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As the door closed behind Bond with a pressurized sigh, the golden gun halted in midwhirl and sighted on Bond's stomach. “Fellows,” said Scaramanga, mock boisterous, “meet my personal assistant, Mr. Mark Hazard, from London, England. He's come along to make things run smoothly over this weekend. Mark, come over and meet the gang and pass round the canapes.” He lowered the gun and shoved it into his waistband.

James Bond stitched a personal assistant smile on his face and walked up to the bar. Perhaps because he was an Englishman, there was a round of handshaking. The red-coated barman asked him what he would have, and he said, “Some pink gin. Plenty of bitters. Beefeater's.” There was desultory talk about the relative merits of gins. Everyone else seemed to be drinking champagne except Mr. Hendriks, who stood away from the group and nursed a Schweppes Bitter Lemon. Bond moved among the men. He made small talk about their flight, the weather in the States, the beauties of Jamaica . He wanted to fit the voices to the names. He gravitated towards Mr. Hendriks. “Seems we're the only two Europeans here. Gather you're from Holland . Often passed through. Never stayed there long. Beautiful country.”

The very pale blue eyes regarded Bond unenthusiastically. “Sank you.”

“What part do you come from?”

“Den Haag.”

“Have you lived there long?”

“Many, many years.”

“Beautiful town.”

“Sank you.”

“Is this your first visit to Jamaica?”

“No.”

“How do you like it?” “It's a beautiful place.”

Bond nearly said “Sank you.” He smiled encouragingly at Mr. Hendriks as much as to say, “I've made all the running so far. Now you say something.”

Mr. Hendriks looked past Bond's right ear at nothing. The pressure of the silence built up. Mr. Hendriks shifted his weight from one foot to the other and finally broke down. His eyes shifted and looked thoughtfully at Bond. “And you. You are from London, isn't it?” “Yes. Do you know it?” “I have been there, yes.” “Where do you usually stay?” There was hesitation. “With friends.” “That must be convenient.” “Pliss?”

“I mean it's pleasant to have friends in a foreign town. Hotels are so much alike.”

“I have not found this. Excuse pliss.” With a Germanic bob of the head, Mr. Hendriks moved decisively away from Bond and went up to Scaramanga, who was still lounging in solitary splendour at the bar. Mr. Hendriks said something. His words acted like a command on the other man. Scaramanga straightened himself and followed Mr. Hendriks into a far corner of the room. He stood and listened with deference as Mr. Hendriks talked rapidly in a low tone.

Bond, joining the other men, was interested. It was his guess that no other man in the room could have buttonholed Scaramanga with so much authority. He noticed that many fleeting glances were cast in the direction of the couple apart. For Bond's money, this was either the Mafia or K.G.B. Probably even the other five wouldn't know which, but they would certainly recognize the secret smell of The Machine, which Mr. Hendriks exuded so strongly.

Luncheon was announced. The Jamaican headwaiter hovered between two richly prepared tables. There were place cards. Bond found that, while Scaramanga was host at one of them, he himself was at the head of the other table between Mr. Paradise and Mr. Rotkopf. As he expected, Mr. Paradise was the better value of the two, and as they went through the conventional shrimp cocktail, steak, fruit salad of the Americanized hotel abroad, Bond cheerfully got himself involved in an argument about the odds at roulette when there are one zero or two. Mr. Rotkopf s only contribution was to say, through a mouthful of steak and French fries, that he had once tried three zeros at the Black Cat Casino in Miami but that the experiment had failed. Mr. Paradise said that so it should have. “You got to let the suckers win sometimes, Ruby, or they won't come back. Sure, you can squeeze the juice out of them, but you oughta leave them the pips. Like with my slots. I tell the customers, don't be too greedy. Don't set 'em at thirty percent for the house. Set 'em at twenty. You ever heard of Mr. J. P. Morgan turning down a net profit of twenty percent? Hell, no! So why try and be smarter than guys like that?”

Mr. Rotkopf said sourly, “You got to make big profits to put against a bum steer like this.” He waved a hand. “If you ask me”--he held up a bit of steak on Ms fork-- “you're eating the only money you're going to see out of this dump at this minute.”

Mr. Paradise leaned across the table and said softly, “You know something?”

Mr. Rotkopf said, “I always told my money that the bindweed would get this place. The damn fools wouldn't listen. And look where we are in three years! Second mortgage nearly run out, and we've only got one storey up. What I say is. . . .”

The argument went off into the realms of high finance. At the next-door table there was not even this amount of animation. Scaramanga was a man of few words. There were clearly none available for social occasions. Opposite him, Mr. Hendriks exuded a silence as thick as Gouda cheese. The three hoods addressed an occasional glum sentence to anyone who would listen. James Bond wondered how Scaramanga was going to electrify this unpromising company into “having a good time.”

Luncheon broke up, and the company dispersed to their rooms. James Bond wandered round to the back of the hotel and found a discarded shingle on a rubbish dump. It was blazing hot under the afternoon sun, but the Doctor's Wind was blowing in from the sea. For all its air-conditioning, there was something grim about the impersonal grey and white of Bond's bedroom. Bond walked along the shore, took off his coat and tie, and sat in the shade of a bush of sea grapes and watched the fiddler crabs about their minuscule business in the sand while he whittled two chunky wedges out of the Jamaican cedar. Then he closed his eyes and thought about Mary Goodnight. She would now be having her siesta in some villa on the outskirts of Kingston. It would probably be high up in the Blue Mountains for the coolness. In Bond's imagination, she would be lying on her bed under a mosquito net. Because of the heat, she would have nothing on, and one could see only an ivory-and-gold shape through the fabric of the net. But one would know that there were small beads of sweat on her upper lip and between her breasts, and the fringes of the golden hair would be damp. Bond took off his clothes and lifted up the corner of the mosquito net, not wanting to wake her until he had fitted himself against her thighs. But she turned, in half-sleep, towards turn and held out her arms. “James. . . .”

Under the sea-grape bush, a hundred and twenty miles away from the scene of the dream, James Bond's had came up with a jerk. He looked quickly, guiltily, at his watch. Three-thirty. He went off to his room and had a cold shower, verified that his cedar wedges would do what they were meant to do, and strolled down the corridor to the lobby.

The manager with the neat suit and neat face came out from behind his desk. “Er, Mr. Hazard.”

“Yes.”

“I don't think you've met my assistant, Mr. Travis.”

“No, I don't think I have.”

“Would you care to step into the office for a moment and shake him by the hand?”

“Later perhaps. We've got this conference on in a few minutes.”

The neat man came a step closer. He said quietly, “He particularly wants to meet you, Mr.--er--Bond.”

Bond cursed himself. This was always happening in his particular trade. You were looking in the dark for a beetle with red wings. Your eyes were focused for that particular pattern on the bark of the tree. You didn't notice the moth with cryptic colouring that crouched quietly nearby, itself like a piece of the bark, itself just as important to the collector. The focus of your eyes was too narrow. Your mind was too concentrated. You were using 1 by 100 magnification, and your 1 by 10 was not in focus. Bond looked at the man with the recognition that exists between crooks, between homosexuals, between secret agents. It is the look common to men bound by secrecy--by common trouble. “Better make it quick.”

The neat man stepped behind his desk and opened a door. Bond went in, and the neat man closed the door behind them. A tall, slim man was standing at a filing cabinet. He turned. He had a lean, bronzed Texan face under an unruly mop of straight, fair hair, and, instead of a right hand, a bright steel hook. Bond stopped in his tracks. His face split into a smile broader than he had smiled for what? Was it three years or four? He said, “You goddamned lousy crook. What in hell are you doing here?” He went up to the man and hit him hard on the biceps of the left arm.

The grin was slightly more creased than Bond remembered, but it was just as friendly and ironical. “Mr. Travis” said, “The name is Leiter, Mr. Felix Leiter. Temporary accountant on loan from Morgan Guaranty Trust to the Thunderbird Hotel. We're just checking up on your credit rating, Mr. Hazard. Would you kindly, in your royal parlance, extract your finger, and give me some evidence that you are who you claim to be?”

9Minutes of the Meeting

James Bond, almost lightheaded with pleasure, picked up a handful of travel literature from the front desk, said “Hi'” to Mr Gengerella, who didn't reply, and followed him into the conference room lobby. They were the last to show. Scaramanga, beside the open door to the conference room, looked pointedly at his watch and said to Bond “Okay, feller. Lock the door when we're all settled and don't let anyone in even if the hotel catches fire. He turned to the barman behind the buffet. ”Get lost Joe. I'll call for you later.“ He said to the room, ”Right. We're all set. Let's go.“ He led the way into the conference room and the six men followed. Bond stood by the door and noted the seating order round the table He closed the door and locked it and quickly also locked the exit from he lobby. Then he picked up a champagne glass from the buffet, pulled over a chair, and sited the chair very close to the door of the conference room. He placed the bowl of the champagne glass as near as possible to a hinge of the door, and holding the glass by the stem, put his left ear up against its base. Through the crude amplifier, what had been the rumble of a voice became Mr. Hendriks speaking, ”... and so it is that I will now report from my superiors in Europe. . . .“ The voice paused and Bond heard another noise, the creak of a chair. Like lightning he pulled his chair back a few feet, opened one of the travel folders on his lap, and raised the glass to his lips. The door jerked open and Scaramanga stood in the opening, twirling his passkey on a chain. He examined the innocent figure on the chair. He said, ”Okay, feller. Just checking," and kicked the door shut.

Bond noisily locked it and took up his place again. Mr. Hendriks said, “I have one most important message for our chairman. It is from a sure source. There is a man that is called James Bond that is looking for him in this territory. This is a man who is from the British Secret Service. I have no informations or descriptions of this man, but it seems that he is highly rated by my superiors. Mr. Scaramanga, have you heard of this man?”

Scaramanga snorted. “Hell, no! And should I care? I eat one of their famous secret agents for breakfast from time to time. Only ten days ago, I disposed of one of them who came nosing after me. Man called Ross. His body is now very slowly sinking to the bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad--place called La Brea. The oil company, the Trinidad Lake Asphalt people, will obtain an interesting barrel of crude one of these days. Next question, please, Mr. Hendriks.”

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