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So now James Bond paused before he replied to Major Townsend's question about how he could be of help. He looked at the Soft Man and then into the fire. He added up the accuracy of the description he had been given of Major Townsend's appearance, and before he said what he had been told to say, he gave Colonel Boris ninety out of a hundred. The big, friendly face, the wide-apart, pale-brown eyes, bracketed by the wrinkles of a million smiles, the military moustache, the rimless monocle dangling from a thin black cord, the brushed-back, thinning sandy hair, the immaculate double-breasted blue suit, stiff white collar and brigade tie--it was all there. But what Colonel Boris hadn't said was that the friendly eyes were as cold and steady as gunbarrels and that the lips were thin and scholarly.

James Bond said patiently: “It's really quite simple. I'm who I say I am. I'm doing what I naturally would do, and that's report back to M.”

“Quite. But you must realize”--a sympathetic smile-- “that you've been out of contact for nearly a year. You've been officially posted as 'missing believed killed.' Your obituary has even appeared in The Times, Have you any evidence of identity? I admit that you look very much like your photographs, but you must see that we have to be very sure before we pass you on up the ladder.”

“A Miss Mary Goodnight was my secretary. She'd recognize me all right. So would dozens of other people at H.Q.”

“Miss Goodnight's been posted abroad. Can you give me a brief description of H.Q., just the main geography?”

Bond did so.

“Right. Now, who was a Miss Maria Freudenstadt?”

“Was?”

“Yes, she's dead.”

“Thought she wouldn't last long. She was a double, working for K.G.B. Section One Hundred controlled her. I wouldn't get any thanks for telling you any more.”

Major Townsend had been pruned with this very secret top question. He had been given the answer, more or less as Bond had put it. This was the clincher. This had to be James Bond. “Well, we're getting on fine. Now, it only remains to find out where you've come from and where you've been all these months and I won't keep you any longer.”

“Sorry. I can only tell that to M. personally.”

“I see.” Major Townsend put on a thoughtful expression. “Well, just let me make a telephone call or two and I'll see what can be done.” He got to his feet. “Seen today's Times?” He picked it up and handed it to Bond. It had been specially treated to give good prints. Bond took it. “Shan't be long.”

Major Townsend shut the door behind him and went across the passage and through the door marked “A,” where he knew that “Mr. Robson” would be alone. “Sorry to bother you, Fred. Can I use your scrambler?” The chunky man behind the desk grunted through the stem of his pipe and remained bent over the midday Evening Standard racing news.

Major Townsend picked up the green receiver and was put through to the laboratory. “Major Townsend speaking. Any comment?” He listened, carefully, said thank you, and got through to the Chief Security Officer at Headquarters. “Well, sir, I think it must be 007. Bit thinner than his photographs. I'll be giving you his prints as soon as he's gone. Wearing his usual rig--dark-blue single-breasted suit, white shirt, thin black knitted silk tie, black casuals-- but they all look brand-new. Raincoat bought yesterday from Burberry's. Got the Freudenstadt question right, but says he won't say anything about himself except to M. personally. But whoever he is, I don't like it much. He fluffed on his special cigarettes. He's got an odd sort of glazed, sort of faraway look, and the 'scope' shows that he's carrying a gun inhis right-hand coat pocket--curious sort of contraption, doesn't seem to have got a butt to it. I'd say he's a sick man. I wouldn't personally recommend that M. should see him, but I wouldn't know how we're to get him to talk unless he does.” He paused. “Very good, sir. I'll stay by the telephone. I'm on Mr. Robson's extension.”

There was silence in the room. The two men didn't get on well together. Major Townsend gazed into the gas fire, wondering about the man next door. The telephone burred. “Yes, sir? Very good, sir. Would your secretary send along a car from the pool? Thank you, sir.”

Bond was sitting in the same upright posture, The Times still unopened in his hand. Major Townsend said cheerfully, “Well, that's fixed. Message from M. that he's tremendously relieved you're all right and he'll be free in about half an hour. Car should be here in ten minutes or so. And the Chief of Staff says he hopes you'll be free for lunch afterwards.”

James Bond smiled for the first time. It was a thin smile which didn't light up his eyes. He said, “That's very kind of nun. Would you tell him I'm afraid I shan't be free.”

2 - Attentat!

The Chief of Staff stood in front of M.'s desk and said firmly, “I really wouldn't do it, sir. I can see him, or someone else can. I don't like the smell of it at all. I think 007's round the bend. There's no doubt it's him all right. The prints have just been confirmed by Chief of Security. And the pictures are all right--and the recording of his voice. But there are too many things that don't add up. This forged passport we found in his room at the Ritz, for instance. All right. So he wanted to come back into the country quietly. But it's too good a job. Typical K.G.B. sample. And the last entry is West Germany, day before yesterday. Why didn't he report to Station B or W? Both those Heads of Station are friends of his, particularly 016 in Berlin. And why didn't he go and have a look at his flat? He's got some sort of a housekeeper there, Scotswoman called May, who's always sworn he was still alive and has kept the place going on her savings. The Ritz is sort of stage Bond. And these new clothes. Why did he have to bother? Doesn't matter what he was wearing when he came in through Dover. Normal thing, if he was in rags, would have been to give me a ring--he had my home number-- and get me to fix him up. Have a few drinks and run over his story and then report here. Instead of that we've got this typical penetration approach and Security worried as hell.”

The Chief of Staff paused. He knew he wasn't getting through. As soon as he had begun, M. had swivelled his chair sideways and had remained, occasionally sucking at an unlighted pipe, gazing moodily out through the window at the jagged skyline of London. Obstinately, the Chief of Staff concluded, “Do you think you could leave this one to me, sir? I can get hold of Sir James Molony in no time and have 007 put into The Park for observation and treatment. It'll all be done very gently. V.I.P. handling and so on. I can say you've been called to the Cabinet or something. Security says 007's looking a bit thin. Build him up. Convalescence and all that. That can be the excuse. If he cuts up rough, we can always give him some dope. He's a good friend of mine. He won't hold it against us. He obviously needs to be got back in the groove--if we can do it, that is.”

M. slowly swivelled his chair round. He looked up at the tired, worried face that showed the strain of being the equivalent of Number Two in the Secret Service for ten years and more. M. smiled. "Thank you, Chief of Staff. But I'm afraid it's not as easy as all that. I sent 007 out on his last job to shake him out of his domestic worries. You remember how it all came about. Well, we had no idea that what seemed a fairly peaceful mission was going to end up in a pitched battle with Blofeld. Or that 007 was going to vanish off the face of the earth for a year. Now we've got to know what happened during that year. And 007's quite right. I sent him out on that mission, and he's got every right to report back to me personally. I know 007. He's a stubborn fellow. If he says he won't tell anyone else, he

won't. Of course I want to hear what happened to him. You'll listen in. Have a couple of good men at hand. If he turns rough, come and get him. As for his gun“--M. gestured vaguely at the ceiling--”I can look after that. Have you tested the damned thing?"

“Yes, sir. It works all right. But. . . .”

M. held up a hand. “Sorry, Chief of Staff. It's an order.” A light winked on the intercom. “That'll be him. Send him straight in, would you?”

“Very good, sir.” The Chief of Staff went out and closed the door.

James Bond was standing smiling vaguely down at Miss Moneypenny. She looked distraught. When James Bond shifted his gaze and said “Hullo, Bill” he still wore the same distant smile. He didn't hold out his hand. Bill Tanner said, with a heartiness that rang with a terrible falsity in his ears, “Hullo, James. Long time no see.” At the same time, out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Miss Money-penny give a quick, emphatic shake of the head. He looked her straight in the eyes. “M. would like to see 007 straight away.”

Miss Moneypenny lied desperately: “You know M.'s got a Chiefs of Staff meeting at the Cabinet Office in five minutes?”

“Yes. He says you must somehow get him out of it.” The Chief of Staff turned to James Bond. “Okay, James. Go ahead. Sorry you can't manage lunch. Come and have a gossip after M.'s finished with you.”

Bond said, “That'll be fine.” He squared his shoulders and walked through the door over which the red light was already burning.

Miss Moneypenny buried her face in her hands. “Oh, Bill!” she said desperately. “There's something wrong with him. I'm frightened.”

Bill Tanner said, “Take it easy, Penny. I'm going to do what I can.” He walked quickly into his office and shut the door. He went over to his desk and pressed a switch. M.'s voice came into the room: “Hullo, James. Wonderful to have you back. Take a seat and tell me all about it.”

Bill Tanner picked up the office telephone and asked for Head of Security.

James Bond took his usual place across the desk from M. A storm of memories whirled through his consciousness like badly cut film on a projector that had gone crazy. Bond closed his mind to the storm. He must concentrate on what he had to say, and do, and on nothing else.

“I'm afraid there's a lot I still can't remember, sir. I got a bang on the head”--he touched his right temple-- “somewhere along the line on that job you sent me to do in Japan . Then there's a blank until I got picked up by the police on the waterfront at Vladivostok . No idea how I got there. They roughed me up a bit and in the process I must have got another bang on the head because suddenly I remembered who I was and that I wasn't a Japanese fisherman which was what I thought I was. So then of course the police passed me on to the local branch of the K.G.B.--it's a big grey building on the Morskaya Ulitsa facing the harbour near the railway station, by the way--and when they belinographed my prints to Moscow there was a lot of excitement and they flew me there from the military airfield just north of the town at Vtoraya Rechka and spent weeks interrogating me--or trying to, rather, because I couldn't remember anything except when they prompted me with something they knew themselves and then I could give them a few hazy details to add to their knowledge. Very frustrating for them.”

“Very,” commented M. A small frown had gathered between his eyes. “And you told them everything you could? Wasn't that rather, er, generous of you?”

“They were very nice to me in every way, sir. It seemed the least I could do. There was this Institute place in Leningrad . They gave me V.I.P. treatment. Top brain specialists and everything. They didn't seem to hold it against me that I'd been working against them for most of my life. And other people came and talked to me very reasonably about the political situation and so forth. The need for East and West to work together for world peace. They made clear a lot of things that hadn't occurred to me before. They quite convinced me.” Bond looked obstinately across the table into the clear blue sailor's eyes that now held a red spark of anger. “I don't suppose you understand what I mean, sir. You've been making war against someone or other all your life. You're doing so at this moment. And for most of my adult life you've used me as a tool. Fortunately that's all over now.”

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