He disliked having feminine things around him. Flowers seemed to ask for recognition of the person who had sent them, to be constantly transmitting a message of sympathy and affection. It is interesting for me to see this new Bond. It takes a very long time to get to the centre of them. When one gets there the result is unrewarding, but the process is instructive and entertaining. There may be something I can use to my own chief the next time I want to get out of an unpleasant job.’ He grinned maliciously. When he awoke again some hours later all his terrors had gone and he felt warm and languorous. Sun was streaming into the bright room and garden sounds came through the window. In the background there was the noise of small waves on a beach. As he moved his head he heard a rustle, and a nurse who had been sitting beside his pillow rose and came into his line of vision. She was pretty and she smiled as she put her hand on his pulse. The tall back of the chair looked impassively out across the dead body in its arms. He screwed up his eyes and tried to shake his head to clear it, but his whole nervous system was numbed and no message was transmitted to his muscles. He could just keep his focus on the great pale face in front of him and on its bulging eyes. He wiped some sweat from his face with a circular motion of his disengaged hand. Then he looked at his watch and seemed to make up his mind. The china of the whites was now veined with red. It was like looking at two blackcurrants poached in blood. The rest of the wide face was yellowish except where a thick black stubble covered the moist skin. The upward edges of black coffee at the corners of the mouth gave his expression a false smile and the whole face was faintly striped by the light through the Venetian blinds. ‘Ah, my dear fellow, I had forgotten to tell you.’ Le Chiffre smiled wolfishly. ‘We met after our little game at the Casino and you were such a sportsman that you agreed we would have one more run through the pack between the two of us. ‘My dear boy,’ Le Chiffre spoke like a father, ‘the game of Red Indians is over, quite over. You have stumbled by mischance into a game for grown-ups and you have already found it a painful experience. You are not equipped, my dear boy, to play games with adults and it was very foolish of your nanny in London to have sent you out here with your spade and bucket. Very foolish indeed and most unfortunate for you. He looked Bond carefully, almost caressingly, in the eyes. Then his wrists sprang suddenly upwards on his knee. With this he bound Bond’s wrists to the arms of the chair and his ankles to the front legs. He passed a double strand across his chest, under the arm-pits and through the chair-back. He made no mistakes with the knots and left no play in any of the bindings. The legs of the chair were broadly spaced and Bond could not even rock it. He settled himself comfortably on the throne-like chair and poured some of the coffee into one of the glasses. With one foot he hooked forward the small arm-chair, whose seat was now an empty circular frame of wood, until it was directly opposite him. He put it on the small table near the window. He also placed beside it on the table two other homely objects, a three-foot-long carpet-beater in twisted cane and a carving knife. Half-closed Venetian blinds obscured the view from the window, but cast bars of early sunlight over the few pieces of furniture and over part of the brightly papered wall and the brown stained floorboards. There was no table in the centre under the alabasterine ceiling light, only a small square of stained carpet with a futurist design in contrasting browns. Directly the boot was shut, the third man, whom Bond at once recognized, climbed in beside him and Le Chiffre reversed furiously back on to the main road.
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1 CLOSURE OF A PLAYER ACCOUNT BY THE PLAYER
Opposite, two of them had snapped off near the base and lay drunkenly across the road. Between them there was a still smoking crater. Of the two men in straw hats, there remained absolutely nothing. But there were red traces on the road, and on the pavements and against the trunks of the trees, and there were glittering shreds high up in the branches. Red-man seemed to give a short nod to Blue-man. With a quick movement Blue-man unslung his blue camera-case. Blue-man, and Bond could not see exactly as the trunk of a plane-tree beside him just then intervened to obscure his vision, bent forward and seemed to fiddle with the case. He lay, gazing up at the sun, while the air went on twanging with the explosion as if someone had hit the bass register of a piano with a sledgehammer.
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