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Can I have it? And now have you decided what you would like to have for dinner? Is it very shameless to be so certain and so expensive? While Mademoiselle is enjoying the strawberries, I will have an avocado pear with a little French dressing.
Do you ap- prove? With his finger on the page, Bond turned to the sommelier: It comes partly from being a bachelor, but mostly from a habit of taking a lot of trouble over details.
But it sounds rather schoolgirlish when one says it, 5 she added apologetically. The little carafe of Vodka had arrived in its bowl of crushed ice, and Bond filled their glasses.
He was longing to tell you himself. He was in a Citroen, and he had picked up two English hikers as protective colouring.
At the roadblock his French was so bad that they asked for his papers, and he brought out a gun and shot one of the motor-cycle patrol.
Then they took him down to Rouen and extracted the story — in the usual French fashion, I suppose. He said the bright colours would make it easier for them.
He told them that the blue case contained a very powerful smoke-bomb. The red case was the explosive. As one of them threw the red case the other was to press a switch on the blue case, and they would escape under cover of the smoke.
In fact, the smoke-bomb was a pure invention to make the Bulgars think they could get away. Both cases contained an identical high-explosive bomb.
There was no difference between the blue and the red cases. The idea was to destroy you and the bomb- throwers without a trace.
Presumably there were other plans for dealing with the third man. It would be better, they thought, to touch off the smoke- bomb first and, from inside the cloud of smoke, hurl the explosive bomb at you.
What you saw was the assistant bomb-thrower pressing down the lever on the phony smoke-bomb; and, of course, they both went up together.
When he saw what had hapr pened, he assumed they had bungled. But the police picked up some fragments of the unexploded red bomb, and he was confronted with them.
When he saw that they had been tricked and that his two friends were meant to be murdered with you, he started to talk. The caviar was heaped on to their plates, and they ate for a time in silence.
After a while Bond said: For them, it certainly was a case of being hoist with their own petard. What section are you in?
It seemed only to be a liaison job, so M. All they knew was that I was to work with a Double O. I was en- chanted. Probably quite decent people.
They just got caught up in the gale of the world like that Yugoslav that Tito bumped off. How do you like the grated egg with your caviar?
Suddenly he regretted the intimacy of their dinner and of their talk. He felt that he had said too much and what was only a working relationship had become confused.
She listened to him coldly, but with attentive obedi- ence. She- felt thoroughly deflated by his harshness, while admitting to herself that she should have paid more heed to the warnings of Head of S.
Then at a hint 60 CASINO ROYALE that they were finding pleasure together, a hint that was only the first words of a conventional phrase, he had suddenly turned to ice and had brutally veered away as if warmth were poison to him.
She felt hurt and foolish. Then she gave a mental shrug and concentrated with all her attention on what he was saying. She would not make the same mistake again.
The odds against the banker and the player are more or less even. I have about the same. There will be ten players, I ex- pect, and we sit round the banker at a kidney-shaped table.
The banker plays two games, one against each of the tableaux to left and right of him. In that game, the banker should be able to win by playing off one tableau against the other and by first-class accountancy.
I shall be sitting as near dead opposite Le Chiffre as I can get. In front of him he has a shoe containing six packs of cards, well shuffled.
The cards are shuf- fled by the croupier and cut bygone of the players and put into the shoe in full view of the table.
It would be useful, but almost impossible, to mark all the cards, and it would mean the connivance at least of the croupier. Anyway, we shall be watching for that too.
The banker announces an opening bank of five hundred thousand francs, or five hundred pounds as it is now. Then Number 2 has the right to take it; and if he refuses then Number 3, and so on round the table.
If no single player takes it all, the bet is offered to the table as a whole and everyone chips in, including sometimes the spectators round the table, until the five hundred thousand is made up.
It may take some time, but in the end one of us two is bound to break the other, irrespective of the other players at the table, although they can, of course, make him richer or poorer in the meantime.
Neither of them drank brandy or a liqueur. Finally, Bond felt it was time to explain the actual mechanics of the game. In this game I get two cards and the banker gets two; and, unless anyone wins outright, either or both of us can get one more card.
The object of the game is to hold two, or three cards which together count nine points, Or as nearly nine as possible. Court cards and tens count nothing; aces one each; any other card its face value.
It is only the last figure of your count that signifies. So nine plus seven equals six — not sixteen. Draws are played over again. Five is the turning point of the game.
According to the odds, the chance of bettering or worsening your hand if you hold a five are exactly even. If he has a natural, he turns them up and wins.
Otherwise he is faced with the same problems as I was. But he is helped in his decision to draw or not to draw a card by my actions.
If I have stood he must assume that I have a five, six, or seven: And this card was dealt to me face up. On its face value and a knowledge of the odds, he will know whether to take another card or to stand on his own.
He has a tiny help over his decision to draw or to stand. But there is always one problem card at this game: Shall one draw or stand on a five, and what will your opponent do with a five?
Some players always draw or always stand,. I follow my intuition. The prospect of at last getting to grips with Le Chiffre stimulated him and quickened his pulse.
He seemed to have completely forgotten the brief coolness between them, and Vesper was relieved and entered into his mood. He paid the bill and gave a handsome tip to the som- melier.
Vesper rose and led the way out of the restaurant and out on to the steps of the hotel. The big Bentley was waiting and Bond drove Vesper over, parking as close to the entrance as he could.
As they walked through the ornate anterooms, he hardly spoke. She looked at him and saw that his nostrils were , slightly flared.
In other respects he seemed completely at ease, acknowledging cheerfully the greetings of the Casino functionaries. At the door to the salle privee they were not asked for their membership cards.
Before they had penetrated very far into the main room, Felix Leiter detached himself from one of the roulette tables and greeted Bond as an old friend.
Then perhaps we could come and watch you when your game starts to warm up. Well, I shall leave you then. Now come with me and watch Number 17 obey my extrasensory perceptions.
He stood at the caisse and took his twenty-four million francs against the receipt which had been given him that afternoon. He divided the notes into equal , packets and put half the sum into his right-hand coat pocket and the other half into the left.
Then he strolled slowly across the room between the thronged tables until he came to the top of the room where the broad baccarat table waited behind the brass rail.
The chef de partie lifted the velvet-covered chain which allowed entrance through the brass rail. Bond moved inside the rail to which a huissier was holding out his chair.
He sat down with a nod to the players on his right and left. He took out his wide gun- metal cigarette case and his black lighter and placed them on the green baize at his right elbow.
The huissier wiped a thick glass ashtray with a cloth and put it beside them. Bond lit a cigarette and leant back in his chair. He glanced round the table.
He knew most of the players by sight, but, few of their names. At Number 7, on his right, there was a Monsieur Sixte, a wealthy Belgian with metal interests in the Congo.
At Number 9 there was Lord Danvers, a distinguished but weak-looking man whose francs were presumably provided by his rich American wife, a middle-aged woman with the predatory mouth of a barracuda, who sat at Number 3.
Bond reflected that they would probably play a pawky and nervous game and be amongst the early casualties. He would play coldly and well and would be a stayer.
Bond asked the huissier for a card and wrote on it, under a neat question mark, the remaining numbers, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, and asked the huissier to give it to the chef de partie.
Soon it came back with the names filled in. With her sanguine temperament she would play gaily and with panache and might run into a vein of luck.
Du Pont, rich-looking, who might or might not have some of the real Du Pont money behind them. Bond guessed they would be stayers.
They both had a businesslike look about them and were talking together easily and cheerfully as if they felt very much at home at the big game.
Bond was quite happy to have them next to him— Mrs. Du 1 Pont sat at Number 5— and he felt prepared to share with them or with Monsieur Sixte on his right, if they found them- selves faced with too big a bank.
At Number 8 was the Maharajah of a small Indian state, probably with all his wartime sterling balances to play with.
But the Maharajah would probably stay late in the game and stand some heavy losses if they were gradual. Number 10 was a prosperous-looking young Italian, Signor Tomelli, who possibly had plenty of money from rack-rents in Milan and would probably play a dashing and foolish game.
He might lose his temper and make a scene. With the same economy of movement, he cut the thick slab of cards, which the croupier had placed on the table squarely between his blunt relaxed hands.
He gave it a short deliberate slap to settle the cards, the first of which showed its semicircular pale pink tongue through the slanting aluminum mouth of the shoe.
Then, with a thick white forefinger he pressed gently on the pink tongue and slipped out the first card six inches or a foot towards the Greek on his right hand.
Then he slipped out a card for himself, then another for the Greek, then one more for himself. He sat immobile, not touching his own cards. The two pink crabs scuttled out together and the Greek gathered the cards into his wide left hand and cautiously bent his head so that he could see, in the shadow made by his cupped hand, the value of the bottom of the two cards.
Then he slowly inserted the forefinger of his right hand and slipped the bottom card slightly sideways so that the value of the top card was also just perceptible.
His face was quite impassive. He flattened out his left hand on the table and then withdrew it, leaving the two pink cards face down before him, their secret unrevealed.
Then he lifted his head and looked Le Chiffre in the eye. From the decision to stand on his two cards and not to ask for another, it was clear that the Greek had a five, or a six, or a seven.
To be certain Of winning, the bank had to reveal an eight or a nine. If the banker failed to show either figure, he also had the right to take another card which might or might not improve his count.
With his right hand he picked up the two cards and turned them face up- wards on the table with a faint snap. They were a four and a five, an uhdef eatable natural nine.
Le Chiffre had chosen the second course. The croupier slipped some counters through the slot in the table which receives the cagnotte and announced quietly: Bond lit a cigarette and settled himself in his chair.
The long game was launched, and the sequence of these gestures and the reiteration of this subdued litany would continue until the end came and the players dispersed.
Then the enigmatic cards would be burnt or defaced, a shroud would be draped over the table, and the grass- green baize battlefield would soak up the blood of its victims and refresh itself.
He slowly removed one thick hand from the table and slipped it into the pocket of his dinner-jacket. The hand came out holding a small metal cylinder with a cap which Le Chiffre unscrewed.
He inserted the nozzle of the cylinder, with an obscene deliberation, twice into each black nostril in turn, and luxuriously inhaled the benzedrine vapour.
Unhurriedly he pocketed the inhaler; then his hand came quickly back, above the level of. But for the high-lights on the satin of the shawl-cut lapels, he might have been faced by the thick bust of a black-fleeced Minotaur rising out of a green grass field.
Bond slipped a packet of notes on to the table without counting them. The other players sensed a tension between the two gamblers, and there was a silence as Le Chiffre fingered the four cards out of the shoe.
There was a little gasp of envy from the table, and the players to the left of Bond exchanged rueful glances at their failure to accept the two-million-franc bet.
With the hint of a shrug, Le Chiffre slowly faced his own two cards and flicked them away with his finger- nail. They were two valueless knaves.
Bond slipped them into his right-hand pocket with the unused packet of notes. His face showed no emotion, but he was pleased with the success of his first coup and with the outcome of the silent clash of wills across the: The woman on his left, the American Mrs.
Du Pont, turned to him with a wry smile. Du Pont leant forward from the other side of his wife: They stood behind and to either side of the banker.
His whole long body was restless, and his hands shifted often on the brass rail. Bond guessed that he would kill without interest or concern for what he killed, and that he would prefer strangling.
He had something of Lennie in Of Mice and Men, but his inhumanity would not come from infantilism but from drugs. The other man looked like a Corsican shopkeeper.
He was short and very dark with a flat head covered with thickly greased hair. He seemed to be a cripple. A chunky Malacca cane with a rubber tip hung on a rail beside him.
He must have had permission to bring the cane into the Casino with him, reflected Bond, who knew that neither sticks nor any other objects were allowed in the rooms as a precaution against acts of violence.
He looked sleek and well fed. His mouth hung vacantly half open and revealed very bad teeth. He wore a heavy black moustache, and the backs of his hands on the rail were matted with black hair.
Bond guessed that hair covered most of his squat body. The game continued uneventfully, but with a slight bias against the bank. 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.
Bond had no idea what profits Le Chiffre had made over the past two days. In fact, Le Chiffre had lost heavily all that afternoon.
At this moment he only had ten million left. Bond was cautiously pleased. Le Chiffre showed no trace of emotion. He continued to play like an automaton, never speaking except when he gave in- structions in a low aside to the croupier at the opening of each new bank.
Outside the pool of silence round the high table, there was the constant hum of the other tables, chemin-de- - fer, roulette, and trente-et-quarante, interspersed with the clear calls of the croupiers and occasional bursts of laughter or gasps of excitement from different corners of the huge salle.
In the background there thudded always the hidden metronome of the Casino, ticking up its little treasure of one-per-cents with each spin of a wheel and each turn of a card — a pulsing fat-cat with a zero for a heart.
The Greek at Number 1 was still having a bad time. He had lost the first coup of half a million francs and the second.
He passed the third time, leaving a bank of two millions. Carmel Delane at Number 2 refused it. So did Lady Danvers at Number 3.
The Du Ponts looked at each other. Again he fixed Le Chiffre with his eye. Again he gave only a cursory look at his two cards.
He held a marginal five. The position was dangerous. Le Chiffre turned up a knave and a four. He gave the shoe another slap. He drew a three.
And lost again, to a natural nine. In two coups he had lost twelve million francs. Suddenly Bond felt the sweat on his palms. Like snow in sunshine his capital had melted.
With the covetous deliberation of the winning gambler, Le Chiffre was tapping a light tattoo on the table with his right hand. Bond looked across into the eyes of murky basalt.
They held an ironical question. There was no hint in his movements that this would be his last stake.
His mouth felt suddenly as dry as flock wall-paper. He looked up and saw Vesper and Felix Leiter standing where the gunman with the stick had stood.
He did not know how long they had been standing there. He heard a faint rattle on the rail behind him and turned his head. The battery of bad teeth under the black moustache gaped vacantly back at him.
The light from the broad satin-lined shades which had seemed so welcoming now seemed to take the colour out of his hand as he glanced at the cards.
Then he looked again. It was nearly as bad as it could have been — the king of hearts and an ace, the ace of spades. It squinted up at him like a black widow spider.
Le Chiffre faced his own two cards. He had a queen and a black five. He looked at Bond and pressed out another card with a wide forefinger.
The table was ab- solutely silent. He faced it and flicked it away. The croupier lifted it delicately with his spatula and slipped it over to Bond.
It was a good card, the five of hearts, but to Bond it was a difficult fingerprint in dried blood. He now had a count of six and Le Chiffre a count of five, but the banker having a five and giving a five, would and must draw another card and try and improve with a one, two, three, or four.
Drawing any other card he would be defeated. It was, unnecessarily, the best, a four, giving the bank a count of nine. He had won, almost slowing up.
Bond was beaten and cleaned out. He opened his wide black case and took out a cigarette. He snapped open the tiny jaws of the Ronson and lit the cigarette and put the lighter back on the table.
He took a deep lungful of smoke and expelled it between his teeth with a faint hiss. Back to the hotel and bed, avoiding the commiserating eyes of Mathis and Leiter and Vesper: He looked round the table and up at the spectators.
Few were looking at him. Leiter had vanished, not wishing to look Bond in the eye after the knock-out, he supposed.
Yet Vesper looked curiously unmoved, she gave him a smile of en- couragement. But then, Bond reflected, she knew nothing of the game.
Had no notion, probably, of the bitterness of his defeat. The huissier was coming towards Bond inside the rail. He stopped beside him.
Placed a squat envelope beside Bond on the table. It was as thick as a dictionary. Said something about the caisse. He took the heavy anonymous envelope below the level of the table and slit it open with his thumbnail, noticing that the gum was still wet on the flap.
Unbelieving and yet knowing it was true, he felt the broad wads of notes. He slipped them into his pockets, retaining the half-sheet of notepaper which was pinned to the topmost of them.
He glanced at it in the shadow below the table. There was one line of writing in ink: With the compliments of the U.
He looked over towards Vesper. Felix Leiter was again standing beside her. He grinned slightly, and Bond smiled back and raised his hand from the table in a small gesture of benediction.
Then he set his mind to sweeping away all traces of the sense of complete defeat which had swamped him a few minutes before.
This was a reprieve, but only a reprieve. There could be no more miracles. This time he had to win— if Le Chif fre had not already made his fifty million — if he was going to go on!
Perhaps, thought Bond, Le Chiffre needed just one more coup, even a minor one of a few million francs, to achieve his object.
Then he would have made his fifty million francs and would leave the table. By tomorrow his deficits would be covered and his position secure.
Then the only hope, thought Bond, was to stamp on him how. Not to share the bank with the table, or to take some minor r part of it, but to go the whole hog.
This would really jolt Le Chiffre. He would hate to see more than ten or fifteen million of the stake covered, and he could not possibly expect anyone to banco the entire thirty-two millions.
He might not know that Bond had been cleaned out, but he must imagine that Bond had by now only small reserves. He could not know of the contents of the envelope.
If he did, he would probably withdraw the bank and start all over again on the wearisome journey up from the five hundred franc opening bet.
The analysis was right. Le Chiffre needed another eight million. At last he nodded. A silence built itself up round the table.
Besides, this was won- derful publicity. The stake had only once been reached in the history of baccarat — at Deauville in It was then that Bond leant slightly forward.
The word ran through the Casino. For most of them it was more than they had earned all their lives. It was their savings and the savings of their families.
It was, literally, a small fortune. One of the Casino directors consulted with the chef de partie. The chef de partie turned apologetically to Bond.
It was an indication that Bond really must show he had the money to coyer the bet. They knew, of course, that he was a very wealthy man, but after all, thirty-two millions!
And it sometimes happened that desperate people would bet without a sou in the world and cheer- fully go to prison if they lost.
It was when Bond shovelled the great wad of notes out on to the table and the croupier busied himself with the task of counting the pinned sheaves of ten thousand franc notes, the largest denomination issued in France, that he caught a swift exchange of glances between Le Chiffre and the gunman standing directly behind Bond.
Immediately he felt something hard press into the base of his spine, right into the cleft between his two buttocks on the padded chair.
At the same time a thick voice speaking southern French said softly, urgently, just behind his right ear: It is absolutely silent.
You will appear to have fainted. I shall be gone. Withdraw your bet before I count ten. If you call for help I shall fire.
These people had shown they would unhesitatingly go the limit. The thick walking stick was explained. Bond knew the type of gun. The barrel a series of soft rubber baffles which absorbed the detonation, but allowed the passage of the bullet.
They had been invented and used in the v. Bond had tested them himself. Bond turned his head. There was the man, leaning forward close behind him, smiling broadly under his black moustache as if he were wishing Bond luck, com- pletely secure in the noise and the crowd.
The discoloured teeth came together. His eyes glittered back at Bond. His mouth was open, and he was breathing fast.
They were smiling and talking to each other. Where were those famous men of his? This crowd of jabbering idiots. The chef de partie, the croupier, the huissier?
The chef de partie bowed smilingly towards Bond. It was a chance. He carefully moved his hands to the edge of the table, gripped it, edged his buttocks right back, feeling the sharp gun-sight grind into his coccyx.
The back of the chair splintered with the sharp crack. There were cries of dismay. The spectators cringed away and then, reassured, clustered back.
Hands helped him to his feet and brushed him down. The huissier bustled up with the chef de partie. At all costs a scandal must be avoided.
Bond held on to the brass rail. He looked confused and embarrassed. He brushed his hand across his forehead. Naturally, with this tremendous game.
Would Monsieur prefer to with- draw, to lie down, to go home? Should a doctor be fetched? Bond shook his head. He was perfectly all right now.
His excuses to the table. To the banker also. A new chair was brought and he sat down. He looked across at Le Chiffre. Through his relief at being alive, he felt a moment of triumph at what he saw— some fear in the fat, pale face.
There was a buzz of speculation round the table. He turned to examine the crowd behind him. There was no trace of the gunman, but the huissier was looking for someone to claim the Malacca stick.
But it no longer carried a rubber tip. Bond beckoned to him. It belongs to an acquaintance of his. Bond grimly reflected that a short examination would reveal to Leiter why he had made such an embarrassing public display of himself.
He turned back to the table and tapped the green cloth in front of him to show that he was ready. Le Chiffre hit the shoe with a flat-handed slap that made it rattle.
As an afterthought he took out his benzedrine inhaler and sucked the vapour up his nose. By a miracle he had sur- vived a devastating wound.
He could feel his armpits still wet with the fear of it. But the success of his gambit with the chair had wiped out all memories of the dread- ful valley of defeat through which he had just passed.
He had made a fool of himself. They must not fail him. In the silence round his own table, Bond suddenly heard a distant croupier intone: Le rouge gagne, impair et manque.
The two cards slithered towards him across the green sea. Like an octopus under a rock, Le Chiffre watched him from the other side of the table.
Bond reached out a steady right hand and drew the cards towards him. Would it be the lift of the heart which a nine brings, or an eight brings?
He fanned the two cards under the curtain of his hand. His whole body stiffened in a reflex of self- defence. He had two queens, two red queens.
They looked rougishly back at him from the shadows. They were the worst. The banker slowly turned his own two cards face up. He had a count of three — a king and a black three.
Bond softly exhaled a cloud of tobacco smoke. He still had a chance. Now he was really faced with the moment of truth. The croupier slipped it delicately across.
To Le Chiffre it meant nothing. Or he might have had a two, three, four, or even five. In which case, with nine, his maximum count would be four.
Holding a three and giving a nine is one of the moot situations at the game. The odds are so nearly divided between to draw or not to draw.
Bond let the banker sweat it out. Since his nine could only be equalled by the banker drawing a six, he would normally have shown his count if it had been a friendly game.
The whole secret lay in the reverse of the two pink backs where the pair of queens kissed the green cloth. His thick tongue came out slyly and licked a drop out of the corner of his red gash of a mouth.
Then his whole body shrugged and he slipped out a card for himself from the lisping shoe. It was a wonderful card, a five.
He must have won. There was not a man at the table who did not believe Bond was defeated. The spatula flicked the two pink cards over on their backs.
The gay red queens smiled up at the lights. The big man fell back in his chair as if slugged above the heart. Then he rocked back. His lips were grey.
As the huge stack of plaques was shunted across the table to Bond the banker reached into an inner pocket of his jacket and threw a wad of notes on to the table.
The croupier riffled through them. He slapped down their equivalent in ten plaques of a million each. This is the kill, thought Bond.
This man has reached the point of no return. This is the last of his capital. He has come to where I stood an hour ago, and he is making the last gesture that I made.
But if this man loses there is no one to come to his aid, no miracle to help him. Bond sat back arid lit a cigarette. On a small table beside him half a bottle of Clicquot and a glass had materialized.
Without asking who the benefactor was, Bond filled the glass to the brim and drank it down in two long draughts. Then he leant back with his arms curled forward on the table in front of him like the arms of a wrestler seeking a hold at the opening of a bout of ju-jitsu.
The players on his left remained silent. Once more the two cards were borne over to him, and this time the croupier slipped them into the green lagoon between the outstretched arms.
Bond curled his right hand in, glanced briefly down and flipped the cards face up into the middle of the table.
Le Chiffre was gazing down at his own two black kings. He unhooked the velvet- covered chain and let it fall. The spectators opened a way for him.
They looked at him curiously and rather fearfully as if he carried the smell of death on him. He took a hundred-mille plaque from the stacks beside him and slipped it across the table to the chef de partie.
He cut short the effusive thanks and asked the croupier to have his winnings carried to the caisse. The other players were leaving their seats.
With no banker, there could be no game, and by now it was half-past two. He exchanged some pleasant words with his neighbours to right and left and then ducked under the rail to where Vesper and Felix Leiter were waiting for him.
Together they walked over to the caisse. Bond was invited to come into the private office of the Casino directors.
On the desk lay his huge pile of chips. He added the contents of his pockets to it. In all there was over seventy million francs.
He was congratulated warmly on his winnings. The directors hoped that he would be playing again that evening. Bond gave an evasive reply.
For a few minutes they discussed the game over a bottle of champagne. He Was as puzzled as we were by the spill you took. He was standing at the back of the crowd with one of his men when it happened.
The gunman got away without difficulty. You can imagine how they kicked themselves when they saw the gun. Mathis gave me this bullet to show you what you escaped.
The man came in alone. He got permission to bring the stick in with him. He had a cer- tificate for a war-wound pension. These people certainly get themselves well organized.
You certainly took Le Chiffre for a ride at the end, though we had some bad moments. I expect you did too. I thought I was really finished. Talk about a friend in need.
He might get ideas. What do you think? She had hardly said a word since the end of the game. You get to it through the public rooms.
It looks quite cheerful. Leiter looked at him and read his mind. Might as well convoy the treasure ship right into port.
Both had their hands on their guns. The short walk was uneventful. At the hotel, Leiter insisted on accompanying Bond to his room.
It was as Bond had left it six hours before. Do you think I ought to stay up and keep you two company? I hope we get on a job again one day.
He went out and closed the door. Bond turned back to the friendliness of his room. He went into the bathroom and dashed cold water over his face and gargled with a sharp mouthwash.
He felt the bruises on the back of his head and on his right shoulder. He reflected cheerfully how narrowly he had twice that day escaped being murdered.
Would he have to sit up all that night and wait for them to come again, or was Le Chiffre even now on his way to Le Havre or Bordeaux to pick up a boat for some corner of the world where he could escape the eyes and guns of SMERSH?
Bond shrugged his shoulders. Sufficient unto that day had been its evil. He wanted her cold and arrogant body. He turned away and took out of his pocket the cheque for forty million francs.
He folded this very small. Then he opened the door and looked up and down the corridor. He left the door wide open and with his ears cocked for footsteps or the sound of the lift, he set to work with a small screwdriver.
Five minutes later he gave a last-minute survey to his handiwork, put some fresh cigarettes in his case, closed and locked the door, and went off down the corridor and across the hall and out into the moonlight.
The night club was small and dark, lit only by candles in gilded candelabra whose warm light was repeated in wall mirrors set in more gold picture-frames.
The walls were covered in dark red satin, and the chairs and banquettes in matching red plush. Seduction dripped on the quietly throbbing air.
It seemed to Bond that every couple must be touching with passion under the tables. They were given a corner table near the door.
Bond ordered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and scrambled eggs and bacon. They sat for a time listening to the music, and then Bond turned to Vesper: She seemed to be listening carefully to the music.
One elbow rested on the table, and her hand supported her chin, but on the back of her hand and not on the palm; and Bond noticed that her knuckles showed white as if her fist was tightly clenched.
Bond noticed these small things because he felt in- tensely aware of her and because he wanted to draw her into his own feeling of warmth and relaxed sensuality.
But he accepted her reserve. He thought it came from a desire to protect herself from him, or else it was her reaction to his coolness to her earlier in the evening, his deliberate coolness, which he knew had been taken as a rebuff.
He drank champagne and talked a little about the happenings of the day and about the per- sonalities of Mathis and Leiter and about the possible consequences for Le Chiffre.
He was discreet, and he only talked about the aspects of the case on which she must have been briefed by London. They could not believe that anything would be attempted in the Casino itself.
Di- rectly Bond and Leiter had left to walk over to the hotel, she had telephoned Paris and told M. She had had to speak guardedly, and the agent had rung off without comment.
She had been told to do this whatever the result. This was all she said. She sipped at her champagne and rarely glanced at Bond.
He drank a lot of champagne and ordered another bottle. The scrambled eggs came, and they ate in silence. He handed her a note which she took and read hastily.
Then perhaps we could go home. He sat down and lit a cigarette. He sud- denly realized that he was tired. The stuffiness of the room hit him as it had hit him in the Casino in the early hours of the previous day.
He called for the bill and took a last mouthful of champagne. It tasted bitter, as the first glass too many always does. Suddenly the note to Vesper seemed odd to him.
He would have asked them both to join him at the bar of the Casino, or he would have joined them in the night club, whatever his clothes.
They would have laughed together, and Mathis would have been excited. He had much to tell Bond, more than Bond had to tell him: He hastily paid the bill, not waiting for the change.
He hurried through the gaming-room and looked carefully up and down the long entrance hall. He cursed and quickened his step.
There were only one or two of- ficials and two or three men and women in evening clothes getting their things at the vestiaire.
He was almost running. He got to the entrance and looked along the steps to the left and right down and amongst the few remaining cars.
The commissionaire came towards him. He was halfway down when he heard a faint cry, then the slam of a door away to the right.
With a harsh growl and stutter from the exhaust a beetle-browed Citroen shot out of the shadows into the light of the moon, its front- wheel drive dry-skidding through the loose pebbles of the forecourt.
Its tail rocked on its soft springs as if a violent struggle was taking place on the back seat. With a snarl it raced out to the wide entrance gate in a spray of gravel.
He ran back with it across the gravel to the brightly lit steps and scrabbled through its contents while the com- missionaire hovered round him.
The crumpled note was there amongst the usual feminine baggage: I have news for your companion. Bond leapt for the Bentley, blessing the impulse , which had made him drive it over after dinner.
With the choke full out the engine answered at once to the starter, and the roar drowned the faltering words of the com- missionaire who jumped aside as the rear wheels whipped gravel at his piped trouser-legs.
As the car rocked to the left outside the gate, Bond ruefully longed for the front-wheel drive and low chassis of the Citroen. Then he went fast through the gears and settled himself for the pursuit, briefly savouring the echo of the huge exhaust as it came back at him from either side of the short main street through the town.
He pushed the revs up and up, hurrying the car to eighty then to. He knew the Citroen must have come this way.
He had heard the exhaust penetrate beyond the town, and a little dust still hung on the bends. He hoped soon to see the distant shaft of its headlights.
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