'ARE you pretty comfortable?'
"I know, corporal. I wanted to see how fast I could take it. I'm not blaming the weapon. It's a hell of a fine job. Please tell the armorer so from me. Now I'd better get moving. You're finding your own way back to London, aren't you?"
There it was, down the central gutter between the first lead, inevitably on Berlin, and the second, equally inevitably, on the miracle of the latest German export figures. All it said, 'from our correspondent', date-lined St Moritz, was 'MYSTERIOUS EXPLOSIONS ON PIZ GLORIA. Cable Railway to Millionaires' Resort Destroyed'. And then a few lines repeating the content of the headings and saying that the police would investigate by helicopter at first light in the morning. The next headline caught Bond's eye: 'IN ENGLAND, POLIO SCARE'. And then, date-lined the day before from London, a brief Reuter dispatch: 'The nine girls held at various British airports on suspicion of having had contact with a possible polio carrier at Zurich Airport, also an English girl, are still being held in quarantine. A Ministry of Health representative said that this was purely a routine precaution. A tenth girl, the origin of the scare, a Miss Violet O'Neill, is under observation at Shannon Hospital. She is a native of Eire.'
We may recall that during the entire four years of War, Lincoln, the commander-in-chief, was always in the rear. Difficult as was the task of the men who led columns into action, of the generals in the field who had the immediate responsibility for the direction of those columns and of the fighting line, it was in no way to be compared with the pressure and sadness of the burden of the man who stood back of all the lines, and to whom came all the discouragements, the complaints, the growls, the criticisms, the requisitions or demands for resources that were not available, the reports of disasters, sometimes exaggerated and sometimes unduly smoothed over, the futile suggestions, the conflicting counsels, the indignant protests, the absurd schemes, the self-seeking applications, that poured into the White House from all points of the field of action and from all parts of the Border States and of the North. The man who during four years could stand that kind of battering and pressure and who, instead of having his hopefulness crushed out of him, instead of losing heart or power of direction or the full control of his responsibilities, steadily developed in patience, in strength, in width of nature, and in the wisdom of experience, so that he was able not only to keep heart firm and mind clear but to give to the soldiers in the front and to the nation behind the soldiers the influence of his great heart and clear mind and of his firm purpose, that man had within him the nature of the hero. Selected in time of need to bear the burdens of the nation, he was able so to fulfil his responsibilities that he takes place in the world's history as a leader of men.
Bond made up his mind. When he had finished, he followed her. Both her doors were locked and when he made her let him in, he saw that she had been sitting in the shadows by the window, watching, he presumed.
Bond surveyed his weapons. They were only his hands and feet, his Gillette razor and his wrist-watch, a heavy Rolex Oyster Perpetual on an expanding metal bracelet. Used properly, these could be turned into most effective knuckledusters. Bond got up, took the blade out of his Gillette and dropped the razor into his trouser pocket. He slipped the shaft between the first and second fingers of his left hand so that the blade-carrier rested flat along his knuckles. Yes, that was the way! Now was there anything, any evidence he should try and take with him? Yes, he must try and get more, if not all, of the girls' names and, if possible, addresses. For some reason he knew they were vital. For that he would have to use Ruby. His head full of plans for getting the information out of her, Bond went out of the bathroom and sat down at his desk and got on with a fresh page of de Bleuvilles. At least he must continue to show willing, if only to the recording eye in the ceiling.
Bond put his hand under the soft chin and lifted up her mouth and kissed her full on the half-open lips. He said, "Why didn't we ever think of doing that before, Goodnight? Three years with only that door between us! What must we have been thinking of?"
If the house, and every one of us, had tumbled out into the river together, I could hardly have received a greater shock.
I cannot describe the state of mind into which I was thrown by this intelligence. The shock of such an event happening so suddenly, and happening to one with whom I had been in any respect at variance - the appalling vacancy in the room he had occupied so lately, where his chair and table seemed to wait for him, and his handwriting of yesterday was like a ghost - the in- definable impossibility of separating him from the place, and feeling, when the door opened, as if he might come in - the lazy hush and rest there was in the office, and the insatiable relish with which our people talked about it, and other people came in and out all day, and gorged themselves with the subject - this is easily intelligible to anyone. What I cannot describe is, how, in the innermost recesses of my own heart, I had a lurking jealousy even of Death. How I felt as if its might would push me from my ground in Dora's thoughts. How I was, in a grudging way I have no words for, envious of her grief. How it made me restless to think of her weeping to others, or being consoled by others. How I had a grasping, avaricious wish to shut out everybody from her but myself, and to be all in all to her, at that unseasonable time of all times.