She still asked no questions when Bond collected her clothes from the floor of the cabin and gave them to her and told her not to come out until he was ready and to clean up everything and wipe every object she had touched to kill the fingerprints.

She just stood and looked at him with her eyes shining. And when Bond kissed her on the lips she still said nothing.

Bond gave her a reassuring smile and walked out and shut the door of the bathroom behind him and went about his business, doing everything with great deliberation and pausing before each move so as to examine its effect on the eyes and minds of the detectives who would come on board at Southampton.

First he tied an ashtray in his bloodstained shirt to weight it and went to the porthole and threw the shirt as far out as he could. The men’s tuxedos were hanging behind the door. He took the handkerchiefs out of the breast pockets and wrapped them round his hands and searched through the cupboards and the chest of drawers until he found the white-haired man’s evening shirts. He put one on and stood for a moment in the centre of the cabin thinking. Then he gritted his teeth and heaved the fat man into a sitting position, took off the fat man’s shirt and went to the porthole and took out his Beretta, held it against the small hole over the heart of the shirt and fired another bullet through the hole. Now there was a smoke smudge round the hole to look like suicide. He dressed the corpse again in its shirt, wiped his Beretta thoroughly, pressed the ringers of the dead man’s right hand all over it, and finally fitted the gun into his hand with the index finger on the trigger.

After another pause in the middle of the room, he took Kidd’s tuxedo down from its hook and dressed the corpse of Kidd in it. Then he dragged the man across the floor to the porthole and, sweating with the effort, heaved him up into the porthole and pushed him through.

He wiped the porthole for prints and paused again, getting his breath and surveying the small stage, and then he went over to the card table that stood, with the litter of an unfinished game, against the wall, and upset it on the floor so that the cards scattered on the carpet. As an afterthought he went again to the fat man’s body, extracted the wad of notes from his hip-pocket and strewed them amongst the cards.

Surely the picture would stand up. There would be the mystery of the bullet fired into the bed by the dying Kidd, but that would have been part of the struggle. There were three shots gone from the Beretta and three cartridges on the floor. Two of the bullets could have been in the body of Kidd which was now in the Atlantic. There were the two sheets he would have to steal off the second bed. Their loss would be unexplained. Perhaps Wint had wrapped Kidd’s body in them as a shroud before he pushed Kidd out of the porthole. That would fit in with Wint’s remorse and suicide following the gunfight over the cards.

At all events, reflected Bond, it would stand up until the police arrived at the dock, and by that time he and Tiffany would be off the ship and away and the only trace of them in the cabin would be Bond’s Beretta, and that, like all other guns belonging to the Secret Service, had no numbers.

He sighed and shrugged his shoulders. And now to take the sheets and get Tiffany back to his cabin without being seen, cut down the rope dangling from his porthole, throw it out into the sea with the spare magazines for the Beretta and the empty holster and then, at last, an age of sleep with her dear body dovetailed against his and his arms round her forever.


As he walked slowly across the cabin to the bathroom, Bond met the blank eyes of the body on the floor.

And the eyes of the man whose Blood Group had been F spoke to him and said, ‘Mister. Nothing is forever. Only death is permanent. Nothing is forever except what you did to me.’



THERE was now no scorpion living in the roots of the great thorn bush which stood at the junction of the three African states. The smuggler from the mines had nothing to occupy his mind except an endless column of Driver ants flowing along between the low walls which the Soldiers had built on both sides of the three-inch highway.

It was hot and sticky and the man hiding in the thorn bush was impatient and ill at ease. This was the last time he would make the rendezvous. That was definite. They would have to find someone else. Of course he would be fair with them. He would warn them he was quitting and tell them the reason-the new dental assistant who had joined the staff, and who didn’t seem to know quite enough about dentistry. The man was certainly a spy-the careful eyes, the little ginger moustache, the pope, the clean fingernails. Had one of the boys been caught? Had one of them turned Queen’s evidence?

The smuggler shifted his position. Where the hell was the plane? He picked up a handful of dirt and threw it into the middle of the flowing column of ants. They hesitated and spilled over the walls of their road as the hurrying rear ranks crowded into them. Then the Soldiers started frantically digging and carrying and in a few minutes the highway was clear.

The man took off his shoe and slapped it down hard across the moving column. There was another brief moment of confusion. Then the ants set upon the dead bodies and devoured them and the road was open again and the black river flowed on.

The man swore briefly in Afrikaans and pulled on his shoe. Black bastards. He would show them. Crouching, and holding up an arm against the thorns, he stamped along the column of ants and out into the moonlight. That would give them something to think about.

Then he forgot the hatred he had for all black things and cocked his head towards the north. Thank heavens! He moved round the bush to get the torches and the packet of diamonds out of the tool boxes.

A mile away in the low bush the big iron ear of the sound-detector had already stopped searching, and the operator, who had been softly calling the range to the group of three men beside the army truck, now said : “Thirty miles. Speed one-twenty. Height nine hundred.”

Bond glanced at his watch. “Looks as if midnight at full moon is the rendezvous,” he said. “And he’ll be about ten minutes late.”

“Looks like it, Sir,” said the officer from the Freetown Garrison Force who was standing next to him. He turned to the third man. “Corporal. Make sure there’s no metal showing through the camouflage net. This moon’ll pick up anything.”

The truck was standing under cover of the low bush on a dirt track that ran across the plain in the direction of the village of Telebadou in French Guiana. That night, they had started off from the hills as soon as the locator had picked up the sound of the dentist’s motor cycle on the parallel track. They had driven without lights, and they had stopped as soon as the motor cycle had stopped and there was no longer protection from the noise of its engine. They had put a camouflage net over the truck and over the locator and over the bulge of the Bofors mounted beside it. Then they had waited, not knowing what to expect at the dentist’s rendezvous-another motor cycle, a rider on a horse, a jeep, an aeroplane?

Now they could hear the distant clatter in the sky. Bond gave a short laugh. “Helicopter,” he said. “Nothing else makes that racket. Get ready to take the net down when he lands. We may have to give him a warning shot. Is the loud-hailer switched on?”

“Yes, Sir,” said the Corporal at the locator. “And he’s coming in quick. You should be able to see him in a minute. See those lights just come on, Sir? Must be the landing ground.”

Bond glanced at the four thin shafts of light, and then he looked up again into the great African sky.

So here came the last of them, the last of the gang, and yet the first. The man he’d taken a look at in Hatton Garden. The first of the Spangled Mob, the gang that had rated so high in Washington. The only one, except the harmless, rather likeable, Shady Tree, Bond had not yet had to kill-or, he thought of the Pink Garter Saloon and the two men from Detroit, almost kill. Not that he had wanted to kill these people. The job M had given him had only been to find out about them. But, one by one, they had tried to kill him and his friends. Violence had been their first resort, not their last. Violence and cruelty were their only weapons. The two men in the Chevrolet in Las Vegas who had shot at him and hit Ernie Cureo. The two men in the Jaguar who had bludgeoned Ernie and had been the first to draw guns when it came to the fight. Seraffimo Spang, who had started to torture him to death and had then tried to shoot them or smash them down on the railway track. Wint and Kidd, who had given Tingaling Bell the treatment, and then Bond, and then Tiffany Case. And, of the seven, he had killed five-not because he liked it, but because somebody had had to. And he had had luck and three good friends, Felix and Ernie and Tiffany. And the bad men had died.

And now here came the last of the bad men, the man who had ordered his death, and Tiffany’s, the man who, according to M, had built up the traffic in diamonds, organized the pipeline and run it ruthlessly and efficiently through the years.

On the telephone to Boscombe Down, M had been brief and his voice had had an edge to it. He had reached Bond on the Air Ministry line a few minutes before the Canberra was due to take off for Freetown. Bond had taken the call in the Station Commander’s office, with the scream of the Canberra testing her jets in the background.

“Glad you got back all right.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“What’s this in the evening papers about a double killing in the Queen Elizabeth?” There was more than suspicion in M’s voice.

“They were the two killers from the gang, Sir. Travelling as Winter and Kitteridge. My steward told me they were supposed to have had a row over cards.”

“Do you think your steward was right?”

“It sounds possible, Sir.”

There was a pause. “Do the police think so?”

“I haven’t seen any of them, Sir.”

“I’ll talk to Vallance.”

“Yes, Sir,” said Bond. He knew that this was M’s way of saying that, if Bond had killed the men, M would make sure that neither Bond nor the Service was mentioned at the inquest.

“Anyway,” said M, “they were small people. This man Jack Spang, or Rufus Saye, or ABC, or whatever he calls himself. I want you to get him. As far as I can make out he’s going back down the pipeline. Sealing it off. Probably killing as he goes. The end of the line is this dentist. Try and get them both. I’ve had 2804 working alongside the dentist for the last week or so, and Freetown think they’ve got the local picture clear enough. But I want to close this case and get you back on your proper job. This has been a messy business. Never liked it from the first. More luck than good management that we’ve got as far as we have.”

“Yes, Sir,” said Bond.

“What about this Case girl?” said M. “I’ve talked to Vallance. He doesn’t want to prosecute unless you feel strongly about it.”

Was M’s voice a shade too indifferent?

Bond tried to prevent his answer being too breezy. “She’s been a great help, Sir,” he said, easily he hoped. “Perhaps we could decide when I’ve put in my final report.”

“Where is she now?”

The black receiver was getting slippery in Bond’s hand. “She’s on her way to London in a Daimler Hire, Sir. I’m putting her up in my flat. In the spare room, that is. Very good housekeeper. She’ll look after her until I get back. I’m sure she’ll be all right, Sir.” Bond took out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat off his face. Copyright 2016 - 2024