"I'm only jealous. Go on.''
“So he went all over the world---to India, China, Japan, America. He had many girls and many fights with cutlasses and fists. He wrote home regularly---to his mother and to a married sister who lived at Dover. They wanted him to come home and meet a nice girl and get married. But he wouldn't. You see, he was keeping himself for a dream girl who looked rather like me. And then''---she laughed--- ”the first steamships came in and he was transferred to an ironclad---that's the picture of it on the right. And by now he was a bosun, whatever that is, and very important. And he saved up from his pay and instead of going out fighting and having girls he grew that lovely beard, to make himself look older and more important, and he set to with a needle and colored threads to make that picture of himself. You can see how well he did it---his first windjammer and his last ironclad with the lifebuoy as a frame. He only finished it when he decided to leave the Navy. He didn't really like steamships. In the prime of life, don't you agree? And even then he ran out of gold thread to finish the rope round the lifebuoy, so he just had to tail it off. There, you can see on the right where the rope crosses the blue line. So he came back home on a beautiful golden evening after a wonderful life in the Navy and it was so sad and beautiful and romantic that he decided that he would put the beautiful evening into another picture. So he bought a pub at Bristol with his savings and in the mornings before the pub opened he worked away until he had finished and there you can see the little sailing ship that brought him home from Suez with his duffel bag full of silks and seashells and souvenirs carved out of wood. And that's the Needles Lighthouse beckoning him in to harbor on that beautiful calm evening. Mark you''---she frowned---“I don't like that sort of bonnet thing he's wearing for a hat, and I'd have liked him to have put `H.M.S.' before the `Hero,' but you can see that would have made it lopsided and he wouldn't have been able to get all the `Hero' in. But you must admit it's the most terrifically romantic picture. I cut it off my first packet, when I smoked one in the lavatory and felt terribly sick, and kept it until it fell to pieces. Then I cut off a fresh one. I carried him with me always until things went wrong and I had to go back to Italy. Then I couldn't afford Players. They're too expensive in Italy and I had to smoke things called Nazionales.'' Bond wanted to keep her mood. He said, ”But what happened to the Hero's pictures? How did the cigarette people get hold of them?''
“Oh, well, you see one day a man with a stovepipe hat and a frock coat came into the Hero's pub with two small boys. Here.'' She held the packet sideways. ”Those are the ones, `John Player & Sons.' You see, it says that their Successors run the business now. Well they had one of the first motor cars, a Rolls Royce, and it had broken down outside the Hero's pub. The man in the stovepipe hat didn't drink, of course---those sort of people didn't, not the respectable merchants who lived near Bristol. So he asked for ginger beer and bread and cheese while his chauffeur mended the car. And the hero got it for them. And Mr. John Player and the boys all admired the two wonderful tapestry pictures hanging on the wall of the pub. Now this Mr. Player was in the tobacco and snuff business and cigarettes had just been invented and he wanted to start making them. But he couldn't for the life of him know what to call them or what sort of a picture to put on the packet. And he suddenly had a wonderful idea. When he got back to the factory he talked to his manager and the manager came along to the pub and saw the Hero and offered him a hundred pounds to let his two pictures be copied for the cigarette packet. And the Hero didn't mind and anyway he wanted just exactly a hundred pounds to get married on.'' She paused. Her eyes were far away. “She was very nice, by the way, only thirty and a good plain cook and her young body kept him warm in bed until he died many years later. And she bore him two children, a boy and a girl. And the boy went into the Navy like his father. Well, anyway, Mr. Player wanted to have the Hero in the lifebuoy on one side of the packet and the beautiful evening on the other. But the manager pointed out that that would leave no room for all this''---she turned over the packet---”about `Rich, Cool,' and `Navy Cut Tobacco' and that extraordinary trademark of a doll's house swimming in chocolate fudge with Nottingham Castle written underneath. So then Mr. Player said, `Well then, we'll put one on top of the other.' And that's just exactly what they did and I must say I think it fits in very well, don't you? Though I expect the Hero was pretty annoyed at the mermaid being blanked out.''
"Oh, yes. Underneath the bottom comer of the lifebuoy where it dips into the sea, the Hero had put a tiny mermaid combing her hair with one hand and beckoning him home with the other. That was supposed to be the woman he was going to find and marry. But you can see there wasn't room and anyway her breasts were showing and Mr. Player, who was a very strong Quaker, didn't think that was quite proper. But he made it up to the Hero in the end.''
"Oh, how did he do that?''
“Well you see the cigarettes were a great success. It was really the picture that did it. People decided that anything with a wonderful picture like that on the outside must be good and Mr. Player made a fortune and I expect his Successors did too. So when the Hera was getting old and hadn't got long to live, Mr. Player had a copy of the lifebuoy picture drawn by the finest artist of the day. It was just the same as the Hero's except that it wasn't in color and it showed him very much older, and he promised the Hero that this picture too would always be on his cigarette packets, only on the inside bit. Here.'' She pushed out the cardboard container. ”You see how old he looks? And one other thing, if you look closely, the flags on the two ships are flying at half mast. Rather sweet of Mr. Player, don't you think, to ask the artist for that. It meant that the Hero's first and last ship were remembering him. And Mr. Player and his two sons came and presented it to him just before he died. It must have made it much easier for him, don't you think?''
"It certainly must. Mr. Player must have been a very thoughtful man.''