“A week ago,” said M, “one of the high-ups in the Treasury came to see me. Brought with him the Permanent Secretary to the Board of Trade. It had to do with diamonds. Seems that most of what they call ‘gem’ diamonds in the world are mined on British territory and that ninety per cent of all diamond sales are carried out in London. By the Diamond Corporation.” M shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t ask me why. The British got hold of the business at the beginning of the century and we’ve managed to hang on to it. Now it’s a huge trade. Fifty million pounds a year. The biggest dollar-earner we’ve got. So when something goes wrong with it, the Government gets worried. And that’s what’s happened.” M looked mildly across at Bond. “At least two million pounds worth of diamonds are being smuggled out of Africa every year.”

“That’s a lot of money,” said Bond. “Where are they going to?”

“They say America,” said M. “And I agree with them. It’s by far the biggest diamond market. And those gangs of theirs are the only people who could run an operation on this scale.”

“Why don’t the mining companies stop it?”

“They’ve done everything they can,” said M. “You probably saw in the papers that De Beers took on our friend Sillitoe when he left MI5, and he’s out there now, working in with the South African security people. I gather he’s put in a pretty drastic report and come up with plenty of bright ideas for tightening things up, but the Treasury and the Board of Trade aren’t very impressed. They think the thing’s too big to be handled by a lot of separate mining companies, however efficient they are. And they’ve got one very good reason for wanting to take official action on their own.”

“What’s that, Sir?”

“There’s a big packet of smuggled stones in London at this very moment,” said M, and his eyes glittered across the desk at Bond. “Waiting to go to America. And the Special Branch know who the carrier is to be. And they know who’s to go out with him to keep an eye on him. As soon as Ronnie Vallance came across the story-it was leaked to one of his narks in Soho, to one of his ‘Ghost Squad’ as he chooses to call it-he went straight off to the Treasury. The Treasury talked to the Board of Trade and then both their Ministers formed up to the PM. And the PM gave them authority to use the Service.”

“Why not let the Special Branch of MI5 handle it, Sir?” asked Bond, reflecting that M seemed to be going through a bad phase of mixing in other people’s business.

“Of course they could arrest the carriers as soon as they took delivery and tried to get out of the country,” said M impatiently. “But that won’t stop the traffic. These people aren’t the sort thai talk. Anyway the carriers are only small fry. They probably just get the stuff from a man in a park and hand it over to another man in a park when they get to the other side. The only way to get to the bottom of the business is to follow the pipeline to America and see where it goes to there. And the FBI won’t be much help to us, I’m afraid. It’s a very small part of their battle with the big-time gangs. And it’s not doing any harm to the United States. Rather the reverse if anything. It’s only England that’s the loser. And America is outside the jurisdiction of the police and MI5. Only the Service can handle the job.”

“Yes, I see that,” said Bond. “But have we got anything else to go on?”

“Ever heard of ‘The House of Diamonds’?”

“Yes, of course, Sir,” said Bond. “The big American jewellers. On West 46th Street in New York and the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. I gather they rank almost as high as Cartier and Van Cleef and Boucheron nowadays. They’ve come up very quickly since the war.”

“Yes,” said M. “Those are the people. They’ve got a small place in London, too. Hatton Garden. Used to be very big buyers at the monthly showings of the Diamond Corporation. But for the last three years they’ve bought less and less. Although, as you say, they seem to be selling more and more jewellery every year. Must be getting their diamonds from somewhere. It was the Treasury who brought their name up at our meeting the other day. But I can’t find out anything against them. They’ve got one of their biggest men in charge over here. Seems odd as they do so little business. Man called Rufus B. Saye. Nothing much known about him. Lunches every day at the American Club in Piccadilly. Plays golf at Sunningdale. Doesn’t drink or smoke. Lives at the Savoy. Model citizen.” M shrugged his shoulders. “But the diamond business is a nice, well-regulated sort of family affair, and there’s an impression that the House of Diamonds has an awkward look about it. Nothing more than that.”

Bond decided it was time to put the sixty-four thousand dollar question. “And where do I come in, Sir?” he asked, looking across the desk into M’s eyes.

“You’ve got an appointment with Vallance at the Yard in”-M looked at his watch-“just over an hour. He’s going to start you off. They’re going to pull in this carrier tonight and put you into the pipeline instead of him.”

Bond’s fingers curled softly round the arms of his chair.

“And then?”

“And then,” said M matter-of-factly, “you’re going to smuggle those diamonds into America, At least that’s the idea. What do you think of it?”



JAMES BOND shut the door of M’s office behind him. He smiled into the warm brown eyes of Miss Moneypenny and walked across her office into the Chief of Staff’s room.

The Chief of Staff, a lean relaxed man of about Bond’s age, put down his pen and sat back in his chair. He watched as Bond automatically reached for the flat gun-metal cigarette case in his hip pocket and walked over to the open window and looked down on to Regent’s Park.

There was a thoughtful deliberation in Bond’s movements that answered the Chief of Staff’s question.

“So you’ve bought it.”

Bond turned round. “Yes,” he said. He lit a cigarette. Through the smoke, his eyes looked very directly at the Chief of Staff. “But just tell me this, Bill. Why’s the old man got cold feet about this job? He’s even looked up the results of my last medical. What’s he so worried about? It’s not as if this was Iron Curtain business. America’s a civilized country. More or less. What’s eating him?”

It was the Chief of Staffs duty to know most of what went on in M’s mind. His own cigarette had gone out and he lit it and threw the spent match over his left shoulder. He looked round to see whether it had fallen in the wastepaper basket. It had. He smiled up at Bond. “Constant practice,” he said. Then : “There aren’t many things that worry M, James, and you know that as well as anybody in the Service. SMERSH, of course. The German cypher-breakers. The Chinese opium ring-or at any rate the power they have all over the world. The authority of the Mafia. And, and he’s got a damned healthy respect for them, the American gangs. The big ones. That’s all. Those are the only people that get him worried. And this diamond business looks as if it’s pretty certain to bring you up against the gangs. They’re the last people he expected us to get mixed up with. He’s got quite enough on his plate without them. That’s all. That’s what’s giving him cold feet about this job.”

“There’s nothing so extraordinary about American gangsters,” protested Bond. “They’re not Americans. Mostly a lot of Italian bums with monogrammed shirts who spend the day eating spaghetti and meatballs and squirting scent over themselves.”

“That’s what you think,” said the Chief of Staff. “But the point is that those are only the ones you see. There are better ones behind them, and still better ones behind those. Look at narcotics. Ten million addicts. Where do they get the stuff from? Look at gambling-legitimate gambling. Two hundred and fifty million dollars a year is the take at Las Vegas. Then there are the undercover games at Miami and Chicago and so on. All owned by the gangs and their friends. A few years ago, Buggsy Siegel got the back of his head blown off because he wanted too much of the take from the Las Vegas operation. And he was tough enough. These are big operations. Do you realize gambling’s the biggest single industry in America? Bigger than steel. Bigger than motor cars? And they take damned good care to keep it running smoothly. Get hold of a copy of the Kefauver Report if you don’t believe me. And now these diamonds. Six million dollars a year is good money, and you can bet your life it’ll be well protected.” The Chief of Staff paused. He looked impatiently up at the tall figure in the dark blue single-breasted suit and into the obstinate eyes in the lean, brown face. “Perhaps you haven’t read the FBI Report on American Crime for this year. Interesting. Just thirty-four murders every day. Nearly 150,000 Americans criminally killed in the last twenty years.” Bond looked incredulous. “It’s a fact, damn you. Get hold of these Reports and see for yourself. And that’s why M wanted to make sure you were fit before he put you into the pipeline. You’re going to take those gangs on. And you’ll be by yourself. Satisfied:1″

Bond’s face relaxed. “Come on, Bill,” he said. “If that’s all there is to it, I’ll buy you lunch. It’s my turn and I feel like celebrating. No more paperwork this summer. I’ll take you to Scotts’ and we’ll have some of their dressed crab and a pint of black velvet. You’ve taken a load off my mind. I thought there might be some ghastly snag about this job.”

“All right, blast you.” The Chief of Staff put aside the misgivings which he fully shared with his Chief, and followed Bond out of the office and slammed the door with unnecessary force behind him.

Later, punctually at two o’clock, Bond was shaking hands with the dapper, level-eyed man in the old-fashioned office which hears more secrets than any other room in Scotland Yard.

Bond had made friends with Assistant Commissioner Vallance over the Moonraker affair and there was no need to waste time on preliminaries.

Vallance pushed a couple of CID identification photographs across the desk. They showed a dark-haired, rather good-looking young man with a clean-cut, swashbuckling face in which the eyes smiled innocently.

“That’s the chap,” said Vallance. “Near enough like you to pass with someone who’s only got his description. Peter Franks. Nice-looking fellow. Good family. Public school and all that. Then he went wrong and stayed wrong. Country house burglaries are his line. May have been on the Duke of Windsor job at Sunningdale a few years ago. We’ve pulled him in once or twice, but we could never get anything to stick. Now he’s slipped up. They often do when they get into a racket they know nothing about. I’ve got two or three undercover girls in Soho and he’s keen on one of them. Funnily enough, she’s rather keen on him. Thinks she can make him go straight and all that sort of stuff. But she’s got her job to do, and when he told her about this job, just casually, as if it was the hell of a lark, she passed the word back here.”

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