Mrs Havelock’s hand went 佛山桑拿论坛的qq群up to her mouth. Colonel Havelock tried to say yes, but his mouth was dry. He swallowed noisily. He could not believe it. This mangy Cuban crook must be bluffing. He managed to say thickly: “Yes, it is.”
Major Gonzales nodded curtly. “In that case, Colonel, my gentleman will carry on the negotiations with the next owner – with your daughter.”
The fingers clicked. Major Gonzales stepped to one side to give a clear field of fire. The brown monkey-hands came out from under the gay shirts. The ugly sausage-shaped hunks of metal spat and thudded – again and again, even when the two bodies were on their way to the ground.
Major Gonzales bent down and verified where the bullets had hit. Then the three small men walked quickly back through the rose and white drawing-room and across the dark carved mahogany hall and out through the elegant front door. They climbed unhurriedly into 广州佛山桑拿全套 a black Ford Consul Sedan with Jamaican number plates and, with Major Gonzales driving and the two gunmen sitting upright in the back seat, they drove off at an easy pace down the long avenue of Royal Palms. At the junction of the drive and the road to Port Antonio the cut telephone wires hung down through the trees like bright lianas. Major Gonzales slalomed the car carefully and expertly down the rough parochial road until he was on the metalled strip near the coast. Then he put on speed. Twenty minutes after the killing he came to the outer sprawl of the little banana port. There he ran the stolen car on to the grass verge beside the road and the three men got out and walked the quarter of a mile through the sparsely lit main street to the banana wharves. The speedboat was waiting, its exhaust bubbling. The three men got in and the boat zoomed off across the still waters 佛山桑拿论坛的qq群 of what an American poetess has called the most beautiful harbour in the world. The anchor chain was already half up on the glittering fifty-ton Chriscraft. She was flying the Stars and Stripes. The two graceful antennae of the deep-sea rods explained that these were tourists – from Kingston, perhaps, or from Montego Bay. The three men went on board and the speedboat was swung in. Two canoes were circling, begging. Major Gonzales tossed a fifty-cent piece to each of them and the stripped men dived. The twin diesels awoke to a stuttering roar and the Chriscraft settled her stern down a fraction and made for the deep channel below the Titchfield hotel. By dawn she would be back in Havana. The fishermen and wharfingers ashore watched her go, and went on with their argument as to which of the filmstars holidaying in Jamaica this could have been.
Up on the broad veranda of Content the last rays of the sun glittered on the red 佛山桑拿一条龙酒店 stains. One of the doctor birds whirred over the balustrade and hovered close above Mrs Havelock’s heart, looking down. No, this was not for him. He flirted gaily off to his roosting-perch among the closing hibiscus.
There came the sound of someone in a small sports car making a racing change at the bend of the drive. If Mrs Havelock had been alive she would have been getting ready to say: “Judy, I’m always telling you not to do that on the corner. It scatters gravel all over the lawn and you know how it ruins Joshua’s lawn-mower.”
It was a month later. In London, October had begun with a week of brilliant Indian summer, and the noise of the mowers came up from Regent’s Park and in through the wide open windows of M’s office. They were motor-mowers and James Bond reflected that one of the most beautiful noises of summer, the drowsy iron song of the old machines, was going for ever from the world. Perhaps today children felt the same about the puff and chatter of the little two-stroke engines. At least the cut grass 佛山桑拿哪里最好 would smell the same.
Bond had time for these reflections because M seemed to be having difficulty in coming to the point. Bond had been asked if he had anything on at the moment, and he had replied happily that he hadn’t and had waited for Pandora’s box to be opened for him. He was mildly intrigued because M had addressed him as James and not by his number – 007. This was unusual during 佛山桑拿0757n duty hours. It sounded as if there might be some personal angle to this assignment – as if it might be put to him more as a request than as an order. And it seemed to Bond that there was an extra small cleft of worry between the frosty, damnably clear, grey eyes. And three minutes was certainly too long to spend getting a pipe going.
M swivelled his chair round square with the desk and flung the box of matches down so that it skidded across the red leather top towards Bond. Bond fielded it and skidded it politely back to the middle of the desk. M smiled briefly. He seemed to make up his mind. He said mildly: “James, has it ever occurred to you that every man in the fleet knows what to do except the commanding admiral?”
Bond frowned. He said: “It hadn’t occurred to me, sir. But I see what you mean. The rest only have to carry out orders. The admiral has to decide on the orders. I suppose it’s the same as saying that Supreme Command is the loneliest post there is.”
M jerked his pipe sideways. “Same sort of idea. Someone’s got to be tough. Someone’s got to decide in the end. If you send a havering signal to the Admiralty you deserve to be put on the beach. Some people are religious – pass the decision on to God.” M’s eyes were defensive. “I used to try that sometimes in the Service, but He always passed the buck back again – told me to get on and make up my own mind. Good for one, I suppose, but tough. Trouble is, very few people keep tough after about forty. They’ve been knocked about by life – had troubles, tragedies, illnesses. These things soften you up.” M looked sharply at Bond. “How’s your coefficient of toughness, James? You haven’t got to the dangerous age yet.”
Bond didn’t like personal questions. He didn’t know what to answer, nor what the truth was. He had not got a wife or children – had never suffered the tragedy of a personal loss. He had not had to stand up to blindness or a mortal disease. He had absolutely no idea how he would face these things that needed so much more toughness than he had ever had to show. He said hesitantly: “I suppose I can stand most things if I have to and if I think it’s right, sir. I mean” – he did not like using such words – “if the cause is – er – sort of just, sir.” He went on, feeling ashamed at himself for throwing the ball back at M: “Of course it’s not easy to know what is just and what isn’t. I suppose I assume that when I’m given an unpleasant job in the Service the cause is a just one.”
“Dammit,” M’s eyes glittered impatiently. “That’s just what I mean! You rely on me. You won’t take any damned responsibility yourself.” He thrust the stem of his pipe towards his chest. “I’m the one who has to do that. I’m the one who has to decide if a thing is right or not.” The anger died out of the eyes. The grim mouth bent sourly. He said gloomily: “Oh well, I suppose it’s what I’m paid for. Somebody’s got to drive the bloody train.” M put his pipe back in his mouth and drew on it deeply to relieve his feelings.
Now Bond felt sorry for M. He had never before heard M use as strong a word as ‘bloody’. Nor had M ever given a member of his staff any hint that he felt the weight of the burden he was carrying and had carried ever since he had thrown up the certain prospect of becoming Fifth Sea Lord in order to take over the Secret Service. M. had got himself a problem. Bond wondered what it was. It would not be concerned with danger. If M could get the odds more or less right he would risk anything, anywhere in the world. It would not be political. M did not give a damn for the susceptibilities of any Ministry and thought nothing of going behind their backs to get a personal ruling from the Prime Minister. It might be moral. It might be personal. Bond said: “Is there anything I can help over, sir?”
M looked briefly, thoughtfully at Bond, and then swivelled his chair so that he could look out of the window at the high summery clouds. He said abruptly: “Do you remember the Havelock case?”
“Only what I read in the papers, sir. Elderly couple in Jamaica. The daughter came home one night and found them full of bullets. There was some talk of gangsters from Havana. The housekeeper said three men had called in a car. She thought they might have been Cubans. It turned out the car had been stolen. A yacht had sailed from the local harbour that night. But as far as I remember the police didn’t get anywhere. That’s all, sir. I haven’t seen any signals passing on the case.”
M said gruffly: “You wouldn’t have. They’ve been personal to me. We weren’t asked to handle the case. Just happens,” M cleared his throat: this private use of the Service was on his conscience, “I knew the Havelocks. Matter of fact I was best man at their wedding. Malta. Nineteen-twenty-five.”
“I see, sir. That’s bad.”
M said shortly: “Nice people. Anyway, I told Station C to look into it. They didn’t get anywhere with the Batista people, but we’ve got a good man with the other side – with this chap Castro. And Castro’s Intelligence people seem to have the Government pretty well penetrated. I got the whole story a couple of weeks ago. It boils down to the fact that a man called Hammerstein, or von Hammerstein, had the couple killed. There are a lot of Germans well dug in in these banana republics. They’re Nazis who got out of the net at the end of the War. This one’s ex-Gestapo. He got a job as head of Batista’s Counter Intelligence. Made a packet of money out of extortion and blackmail and protection. He was set up for life until Castro’s lot began to make headway. He was one of the first to start easing himself out. He cut one of his officers in on his loot, a man called Gonzales, and this man travelled around the Caribbean with a couple of gunmen to protect him and began salting away Hammerstein’s money outside Cuba – put it in real estate and suchlike under nominees. Only bought the best, but at top prices. Hammerstein could afford them. When money didn’t work he’d use force – kidnap a child, burn down a few acres, anything to make the owner see reason. Well, this man Hammerstein heard of the Havelocks’ property, one of the best in Jamaica, and he told Gonzales to go and get it. I suppose his orders were to kill the Havelocks if they wouldn’t sell and then put pressure on the daughter. There’s a daughter, by the way. Should be about twenty-five by now. Never seen her myself. Anyway, that’s what happened. They killed the Havelocks. Then two weeks ago Batista sacked Hammerstein. May have got to hear about one of these jobs. I don’t know. But, anyway, Hammerstein cleared out and took his little team of three with him. Timed things pretty well, I should say. It looks as if Castro may get in this winter if he keeps the pressure up.”
Bond said softly: “Where have they gone to?”
“America. Right up in the North of Vermont. Up against the Canadian border. Those sort of men like being close to frontiers. Place called Echo Lake. It’s some kind of a millionaire’s ranch he’s rented. Looks pretty from the photographs. Tucked away in the mountains with this little lake in the grounds. He’s certainly chosen himself somewhere where he won’t be troubled with visitors.”
“How did you get on to this, sir?”
“I sent a report of the whole case to Edgar Hoover. He knew of the man. I guessed he would. He’s had a lot of trouble with this gun-running from Miami to Castro. And he’s been interested in Havana ever since the big American gangster money started following the casinos there. He said that Hammerstein and his party had come into the States on six months visitors’ visas. He was very helpful. Wanted to know if I’d got enough to build up a case on. Did I want these men extradited for trial in Jamaica? I talked it over here with the Attorney General and he said there wasn’t a hope unless we could get the witnesses from Havana. There’s no chance of that. It was only through Castro’s Intelligence that we even know as much as we do. Officially the Cubans won’t raise a finger. Next, Hoover offered to have their visas revoked and get them on the move again. I thanked him and said no, and we left it at that.”
M sat for a moment in silence. His pipe had died and he relit it. He went on: “I decided to have a talk with our friends the Mounties. I got on to the Commissioner on the scrambler. He’s never let me down yet. He strayed one of his frontier patrol planes over the border and took a full aerial survey of this Echo Lake place. Said that if I wanted any other co-operation he’d provide it. And now,” M slowly swivelled his chair back square with the desk, “I’ve got to decide what to do next.”
Now Bond realised why M was troubled, why he wanted someone else to make the decision. Because these had been friends of M. Because a personal element was involved, M had worked on the case by himself. And now it had come to the point when justice ought to be done and these people brought to book. But M was thinking: is this justice, or is it revenge? No judge would take a murder case in which he had personally known the murdered person. M wanted someone else, Bond, to deliver judgement. There were no doubts in Bond’s mind. He didn’t know the Havelocks or care who they were. Hammerstein had operated the law of the jungle on two defenceless old people. Since no other law was available, the law of the jungle should be visited upon Hammerstein. In no other way could justice be done. If it was revenge, it was the revenge of the community.
Bond said: “I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute, sir. If foreign gangsters find they can get away with this kind of thing they’ll decide the English are as soft as some other people seem to think we are. This is a case for rough justice – an eye for an eye.”
M went on looking at Bond. He gave no encouragement, made no comment.
Bond said: “These people can’t be hung, sir. But they ought to be killed.”
M’s eyes ceased to focus on Bond. For a moment they were blank, looking inward. Then he slowly reached for the top drawer of his desk on the left-hand side, pulled it open and extracted a thin file without the usual title across it and without the top-secret red star. He placed the file squarely in front of him and his hand rummaged again in the open drawer. The hand brought out a rubber stamp and a red-ink pad. M opened the pad, tamped the rubber stamp on it and then carefully, so that it was properly aligned with the top right-hand corner of the docket, pressed it down on the grey cover.
M replaced the stamp and the ink pad in the drawer and closed the drawer. He turned the docket round and pushed it gently across the desk to Bond.
The red sansserif letters, still damp, said: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.
Bond said nothing. He nodded and picked up the docket and walked out of the room.
Two days later, Bond took the Friday Comet to Montreal. He did not care for it. It flew too high and too fast and there were too many passengers. He regretted the days of the old Stratocruiser – that fine lumbering old plane that took ten hours to cross the Atlantic. Then one had been able to have dinner in peace, sleep for seven hours in a comfortable bunk, and get up in time to wander down to the lower deck and have that ridiculous BOAC ‘country house’ breakfast while the dawn came up and flooded the cabin with the first bright gold of the Western hemisphere. Now it was all too quick. The stewards had to serve everything almost at the double, and then one had a bare two hours snooze before the hundred-mile-long descent from forty thousand feet. Only eight hours after leaving London, Bond was driving a Hertz U-drive Plymouth saloon along the broad Route 17 from Montreal to Ottawa and trying to remember to keep on the right of the road.
The Headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are in the Department of Justice alongside Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Like most Canadian public buildings, the Department of Justice is a massive block of grey masonry built to look stodgily important and to withstand the long and hard winters. Bond had been told to ask at the front desk for the Commissioner and to give his name as ‘Mr James’. He did so, and a young fresh-faced RCMP corporal, who looked as if he did not like being kept indoors on a warm sunny day, took him up in the lift to the third floor and handed him over to a sergeant in a large tidy office which contained two girl secretaries and a lot of heavy furniture. The sergeant spoke on an intercom and there was a ten minutes’ delay during which Bond smoked and read a recruiting pamphlet which made the Mounties sound like a mixture between a dude ranch, Dick Tracy and Rose Marie. When he was shown in through the connecting door a tall youngish man in a dark blue suit, white shirt and black tie turned away from the window and came towards him. “Mr James?” the man smiled thinly. “I’m Colonel, let’s say – er – Johns.”
They shook hands. “Come along and sit down. The Commissioner’s very sorry not to be here to welcome you himself. He has a bad cold – you know, one of those diplomatic ones.” Colonel ‘Johns’ looked amused. “Thought it might be best to take the day off. I’m just one of the help. I’ve been on one or two hunting trips myself and the Commissioner fixed on me to handle this little holiday of yours,” the Colonel paused, “on me only. Right?”
Bond smiled. The Commissioner was glad to help but he was going to handle this with kid gloves. There would be no come-back on his office. Bond thought he must be a careful and very sensible man. He said: “I quite understand. My friends in London didn’t want the Commissioner to bother himself personally with any of this. And I haven’t seen the Commissioner or been anywhere near his headquarters. That being so, can we talk English for ten minutes or so – just between the two of us?”
Colonel Johns laughed. “Sure. I was told to make that little speech and then get down to business. You understand, Commander, that you and I are about to connive at various felonies, starting with obtaining a Canadian hunting licence under false pretences and being an accessory to a breach of the frontier laws, and going on down from there to more serious things. It wouldn’t do anyone one bit of good to have any ricochets from this little lot. Get me?”
“That’s how my friends feel too. When I go out of here, we’ll forget each other, and if I end up in Sing-Sing that’s my worry. Well, now?”
Colonel Johns opened a drawer in the desk and took out a bulging file and opened it. The top document was a list. He put his pencil on the first item and looked across at Bond. He ran his eye over Bond’s old black and white hound’s-tooth tweed suit and white shirt and thin black tie. He said: “Clothes.” He unclipped a plain sheet of paper from the file and slid it across the desk. “This is a list of what I reckon you’ll need and the address of a big second-hand clothing store here in the city. Nothing fancy, nothing conspicuous – khaki shirt, dark brown jeans, good climbing boots or shoes. See they’re comfortable. And there’s the address of a chemist for walnut stain. Buy a gallon and give yourself a bath in the stuff. There are plenty of browns in the hills at this time and you won’t want to be wearing parachute cloth or anything that smells of camouflage. Right? If you’re picked up, you’re an Englishman on a hunting trip in Canada who’s lost his way and got across the border by mistake. Rifle. Went down myself and put it in the boot of your Plymouth while you were waiting. One of the new Savage 99Fs, Weatherby 6 × 62 ‘scope, five-shot repeater with twenty rounds of high-velocity .250-3.000. Lightest big game lever action on the market. Only six and a half pounds. Belongs to a friend. Glad to have it back one day, but he won’t miss it if it doesn’t turn up. It’s been tested and it’s okay up to five hundred. Gun licence,” Colonel Johns slid it over, “issued here in the city in your real name as that fits with your passport. Hunting licence ditto, but small game only, vermin, as it isn’t quite the deer season yet, also driving licence to replace the provisional one I had waiting for you with the Hertz people. Haversack, compass – used ones, in the boot of your car. Oh, by the way,” Colonel Johns looked up from his list, “you carrying a personal gun?”
“Yes. Walther PPK in a Burns Martin holster.”
“Right, give me the number. I’ve got a blank licence here. If that gets back to me it’s quite okay. I’ve got a story for it.”
Bond took out his gun and read off the number. Colonel Johns filled in the form and pushed it over.
“Now then, maps. Here’s a local Esso map that’s all you need to get you to the area.” Colonel Johns got up and walked round with the map to Bond and spread it out. “You take this route 17 back to Montreal, get on to 37 over the bridge at St Anne’s and then over the river again on to 7. Follow 7 on down to Pike River. Get on 52 at Stanbridge. Turn right in Stanbridge for Frelighsburg and leave the car in a garage there. Good roads all the way. Whole trip shouldn’t take you more than five hours including stops. Okay? Now this is where you’ve got to get things right. Make it that you get to Frelighsburg around three a.m. Garage-hand’ll be half asleep and you’ll be able to get the gear out of the boot and move off without him noticing even if you were a double-headed Chinaman.” Colonel Johns went back to his chair and took two more pieces of paper off the file. The first was a scrap of pencilled map, the other a section of aerial photograph. He said, looking seriously at Bond: “Now, here are the only inflammable things you’ll be carrying and I’ve got to rely on you getting rid of them just as soon as they’ve been used, or at once if there’s a chance of you getting into trouble. This,” he pushed the paper over, “is a rough sketch of an old smuggling route from Prohibition days. It’s not used now or I wouldn’t recommend it.” Colonel Johns smiled sourly. “You might find some rough customers coming over in the opposite direction, and they’re apt to shoot and not even ask questions afterwards – crooks, druggers, white-slavers – but nowadays they mostly travel up by Viscount. This route was used for runners between Franklin, just over the Derby Line, and Frelighsburg. You follow this path through the foothills, and you detour Franklin and get into the start of the Green Mountains. There it’s all Vermont spruce and pine with a bit of maple, and you can stay inside that stuff for months and not see a soul. You get across country here, over a couple of highways, and you leave Enosburg Falls to the west. Then you’re over a steep range and down into the top of the valley you want. The cross is Echo Lake and, judging from the photographs, I’d be inclined to come down on top of it from the east. Got it?”
“What’s the distance? About ten miles?”
“Ten and a half. Take you about three hours from Frelighsburg if you don’t lose your way, so you’ll be in sight of the place around six and have about an hour’s light to help you over the last stretch.” Colonel Johns pushed over the square of aerial photograph. It was a central cut from the one Bond had seen in London. It showed a long low range of well-kept buildings made of cut stone. The roofs were of slate, and there was a glimpse of graceful bow windows and a covered patio. A dust road ran past the front door and on this side were garages and what appeared to be kennels. On the garden side was a stone flagged terrace with a flowered border, and beyond this two or three acres of trim lawn stretched down to the edge of the small lake. The lake appeared to have been artificially created with a deep stone dam. There was a group of wrought-iron garden furniture where the dam wall left the bank and, halfway along the wall, a diving-board and a ladder to climb out of the lake. Beyond the lake the forest rose steeply up. It was from this side that Colonel Johns suggested an approach. There were no people in the photograph, but on the stone flags in front of the patio was a quantity of expensive-looking aluminium garden furniture and a central glass table with drinks. Bond remembered that the larger photograph had shown a tennis court in the garden and on the other side of the road the trim white fences and grazing horses of a stud farm. Echo Lake looked what it was – the luxurious retreat, in deep country, well away from atom bomb targets, of a millionaire who liked privacy and could probably offset a lot of his running expenses against the stud farm and an occasional good let. It would be an admirable refuge for a man who had had ten steamy years of Caribbean politics and who needed a rest to recharge his batteries. The lake was also convenient for washing blood off hands.
Colonel Johns closed his now empty file and tore the typewritten list into small fragments and dropped them in the wastepaper basket. The two men got to their feet. Colonel Johns took Bond to the door and held out his hand. He said: “Well, I guess that’s all. I’d give a lot to come with you. Talking about all this has reminded me of one or two sniping jobs at the end of the War. I was in the Army then. We were under Monty in Eighth Corps. On the left of the line in the Ardennes. It was much the same sort of country as you’ll be using, only different trees. But you know how it is in these police jobs. Plenty of paper work and keep your nose clean for the pension. Well, so long and the best of luck. No doubt I’ll read all about it in the papers,” he smiled, “whichever way it goes.”
Bond thanked him and shook him by the hand. A last question occurred to him. He said: “By the way, is the Savage single pull or double? I won’t have a chance of finding out and there may not be much time for experimenting when the target shows.”
“Single pull and it’s a hair-trigger. Keep your finger off until you’re sure you’ve got him. And keep outside three hundred if you can. I guess these men are pretty good themselves. Don’t get too close.” He reached for the door handle. His other hand went to Bond’s shoulder. “Our Commissioner’s got a motto: ‘Never send a man where you can send a bullet.’ You might remember that. So long, Commander.”
Bond spent the night and most of the next day at the KO-ZEE Motor Court outside Montreal. He paid in advance for three nights. He passed the day looking to his equipment and wearing in the soft ripple rubber climbing boots he had bought in Ottawa. He bought glucose tablets and some smoked ham and bread from which he made himself sandwiches. He also bought a large aluminium flask and filled this with three-quarters Bourbon and a quarter coffee. When darkness came he had dinner and a short sleep and then diluted the walnut stain and washed himself all over with the stuff even to the roots of his hair. He came out looking like a Red Indian with blue-grey eyes. Just before midnight he quietly opened the side door into the automobile bay, got into the Plymouth and drove off on the last lap south to Frelighsburg.
The man at the all-night garage was not as sleepy as Colonel Johns had said he would be.
“Goin’ huntin’, mister?”
You can get far in North America with laconic grunts. Huh, hun and hi! in their various modulations, together with sure, guess so, that so? and nuts! will meet almost any contingency.
Bond, slinging the strap of his rifle over his shoulder, said “Hun.”
“Man got a fine beaver over by Highgate Springs Saturday.”
Bond said indifferently “That so?”, paid for two nights and walked out of the garage. He had stopped on the far side of the town, and now he only had to follow the highway for a hundred yards before he found the dirt track running off into the woods on his right. After half an hour the track petered out at a broken-down farmhouse. A chained dog set up a frenzied barking, but no light showed in the farmhouse and Bond skirted it and at once found the path by the stream. He was to follow this for three miles. He lengthened his stride to get away from the dog. When the barking stopped there was silence, the deep velvet silence of woods on a still night. It was a warm night with a full yellow moon that threw enough light down through the thick spruce for Bond to follow the path without difficulty. The springy, cushioned soles of the climbing boots were wonderful to walk on, and Bond got his second wind and knew he was making good time. At around four o’clock the trees began to thin and he was soon walking through open fields with the scattered lights of Franklin on his right. He crossed a secondary, tarred road, and now there was a wider track through the woods and on his right the pale glitter of a lake. By five o’clock he had crossed the black rivers of US highways 108 and 120. On the latter was a sign saying ENOSBURG FALLS 1 MI. Now he was on the last lap – a small hunting trail that climbed steeply. Well away from the highway, he stopped and shifted his rifle and knapsack round, had a cigarette and burned the sketch-map. Already there was a faint paling in the sky and small noises in the forest – the harsh, melancholy cry of a bird he did not know and the rustlings of small animals. Bond visualised the house deep down in the little valley on the other side of the mountain ahead of him. He saw the blank curtained windows, the crumpled sleeping faces of the four men,佛山夜生活无忧 the dew on the lawn and the widening rings of the early rise on the gunmetal surface of the lake. And here, on the other side of the mountain, was the executioner coming up through the trees. Bond closed his mind to the picture, trod the remains of his cigarette into the ground and got going.
Was this a hill or a mountain? At what height does a hill become a mountain? Why don’t they manufacture something out of the silver bark of birch trees? It looks so useful and valuable. The best things in America are chipmunks, and oyster stew. In the evening darkness doesn’t really fall, it rises. When you sit on top of a mountain and watch the sun go down behind the mountain opposite, the darkness rises up to you out of the valley. Will the birds one day lose their fear of man? It must be centuries since man has killed a small bird for 佛山桑拿上门服务电话 food in these woods, yet they are still afraid. Who was this Ethan Allen who commanded the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont? Now, in American motels, they advertise Ethan Allen furniture as an attraction. Why? Did he make furniture? Army boots should have rubber soles like these.
With these and other random thoughts Bond steadily climbed upwards and obstinately pushed away from him the thought of the four faces asleep on the white pillows.
The round peak was below the tree-line and Bond could see nothing of the valley below. He rested and then chose an oak tree, and climbed up and out along a thick bough. Now he could see everything – the endless vista of the Green Mountains stretching in every direction as far as he could see, away to the east the golden ball of the sun just coming up in glory, and below, two thousand feet 佛山桑拿论坛网 down a long easy slope of treetops broken once by a wide band of meadow, through a thin veil of mist, the lake, the lawns and the house.
Bond lay along the branch and watched the band of pale early morning sunshine creeping down into the valley. It took a quarter of an hour to reach the lake, and then seemed to flood at once over the glittering lawn and over the wet slate tiles of the roofs. Then the mist went quickly from the lake and the target area, washed and bright and new, lay waiting like an empty stage.
Bond slipped the telescopic sight out of his pocket and went over the scene inch by inch. Then he examined the sloping ground below him and estimated ranges. From the edge of the meadow, which would be his only open field of fire unless he went down through the last belt of trees to the edge of the lake, it would be about 佛山桑拿蒲友 five hundred yards to the terrace and the patio, and about
three hundred to the diving-board and the edge of the lake. What did these people do with their time? What was their routine? Did they ever bathe? It was still warm enough. Well, there was all day. If by the end of it they had not come down to the lake, he would just have to take his chance at the patio and five hundred yards. But it would not be a good chance with a strange rifle. Ought he to get on down straight away to the edge of the meadow? It was a wide meadow, perhaps five hundred yards of going without cover. It would be as well to get that behind him before the house awoke. What time did these people get up in the morning?
As if to answer him, a white blind rolled up in one of the smaller windows to the left of the main block. Bond could distinctly hear the final snap of the spring roller. Echo Lake! Of course. Did the echo work both ways? Would he have to be careful of breaking branches and twigs? Probably not. The sounds in the valley would bounce upwards off the surface of the water. But there must be no chances taken.
A thin column of smoke began to trickle up straight into the air from one of the left-hand chimneys. Bond thought of the bacon and eggs that would soon be frying. And the hot coffee. He eased himself back along the branch and down to the ground. He would have something to eat, smoke his last safe cigarette and get on down to the firing point.
The bread stuck in Bond’s throat. Tension was building up in him. In his imagination he could already hear the deep bark of the Savage. He could see the black bullet lazily, like a slow flying bee, homing down into the valley towards a square of pink skin. There was a light smack as it hit. The skin dented, broke and then closed up again leaving a small hole with bruised edges. The bullet ploughed on, unhurriedly, towards the pulsing heart – the tissues, the bloodvessels, parting obediently to let it through. Who was this man he was going to do this to? What had he ever done to Bond? Bond looked thoughtfully down at his trigger finger. He crooked it slowly, feeling in his imagination the cool curve of metal. Almost automatically, his left hand reached out for the flask. He held it to his lips and tilted his head back. The coffee and whisky burned a small fire down his throat. He put the top back on the flask and waited for the warmth of the whisky to reach his stomach. Then he got slowly to his feet, stretched and yawned deeply and picked up the rifle and slung it over his shoulder. He looked round carefully to mark the place when he came back up the hill and started slowly off down through the trees.
Now there was no trail and he had to pick his way slowly, watching the ground for dead branches. The trees were more mixed. Among the spruce and silver birch there was an occasional oak and beech and sycamore and, here and there, the blazing Bengal fire of a maple in autumn dress. Under the trees was a sparse undergrowth of their saplings and much dead wood from old hurricanes. Bond went carefully down, his feet making little sound among the leaves and moss-covered rocks, but soon the forest was aware of him and began to pass on the news. A large doe, with two Bambi-like young, saw him first and galloped off with an appalling clatter. A brilliant woodpecker with a scarlet head flew down ahead of him, screeching each time Bond caught up with it, and always there were the chipmunks, craning up on their hind feet, lifting their small muzzles from their teeth as they tried to catch his scent, and then scampering off to their rock holes with chatterings that seemed to fill the woods with fright. Bond willed them to have no fear, that the gun he carried was not meant for them, but with each alarm he wondered if, when he got to the edge of the meadow, he would see down on the lawn a man with glasses who had been watching the frightened birds fleeing the treetops.
But when he stopped behind a last broad oak and looked down across the long meadow to the final belt of trees and the lake and the house, nothing had changed. All the other blinds were still down and the only movement was the thin plume of smoke.
It was eight o’clock. Bond gazed down across the meadow to the trees, looking for one which would suit his purpose. He found it – a big maple, blazing with russet and crimson. This would be right for his clothes, its trunk was thick enough and it stood slightly back from the wall of spruce. From there, standing, he would be able to see all he needed of the lake and the house. Bond stood for a while, plotting his route down through the thick grass and golden-rod of the meadow. He would have to do it on his stomach, and slowly. A small breeze got up and combed the meadow. If only it would keep blowing and cover his passage!
Somewhere not far off, up to the left on the edge of the trees, a branch snapped. It snapped once decisively and there was no further noise. Bond dropped to one knee, his ears pricked and his senses questing. He stayed like that for a full ten minutes, a motionless brown shadow against the wide trunk of the oak.
Animals and birds do not break twigs. Dead wood must carry a special danger signal for them. Birds never alight on twigs that will break under them, and even a large animal like a deer with antlers and four hooves to manipulate moves quite silently in a forest unless he is in flight. Had these people after all got guards out? Gently Bond eased the rifle off his shoulder and put his thumb on the safe. Perhaps, if the people were still sleeping, a single shot, from high up in the woods, would pass for a hunter or a poacher. But then, between him and approximately where the twig had snapped, two deer broke cover and cantered unhurriedly across the meadow to the left. It was true that they stopped twice to look back, but each time they cropped a few mouthfuls of grass before moving on and into the distant fringe of the lower woods. They showed no fright and no haste. It was certainly they who had been the cause of the snapped branch. Bond breathed a sigh. So much for that. And now to get on across the meadow.
A five-hundred-yard crawl through tall concealing grass is a long and wearisome business. It is hard on knees and hands and elbows, there is a vista of nothing but grass and flower stalks, and the dust and small insects get into your eyes and nose and down your neck. Bond focused on placing his hands right and maintaining a slow, even speed. The breeze had kept up and his wake through the grass would certainly not be noticeable from the house.
From above, it looked as if a big ground animal – a beaver perhaps, or a woodchuck – was on its way down the meadow. No, it would not be a beaver. They always move in pairs. And yet perhaps it might be a beaver – for now, from higher up on the meadow, something, somebody else had entered the tall grass, and behind and above Bond a second wake was being cut in the deep sea of grass. It looked as if whatever it was would slowly catch up on Bond and that the two wakes would converge just at the next tree-line.
Bond crawled and slithered steadily on, stopping only to wipe the sweat and dust off his face and, from time to time, to make sure that he was on course for the maple. But when he was close enough for the tree-line to hide him from the house, perhaps twenty feet from the maple, he stopped and lay for a while, massaging his knees and loosening his wrists for the last lap.
He had heard nothing to warn him, and when the soft threatening whisper came from only feet away in the thick grass on his left, his head swivelled so sharply that the vertebrae of his neck made a cracking sound.
“Move an inch and I’ll kill you.” It had been a girl’s voice, but a voice that fiercely meant what it said.
Bond, his heart thumping, stared up the shaft of the steel arrow whose blue-tempered triangular tip parted the grass stalks perhaps eighteen inches from his head.
The bow was held sideways, flat in the grass. The knuckles of the brown fingers that held the binding of the bow below the arrow-tip were white. Then there was the length of glinting steel and, behind the metal feathers, partly obscured by waving strands of grass, were grimly clamped lips below two fierce grey eyes against a background of sunburned skin damp with sweat. That was all Bond could make out through the grass. Who the hell was this? One of the guards? Bond gathered saliva back into his dry mouth and began slowly to edge his right hand, his out-of-sight hand, round and up towards his waistband and his gun. He said softly: “Who the hell are you?”
The arrow-tip gestured threateningly. “Stop that right hand or I’ll put this through your shoulder. Are you one of the guards?”
“No. Are you?”