'No thanks. That couldn't be my man.'
They stopped in the shadow of the mangrove tunnel and looked out. The river meandered sluggishly away from them towards the centre of the island. Its banks, fringed with low bamboo and sea-grape, would give only half shelter. From its western bank the ground rose slowly and then sharply up to the sugar-loaf about two miles away which was the guanera.
'My dear,' I argued, 'you will soon know him well, and like him of all things. And here is my aunt coming soon; and you'll like her of all things too, when you know her.'
What the hell? All cats are grey in the dark.
'... and tell the police,' he concluded, 'tell them that the Englishman from Jamaica who was knocked over by the blast is my affair. He is unhurt and they are not to worry him. I will explain to them in half an hour. They should tell the Press that it was apparently a vendetta between two Bulgarian Communists and that one killed the other with a bomb. They need say nothing of the third Bulgar who must have been hanging about somewhere, lout they must get him at all costs. He will certainly head for Paris. Road-blocks everywhere. Understand? Alors, bonne chance.'
Tatiana's mouth had fallen open. She shut it quickly. She searched for something to say.
The success of the missionaries certainly did not depend wholly on their powers of enduring pain. They constituted a great army of ‘fifth-columnists’ disseminated throughout the imperial territories, secretly inspiring the people with dangerous political and social thoughts. The original Tibetan missionaries were reinforced by a great company of native missionaries in every country. Altogether there were millions of them, and each one was a travelling spark of the new fire. Under this influence men’s desiccated hearts were tinder. Most of the missionaries worked at some trade in the lower or middle reaches of society, and were at pains to earn the respect and love of their fellow workers for their efficiency, integrity, and loyal comradeship. Armed with this personal prestige, they were able to capture the allegiance and fire the imagination of all who were not yet hopelessly perverted; and to build up little by little a great body of servants of the light in every land. Their method combined that of the religious missionary with that of the social revolutionary. On the one hand, though they showed no insistence on any metaphysical doctrine, they preached the inner light, and manifested it in action. On the other, though they avoided the subtle Machiavellian intrigues which had been used by so many revolutionaries in the past, they entered into political disputes and declared, often at the cost of their lives, that the time had come to withhold from Caesar the things that were Caesar’s. Of the universe, as a whole, they said, man knows next to nothing; but in our hearts we find that in right personal relation man fulfils himself. Love, they said, and wisdom are right absolutely. True community of mutually respecting individuals, and also fearless free intelligence and imagination, are right absolutely. And we all knew it. There is one intrinsic good, they said, and one only, the awakened life, the life of love and wisdom. This is the sacred thing which all developed beings throughout the universe cannot but will, unless they have been blinded. This spirit, they said, is in the long run all-powerful in the affairs of conscious beings. But the run may be very long. And what the scope of that spirit is in the whole of things no man can know, nor needs to know.
'Well, there was the main guard at the so-called Club. That had to be done or I'd be dead myself by now. Then I suppose one got caught by the avalanche. Then, at the bottom, one of them shot at me and I had to spear him with my ski-stick - self-defence. I don't know how badly he's hurt. And then there was the man killed by the train. He'd fired six shots at me. And anyway it was his own fault. Let's say three and a half got themselves killed one way or another.'
Mary Goodnight jumped to her feet, her eyes flashing. 'Oh for God's sake, James, snap out of it! Here, your tie's crooked.' She-came up to him and he docilely allowed her to pull it straight. 'And your hair's all over the place. Here, use my comb.' Bond took the comb and ran it absent-mindedly through his hair. He said, 'You're a good girl, Goodnight.' He fingered his chin. 'Suppose you haven't got your razor handy? Must look my best on the scaffold.'
These Blessings are th' Effects of Charity;
Unknown to us, like Spell of Witch,
Now the bell had stopped. In its place there started up a droning whine, rather like the noise of a very fast electric fan, with, behind it, the steady, unvarying tick-pause-tock, tick-pause-tock of some land of metronome. The combination of the two sounds was wonderfully soothing. It compelled attention, but only just on the fringe of consciousness -like the night-noises of childhood, the slow tick of the nursery clock combined with the sound of the sea or the wind outside. And now a voice, the Count's voice came over the distant wire or tape that Bond assumed was the mechani cal source of all this. The voice was pitched in a low, singsong murmur, caressing yet authoritative, and every word was distinct. 'You are going to sleep.' The voice fell on the word 'sleep'. 'You are tired and your limbs feel like lead.' Again the falling cadence on the last word. 'Your arms feel as heavy as lead. Your breathing is quite even. Your breathing is as regular as a child's. Your eyes are closed and the eyelids are heavy as lead. You are becoming tireder and tireder. Your whole body is becoming tired and heavy as lead. You are warm and comfortable. You are slipping, slipping, slipping down into sleep. Your bed is as soft and downy as a nest. You are as soft and sleepy as a chicken in a nest. A dear little chicken, flurry and cuddly.' There came the sound of a sweet cooing and clucking, the gentle brushing together of wings, the dozy murmuring of mother hens with their chicks. It went on for perhaps a full minute. Then the voice came back. 'The little darlings are going to sleep. They are like you, comfortable and sleepy in their nests. You love them dearly, dearly, dearly. You love all chickens. You would like to make pets of them all. You would like them to grow up beautiful and strong. You would like no harm to come to them. Soon you will be going back to your darling chickens. Soon you will be able to look after them again. Soon you will be able to help all the chickens of England. You will be able to improve the breed of chickens all over England. This will make you very, very happy. You will be doing so much good that it will make you very, very happy. But you will keep quiet about it. You will say nothing of your methods. They will be your own secret, your very own secret. People will try and find out your secret. But you will say nothing because they might try and take your secret away from you. And then you would not be able to make your darling chickens happy and healthy and strong. Thousands, millions of chickens made happier because of you. So you will say nothing and keep your secret. You will say nothing, nothing at all. You will remember what I say. You will remember what I say.' The murmuring voice was getting farther and farther away. The sweet cooing and clucking of chickens softly obscured the vanishing voice, then that too died away and there was only the electric whine and the tick-pause-tock of the metronome.
* * *
Now there was no pretence in the great golden smile. 'Honour is a pattern of behaviour, Commander. The bamboo must bend to the breeze. But equally the cedar must bend to the typhoon. The meaning of this is that sometimes duty is more compelling than any words. A car is waiting to take you back to your hotel. Please give my deep respects to Dikko and tell him he owes me one thousand yen for repairs to electronic equipment that is the property of the State.'
The Count began, with force, sincerity, 'You need have absolutely no…' when there was the noise of an approaching hubbub down the passage. The door burst open. A man, propelled from behind, lurched into the room and fell, writhing, to the floor.
I blushed at the idea, and begged him, in my modesty, not to think of it. But he said he had observed I was sometimes hoarse - a little roopy was his exact expression - and it should be, every drop, devoted to the purpose he had mentioned. Accordingly, it was locked up in his box, and drawn off by himself in a phial, and administered to me through a piece of quill in the cork, when I was supposed to be in want of a restorative. Sometimes, to make it a more sovereign specific, he was so kind as to squeeze orange juice into it, or to stir it up with ginger, or dissolve a peppermint drop in it; and although I cannot assert that the flavour was improved by these experiments, or that it was exactly the compound one would have chosen for a stomachic, the last thing at night and the first thing in the morning, I drank it gratefully and was very sensible of his attention.
She listened to him coldly, but with attentive obedience. She felt thoroughly deflated by his harshness, while admitting to herself that she should have paid more heed to the warning of Head of S.