It worked! There was a light night breeze and he felt himself wafted gently over the moonlit park, over the glittering, steaming lake, towards the sea. But he was rising, not falling! The helium sphere was not in the least worried by his weight! Then blue-and-yellow fire fluttered from the upper storey of the castle and an occasional angry wasp zipped past him. Bond's hands and feet were beginning to ache with the strain of holding on. Something hit him on the side of the head, the same side that was already sending out its throbbing message of pain. And that finished him. He knew it had! For now the whole black silhouette of the castle swayed in the moonlight and seemed to jig upwards and sideways and then slowly dissolve like an icecream cone in sunshine. The top storey crumbled first, then the next, and the next, and then, after a moment, a huge jet of orange fire shot up from hell towards the moon and a buffet of hot wind, followed by an echoing crack of thunder, hit Bond and made his balloon sway violently.
"Your guess is as good as mine. It looks as if they've got some kind of a headquarters over at Number 1. Perhaps he left his armament there while they did the job on the lobby. He may not have liked carrying live bullets around with him so near to the flames. Anyway, war's declared now, and we're going to have quite a job on our hands. Main thing is to keep an eye on their car. They'll be pretty desperate to get away. But they've somehow got to kill us first. They're in a nasty fix and they'll fight like hellcats."
鈥楾he Bishop of Calcutta, before leaving, kindly put into my hand a note for 100 rupees. I asked him to what purpose I should apply it; he replied to whatever purpose I liked; so I at once decided on our City Mission School, our Batala Plough, which has almost come to the end of its means, and must on no account be suffered to drop through. I was very glad of the seasonable supply.
The dust settled. The diamond smuggler took his hand away from his eyes and watched the pilot climb down his small ladder to the ground. He was wearing a flying helmet and goggles. Unusual. And he looked taller than the German. The man's spine tingled. Who was this? He walked slowly to meet him.
A hundred yards from the site Drax stopped. "I will explain the geography," he said. "Walter, you go ahead. They will be waiting for you to have another look at those fins. Don't worry about them, my dear fellow. Those people at High Duty Alloys know what they're doing. Now," he turned to Bond and gestured towards the milk-white dome, "in there is the Moonraker. What you see is the lid of a wide shaft that has been cut about forty foot down into the chalk. The two halves of the dome are opened hydraulically and folded back flush with that twenty-foot wall. If they were open now, you would see the nose of the Moonraker just protruding above the level of the wall. Over there," he pointed to a square shape that was almost out of sight in the direction of Deal, "is the firing point. Concrete blockhouse. Full of radar tracking gadgets-Doppler velocity radar and flight-path radar, for instance. Information is fed to them by twenty telemetering channels in the nose of the rocket. There's a big television screen in there too so that you can watch the behaviour of the rocket inside the shaft after the pumps have been started. Another television set to follow the beginning of its climb. Alongside the blockhouse there's a hoist down the face of the cliff. Quite a lot of gear has been brought to the site by sea and then sent up on the hoist.
It was a beautiful back. The skin was a very light uniform cafй au lait with the sheen of dull satin. The gentle curve of the backbone was deeply indented, suggesting more powerful muscles than is usual in a woman, and the behind was almost as firm and rounded as a boy's. The legs were straight and beautiful and no pinkness showed under the slightly lifted left heel. She was not a coloured girl.
Now the Treasury wanted to know what it was all about-whether it was Drax himself selling or one of the big commodity interests who were clients of his firm. The first thing they did was to tackle Vallance. Vallance could only think that in some way the Moonraker was to be a failure and that Drax knew it and wanted to profit by his knowledge. He at once spoke to the Ministry of Supply, but they pooh-poohed the idea. Tiere was no reason to think the Moonraker would be a failure and even if its practice flight was not successful the fact would be covered up with talk of technical hitches and so forth. In any case, whether the rocket was a success or not, there could be no possible reaction on British financial credit. No, they certainly wouldn't think of mentioning the matter to the Prime Minister. Drax Metals was a big trading organization. They were probably acting for some foreign govern ment. The Argentine. Perhaps even Russia. Someone with big sterling balances. Anyway it was nothing to do with the Ministry, or with the Moonraker, which would be launched punctually at noon the next day.
Cease, prithee, Muse, thus to infest
"What I told you," said the girl sulkily. "It's my job."
Feeling that these volumes on Australia were dull and long, I was surprised to find that they had an extensive sale. There were, I think, 2000 copies circulated of the first expensive edition; and then the book was divided into four little volumes, which were published separately, and which again had a considerable circulation. That some facts were stated inaccurately, I do not doubt; that many opinions were crude, I am quite sure; that I had failed to understand much which I attempted to explain, is possible. But with all these faults the book was a thoroughly honest book, and was the result of unflagging labour for a period of fifteen months. I spared myself no trouble in inquiry, no trouble in seeing, and no trouble in listening. I thoroughly imbued my mind with the subject, and wrote with the simple intention of giving trustworthy information on the state of the Colonies. Though there be inaccuracies — those inaccuracies to which work quickly done must always be subject — I think I did give much valuable information.
Bond had already decided to accept - blind. Whatever Mr Du Font's problem - blackmail, gangsters, women - it would be some typical form of rich man's worry. Here was a slice of the easy life he had been asking for. Take it. Bond started to say something politely deprecating. Mr Du Pont interrupted. 'Please, please, Mr Bond. And believe me, I'm grateful, very grateful indeed.' He snapped his fingers for the waitress. When she came, he turned away from Bond and settled the bill out of Bond's sight. Like many very rich men he considered that showing his money, letting someone see how much he tipped, amounted to indecent exposure. He thrust his roll back into his trousers pocket (the hip pocket is not the place among the rich) and took Bond by the arm. He sensed Bond's resistance to the contact and removed his hand. They went down the stairs to the main hall.
鈥楤ut before we went to church, a Begum, a royal lady, granddaughter of Shah-Soojah, came to see the fun. And only fancy, Laura, I was left for perhaps a quarter of an hour to entertain the fine old lady. Would not your Fred and Leila have laughed to have seen me, making gallant efforts to keep up conversation with my dreadfully bad Hindustani. I dashed at it, tried to explain why I wore a black dress when I had lilac and blue ones at Amritsar, told her that I had never been married, answered questions regarding my family, etc. The Begum laughed, and I laughed, for I knew that my Hindustani was very bad; but I did remember always to use the respectful 鈥淎p鈥漑26] to the princess.
14 The Great Morass
And, at the same time, the cables high above Bond's head began to sing! They were sending the cable car down after him!
And he meant them.
"Sure. Sure. Now then. Any other business? Okay. Well, I've got something I'd like to bring up. This casino lark. Now, this is the picture. The government is tempted. They think it'll stimulate the tourist industry. But the heavies- the boys who were kicked out of Havana, the Vegas machine, the Miami jokers, Chicago, the whole works-didn't take the measure of these people before they put the heat on. And they overplayed the slush fund approach-put too much money in the wrong pockets. Guess they should have employed a public relations outfit. Jamaica looks small on the map, and I guess the syndicates thought they could hurry through a neat little operation like the Nassau job. But the opposition party got wise, and the Church, and the old women, and there was talk of the Mafia taking over in Jamaica, the old Cosa Nostra and all that crap, and the boys lost out. Remember we were offered an in coupla years back? That was when they saw it was a bust and wanted to unload their promotion expenses, coupla million bucks or so, onto The Group. You recall I advised against and gave my reasons. Okay. So we said no. But things have changed. Different party in power, bit of a tourist slump last year, and a certain minister has been in touch with me. Says the climate's changed. Independence has come along, and they've got out from behind the skirts of Aunty England. Want to show that Jamaica's with it. Got oomph and all that. So this friend of mine says he can get gambling off the pad here. He told me how and it makes sense. Before, I said stay out. Now I say come in. But it's going to cost money. Each of us'll have to chip in with a hundred thousand bucks to give local encouragement. Miami'll be the operators and get the franchise. The deal is that they'll put us in for five percent-but off the top. Get me? On these figures, and they're not loaded, our juice should have been earned in eighteen months. After that it's gravy. Get the picture? But your, er, friends, don't seem too keen on these, er, capitalist enterprises. How do you figure it? Will they ante up? I don't want for us to go outside for the green. And, as from yesterday, we're missing a shareholder. Come to think of it, we've got to think of that too. Who we goin' to rope in as Number Seven? We're short of a game for now."