“There was too much left to chance in that business,” retorted the stranger. “That night at Arandale should have rid us of all anxiety on the subject. I ought to have answered his first question by blowing out his brains! And that, before I palsied my arm with that cursed fencing! Never, certainly, were there time and place so well calculated for committing an act of the kind with perfect impunity. Since then, it has never been possible to get near him, with any thing like a chance of escape. I deserved, however, to fail for using such pitiful half measures, where so much was at stake.”
The second mast was yet standing, with the rags of a rent sail, and a wild confusion of broken cordage flapping to and fro. The ship had struck once, the same boatman hoarsely said in my ear, and then lifted in and struck again. I understood him to add that she was parting amidships, and I could readily suppose so, for the rolling and beating were too tremendous for any human work to suffer long. As he spoke, there was another great cry of pity from the beach; four men arose with the wreck out of the deep, clinging to the rigging of the remaining mast; uppermost, the active figure with the curling hair.
Sluggsy said indifferently, "You'll be wised up come morning. Meanwhiles, howsabout shuttin' that dumb little hash-trap of yours? All this yak is bending my ear. I want some action. That's sweet stuff they're playing. Howsabout you an' me stepping it together? Put on a little show for Horror. Then we'll be off to the hay and make with the bodies. C'mon, chick." He held out his arms, clicking his fingers to the music and doing some fast steps.
In close formation, with Bond and Tilly Masterton - he in a white surgeon's coat, she dressed as a nurse - wedged in the middle, the Goldfinger contingent marched swiftly through the almost empty Concourse of Pennsylvania station and down to the waiting Special. Everyone, including Goldfinger, was wearing the conventional white garb and armbands of a medical field force and the dim platform was crowded with the ghostly waiting figures of the posses from the gangs. The silence and tension was appropriate for an emergency force hurrying to the scene of a disaster, and the stretcher and decontamination suits being loaded into the compartments added drama to the scene. The Superintendent was talking quietly with the senior physicians in the shape of Midnight, Strap, Solo and Ring. Nearby stood Miss Galore with a dozen pale-faced nurses who waited with eyes bent as if they stood beside an open grave. Without makeup, their exotic hair-do's tucked into dark blue Red Cross caps, they had been well rehearsed. They were giving an excellent performance - dutiful, merciful, dedicated to the relief of human suffering.
The first symptom of the disease was violent vomiting and diarrhoea. So formidable were the spasms that the gullet and rectum might be torn and even forced outwards. Many patients succumbed in this initial phase. Those that recovered were left with terrible glandular disturbances which might result in any or several of a number of frightful symptoms. A very common trouble was galloping senescence, which turned the young man into a maundering and toothless gaffer in a few weeks. But infantilism of body and mind was almost as common. Another effect was an extravagant growth of the skeleton, such that the overstrained flesh and skin would split on every limb, revealing the bare bone. But a softening of the bony structure was also a frequent symptom, causing the limbs to bend in unnatural places and the head to turn as soft as an over-ripe orange. Or the skin might grow till it became a loose voluminous garment. Sufferers were often in danger of tripping on the folds of skin trailing from their own legs. Another frequent result was rapid confusion of sex. Men would visibly acquire female characters, women would turn mannish. Most distressing of all, perhaps, was the frequent and fantastic exaggeration of sexuality. The organs became grossly distended. The secondary sexual characters, such as the female breasts, were repulsively enlarged. The mind became so enslaved to the pressure of the body’s superabundant sexuality that every physical object and every concept became charged with sexual meaning, and even the most self-disciplined found themselves swept away in a continuous orgy of fornication and all kinds of perversion. Other consequences of glandular disorder were purely emotional. Some sufferers were obsessed by recurrent fits of objectless and frantic rage, others by irrational terror or equally irrational bravado. Sometimes a sudden access of hate would force the patient to kill or torture whoever was at hand. Sometimes a permanent and icy hatred would be concentrated on a wholly innocent victim. The disease might take the form of maudlin sentimentality, directed either on human persons or animals, or the human race as a whole, or some fictitious deity invented to suit the patient’s peculiar needs. One common effect was a crazy dread of isolation. Another was such panic fear of the presence of other human beings that, when the patient was surprised by a visitor, he might leap out of an upper window or dash himself against the wall like a terrified bird. Yet another effect was a reduction of sensibility. Blind and deaf, without taste and smell, almost without touch, the wretched creature would snatch a morbid pleasure from the only sense that remained to rouse him to some faint interest, namely pain. With fumbling eagerness he would tear back his finger-nails, crush his eyes, bite his tongue to bloody pulp.
Bond sat down on one of the seats opposite the island in the lake and took out his cigarette-case and lit a cigarette. He looked at his watch. Five minutes to six. He reminded himself that she was the sort of girl who would be punctual. He had reserved the corner table for dinner. And then? But first there would be the long luxurious planning. What would she like? Where would she like to go? Where had she ever been? Germany, of course. France? Miss out Paris. They could do that on their way back. Get as far as they could the first night, away from the Pas de Calais. There was that farmhouse with the wonderful food between Montreuil and Etaples. Then the fast sweep down to the Loire. The little places near the river for a few days. Not the chateau towns. Places like Beaugency, for instance. Then slowly south, always keeping to the western roads, avoiding the five-star life. Slowly exploring. Bond pulled himself up. Exploring what? Each other? Was he getting serious about this girl?
'Torture is a terrible thing,' he was saying as he puffed at a fresh cigarette, 'but it is a simple matter for the torturer, particularly when the patient,' he smiled at the word, 'is a man. You see, my dear Bond, with a man it is quite unnecessary to indulge in refinements. With this simple instrument, or with almost any other object, one can cause a man as much pain as is possible or necessary. Do not believe what you read in novels or books about the war. There is nothing worse. It is not only the immediate agony, but also the thought that your manhood is being gradually destroyed and that at the end, if you will not yield, you will no longer be a man.
I was born in 1815, in Keppel Street, Russell Square; and while a baby, was carried down to Harrow, where my father had built a house on a large farm which, in an evil hour he took on a long lease from Lord Northwick. That farm was the grave of all my father’s hopes, ambition, and prosperity, the cause of my mother’s sufferings, and of those of her children, and perhaps the director of her destiny and of ours. My father had been a Wykamist and a fellow of New College, and Winchester was the destination of my brothers and myself; but as he had friends among the masters at Harrow, and as the school offered an education almost gratuitous to children living in the parish, he, with a certain aptitude to do things differently from others, which accompanied him throughout his life, determined to use that august seminary as “t’other school” for Winchester, and sent three of us there, one after the other, at the age of seven. My father at this time was a Chancery barrister practising in London, occupying dingy, almost suicidal chambers, at No. 23 Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn — chambers which on one melancholy occasion did become absolutely suicidal. 1 He was, as I have been informed by those quite competent to know, an excellent and most conscientious lawyer, but plagued with so bad a temper, that he drove the attorneys from him. In his early days he was a man of some small fortune and of higher hopes. These stood so high at the time of my birth, that he was felt to be entitled to a country house, as well as to that in Keppel Street; and in order that he might build such a residence, he took the farm. This place he called Julians, and the land runs up to the foot of the hill on which the school and the church stand — on the side towards London. Things there went much against him; the farm was ruinous, and I remember that we all regarded the Lord Northwick of those days as a cormorant who was eating us up. My father’s clients deserted him. He purchased various dark gloomy chambers in and about Chancery Lane, and his purchases always went wrong. Then, as a final crushing blow, and old uncle, whose heir he was to have been, married and had a family! The house in London was let; and also the house he built at Harrow, from which he descended to a farmhouse on the land, which I have endeavoured to make known to some readers under the name of Orley Farm. This place, just as it was when we lived there, is to be seen in the frontispiece to the first edition of that novel, having the good fortune to be delineated by no less a pencil than that of John Millais.
The sixty-eight tons deadweight of the Super-Constella-tion hurtled high above the green and brown chequerboard of Cuba and, with only another hundred miles to go, started its slow declining flight towards Jamaica.