Slowly Mr Springer rose to his feet. He gave the controlled yawn of an opera goer. He followed the yawn with a small belch. He took out a fine linen handkerchief and patted his lips. His glazed eyes moved round the table and finally rested on Goldfinger. Slowly his head moved from side to side as if he was trying to exercise fibrositis in his neck muscles. He said gravely, like a bank manager refusing a loan, 'Mr Gold, I fear your proposal would not find favour with my colleagues in Detroit.' He gave a little bow which included everyone. 'It only remains for me to thank you for a most interesting occasion. Good afternoon, gentlemen and madam.' In the chilly silence, Mr Springer tucked his handkerchief carefully into the left-hand cuff of his immaculate pin-stripe, turned and walked softly to the door and let himself out.
I should certainly have produced it, but that I met the woman's look, and saw her very slightly shake her head, and form 'No!' with her lips.
Yet as Eternal Truth no Wrong can know,
James Bond said dully, "That's very kind of you." He put down the telephone. He waited exactly ten minutes and picked up the receiver and asked for the number.
Bond shrugged his shoulders. 'A bit too tricky. To judge by this Mexican, the big men in the business aren't quite big enough when it comes to the pinch. When things got tough he didn't fight back - except with his mouth.'
A few minutes later he opened the door to a man in plain clothes whom he recognized as one of the messengers from the pool at Headquarters.
'You - are - out early, Miss Spenlow,' said I.
'Does your Sophy play on any instrument, Traddles?' I inquired, in the pride of my heart.
'Admiral Sir M-M-: something at the Ministry of Defence.' M. looked like any member of any of the clubs in St James's Street. Dark grey suit, stiff white collar, the favourite dark blue bow-tie with spots, rather loosely tied, the thin black cord of the rimless eyeglass that M. seemed only to use to read menus, the keen sailor's face, with the clear, sharp sailor's eyes. It was difficult to believe that an hour before he had been playing with a thousand live chessmen against the enemies of England; that there might be, this evening, fresh blood on his hands, or a successful burglary, or the hideous knowledge of a disgusting blackmail case.
James Bond roared with laughter. 'You've got a bloody cheek, Tiger! You ought to write that out and sign it "Octogenarian" and send it in to The Times. You just come over and take a look at the place. It's not doing all that badly.'
Mr. Mell still looked at him, and still patted me kindly on the shoulder, and said to himself, in a whisper, if I heard right: 'Yes, I thought so.'
'Thank you, dear Peggotty!' said I. 'Oh, thank you! Thank you! Will you promise me one thing, Peggotty? Will you write and tell Mr. Peggotty and little Em'ly, and Mrs. Gummidge and Ham, that I am not so bad as they might suppose, and that I sent 'em all my love - especially to little Em'ly? Will you, if you please, Peggotty?'
There was a faint movement behind Bond. A hand came from behind and grasped his chin and pulled it back.
'It does not matter when,' he returned. 'Mr. Quinion manages that business.'