VII NIGHT PASSAGE
By the way, Quarrel-” Bond dared a bus with ‘Brown Bomber’ painted above its windshield. The bus pulled over and roared on down the hill towards Kingston sounding a furious chord on its triple windhorn to restore the driver’s ego, “-what do you know about centipedes?”
“Centipedes, cap’n?” Quarrel squinted sideways for a clue to the question. Bond’s expression was casual. “Well, we got some bad ones here in Jamaica. Tree, fo, five inches long. Dey kills folks. Dey mos’ly lives in de old houses in Kingston. Dey loves de rotten wood an’ de mouldy places. Dey hoperates mos’ly at night. Why, cap’n? Yo seen one?”
Bond dodged the question. He had also not told Quarrel about the fruit. Quarrel was a tough man, but there was no reason to sow the seeds of fear. “Would you expect
to find one in a modern house, for instance? In your shoe, or in a drawer, or in your bed?”
“Nossir.” Quarrel’s voice was definite. “Not hunless dem put dere a purpose. Dese hinsecks love de holes and de crannies. Dey not love de clean places. Dey dirty-livin’ hinsecks. Mebbe yo find dem in de bush, under logs an’ stones. But never in de bright places.”
“I see.” Bond changed the subject. “By the way, did those two men get off all right in the Sunbeam?”
“Sho ting, cap’n. Dey plenty happy wid de job. An’ dey look plenty like yo an’ me, cap’n.” Quarrel chuckled. He glanced at Bond and said hesitantly, “I fears dey weren’t very good citizens, cap’n. Had to find de two men wheres I could. Me, I’m a beggarman, cap’n. An’ fo you, cap’n, I get a misrable no-good whiteman from Betsy’s.”
“She done run de lousiest brothel
in town, cap’n,” Quarrel spat emphatically out of the window. “Dis whiteman, he does de book-keepin’.”
Bond laughed. “So long as he can drive a car. I only hope they get to Montego all right.”
“Don* yo worry,” Quarrel misunderstood Bond’s concern. “I say I tell de police dey stole de car if dey don’.”
They were at the saddleback at Stony Hill where the Junction Road dives down through fifty S-bends towards the North Coast. Bond put the little Austin A.3O into second gear and let it coast. The sun was coming up over the Blue Mountain peak and dusty shafts of gold lanced into the plunging valley. There were few people on the road-an occasional man going off to his precipitous smallholding on the flank of a hill, his three-foot steel cutlass dangling from his right hand, chewing at his breakfast, a foot of raw sugar cane held
in his left, or a woman sauntering up the road with a covered basket of fruit or vegetables for Stony Hill market, her shoes on her head, to be donned when she got near the village. It was a savage, peaceful scene that had hardly changed, except for the surface of the road, for two hundred years or more. Bond almost smelted the dung of the mule train in which he would have been riding over from Port Royal to visit the garrison at Morgan’s Harbour in 1750.
Quarrel interrupted his thoughts. “Cap’n,” he said apologetically, “beggin’ yo pardon, but kin yo tell me what yo have in mind for we? I’se bin puzzlin’ an’ Ah caint seem to figger bout yo game.”
“I’ve hardly figured it out myself, Quarrel.” Bond changed up into top and dawdled through the cool, beautiful glades of Castleton Gardens. “I told you I’m here because Commander Strangways and his secretary have disappeared. 佛山桑拿美女2013体验 Most people think they’ve gone off together. I think they’ve been murdered.”
“Dat so?” said Quarrel unemotionally. “Who yo tink done hit?”
“I’ve come to agree with you. I think Doctor No, that Chinaman on Crab Key, had it done. Strangways was poking his nose into this man’s affairs-something to do with the bird sanctuary. Doctor No has this mania for privacy. You were telling me so yourself. Seems he’ll do anything to stop people climbing over his wall. Mark you, it’s not more than a guess about Doctor No. But some funny things happened in the last twenty-four hours. That’s why I sent the Sunbeam over to Montego, to lay a false scent. And that’s why we’re going to hide out at the Beau Desert for a few days.”
“Den what, cap’n?”
“First of all I want you to get me absolutely fit-the way you trained me the last time I was here. 佛山夜生活好玩的地方 Remember?”
“Sho, cap’n. Ah kin do dat ting.”
“And then I was thinking you and me might go and take a look at Crab Key.”
Quarrel whistled. The whistle ended on a downward note.
“Just sniff around. We needn’t get too close to Doctor No’s end. I want to take a look at this bird sanctuary. See for myself what happened to the wardens’ camp. If we find anything wrong, we’ll get away again and come back by the front door-with some soldiers to help. Have a full-dress inquiry. Can’t do that until we’ve got something to go on. What do you think?”
Quarrel dug into his hip pocket for a cigarette. He made a fuss about lighting it. He blew a cloud of smoke through his nostrils and watched it whip out of the window. He said, “Cap’n, Ah tink yo’se plumb crazy to trespass hon dat island.” Quarrel had wound himself up. He paused. There was no 佛山桑拿飞机网 comment. He looked sideways at the quiet profile. He said more quietly, in an embarrassed voice, “Jess one ting, cap’n. Ah have some folks back in da Caymans. Would yo consider takin’ hout a life hinsurance hon me afore we sail?”
Bond glanced affectionately at the strong brown face. It had a deep cleft of worry between the eyes. “Of course, Quarrel. I’ll fix it at Port Maria tomorrow. We’ll make it big, say five thousand pounds. Now then, how shall we go? Canoe?”
“Dat’s right, cap’n.” Quarrel’s voice was reluctant. “We need a calm sea an’ a light wind. Come hin on de Nor-easterly Trades. Mus’ be a dark night. Dey startin’ right now. By end of da week we git da secon” moon quarter. Where yo reckon to land, cap’n?”
“South shore near the mouth of the river. Then we’ll go up the river to the lake. I’m sure that’s where the wardens’佛山桑拿有什么服务 camp was. So as to have fresh water and be able to get down to the sea to fish.
Quarrel grunted without enthusiasm. “How long we stayin’, cap’n? Caint take a whole lot of food wit us. Bread, cheese, salt pork. No tobacco-caint risk da smoke an’ light. Dat’s mighty rough country, cap’n. Marsh an’ mangrove.”
Bond said: “Better plan for three days. Weather may break and stop us getting off for a night or two. Couple of good hunting knives. I’ll take a gun. You never can tell.”
“No, sir,” said Quarrel emphatically. He relapsed into a brooding silence which lasted until they got to Port Maria.
They went through the little town and on round the headland to Morgan’s Harbour. It was just as Bond remembered-the sugar-loaf of the Isle of Surprise rising out of the calm bay, the canoes drawn up beside the mounds of empty conch shells, 佛山夜生活上门 the distant boom of the surf on the reef which had so nearly been his grave. Bond, his mind full of memories, took the car down the little side road and through the cane fields in the middle of which the gaunt ruin of the old Great House of Beau Desert Plantation stood up like a stranded galleon.
They came to the gate leading to the bungalow. Quarrel got out and opened the gate, and Bond drove through and pulled up in the yard behind the white single-storeyed house. It was very quiet. Bond walked round the house and across the lawn to the edge of the sea. Yes, there it was, the stretch of deep, silent water-the submarine path he had taken to the Isle of Surprise. It sometimes came back to him in nightmares. Bond stood looking at it and thinking of Solitaire, the girl he had brought back, torn and bleeding, from that sea. He 佛山夜生活888论坛 had carried her across the lawn to the house. What had happened to her? Where was she? Brusquely Bond turned and walked back into the house, driving the phantoms away from him.
It was eight-thirty. Bond unpacked his few things and changed into sandals and shorts. Soon there was the delicious smell of coffee and frying bacon. They ate their breakfast while Bond fixed his training routine-up at seven, swim a quarter of a mile, breakfast, an hour’s sunbathing, run a mile, swim again, lunch, sleep, sunbathe, swim a mile, hot bath and massage, dinner and asleep by nine.
After breakfast the routine began.
Nothing interrupted the grinding week except a brief story in the Daily Gleaner and a telegram from Pleydell-Smith. The Gleaner said that a Sunbeam Talbot, H. 2473, had been involved in a fatal accident on the Devil’s Racecourse, a stretch of winding road between Spanish Town and Ochos Rio-on the Kingston-Montego route. A runaway lorry, whose driver was being traced, had crashed into the Sunbeam as it came round a bend. Both vehicles had left the road and hurtled into the ravine below. The two occupants of the Sunbeam, Ben Gibbons of Harbour Street, and Josiah Smith, no address, had been killed. A Mr Bond, an English visitor, who had been lent the car, was asked to contact the nearest police station.
Bond burned that copy of the Gleaner. He didn’t want to upset Quarrel.
With only one day to go, the telegram came from Pleydell-Smith. It said:
EACH OBJECT CONTAINED ENOUGH CYANIDE TO KILL A HORSE
STOP SUGGEST YOU CHANGE YOUR GROCER STOP GOOD LUCK
Bond also burned the telegram.
Quarrel hired a canoe and they spent three days sailing it. It was a clumsy shell cut out of a single giant cotton tree. It had two thin thwarts, two heavy paddles and a small sail of dirty canvas. It was a blunt instrument. Quarrel was pleased with it.
“Seven, eight hours, cap’n,” he said. “Den we bring down de sail an’ use de paddles. Less target for de radar to see.”
The weather held. The forecast from Kingston radio was good. The nights were as black as sin. The two men got in their stores. Bond fitted himself out with cheap black canvas jeans and a dark blue shirt and rope-soled shoes.
The last evening came. Bond was glad he was on his way. He had only once been out of the training camp-to get the stores and arrange Quarrel’s insurance-and he was chafing to get out of the stable and on to the track. He admitted to himself that this adventure excited him. It had the right ingredients-physical exertion, mystery, and a ruthless enemy. He had a good companion. His cause was just. There might also be the satisfaction of throwing the ‘holiday in the sun’ back in M’s teeth. That had rankled. Bond didn’t like being coddled.
The sun blazed beautifully into its grave.
Bond went into his bedroom and took out his two guns and looked at them. Neither was a part of him as the Beretta had been-an extension of his right hand-but he already knew them as better weapons. Which should he take? Bond picked up each in turn, hefting them in his hand. It had to be the heavier Smith & Wesson. There would be no close shooting, if there was any shooting, on Crab Key. Heavy, long-range stuff-if anything. The brutal, stumpy revolver had an extra twenty-five yards over the Walther. Bond fitted the holster into the waistband of his jeans and clipped in the gun. He put twenty spare rounds in his pocket. Was it over-insurance to take all this metal on what might only be a tropical picnic?
Bond went to the icebox and took a pint of Canadian Club Blended Rye and some ice and soda-water and went and sat in the garden and watched the last light flame and die.
The shadows crept from behind the house and marched across the lawn and enveloped him. The Undertaker’s Wind that blows at night from the centre of the island, clattered softly in the tops of the palm trees. The frogs began to tinkle among the shrubs. The fireflies, the ‘blink-a-blinks’, as Quarrel called them, came out and began flashing their sexual morse. For a moment the melancholy of the tropical dusk caught at Bond’s heart. He picked up the bottle and looked at~it. He had drunk a quarter of it. He poured another big slug into his glass and added some ice. What was he drinking for? Because of the thirty miles of black sea he had to cross tonight? Because he was going into the unknown? Because of Doctor No?
Quarrel came up from the beach. “Time, cap’n.”
Bond swallowed his drink and followed the Cayman Islander down to the canoe.. It was rocking quietly in the water, its bows on the sand. Quarrel went aft and Bond climbed into the space between the forrard thwart and the bows. The sail, wrapped round the short mast, was at his back. Bond took up his paddle and pushed off, and they turned slowly and headed out for the break in the softly creaming waves that was the passage through the reef. They paddled easily, in unison, the paddles turning in their hands so that they did not leave the water on the forward stroke. The small waves slapped softly against the bows. Otherwise they made no noise. It was dark. Nobody saw them go. They just left the land and went off across the sea.
Bond’s only duty was to keep paddling. Quarrel did the steering. At the opening through the reef there was a swirl and suck of conflicting currents and they were in amongst the jagged niggerheads and coral trees, bared like fangs by the swell. Bond could feel the strength of Quarrel’s great sweeps with the paddle as the heavy craft wallowed and plunged. Again and again Bond’s own paddle thudded against rock, and once he had to hold on as the canoe hit a buried mass of brain coral and slid off again. Then they were through, and far below the boat there were indigo patches of sand and around them the solid oily feel of deep water.
“Okay, cap’n,” said Quarrel softly. Bond shipped his paddle and got down off one knee and sat with his back to the thwart. He heard the scratching of Quarrel’s nails against canvas as he unwrapped the sail and then the sharp flap as it caught the breeze. The canoe straightened and began to move. It tilted slowly. There was a soft hiss under the bows. A handful of spray tossed up into Bond’s face. The wind of their movement was cool and would soon get cold. Bond hunched up his knees and put his arms round them. The wood was already beginning to bite into his buttocks and his back. It crossed his mind that it was going to be the hell of a long and uncomfortable night.
In the darkness ahead Bond could just make out the rim of the world. Then came a layer of black haze above which the stars began, first sparsely and then merging into a dense bright carpet. The Milky Way soared overhead. How many stars? Bond tried counting a finger’s length and was soon past the hundred. The stars lit the sea into a faint grey road and then arched away over the tip of the mast towards the black silhouette of Jamaica. Bond looked back. Behind the hunched figure of Quarrel there was a faraway cluster of lights which would be Port Maria. Already they were a couple of miles out. Soon they would be a tenth of the way, then a quarter, then half. That would be around midnight when Bond would take over. Bond sighed and put his head down to his knees and closed his eyes.
He must have slept because he was awakened by the clonk of a paddle against the boat. He lifted his arm to show that he had heard and glanced at the luminous blaze of his watch. Twelve-fifteen. Stiffly he unbent his legs and turned and scrambled over the thwart.
“Sorry, Quarrel,” he said, and it was odd to hear his voice. “You ought to have shaken me up before.”
“Hit don signify, cap’n,” said Quarrel with a grey glint of teeth. “Do yo good to sleep.”
Gingerly they slipped past each other and Bond settled in the stern and picked up the paddle. The sail was secured to a bent nail beside him. It was flapping. Bond brought the bows into the wind and edged them round so that the North Star was directly over Quarrel’s bent head in the bows. For a time this would be fun. There was something to do.
There was no change in the night except that it seemed darker and emptier. The pulse of the sleeping sea seemed slower. The heavy swell was longer and the troughs deeper. They were running through a patch of phosphorus that winked at the bows and ‘dripped jewels when Bond lifted the paddle out of the water. How safe it was, slipping through the night in this ridiculously vulnerable little boat. How kind and soft the sea could be. A covey of flying fish broke the surface in front of the bows and scattered like shrapnel. Some kept going for a time beside the canoe, flying as much as twenty yards before they dived into the wall of the swell. Was some bigger fish after them or did they think the canoe was a fish, or were they just playing? Bond thought of what was going on in the hundreds of fathoms below the boat, the big fish, the shark and barracuda and tarpon and sailfish quietly cruising, the shoals of kingfish and mackerel and bonito and, far below in the grey twilight of the great depths, the phosphorous jellied boneless things that were never seen, the fifty-foot squids, with eyes a foot wide, that streamed along like zeppelins, the last real monsters of the sea, whose size was only known from the fragments found inside whales. What would happen if a wave caught the canoe broadside and capsized them? How long would they last? Bond took an ounce more pains with his steering and put the thought aside.
One o’clock, two o’clock, three, four. Quarrel awoke and stretched. He called softly to Bond. “Ah smells land, cap’n.” Soon there was a thickening of the darkness ahead. The low shadow slowly took on the shape of a huge swimming rat. A pale moon rose slowly behind them. Now the island showed distinctly, a. couple of miles away, and there was the distant grumble of surf.
They changed places. Quarrel brought down the sail and they took up the paddles. For at least another mile, thought Bond, they would be invisible in the troughs of the waves. Not even radar would distinguish them from the crests. It was the last mile they would have to hurry over with the dawn not far off.
Now he too could smell the land. It had no particular scent. It was just something new in the nose after hours of clean sea. He could make out the white fringe of surf. The swell subsided and the waves became choppier. “Now, cap’n,” called Quarrel, and Bond, the sweat already dropping off his chin, dug deeper and more often. God, it was hard work! The hulking log of wood which had sped along so well under the sail now seemed hardly to move. The wave at the bows was only a ripple. Bond’s shoulders were aching like fire. The one knee he was resting on was beginning to bruise. His hands were cramped on the clumsy shaft of a paddle made of lead.
It was incredible, but they were coming up with the reef. Patches of sand showed deep under the boat. Now the surf was a roar. They followed along the edge of the reef, looking for-an opening. A hundred yards inside the reef, breaking the sandline, was the shimmer of water running inland. The river! So the landfall had been all right. The wall of surf broke up. There was a patch of black oily current swelling over hidden coral heads. The nose of the canoe turned towards it and into it. There was a turmoil of water and a series of grating thuds, and then a sudden rush forward into peace and the canoe was moving slowly across a smooth mirror towards the shore.
Quarrel steered the boat towards the lee of a rocky promontory where the beach ended. Bond wondered why the beach didn’t shine white under the thin moon. When they grounded and Bond climbed stiffly out he understood why.
The beach was black. The sand was soft and wonderful to the feet but it must have been formed out of volcanic rock, pounded over the centuries, and Bond’s naked feet on it looked like white crabs.
They made haste. Quarrel took three short lengths of thick bamboo out of the boat and laid them up the flat beach. They heaved the nose of the canoe on to the first and pushed the boat up the rollers. After each yard of progress, Bond picked up the back roller and brought it to the front. Slowly the canoe moved up the sand until at last it was over the back tideline and among the rocks and turtle grass and low sea-grape bushes. They pushed it another twenty yards inland into the beginning of the mangrove. There they covered it with dried seaweed and bits of driftwood from the tideline. Then Quarrel cut lengths of screwpalm and went back over their tracks, sweeping and tidying.
It was still dark, but the breath of grey in the east would soon be turning to pearl. It was five o’clock. They were dead tired. They exchanged a few words and Quarrel went off among the rocks on the promontory. Bond scooped out a depression in the fine dry sand under a thick bush of sea-grape. There were a few hermit crabs beside his bed. He picked up as many as he could find and hurled them into the mangrove. Then, not caring what other animals or insects might come to his smell and his warmth, he lay down full length in the sand and rested his head on his arm.
He was at once asleep.
VIII THE ELEGANT VENUS
Bond awoke lazily. The feel of the sand reminded him where he was. He glanced at his watch. Ten o’clock. The sun through the round thick leaves of the sea-grape was already hot. A larger shadow moved across the dappled sand in front of his face. Quarrel? Bond shifted his head and peered through the fringe of leaves and grass that concealed him from the beach. He stiffened. His heart missed a beat and then began pounding so that he had to breathe deeply to quieten it. His eyes, as he stared through the blades of grass, were fierce slits.
It was a naked girl, with her back to him. She was not quite naked. She wore a broad leather belt round her waist with a hunting knife in a leather sheath at her right hip. The belt made her nakedness extraordinarily erotic. She stood not more than five yards away on the tideline looking down at something in her hand. She stood in the classical relaxed pose of the nude, all the weight on the right leg and the left knee bent and turning slightly inwards, the head to one side as she examined the things in her hand.
It was a beautiful back. The skin was a very light uniform cafй au lait with the sheen of dull satin. The gentle curve of the backbone was deeply indented, suggesting more powerful muscles than is usual in a woman, and the behind was almost as firm and rounded as a boy’s. The legs were straight and beautiful and no pinkness showed under the slightly lifted left heel. She was not a coloured girl.
Her hair was ash blonde. It was cut to the shoulders and hung there and along the side of her bent cheek in thick wet strands. A green diving mask was pushed back above her forehead, and the green rubber thong bound her hair at the back.
The whole scene, the empty beach, the green and blue sea, the naked girl with the strands of fair hair, reminded Bond of something. He searched his mind. Yes, she was Botticelli’s Venus, seen from behind.
How had she got there? What was she doing? Bond looked up and down the beach. It was not black, he now saw, but a deep chocolate brown. To the right he could see as far as the river mouth, perhaps five hundred yards away. The beach was empty and featureless except for a scattering of small pinkish objects. There were a lot of them, shells of some sort Bond supposed, and they looked decorative against the dark brown background. He looked to the left, to where, twenty yards away, the rocks of the small headland began. Yes, there was a yard or two of groove in the sand where a canoe had been drawn up into the shelter of the rocks. It must have been a light one or she couldn’t have drawn it up alone. Perhaps the girl wasn’t alone. But there was only one set of footprints leading down from the rocks to the sea and another set coming out of the sea and up the beach to where she now stood on the tideline. Did she live here, or had she too sailed over from Jamaica that night? Hell of a thing for a girl to do. Anyway, what in God’s name was she doing here?
As if to answer him, the girl made a throwaway gesture of the right hand and scattered a dozen shells on the sand beside her. They were violent pink and seemed to Bond to be the same as he had noticed on the beach. The girl looked down into her left hand and began to whistle softly to herself. There was a happy note of triumph in the whistle. She was whistling ‘Marion’, a plaintive little calypso that has now been cleaned up and made famous outside Jamaica. It had always been one of Bond’s favourites. It went:
All day, all night, Marion,
Sittin’ by the seaside siftin’ sand…
The girl broke off to stretch her arms out in a deep yawn. Bond smiled to himself. He wetted his lips and took up the refrain:
“The water from her eyes could sail a boat, The hair on her head could tie a goat…”
The hands flew down and across her chest. The muscles of her behind bunched with tension. She was listening, her head, still hidden by the curtain of hair, cocked to one side.