Bond busied himself noisily with pouring another drink, sat down and picked up Country Life. He watched Gold finger climb the stairs and disappear down the corridor. He could visualize every step. He found he was reading the periodical upside down. He turned it round and stared blindly at a fine photograph of Blenheim Palace.
The line of climbing men was now almost at the summit of the two-hundred-foot wall, and sure enough, with only yards to go, the end man lost his foothold and, with arms and legs flailing, and with a scream of terror, fell back down the sheer black face. His body hit once and then crashed into the calm waters of the moat. The instructor muttered something, stripped off his shirt, clambered on to the rail of the causeway and dived the hundred feet down into the water. It was a perfect dive, and he swam in a swift crawl towards the body that lay ominously face downwards in the moat. Tiger turned to Bond. 'It is of no account. He was going to fail the man anyway. And now come into the courtyard. The invaders have scaled the wall and they will now use bojutsu on the defenders, that is fighting with the stave.'
In the general debates on Mr Disraeli's Reform Bill, my participation was limited to the one speech already mentioned; but I made the Bill an occasion for bringing the two great improvements which remain to be made in representative government, formally before the House and the nation. One of them was Personal, or, as it is called with equal propriety, Proportional Representation. I brought this under the consideration of the House, by an expository and argumentative speech on Mr Hare's plan; and subsequently I was active in support of the very imperfect substitute for that plan, which, in a small number of constituencies, Parliament was induced to adopt. This poor makeshift had scarcely any recommendation, except that it was a partial recognition of the evil which it did so little to remedy. As such, however, it was attacked by the same fallacies, and required to be defended on the same principles, as a really good measure; and its adoption in a few parliamentary elections, as well as the subsequent introduction of what is called the Cumulative Vote in the elections for the London School Board, have had the good effect of converting the equal claim of all electors to a proportional share in the representation, from a subject of merely speculative discussion, into a question of practical politics, much sooner than would otherwise have been the case.
Bond said easily, "I saw how annoyed you got with those inoffensive birds." He stood up. "I don't see any reason why either of us should get riled."
Leiter leant over the end of the bed. He wore his most quizzical smile. He said, "Well, I'll be goddamned, James. That was the neatest wrapup job I've ever lied my head off at. Everything clean as a whistle, and we've even collected a piece of lettuce."
It is a summer evening, down in a green hollow, at the corner of a wall. I meet the butcher by appointment. I am attended by a select body of our boys; the butcher, by two other butchers, a young publican, and a sweep. The preliminaries are adjusted, and the butcher and myself stand face to face. In a moment the butcher lights ten thousand candles out of my left eyebrow. In another moment, I don't know where the wall is, or where I am, or where anybody is. I hardly know which is myself and which the butcher, we are always in such a tangle and tussle, knocking about upon the trodden grass. Sometimes I see the butcher, bloody but confident; sometimes I see nothing, and sit gasping on my second's knee; sometimes I go in at the butcher madly, and cut my knuckles open against his face, without appearing to discompose him at all. At last I awake, very queer about the head, as from a giddy sleep, and see the butcher walking off, congratulated by the two other butchers and the sweep and publican, and putting on his coat as he goes; from which I augur, justly, that the victory is his.
Mr. Hendriks looked past Bond's right ear at nothing. The pressure of the silence built up. Mr. Hendriks shifted his weight from one foot to the other and finally broke down. His eyes shifted and looked thoughtfully at Bond. "And you. You are from London, isn't it?" "Yes. Do you know it?" "I have been there, yes." "Where do you usually stay?" There was hesitation. "With friends." "That must be convenient." "Pliss?"
It was seven-thirty. Bond suddenly felt exhausted, exhausted with the prospect of boredom, exhausted with playing the most difficult role of his career, exhausted with the enigma of Blofeld and the Piz Gloria. What in hell was the bastard up to? He sat down on the right of Irma Bunt in the same placing as for drinks, with Ruby on his right and Violet, dark, demure, self-effacing, opposite him, and glumly opened his napkin. Blofeld had certainly spent money on his eyrie. Their three tables, in a remote corner by the long, curved, curtained window, occupied only a fraction of the space in the big, low, luxuriously appointed, mock-German baroque room, ornate with candelabra suspended from the stomachs of flying cherubs, festooned with heavy gilt plaster-work, solemnized by the dark portraits of anonymous noblemen. Blofeld must be pretty certain he was here to stay. What was the investment? Certainly not less than a million sterling, even assuming a fat mortgage from Swiss banks on the cost of the cable railway. To lease an alp, put up a cable railway on mortgage, with the engineers and the local district council participating - that, Bond knew, was one of the latest havens for fugitive funds. If you were successful, if you and the council could bribe or bully the local farmers to allow right-of-way through their pastures, cut swaths through the tree-line for the cable pylons and the ski-runs, the rest was publicity and amenities for the public to eat their sandwiches. Add to that the snob-appeal of a posh, heavily restricted club such as Bond imagined this, during the daytime, to be, the coroneted G, and the mystique of a research institute run by a Count, and you were off to the races. skiing today, Bond had read, was the most widely practised sport in the world. It sounded unlikely, but then one reckoned the others largely by spectators. Skiers were participants, and bigger spenders on equipment than in other sports. Clothes, boots, skis, bindings, and now the whole 'apres-ski' routine which took care of the day from four o'clock, when the sun went, onwards, were a tremendous industry. If you could lay your hands on a good alp, which Blofeld had somehow managed to do, you really had it good. Mortgages paid off - snow was the joker, but in the Engadine, at this height, you would be all right for that - in three or four years, and then jam for ever! One certainly had to hand it to him!
'You couldn't speak to me without inconveniencing yourself, Trotwood, I am afraid?'