Was there defensiveness in the voice? Bond glanced sideways. The pale eyes swivelled to meet his. There was a quick red glare in them. It was as if the safety door of a furnace had swung open. The blaze died. The door to the inside of the man was banged shut. Now the eyes were opaque again–the eyes of an introvert, of a man who rarely looks out into the world but is for ever surveying the scene inside him.
There's madness there all right, thought Bond, startled by the sight of it. Shell-shock perhaps, or schizophrenia. Poor chap, with that magnificent body. One day he would certainly crack. The madness would take control. Bond had better have a word to Personnel. Check up on his medical. By the way, what was his name?
'Well I'm very glad to have you along. Probably not much for you to do. We started off with three Redland men on our tail. They've been got rid of, but there may be others on the train. Or some more may get on. And I've got to get this girl to London without trouble. If you'd just hang about. Tonight we'd better stay together and share watches. It's the last night and I don't want to take any chances. By the way, my name's James Bond. Travelling as David Somerset. And that's Caroline Somerset in there.'
The man fished in his inside pocket and produced a battered note-case which seemed to contain plenty of money. He extracted a visiting card and handed it to Bond. It said 'Captain Norman Nash', and in the left-hand bottom corner, 'Royal Automobile Club'.
As Bond put the card in his pocket he slipped his finger across it. It was engraved. 'Thanks,' he said. 'Well, Nash, come and meet Mrs Somerset. No reason why we shouldn't travel more or less together.' He smiled encouragingly.
Again the red glare quickly extinguished. The lips writhed under the young golden moustache. 'Delighted, old man.'
Bond turned to the door and knocked softly and spoke his name.
The door opened. Bond beckoned Nash in and shut the door behind him.
The girl looked surprised.
'This is Captain Nash, Norman Nash. He's been told to keep an eye on us.'
'How do you do.' The hand came out hesitantly. The man touched it briefly. His stare was fixed. He said nothing. The girl gave an embarrassed little laugh, 'Won't you sit down?'
'Er, thank you.' Nash sat stiffly on the edge of the banquette. He seemed to remember something, something one did when one had nothing to say. He groped in the side pocket of his coat and produced a packet of Players. 'Will you have a, er, cigarette?' He prised open the top with a fairly clean thumb nail, stripped down the silver paper and pushed out the cigarettes. The girl took one. Nash's other hand flashed forward a lighter with the obsequious speed of a motor salesman.
Nash looked up. Bond was standing leaning against the door and wondering how to help this clumsy, embarrassed man. Nash held out the cigarettes and the lighter as if he was offering glass beads to a native chief. 'What about you, old man?'
'Thanks,' said Bond. He hated Virginia tobacco, but he was prepared to do anything to help put the man at ease. He took a cigarette and lit it. They certainly had to make do with some queer fish in the Service nowadays. How the devil did this man manage to get along in the semi-diplomatic society he would have to frequent in Trieste?
Bond said lamely. 'You look very fit, Nash. Tennis?'
'Been long in Trieste?'
There came a brief red glare. 'About three years.'
'Sometimes. You know how it is, old man.'
Bond wondered how he could stop Nash calling him 'old man'. He couldn't think of a way. Silence fell.
Nash obviously felt it was his turn again. He fished in his pocket and produced a newspaper cutting. It was the front page of the Corrière della Sera. He handed it to Bond. 'Seen this, old man?' The eyes blazed and died.
It was the front page lead. The thick black lettering on the cheap newsprint was still wet. The headlines said:
TERRIBLE ESPLOSIONE IN ISTANBUL
UFFICIO SOVIETICO DISTRUTTO
TUTTI I PRESENTI UCCISI
Bond couldn't understand the rest. He folded the cutting and handed it back. How much did this man know? Better treat him as a strong-man arm and nothing else. 'Bad show,' he said. 'Gas main I suppose.' Bond saw again the obscene belly of the bomb hanging down from the roof of the alcove in the tunnel, the wires that started off down the damp wall on their way back to the plunger in the drawer of Kerim's desk. Who had pressed the plunger yesterday afternoon when Tempo had got through? The 'Head Clerk'? Or had they drawn lots and then stood round and watched as the hand went down and the deep roar had gone up in the Street of Books on the hill above. They would all have been there, in the cool room. With eyes that glittered with hate. The tears would be reserved for the night. Revenge would have come first. And the rats? How many thousand had been blasted down the tunnel? What time would it have been? About four o'clock. Had the daily meeting been on? Three dead in the room. How many more in the rest of the building? Friends of Tatiana, perhaps. He would have to keep the story from her. Had Darko been watching? From a window in Valhalla? Bond could hear the great laugh of triumph echoing round its walls. At any rate Kerim had taken plenty with him.
Nash was looking at him. 'Yes, I daresay it was a gas main,' he said without interest.
A hand-bell tinkled down the corridor coming nearer. 'Deuxième Service. Deuxième Service. Prenez vos places, s'il vous plait.'
Bond looked across at Tatiana. Her face was pale. In her eyes there was an appeal to be saved from any more of this clumsy, non-kulturny man. Bond said, 'What about lunch?' She got up at once. 'What about you, Nash?'
Captain Nash was already on his feet. 'Had it, thanks old man. And I'd like to have a look up and down the train. Is the conductor–you know . . .?' he made a gesture of fingering money.
'Oh yes, he'll co-operate all right,' said Bond. He reached up and pulled down the heavy little bag. He opened the door for Nash. 'See you later.'