James Bond Anthology

James Bond Anthology by Ian Fleming Page B

Book: James Bond Anthology by Ian Fleming Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ian Fleming
right hand she held one of Bond’s cigarettes, as an artist holds a crayon, and though she smoked with composure, she tapped the cigarette occasionally into an ashtray when the cigarette had no ash.
    Bond noticed these small things because he felt intensely 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 was patient. He drank champagne and talked a little about the happenings of the day and about the personalities 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.
    She answered perfunctorily. She said that, of course, they had picked out the two gunmen, but had thought nothing of it when the man with the stick had gone to stand behind Bond’s chair. They could not believe that anything would be attempted in the Casino itself. Directly Bond and Leiter had left to walk over to the hotel, she had telephoned Paris and told M.’s representative of the result of the game. She had had to speak guardedly and the agent had rung off without comment. She had been told to do this whatever the result. M. had asked for the information to be passed on to him personally at any time of the day or night.
    This was all she said. She sipped at her champagne and rarely glanced at Bond. She didn’t smile. Bond felt frustrated. He drank a lot of champagne and ordered another bottle. The scrambled eggs came and they ate in silence.
    At four o’clock Bond was about to call for the bill when the maitre d’hotel appeared at their table and inquired for Miss Lynd. He handed her a note which she took and read hastily.
    ‘Oh, it’s only Mathis,’ she said. ‘He says would I come to the entrance hall. He’s got a message for you. Perhaps he’s not in evening clothes or something. I won’t be a minute. Then perhaps we could go home.’
    She gave him a strained smile. ‘I’m afraid I don’t feel very good company this evening. It’s been rather a nerve-wracking day. I’m so sorry.’
    Bond made a perfunctory reply and rose, pushing back the table. ‘I’ll get the bill,’ he said, and watched her take the few steps to the entrance.
    He sat down and lit a cigarette. He felt flat. He suddenly 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. He would have liked to have seen Mathis’s cheerful face and heard his news, perhaps even a word of congratulation.
    Suddenly the note to Vesper seemed odd to him. It was not the way Mathis would do things. 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. The arrest of the Bulgarian, who had probably talked some more; the chase after the man with the stick; Le Chiffre’s movements when he left the Casino.
    Bond shook himself. He hastily paid the bill, not waiting for the change. He pushed back his table and walked quickly through the entrance without acknowledging the good-nights of the maitre d’hotel and the doorman. 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 officials and two or three men and women in evening clothes getting their things at the vestiaire.
    No Vesper. No Mathis.
    He was almost running. He got to the entrance and looked along the steps to left

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