At some date within the age that we call modern, some date not precisely known to me, for I looked back towards it from the distant futures as though searching in my remote past, the single torrent of terrestrial events is split, as though by a projecting promontory, so that it becomes thenceforth two wholly distinct and mutually exclusive surging floods of intricate existence, each one a coherent and actual history, in which the lives of countless generations succeed one another along separate ravines of time.
One brown shoe left the floor. It would have stepped half across Bond. The vulnerable arch would be open above Bond's head.
His buttocks and the underpart of his body protruded through the seat of the chair towards the floor.
He looked up Wearily: 'Zwo Franken. Two francs. Deux francs.' The routine incantation was slurred into one portmanteau word. Bond held on to the table, put down the coins, and got his ticket. The man's eyes focused. 'The fancy dress, the travesti, it is obligatoire.' He reached into a box by his side and threw a black and white domino-mask on the table. 'One franc.' He gave a lop-sided smile. 'Now you are the gangster, the spy. Yes?'
The third coup is the 'sound barrier' at chemin-de-fer and baccarat. Your luck can defeat the first and second tests, but when the third deal comes along it most often spells disaster. Again and again at this point you find yourself being bounced back to earth. It was like that now. Neither the bank nor any of the players seemed to be able to get hot. But there was a steady and inexorable seepage against the bank, amounting after about two hours' play to ten million francs. Bond had no idea what profits Le Chiffre had made over the past two days. He estimated them at five million and guessed that now the banker's capital could not be more than twenty million.
"Well, I'm glad to meet you."
"Don't push it in. Screw it in," said M impatiently.
Bond, under cover of scanning his plastic map-case and keeping an eye on the stop-watch, measured inches and angles. He glanced at the next-door group of the four men and the woman. They were gazing, in frozen attention, at the scene before them. Now Jack Strap said excitedly, 'They're through the first gates.' Bond, putting half his mind to work on his own plans, took a quick look at the battlefield.
Mrs. Strong's mama was a lady I took great delight in. Her name was Mrs. Markleham; but our boys used to call her the Old Soldier, on account of her generalship, and the skill with which she marshalled great forces of relations against the Doctor. She was a little, sharp-eyed woman, who used to wear, when she was dressed, one unchangeable cap, ornamented with some artificial flowers, and two artificial butterflies supposed to be hovering above the flowers. There was a superstition among us that this cap had come from France, and could only originate in the workmanship of that ingenious nation: but all I certainly know about it, is, that it always made its appearance of an evening, wheresoever Mrs. Markleham made HER appearance; that it was carried about to friendly meetings in a Hindoo basket; that the butterflies had the gift of trembling constantly; and that they improved the shining hours at Doctor Strong's expense, like busy bees.
Bond stepped through and listened, his torch doused. But he was still deep in the bowels of the castle and there was no sound. He switched on again. More stone stairs leading up to a modern door of polished timber. He went up them and carefully turned the metal door handle. No lock this time! He softly pushed the door open and found himself in a long stone corridor that sloped on upwards. At the end was yet another modern door, and beneath it showed a thin strip of light!
'Do you know what I can't help thinking of, Traddles, as I sit here looking at you?' I asked him.
"Ten o'clock'll be fine, sir," said the Instructor, jerking down the two handles on the iron door. He smiled at Bond's back as it disappeared up the steep concrete stairs leading to the ground floor. He was pleased with Bond's shooting, but he wouldn't have thought of telling him that he was the best shot in the Service. Only M. was allowed to know that, and his Chief of Staff, who would be told to enter the scores of that day's shoot on Bond's Confidential Record.
Scaramanga turned to the waiting group. "Okay, fellows, here's the picture. We drive a mile down the road to the station. We get aboard this little train. Quite an outfit, that. Fellow by the name of Lucius Beebe had it copied for the Thunderbird company from the engine and rolling stock on the little old Denver, South Park and Pacific line. Okay. So we steam along this old cane-field line about twenty miles to Green Island Harbour. Plenty birds, bush rats, crocs in the rivers. Maybe we get a little hunting. Have some fun with the hardware. All you guys got your guns with you? Fine, fine. Champagne lunch at Green Island and the girls and the music'll be there to keep us happy. After lunch we get aboard the Thunder Bird big Chris-craft, and take a cruise along to Lucea, that's a little township up the coast, and see if we can catch our dinner. Those that don't want to fish can play stud. Right? Then back here for drinks. Okay? Everyone satisfied? Any suggestions? Then let's go."
'Then I must go to this place Vladivostok, and perhaps it will awaken more memories and I can work my way back from there.'