"Okay, Ernie," said Bond slipping behind the wheel. "I'll take care of it." He rammed the car into gear and moved fast off down the road and away from the blazing pyre and the frightened people who had materialized out of the dusk and were standing watching the flames, their hands up to their mouths.
Bond gave a neutral grunt.
The poob housed the village sports trophies, historical relics, and art treasures. It contained also, normally behind curtains, but displayed on great occasions, the village ‘ark’. This was at once a safe where valuable documents were preserved, a mascot, a sacred symbol, and a shrine. The ark was a great carved chest, often surmounted by a symbolic statue or picture. Sometimes it was the work of local craftsmen, sometimes it was a much treasured import from the near-by city or some foreign land. These objects varied greatly in aesthetic value and in symbolic power. A few were visited by pilgrims from every part of the planet. Others, though dear and sacred to the hearts of their own villagers, drew no attention from elsewhere. These symbols sometimes represented in a stylized manner incidents of special significance in the life of the village or the nation or mankind. Sometimes they symbolized love or reason or family, or the unity of the human race, or man’s relation to the cosmos. On any solemn occasion, such as a marriage or one of the regular ‘days of contemplation’, the ark would be unveiled, and the assembled villagers would sit in silence for a few minutes before it. Music would follow, choral or instrumental, and then the brief and simple ceremony would be performed by the village headman or some specially deputed villager or stranger, either with some well-established form of words or impromptu, or perhaps with silent gesture. When the ceremony was over the ark would be once more veiled, and the villagers would drink or feed together.
Little Em'ly was spoiled by them all, in fact; and by no one more than Mr. Peggotty himself, whom she could have coaxed into anything, by only going and laying her cheek against his rough whisker. That was my opinion, at least, when I saw her do it; and I held Mr. Peggotty to be thoroughly in the right. But she was so affectionate and sweet-natured, and had such a pleasant manner of being both sly and shy at once, that she captivated me more than ever.
Bond carefully pulled on his ninja suit of black cotton. It was comfortable enough and would give warmth in the water. He left the head-shroud hanging down his back and pushed the goggles that belonged to Kissy's father up his forehead. The small floating pack he was to tow behind him rode jauntily in the waters of the creek, and he tied its string firmly to his right wrist so that he would always know it was there.
There was somehow no question of shaking hands. The man said, "I haven't met him. I only arrived a couple of days ago. I've been out round the island most of the time. My name's Bond, James Bond. I'm from the Ministry of Defense."
I did not fail to assure him that I would store these precepts in my mind, though indeed I had no need to do so, for, at the time, they affected me visibly. Next morning I met the whole family at the coach office, and saw them, with a desolate heart, take their places outside, at the back.
‘It will interest you to know that G—— (P——‘s protégée), after winning honours at Cambridge, wishes to be baptized as a Christian. Amy H—— and her husband are to be two of his witnesses, and he is anxious that dear Henry should be the third; for it was Henry’s consistent character which first showed him what Christianity really is.’
I saw him wink, solemnly, at his sister, as he rose and said, taking up the cane: