Bond read the letter several tunes. Yes, that would giv the officers in charge of Operation ‘Corona’ plenty to bite on Particularly the hint that they should get the dead man’s name from the registrar in Pontresina. And he had covered up a bit on the Bray mix-up when the letter, as Bond was sure it would be, was steamed open and photostated before dispatch. They might of course just destroy it. To prevent this, the bit of bogosity about the Almanach de Gotha would be a clincher. This source of heraldic knowledge hadn’t been mentioned before. It would surely excite the interest of Blofeld.
Bond rang the bell, handed out the letter for dispatch, and got back to his work, which consisted initially of going into the bathroom with the strip of
plastic and his scissors in his pocket and snipping two inch-wide strips off the end. These would be enough for the purposes he and, he hoped, Ruby would put them to. Then, using the first joint of his thumb as a rough guide, he marked off the remaining eighteen inches into inch measures, to support his lie about the ruler, and went back to his desk and to the next hundred years of the de Bleuvilles.
At about five o’clock the light got so bad that Bond got up from his table and stretched, preparatory to going over to the light-switch near the door. He took a last look out of the window before he dosed it. The veranda was completely deserted and the foam rubber cushions for the reclining-chairs had already been taken in. From the direction of the cable-head there still came the whine of machinery that had been part of the background
noises to the day. Yesterday the railway had closed at about five, and it must be time for the last pair of gondolas to complete their two-way journey and settle in their respective stations for the night. Bond closed the double windows, walked across to the thermostat and put it down to seventy. He was just about to reach for the light-switch when there came a very soft tapping at the door.
Bond kept his voice low. ‘Come in!’
The door opened and quickly closed to within an inch of the lock. It was Ruby. She put her fingers to her lips and gestured towards the bathroom. Bond, highly intrigued, followed her in and shut the door. Then he turned on the light. She was blushing. She whispered imploringly, ‘Oh, please forgive me, Sir Hilary. But I did so want to talk to you for a second.’
‘That’s fine, Ruby. But why the bathroom?’
‘Oh, didn’t you know? No, I suppose you wouldn’t. It’s supposed to be a secret, but of course I can tell you. You won’t let on, will you?’
‘No, of course not.’
‘Well, all the rooms have microphones in them. I don’t know where. But sometimes we girls have got together in each other’s rooms, just for a gossip, you know, and Miss Bunt has always known. We think they’ve got some sort of television too.’ She giggled. ‘We always undress in the bathroom. It’s just a sort of feeling. As if one was being watched the whole time. I suppose it’s something to do with the treatment.’
‘Yes, I expect so.’
‘The point is, Sir Hilary, I was tremendously excited by what you were saying at lunch today, about Miss Bunt perhaps being a duchess. I mean, is that really possible?’
‘Oh yes,’ said Bond airily.
‘I was so disappointed at not being able to tell you my surname. You see, you see’ – her eyes were wide with excitement – ‘it’s Windsor!’
‘Gosh,’ said Bond, ‘that’s interesting!’
‘I knew you’d say that. You see, there’s always been talk in my family that we’re distantly connected with the Royal Family!’
‘I can quite understand that.’ Bond’s voice was thoughtful, judicious. ‘I’d like to be able to do some work on that. What were your parents’ names? I must have them first.’
‘George Albeit Windsor and Mary Potts. Does that mean anything?’
‘Well, of course, the Albert’s significant.’ Bond felt a cur. ‘You see, there was the Prince Consort to Queen Victoria. He was Albert.’
‘Oh golly!’ Ruby’s knuckles went up to her mouth.
‘But of course all this needs a lot of working on. Where do you come from in England? Where were you born?’
‘In Lancashire. Morecambe Bay, where the shrimps come from. But a lot of poultry 长沙桑拿休闲论坛 too. You know.’
‘So that’s why you love chicken so much.’
‘Oh, no.’ She seemed surprised by the remark. ‘That’s just the point. You see, I was allergic to chickens. I simply couldn’t bear them – all those feathers, the stupid pecking, the mess and the smell. I loathed them. Even eating chicken brought me out in a sort of rash. It was awful, and of course my parents were mad at me, they being poultry fanners in quite a big way and me being supposed to help clean out the batteries – you know, those modern mass-produced chicken places. And then one day I saw this advertisement in the paper, in the Poultry Farmer’s Gazette. It said that anyone suffering from chicken allergy – then followed a long Latin name – could apply for a course of re… of re… for a cure in a Swiss institute doing research work on the thing. All found and ten 长沙桑拿网论坛社区 pounds a week pocket-money. Rather like those people who go and act as rabbits in that place that’s trying to find a cure for colds.’
‘I know,’ said Bond encouragingly.
‘So I applied and my fare was paid down to London and I met Miss Bunt and she put me through some sort of exam.’ She giggled. ‘Heaven only knows how I passed it, as I failed my G.C.E. twice. But she said I was just what the Institute wanted and I came out here about two months ago. It’s not bad. They’re terribly strict. But the Count has absolutely cured my trouble. I simply love chickens now.’ Her eyes became suddenly rapt.’ I think they’re just the most beautiful, wonderful birds in the world.’
‘Well, that’s a jolly good show,’ said Bond, totally mystified. ‘Now about your name. Til get to work on it right away. But how are we going to talk? You all seem to be 长沙桑拿价格多少钱 pretty carefully organized. How can I see you by yourself? The only place is my room or yours.’
‘You mean at night?’ The big blue eyes were wide with fright, excitement, maidenly appraisal.
‘Yes, it’s the only way.’ Bond took a bold step towards her and kissed her full on the mouth. He put his arms round her clumsily. ‘And you know I think you’re terribly attractive.’
‘Oh, Sir Hilary!’
But she didn’t recoil. She just stood there like a great lovely doll, passive, slightly calculating, wanting to be a princess. ‘But how would you get out of here? They’re terribly strict. A guard goes up and down the passage every so often. Of course’ – the eyes were calculating – ‘it’s true that I’m next door to you, in Number Three actually. If only we had some way of getting out.’
Bond took one of the inch strips of plastic out of his pocket 长沙桑拿攻略2018 and showed it to her. ‘I knew you were somewhere close to me. Instinct, I suppose. [Cad!] I learned a thing or two in the Army. You can get out of these sort of doors by slipping this in the door crack in front of the lock and pushing. It slips the latch. Here, take this, I’ve got another. But hide it away. And promise not to tell anyone.’
‘Ooh! You are a one! But of course I promise. But do you think there’s any hope – about the Windsors, I mean?’ Now she put her arms round his neck, round the witchdoctor’s neck, and the big blue orbs gazed appealingly into his.
‘You definitely mustn’t rely on it,’ said Bond firmly, trying to get back an ounce of his self-respect. ‘But I’ll have a quick look now in my books. Not much time before drinks. Anyway, we’ll see.’ He gave her another long and, he admitted to himself, extremely splendid 长沙桑拿会所爽记 kiss, to which she responded with an animalism that slightly salved his conscience. ‘Now then, baby.’ His right hand ran down her back to the curve of her behind, to which he gave an encouraging and hastening pat. ‘We’ve got to get you out of here.’
His bedroom was dark. They listened at the door like two children playing hide-and-seek. The building was in silence. He inched open the door. He gave the behind an extra pat and she was gone.
Bond paused for a moment. Then he switched on the light. The innocent room smiled at him. Bond went to his table and reached for the Dictionary of British Surnames. Windsor, Windsor, Windsor. Here we are! Now then! As he bent over the small print, an important reflection seared his spy’s mind like a shooting star. All right. So sexual perversions, and sex itself, were a main security risk. So was greed for money. But what about status? What about that most insidious of vices, snobbery?
Six o’clock came. Bond had a nagging headache, brought on by hours of poring over small-print reference books and aggravated by the lack of oxygen at the high altitude. He needed a drink, three drinks. He had a quick shower and smartened himself up, rang his bell for the ‘warder’ and went along to the bar. Only a few of the girls were already there. Violet sat alone at the bar and Bond joined her. She seemed pleased to see him. She was drinking a Daiquiri. Bond ordered another and, for himself, a double Bourbon on the rocks. He took a deep pull at it and put the squat glass down. ‘By God, I needed that! I’ve been working like a slave all day while you’ve been waltzing about the ski-slopes in the sun!’
‘Have I indeed!’ A slight Irish brogue came out with the indignation. ‘Two lectures this morning, frightfully boring, and I had to catch up with my reading most of this afternoon. I’m way behind with it.’
‘What sort of reading?’
‘Oh, sort of agricultural stuff.’ The dark eyes watched him carefully. ‘We’re not supposed to talk about our cures, you know.’
‘Oh, well,’ said Bond cheerfully, ‘then let’s talk about something else. Where do you come from?’
‘Ireland. The South. Near Shannon.’
Bond had a shot in the dark. ‘All that potato country.’
‘Yes, that’s right. I used to hate them. Nothing but potatoes to eat and potato crops to talk about. Now I’m longing to get back. Funny, isn’t it?’
‘Your family’ll be pleased.’
‘You can say that again! And my boy friend! He’s on the wholesale side. I said I wouldn’t marry anyone who had anything to do with the damned, dirty, ugly things. He’s going to get a shock all right…’
‘All I’ve learned about how to improve the crop. The latest scientific ways, chemicals, and so on.’ She put her hand up to her mouth. She glanced swiftly round the room, at the bartender. To see if anyone had heard this innocent stuff?
She put on a hostess smile. ‘Now you tell me what you’ve been working on, Sir Hilary.’