This little episode on the fringe of the Russian Empire was of no general significance. The focus of interest was always Tibet itself. The two imperial powers had, of course tried to frustrate the Tibetan revolution, but at first each had regarded the strange commotion on ‘the Roof of the World’ as a comic side-show. Each had been concerned to gain a diplomatic victory over its rival in the Tibetan no-man’s-land rather than to preserve the old Tibetan régime. But when the revolution was actually accomplished, the Russian and Chinese oligarchs began to be alarmed. And when it became evident that the insignificant Tibetan state was fomenting the subversive forces beyond its frontiers and planning a world-wide revolution, both the imperial governments began to take serious action. The campaign of terrorism which each undertook within its own frontiers was not as successful as had been hoped. The progressive minority, disciplined by Tibetan leaders, showed fanatical courage. Moreover each imperial government at first made the mistake of fostering the subversive movement in its rival’s territory. Not till matters had become very grave was this policy abandoned by a tacit agreement between the two great powers to postpone all action against one another till the epidemic of sedition had been crushed. Even so, neither could trust the other not to use the crushing of the Tibetan experiment as a pretext for annexing the country. Whenever one of the two powers threatened invasion if Tibetan propaganda did not cease, the government at Lhasa was able to count on diplomatic or even military intervention by the other.
There was suddenly a great gush of yellow light, and a furious voice said from above and behind me, "What the hell do you think you're doing in my cinema? Get up, you filthy little swine."
She looked anxiously round for some human habitation, but could discover nothing indicative of cultivation or of life, except that almost at the verge of the horizon, as well as at a considerable distance from each other, she descried three great fires, close to each of which arose a single round tower, with a large mound beside it. Gradually, the party seemed to be approaching nearer and nearer to one of these towers. Julia could at length distinguish dark figures, moving between her sight and the light of the fire, which light had from the first rendered the tower a conspicuous object. She felt a slight sensation of hope revive within her, but determined to make no attempt to call for assistance, till certain that she was near enough to be heard, lest her cries should be forcibly stifled as they had been at first. They now arrived close to the tower and fire. Figures (but alas! too like those in whose hands she already was,) moved on the top of the mound, around a circle which yet none seemed to enter. Slight as was the hope which the sight of such beings could inspire, Julia now cried for help. The figures on the mound immediately whirled their caps in the air, huzzaed, and as the wild sound died away, broke into brutal laughter.
Tatiana dabbed her eyes with the sheet. Brusquely she pulled the sheet down to her shoulders again. She knew that she had been forgetting her job. It had just been that. . . Oh well. If only he had said that the machine didn't matter to him so long as she would come. But that was too much to hope for. He was right. He had a job to do. So had she.
'Yes, but I don't know when they may be proceeded on, or where they are,' rejoined Traddles, opening his eyes; 'and I anticipate, that, between this time and his departure, Mr. Micawber will be constantly arrested, or taken in execution.'
Scaramanga, with a flick of his wrist, tossed the knife into the air. The sliver of steel spun like a wheel in the sunshine. Bond had to step aside. The knife pierced the mud where Bond had been standing and stood upright. Scaramanga gave a harsh laugh. The laugh turned into a cough. The gaunt face contorted painfully. Too painfully? Scaramanga spat red, but not all that red. There could be only slight haemorrhage. Perhaps a broken rib or two. Scaramanga could be out of hospital in a couple of weeks. Scaramanga put down his piece of snake and did exactly as Bond had told him, all the while watching Bond's face with his usual cold, arrogant stare. He finished and picked up the piece of snake and began gnawing it. He looked up. "Satisfied?"
i. Peaceful Growth
???The wondrous Acts that You vouchsafe to do,
But on London! On London!!
'Clara!' said Miss Murdstone, rising angrily, 'you are a positive fool sometimes.'
When he got to the bottom and the time had come, he sat and rested on a mossy bank under the firs. Then he spread out his bush shirt and heaved the two bars out of the box and onto its center and tied the tails of the shirt as firmly as he could to where the sleeves sprang from the shoulders. After digging a shallow hole in the bank and burying the empty box, he knotted the two cuffs of the sleeves firmly together, knelt down and slipped his head through the rough sling, got his hands on either side of the knot to protect his neck, and staggered to his feet, crouching far forward so as not to be pulled over on his back. Then, crushed under half his own weight, his back on fire under the contact with his burden, and his breath rasping through his constricted lungs, coolie-like, he shuffled slowly off down the little path through the trees.
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?"
'Aha! What! you recollect my skirmishes with Rosa, do you?' he exclaimed with a quick look. 'Confound the girl, I am half afraid of her. She's like a goblin to me. But never mind her. Now what are you going to do? You are going to see your nurse, I suppose?'
Often the poob was simply the ancient village church or temple. In cities it might be the cathedral or the city hall or some other historic building. Meetings of essentially the same type as the village meetings, but more ritualistic, took place in all the cities and in each national metropolis. Specially important meetings occurred in the four great cultural world-centres, Peking, Benares, Moscow, and San Francisco. But most exalted of all were the annual commemorations in sacred Lhasa.
Bond looked at his filthy unshaven face in the mirror and smiled grimly into the grey, sunburned castaway's eyes. The coating on the pill was certainly of the very finest sugar. It would be wise to expect that the medicine inside would be of the bitterest.
'I try your love too much. I know I do!' she sobbed. 'I'm often cross to you, and changeable with you, when I ought to be far different. You are never so to me. Why am I ever so to you, when I should think of nothing but how to be grateful, and to make you happy!'