done. A secure, well-camouflaged base had been achieved. I was ready to proceed to the next step-an extension of my power to the outside world."