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Vallance started pacing to and fro again. But that's got to be faced.

Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming, from Project Gutenberg Canada

And then the idea is for you to make the rendezvous with Miss Case. I doubt if she even knows the man who contacted him. Cut-outs all along the line. Everybody does one job in a watertight compartment. Then, if there's a hole in the sock, it doesn't run. Height 5 ft 6 in. Been over here a dozen times in the last three years. May have been more often under a different name. Always stays at the Trafalgar Palace. The hotel detective says she doesn't seem to go out much. Never stays more than two weeks. Never gives any trouble. Don't forget that when you meet her you'll have to have a good story yourself.

Why you're doing the job and so on. The rest seemed to be up to him. Once he had got into the pipe it would just be a question of improvising. Then he remembered the jewellery firm. Seems a long shot. He goes to Paris a lot. Been going once a month for the last three years as a matter of fact. Probably got a girl there. Why not go along and have a look at the place and at him? You never can tell. And then get me the House of Diamonds on the telephone.

Gem merchants in Hatton Garden. Ask for Mr Saye. Vallance went and looked out of the window at the river. He took a cigarette lighter out of his waistcoat pocket and flicked at it absent-mindedly. There was a knock on the door and Vallance's staff secretary put his head in. The secretary held open the door and a nondescript man in plain-clothes came in.

His hair was thinning, he wore spectacles and his complexion was pale. His expression was kindly and studious. He might have been any senior clerk in any business. He will be 'Sergeant James' of your staff. You think the diamonds from that Ascot job are on their way out to the Argentine through America. You will say-so to Mr Saye, the top man there. You will wonder if it is possible that Mr Saye has heard any talk from the other side. His New York office may have heard something.

You know, all very nice and polite. But just look him in the eye. Put as much pressure on as you can without giving any grounds for complaint. Then apologize and leave and forget all about it. He stood waiting just inside the door. The Sergeant came and stood close up to Bond and politely turned him towards the light.

Two very keen dark eyes examined his face minutely for a full minute. Then the man stepped away. But the rest's all right. Who is he to be, Sir? Shall I go ahead? Then, for ten minutes, his light fingers busied themselves over Bond's face and hair. Bond resigned himself and listened to Vallance talking to the House of Diamonds. In that case would you please tell Mr Saye that two of my men will be calling on him at 3. Yes, I'm afraid it is rather important. Only a formality of course.

I don't expect it will take up more than ten minutes of Mr Saye's time. Thank you so much. That's right Scotland Yard. Vallance put back the receiver and turned towards Bond. I suggest you get there at 3. Never does any harm to have a look round first. Always useful to get your man a bit off balance. A touch of white at the temples. A hint of studiousness at the corners of the eyes and mouth. The faintest shadows under the cheekbones. Nothing you could put your finger on, but it all added up to someone who certainly wasn't James Bond. In the patrol car Sergeant Dankwaerts was occupied with his thoughts, and they drove in silence along the Strand and up Chancery Lane and into Holborn.

At Gamages they turned left into Hatton Garden and the car drew up near the neat white portals of the London Diamond Club. Bond followed his companion across the pavement to a smart door in the centre of which was a well polished brass plate on which was engraved 'The House of Diamonds'. And underneath 'Rufus B. Sergeant Dankwaerts rang the bell and a smart Jewish girl opened the door and led them across a thickly carpeted entrance hall into a panelled waiting-room. The waiting-room was luxurious and, thanks to an unseasonable log-fire in the Adam fireplace, tropically hot.

In the centre of the close-fitted dark red carpet there was a circular Sheraton rosewood table and six matching armchairs that Bond guessed were worth at least a thousand pounds. On the table were the latest magazines and several copies of the Kimberley Diamond News.

Dankwaerts's eyes lit up when he saw these and he sat down and started to turn over the pages of the June issue. On each of the four walls was a large flower painting in a golden frame. Something almost three dimensional about these paintings caught Bond's attention and he walked over to examine one of them.

It was not a painting, but a stylized arrangement of freshly cut flowers set behind glass in niches lined with copper-coloured velvet. The others were the same, and the four Waterford vases in which the flowers stood were a perfect set. The room was very quiet except for the hypnotic tick of a large sunburst wall-clock and the soft murmur of voices from behind a door opposite the entrance. There was a click and the door opened a few inches and a voice with a thick foreign intonation expostulated volubly: Vee must all make a liffing, yes?

I am telling you this vonderful stone gost me ten tousant pounts. You ton't pelieff me? Bud I svear it. On my vort of honour. I bet you fife pounts! There was the sound of laughter. Be glad to help you, but that stone isn't worth more than nine thousand, and I'll give you a hundred on top of that for yourself. Now you go along and think about it. You won't get a better offer in The Street.

The door opened and a stage American businessman with pince-nez and a tightly buttoned mouth ushered out a small harassed-looking Jew with a large red rose in his buttonhole. They looked startled at finding the waiting-room occupied and, with a muttered "Pardon me" to no one in particular, the American almost ran his companion across the room and out into the hall. The door closed behind them.

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Dankwaerts looked up at Bond and winked. I suppose the other man was Saye's buyer. Suddenly the rich, carpeted, ticking silence of the room struck like a cuckoo clock. Simultaneously, a log fell in the grate, the sunburst clock on the wall chimed the half hour, the door was thrust open and a big, dark man took two quick steps in the room and stood looking sharply from one to the other. The door was open behind him.

Sergeant Dankwaerts rose to his feet and walked politely but firmly round the man and closed it. Then he returned to the middle of the room. I am making a routine inquiry about some stolen diamonds. It occurred to the Assistant Commissioner," the voice was of velvet, "that you might be able to help us. He looked contemptuously from one to the other of these two underpaid flatfeet who had the effrontery to be taking up his time.

While Sergeant Dankwaerts, in tones which to a law-breaker would have sounded menacingly level, and consulting from time to time a small black note-book, recited a story studded with 'on the 16th instant's' and 'it came to our knowledge's', Bond made an unconcealed examination of Mr Saye which appeared to perturb Mr Saye no more than the undertones of Sergeant Dankwaerts's recitation. Mr Saye was a large, compact man with the hardness of a chunk of quartz.

He had a very square face whose sharp angles were accentuated by short, wiry black hair, cut en brosse and without side-whiskers. His eyebrows were black and straight, and tucked in below them there were two extremely sharp and steady black eyes. He was clean-shaven and his lips were a thin and rather wide straight line. The square chin was deeply cleft and the muscles bulged at the points of the jaw.

He was dressed in a roomy, black, single-breasted suit, a white shirt and an almost bootlace-thin black tie, held in place by a gold tie-clip representing a spear. His long arms hung relaxed at his sides and terminated in two very large hands, now slightly curled inwards, whose backs showed black hair. His big feet, in expensive black shoes, looked to be about size Bond summed him up as a tough and capable man who had triumphed in a variety of hard schools and who looked as if he was still serving in one of them.

He referred to his black book. Two Fine Blue-whites of about 10 carats each. One 30 carat Yellow Premier. One 15 carat Top Cape and two 15 carat Cape Unions. Then he looked up from his book and very sharply into Mr Saye's hard black eyes. Without bothering any further with them he walked decisively out of the room and they heard his footsteps go rapidly up a few stairs. A door opened and banged shut and there was silence.

Undismayed, Sergeant Dankwaerts slipped his note-book into his waistcoat pocket, picked up his hat and walked out into the hall and then out into the street. They climbed into the patrol car and Bond gave the address of his flat off the King's Road. When the car was moving, Sergeant Dankwaerts relaxed his official face. He turned to Bond. Did you get what you wanted, Sir? Bond shrugged his shoulders. But I was glad to get a good look at Mr Rufus B. Doesn't look much like my idea of a diamond merchant. Bond felt the liftman watching him as he walked down the long, quiet corridor to the end room, Room He knew there was more petty crime in this hotel than in any other large hotel in London.

Vallance had once shown him the big monthly crime map of London. He had pointed to the forest of little flags round the Trafalgar Palace. As Bond neared the end of the corridor he could hear a piano swinging a rather sad tune. At the door of he knew the music came from behind it. He recognized the tune.

It was Feuilles Mortes. Bond did as he was told and walked across the middle of the room until he was opposite the open bedroom door. As he passed the portable long-player on the writing desk the pianist began on La Ronde. She was sitting, half naked, astride a chair in front of the dressing-table, gazing across the back of the chair into the triple mirror.

Her bare arms were folded along the tall back of the chair and her chin was resting on her arms. Her spine was arched, and there was arrogance in the set of her head and shoulders. The girl raised her eyes from looking at her face and inspected him in the mirror, briefly and coolly. Best light record ever made. He obediently took the few steps to a deep armchair, moved it a little so that he could still see her through the doorway, and sat down.

Miss Case resumed the silent contemplation of her face in the mirror while the pianist played J'attendrai. Then it was the end of the record. Indifferently she flexed her hips back off the chair and stood up. She half turned her head and the blonde hair that fell heavily to the base of her neck curved with the movement and caught the light. Bond walked over to the gramophone and picked up the record. It was George Feyer with rhythm accompaniment. He looked at the number and memorized it. It was Vox He examined the other side and, skipping La Vie en Rose because it had memories for him, put the needle down at the beginning of Avril au Portugal.

Before he left the gramophone he pulled the blotter softly from under it and held it up to the standard lamp beside the writing-desk. He held it sideways under the light and glanced along it. He shrugged his shoulders and slipped it back under the machine and walked back to his chair. He thought that the music was appropriate to the girl. All the tunes seemed to belong to her. No wonder it was her favourite record.

It had her brazen sexiness, the rough tang of her manner and the poignancy that had been in her eyes as they had looked moodily back at him out of the mirror. Bond had had no picture in his mind of the Miss Case who was to shadow him to America. He had taken for granted that it would be some tough, well-used slattern with dead eyes--a hard, sullen woman who had 'gone the route' and whose body was no longer of any interest to the gang she worked for.

This girl was tough all right, tough of manner, but whatever might be the history of her body, the skin had shone with life under the light. What was her first name? Bond got up again and walked over to the gramophone. There was a Pan-American Airways label attached to the grip. It said Miss T. Bond walked back to his chair.

None of them seemed to fit. Surely not Trixie, or Tony or Tommy. He was still playing with the problem when she appeared quietly in the doorway to the bedroom and stood with one elbow resting high up against the door-jamb and her head bent sideways on to her hand. She looked down at him reflectively. She was dressed to go out except for her hat, a small black affair that swung from her free hand. She wore a smart black tailor-made over a deep olive-green shirt buttoned at the neck, golden-tan nylons and black, square-toed crocodile shoes that looked very expensive.

There was a slim gold wrist-watch on a black strap at one wrist and a heavy gold chain bracelet at the other. One large baguette-cut diamond flared on the third finger of her right hand and a flat pearl ear-ring in twisted gold showed on her right ear where the heavy pale gold hair fell away from it. She was very beautiful in a devil-may-care way, as if she kept her looks for herself and didn't mind what men thought of them, and there was an ironical tilt to the finely drawn eyebrows above the wide, level, rather scornful grey eyes that seemed to say,.

The eyes themselves had the rare quality of chatoyance. When jewels have chatoyance the colour in the lustre changes with movement in the light, and the colour of this girl's eyes seemed to vary between a light grey and a deep grey-blue. Her skin was lightly tanned and without make-up except for a deep red on the lips, which were full and soft and rather moody so as to give the effect of what is called 'a sinful mouth'. But not, thought Bond, one that often sinned--if one was to judge by the level eyes and the hint of authority and tension behind them.

She thought for a moment. Bond shrugged his shoulders and moved over to the window-sill and leant easily against it with his ankles crossed. His nonchalance seemed to irritate her. She sat down in front of the writing-desk. In the first place, why did you take on this job? Well, have you got any hobbies or anything? Any ideas about where you're going to carry the stones? But I thought the handles of trunks and suitcases were good places for this sort of stuff. She sat silent for a moment, reflecting. Then she pulled a piece of paper and a pencil towards her.

Can you get an American visa in two days? And a vaccination certificate? Q Branch would fix all that. Or at Criminal Records here, for the matter of that. Under Bond, that is. Immigration will need this. You're going over to the States to stay with a man called Tree. You'll be staying at the Astor in New York. He's an American friend of yours. You met him in the war. He'll back up your story.

But he's not generally known as Michael. He's known as 'Shady' Tree to his friends. If any," she added sourly. She opened a drawer in the desk and took out a packet of five-pound notes with a rubber band round it. She riffled them through and detached about half their number and put these back in the drawer. She rolled up the rest, snapped the rubber band round them and tossed the packet across the room to Bond. Bond leant forward and caught it near the floor.

Get a good used suitcase and put in it what you would take on a golfing holiday. Get your golf clubs. Keep out of sight. Get a single ticket first thing tomorrow morning. The Embassy won't give you a visa without seeing your ticket. Car will pick you up at the Ritz at 6. Driver will give you the golf balls.

Put 'em in your bag. And," she looked him straight in the eye, "don't think you can go into business for yourself with this stuff. The driver will stay alongside you until your luggage has gone out to the plane. And I'll be at London Airport. So no funny business.

And what happens the other end? He'll tell you what to do next. Now," her voice was urgent, "If anything happens at the customs, either end, you know nothing, see?

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You just don't know how the balls got into your bag. Whatever they ask you, just go on saying, 'By me'. I shall be watching. And maybe others too. That I wouldn't know. If they lock you up in America, ask for the British Consul and go on asking. You won't get any help from us. But that's what you're being paid for. Don't worry about me, my friend. I can look after myself. And I can take care of myself. Bond stood up and away from the window-sill. He smiled down and into the flashing grey eyes that were now dark with impatience.

I'll be a credit to you. But just relax and stop being so business-like for a minute. I'd like to see you again. Could we meet in New York if everything goes all right? He liked this girl. He wanted to make friends with her. But it would be a question of using friendship to get further up the pipeline. She looked thoughtfully at him for a moment and her eyes gradually lost their darkness. Her sharply compressed lips relaxed and parted a little. There was a hint of a stammer in her voice as she answered him. Guess we might have dinner. All the cab drivers know it.

If the job goes off okay. He thought it was time to get out before he made a mistake. With a movement of dismissal she walked towards the door. With her hand on the key she turned. She looked at him, and there was confidence and almost warmth in her eyes, "You'll be all right," she said. Don't panic if anything goes wrong. If you work out okay," the patronizing note came back to her voice, "I'll try and get you some more of the same sort of jobs. With a slight shrug of the shoulders, she opened the door and Bond walked out into the corridor.

He wanted to say more, to find an excuse to stay with her, with this lonely girl who played the gramophone and gazed at herself in the mirror. But now her expression was remote.

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He might have been a complete stranger. She looked at him once more and then she closed the door slowly but firmly in his face. As Bond walked away down the long corridor to the lift, the girl stood just inside the door and listened until his footsteps had vanished.

Then, with brooding eyes, she walked slowly over to the gramophone and switched it on. She picked up the Feyer record and searched for the groove she wanted. She put the record on the machine and found the place with the needle. The tune was Je n'en connais pas la fin. She stood listening to it and wondering about the man who had suddenly, out of the blue, found his way into her life. God, she thought to herself with sudden angry despair, another dam crook. Couldn't she ever get away from them?

But when the record stopped her face was happy, and she hummed the tune as she powdered her nose and got ready to go out. Out on the street she paused and looked at her watch. Ten minutes past six. Five minutes to go. She walked across Trafalgar Square to Charing Cross Station, arranging in her mind what she was going to say. Then she went into the station and into one of the call-boxes she always used. It was just 6.

After the usual two rings she heard the click of the automatic recorder taking the call. For twenty seconds she heard nothing but the sharp hiss of a needle on wax. Then the neutral voice that was her unknown master said the one word 'Speak'. And then there was silence again except for the hiss of the recorder. She had long got over being flustered by the abrupt, disembodied command. She spoke rapidly but distinctly into the black mouthpiece. Says real name is James Bond and will use that name on passport.

Plays golf and will carry golf clubs. All other arrangements stand. Will call for confirmation at and She listened for a moment to the hiss of the recorder; then she put down the receiver and walked back to her hotel. She called Room Service for a large dry Martini and when it came she sat and smoked and played the gramophone and waited for 7.


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Then, or perhaps not until she called back again at 8. And somewhere, in some rented room in London, the hiss of the recorder would stop as she put back the receiver. And then, perhaps, an unknown door would close and footsteps would softly sound on some stairs and out into an unknown street and away.

It was six o'clock on Thursday evening and Bond was packing his suitcase in his bedroom at the Ritz. It was a battered but once expensive pigskin Revelation and its contents were appropriate to his cover. Evening clothes; his lightweight black and white dog-tooth suit for the country and for golf; Saxone golf shoes; a companion to the dark blue, tropical worsted suit he was wearing, and some white silk and dark blue Sea Island cotton shirts with collars attached and short sleeves.

Socks and ties, some nylon underclothes, and two pairs of the long silk pyjama coats he wore in place of two-piece pyjamas. This had been prepared for him by Q Branch and there was a narrow compartment under the leather at the back which contained a silencer for his gun and thirty rounds of. He assumed it was the car, early at the rendezvous, but it was the hall porter saying that there was a representative of 'Universal Export' with a letter to be delivered personally to Bond.

A few minutes later he opened the door to a man in plain clothes whom he recognized as one of the messengers from the pool at Headquarters. He took a large plain envelope out of his breast pocket and handed it to Bond. There was a page of blue typewritten foolscap paper with no address and no signature.

Bond recognized the extra-large type used in M's personal communications. Washington [said the memorandum] reports that Rufus B. Saye is an alias for Jack Spang, a suspected gangster who was mentioned in the Kefauver Report but who has no criminal record. He is, however, twin brother to Seraffimo Spang and joint controller of the 'Spangled Mob' which operates widely in the United States.

The brothers Spang bought control of the House of Diamonds five years ago 'as an investment', and nothing unfavourable is known about this business, which appears to be perfectly legitimate. The brothers also own a 'wire service' which serves off-the-course bookmakers in Nevada and California, and is, therefore, illegal. The name of this is the Sure Fire Wire Service. They also own the Tiara Hotel in Las Vegas, and this is the headquarters of Seraffimo Spang and also, to benefit from the Nevada tax laws, the company offices of the House of Diamonds.

Washington adds that the Spangled Mob is interested in other illegal activities such as narcotics and organized prostitution, and these lines are handled from New York by Michael Shady Tree who has five previous convictions for various offences. The gang has branch headquarters in Miami, Detroit and Chicago.

Washington describes the Spangled Mob as one of the most powerful gangs in the United States with excellent protection in State and Federal governments and with the police. Our interest in these matters has not been divulged to Washington, but in the event that your inquiries lead you into dangerous contact with this gang, you will report at once and be withdrawn from the case which will then be handed over to the FBI. The return of this document in a sealed envelope will acknowledge your receipt of this order. There was no signature.

Bond ran his eyes down the page again, folded it, and placed it in one of the Ritz envelopes. He went to the door and opened it. The door closed quietly. Bond walked across the room to the window and looked out over Green Park. For a moment he had a clear vision of the spare, elderly figure sitting back in his chair in the quiet office. Give the case to the FBI? Bond knew M meant it, but he also knew how bitter it would be for M to have to ask Edgar Hoover to take a case over from the Secret Service and pick Britain's chestnuts out of the fire.

The operative words in the memorandum were 'dangerous contact'. What constituted 'dangerous contact' would be a matter for Bond to decide. Compared with some of the opposition he had been up against, these hoodlums surely wouldn't count for much. Bond suddenly remembered the chunky, quartz-like face of Rufus B.

Well, at any rate it could do no harm to try and get a look at this brother with the exotic name. The name of a night-club waiter or an ice-cream vendor. But these people were like that. He glanced at his watch. He looked round the room. On an impulse, he put his right hand under his coat and drew the. It was the new gun M had given him 'as a memento' after his last assignment, with a note in M's green ink that had said, You may need this. Bond walked over to the bed, snapped out the magazine, and pumped the single round in the chamber out on to the bedspread.

He worked the action several times and sensed the tension on the trigger spring as he squeezed and fired the empty gun. He pulled back the breech and verified that there was no dust round the pin which he had spent so many hours filing to a point, and he ran his hand down the blue barrel from the tip of which he had personally sawn the blunt foresight.

Then he snapped the spare round back into the magazine, and the magazine into the taped butt of the thin gun, pumped the action for a last time, put up the safe and slipped the gun back under his coat. Bond put down the receiver. So here it was. He walked thoughtfully over to the window and looked out again across the green trees. He felt a slight emptiness in the stomach, a sudden pang at cutting the painter with those green trees that were London in high summer, and a loneliness at the thought of the big building in Regent's Park, the fortress which would now be out of reach except to a call for help which he knew it would not be in him to make.

There was a knock on the door and, when a page came in for his bags, Bond followed him out of the room and along the corridor, and his mind was swept clean of everything except what waited at the mouth of the pipeline that lay open for him outside the swing-doors of the Ritz Hotel. It was a black Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire with red trade plates.

It was not an invitation. Bond's two bags and his golf clubs were put in the back. He settled himself comfortably and, as they turned into Piccadilly, he examined the face of the driver. All he could see was a hard, anonymous profile under a peaked cap. The eyes were concealed behind black sun goggles. The hands that expertly used the wheel and the gears wore leather gloves. Bond smiled and said nothing. He did as he was told. Very familiar with London traffic.

No smell of tobacco. No five o'clock shadow. Query shaves twice a day with electric razor. After the roundabout at the end of the Great West Road, the driver pulled in to the side.

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He opened the glove compartment and carefully removed six new Dunlop 65's in their black wrapping paper, and with the seals intact. Leaving the engine idling in neutral, he got out of the front seat and opened the rear door. Bond looked over his shoulder and watched the man unstrap the ball-pocket on his golf bag and, one by one, carefully add the six new balls to the miscellaneous old and new ones the pocket already contained.

Then, without a word, the man climbed back into the front seat and the drive continued. At London Airport, Bond unconcernedly went through the luggage and ticket routine, bought himself the Evening Standard , allowing his arm, as he put down his pennies, to brush against an attractive blonde in a tan travelling suit who was idly turning the pages of a magazine and, accompanied by the driver, followed his luggage through to the customs. The driver gave Bond an ironical salute. The smudge of two eyes met his for a moment through the dark glass of the goggles and the lips narrowed in a thin smile.

Just behind him, he heard Tiffany Case's low voice say "Thank you" to the fresh-faced young man, and a moment later she also came into the lounge and chose a seat between him and the door. Bond smiled to himself. It was where he would have chosen to sit if he had been tailing someone who might have second thoughts. Bond picked up his Evening Standard and casually examined the other passengers over the top of it. The plane would be nearly full Bond had been too late to get a sleeping berth and he was relieved to see that among the forty people in the lounge there was not a face he recognized.

Some miscellaneous English, two of the usual nuns who, Bond reflected, seemed always to be flying the Atlantic in the summer--Lourdes, perhaps--some nondescript Americans, mostly of the businessman type, two babies in arms to keep the passengers from sleeping, and a handful of indeterminate Europeans. A typical load, decided Bond, while admitting that if two of their number, himself and Tiffany Case, had their secrets, there was no reason why many of these dull people should not also be bound on strange missions.

Bond felt that he was being watched, but it was only the blank gaze of two of the passengers he had put down as American businessmen. Their eyes shifted casually away, and one of them, a man with a young face but prematurely white hair, said something to the other and they both got up, picked up their Stetsons, which, although it was summer, were encased in waterproof covers, and walked over to the bar.

Bond heard them order double brandies and water, and the second man, who was pale and fat, took a bottle of pills out of his pocket and swallowed one down with his brandy. The man would be a bad traveller. She picked up the telephone--to Flight Control, Bond supposed--and said "I have forty passengers in the Final Lounge". She waited for the okay and then put the telephone back and picked up the microphone. The chief steward announced over the loudspeaker that the next stop would be Shannon, where they would dine, and that the flying time would be one hour and fifty minutes, and the great double-decker Stratocruiser rolled slowly out to the East-West runway.

The aircraft trembled against its brakes as the Captain revved the four engines, one at a time, up to take-off speed, and through his window Bond watched the wing flaps being tested. Then the great plane turned slowly towards the setting sun, there was a jerk as the brakes were released and the grass on either side of the runway flattened as, gathering speed, the Monarch hurtled down the two miles of stressed concrete and rose into the west, aiming ultimately for another little strip of concrete carpet on the other side of the world.

Bond lit a cigarette and was settling himself with his book when the back of the reclining seat on the left of the pair in front of him was lowered sharply towards him. It was one of the two American businessmen, the fat one, lying slumped down with his safety belt still fastened round his stomach. His face was green and sweating. He held a brief-case clutched across his chest and Bond could read the name on the visiting card inserted in the leather label tag.

It said Mr W. Poor brute, thought Bond. He knows the plane is going to crash. He just hopes the men who pull him out of the wreckage will give him the right blood transfusion. To him this plane is nothing but a giant tube--full of anonymous deadweight, supported in the air by a handful of sparking plugs, and guided to its destination by a scrap of electricity. He has no faith in it, and no faith in safety statistics.

He is suffering the same fears he had as a small child--the fear of noise and the fear of falling. He won't even dare to go to the lavatory for fear he'll put his foot through the floor of the plane when he stands up. A silhouette broke the rays of the evening sun that filled the cabin and Bond glanced away from the man. It was Tiffany Case. She walked past him to the stairs leading down to the cocktail lounge on the lower deck and disappeared. Bond would have liked to follow her. He turned again to his book and read a page without understanding a single word.

He put the girl out of his mind and started the page again. Bond had read a quarter of the book when he felt his ears begin to block as the plane started its fifty-mile descent towards the western coastline of Ireland. No smoking" and there was the green-and-white searchlight of Shannon and the red and gold of the flare-path rushing towards them, and then the brilliant blue of the ground-lights between which the Stratocruiser trundled towards the unloading bay.

Steak and champagne for dinner, and the wonderful goblet of hot coffee laced with Irish whisky and topped with half an inch of thick cream. And then the Irish rigmarole coming over the loudspeaker in which only the words 'BOAC' and 'New York' were comprehensible, the translation into English, the last look at Europe, and they were climbing to 15, feet and heading for their next contact with the surface of the world, the radio beacons on the weather ships Jig and Charlie , marking time around their compass points somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.

Bond slept well and awoke only as they were approaching the southern shores of Nova Scotia. He went forward to the wash-room and shaved, and gargled away the taste of a night of pressurized air, and then he went back to his seat between the lines of crumpled, stirring passengers and had his usual moment of exhilaration as the sun came up over the rim of the world and bathed the cabin in blood.

Slowly, with the dawn, the plane came alive. Twenty thousand feet below, the houses began to show like grains of sugar spilt across a brown carpet. Nothing moved on the earth's surface except a thin worm of smoke from a train, the straight white feather of a fishing boat's wake across an inlet, and the glint of chromium from a toy motor car caught in the sun; but Bond could almost see the sleeping humps under the bedclothes beginning to stir and, where there was a wisp of smoke rising into the still morning air, he could smell the coffee brewing in the kitchens.

Breakfast came, that inappropriate assortment of foods that BOAC advertise as 'An English country house breakfast', and the chief steward came round with the US customs forms--Form No of the Treasury Department--and Bond read the small print: And then there were three hours when the plane hung dead-steady in the middle of the world, and only the patches of bright sunshine swaying slowly a few inches up and down the walls of the cabin gave a sense of motion.

But at last there was the great sprawl of Boston below them, and then the bold pattern of a clover-leaf on the New Jersey Turnpike, and Bond's ears began to block with the slow descent towards the pall of haze that was the suburbs of New York. There was the hiss and sickly smell of the insecticide bomb, the shrill hydraulic whine of the air-brakes and the landing-wheels being lowered, the dip of the plane's nose, the tearing bump of the tyres on the runway, the ugly roar as the screws were reversed to slow the plane for the entrance bay, the rumbling progress over the tired grass plain towards the tarmac apron, the clang of the hatch being opened, and they were there.

The customs officer, a paunchy good-living man with dark sweat marks at the armpits of his grey uniform shirt, sauntered lazily over from the Supervisor's desk to where Bond stood, his three pieces of luggage in front of him, under the letter B.


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Next door, under C, the girl took a packet of Parliaments out of her bag and put a cigarette between her lips. Bond heard several impatient clicks at the lighter, and the sharper snap as she put the lighter back in her bag and closed the fastening. Bond felt aware of her watchfulness. He wished that her name began with Z so that she would not be so close. He came to the golf clubs. He paused with the stamp book in his hand. He looked up at Bond. Bond could have kicked himself for forgetting the Americanism.

He gummed a blessed stamp on the side of the bag a few inches away from the richest haul of contraband that had ever been missed at Idlewild. He beckoned a porter and followed his bags across to the last hurdle, the Inspector at the door. There was no pause. The man bent over, searched for the stamps, overstamped them and waved him through. It was a tall, hatchet-faced man with mud-coloured hair and mean eyes.

He was wearing dark brown slacks and a coffee-coloured shirt. It was about the shape of a small-calibre automatic. These American gangsters were too obvious. They had read too many horror-comics and seen too many films. The car was a black Oldsmobile Sedan. Bond didn't wait to be told. He climbed into the front seat, leaving the disposal of his luggage in the back and the tipping of the porter to the man in brown.

When they had left the cheerless prairie of Idlewild and had merged into the stream of commuter traffic on the Van Wyck Parkway, he felt he ought to say something. The man glanced in his driving-mirror and pulled into the centre lane. For a quarter of a mile he busied himself with passing a bunch of slow-moving cars on the inside lanes. They came to an empty stretch of road. Bond repeated his question. He was suddenly impatient with these people. He wondered how soon he would be able to throw some weight about.

The prospect didn't look good. His job was to stay in the pipeline and follow it farther. Any sign of independence or non-co-operation and he would be discarded. He would have to make himself small and stay that way. He would just have to get used to the idea. They swept into up-town Manhattan and followed the river as far as the forties. The driver double-parked outside an inconspicuous doorway. Their destination was sandwiched between a grubby-looking shop selling costume jewellery and an elegant shop-front faced with black marble.

The silver italic lettering above the black marble entrance of the elegant shop-front was so discreet that if the name had not been in the back of Bond's mind he would not have been able to decipher it from where he sat. It said 'The House of Diamonds, Inc. As the car stopped, a man stepped off the pavement and sauntered round the car. Bond got out and opened the rear door. Obediently Bond hauled out his suitcase. The driver reached in for the clubs and slammed the door of the car.

The other man was already in the driver's seat and the car moved off into the traffic as Bond followed the driver across the sidewalk and through the inconspicuous door. There was a man in a porter's lodge in the small hallway. As they came in, he looked up from the sports section of The News. He looked sharply at Bond.

The driver, with Bond's clubs over his shoulder, waited for Bond beside the doors of an elevator across the hall. When Bond followed him inside, he pressed the button for the fourth floor and they rode up in silence. They emerged into another small hallway. It contained two chairs, a table, a large brass spittoon and a smell of stale heat. They crossed the frayed carpet to a glass-fronted door and the driver knocked and walked through without waiting for an answer. Bond followed him and shut the door.

A man with very bright red hair and a big peaceful moon-shaped face was sitting at a desk. There was a glass of milk in front of him. He stood up as they came in and Bond saw he was a hunchback. Bond didn't remember having seen a red-haired hunchback before. He could imagine that the combination would be useful for frightening the small fry who worked for the gang. The hunchback moved slowly round the desk and over to where Bond was standing. He walked round Bond, making a show of examining him minutely from head to foot, and then he came and stood close in front of Bond and looked up into his face.

Bond looked impassively back into a pair of china eyes that were so empty and motionless that they might have been hired from a taxidermist. Bond had the feeling that he was being subjected to some sort of test. Casually he looked back at the hunchback, noting the big ears with rather exaggerated lobes, the dry red lips of the big half-open mouth, the almost complete absence of a neck, and the short powerful arms in the expensive yellow silk shirt, cut to make room for the barrel-like chest and its sharp hump.

I can see you are capable of it. Would you like to do more work for us? The hunchback gave a short squeal of laughter. He turned abruptly to the driver. Here"; he gave a quick shake of his right arm and held his open hand out to the driver. On it lay a double-bladed knife with a flat handle bound with adhesive tape. Bond recognized it as a throwing knife. He had to admit that the bit of legerdemain had been neatly executed. The hunchback walked away from Bond and back to his chair. He sat down and picked up the glass of milk. He looked at it with distaste and swallowed the contents in two huge gulps.

He looked at Bond as if for comment. His anger was transferred to the driver. Put those balls on the table where I can see what you're doing. The number on the ball is the centre of the plug. He stood up from the floor and put the six new balls on the desk. Five of them were still in their black wrapping. He took the sixth and turned it round in his fingers.

Then he picked up the knife and dug its point into the cover of the ball and levered. A half-inch circular section of the ball came away on the tip of the blade and he passed the ball across the desk to the hunchback, who tipped the contents, three uncut stones of ten to fifteen carats, on to the leather surface of the desk. The driver went on with his work until Bond counted eighteen stones on the table. Now get those goddam golf-sticks out of here and send the boy to the Astor with them and this guy's bags. Have them sent up to his room.

Bond went over to a chair against the wall, pulled it over to face the hunchback across the desk and sat down. He took a cigarette and lit it. The hunchback, who had been carefully watching Bond's movements, lowered his eyes to the untidy pile of diamonds in front of him. He poked them into a circle.

Whisper Through the Trees is the third book in the Willow series. Although the characters from the first two books in the Willow series make an appearance in this book, this story is complete in itself. Cade Austin's solitude to work on his latest no Someone's fascination with the beautiful young widow, Ivey Lancaster, is becoming more bold with each gift that is left for her. When a gift is left inside her home, she is advised by the local police to leave Atlanta in hopes that her stalker's atte Samantha Hanson has been haunted by nightmares since her best friend died ten years ago.

The death was ruled as an accidental shooting but Samantha has never believed that conclusion. It has taken ten years, but Samantha is finally ready to come forw Sometimes no matter how many wrong choices we make, fate finds a way to set our lives on the course it was always meant to be. Follow Kerrigan and Rusty's love story toward the fulfillment that was always waiting for them.

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Horizons is the third book in the Creative Women series which follows the stories of three talented, successful women as their lives are touched by love. Over the past two years, Rayna Houston has watched her two dearest friends find true love, get Strawberry Stables - 2. Love Blossoms at Strawberry Stables again. This is the second book in the Strawberry Stables series. Strawberry Stables - 3.