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“No.” The moment had passed. Would there be others? Bond measured the inches of the leap: noted that the jugular vein was in full view above the neck of the kimono.

The thin purple lips parted and the story went on. “It was, Mister Bond, a time for clear, firm decisions. When they let me out of the hospital I went to Silberstein, the greatest stamp dealer in New York. I bought an envelope, just one envelope, full of the rarest postage stamps in the world. I took weeks to get them together. But I didn't mind what I paid-in New York, London, Paris, Zurich. I wanted my gold to be mobile. I invested it all in these stamps. I had foreseen the World War. I knew there would be inflation. I knew the best would appreciate, or at least hold its value. And meanwhile I was changing my appearance. I had all my hair taken out by the roots, my thick nose made thin, my mouth widened, my lips sliced. I could not get smaller, so I made myself taller. I wore built up shoes. I had weeks of traction on my spine. I held myself differently. I put away my mechanical hands and wore hands of wax inside gloves. I changed my name to Julius No-the Julius after my father and the No for my rejection of him and of all authority. I threw away my spectacles and wore contact lenses-one of the first pairs ever built. Then I went to Milwaukee, where there are no Chinamen, and enrolled myself in the faculty of medicine. I hid myself in the academic world, the world of libraries and laboratories and classrooms and campuses. And there, Mister Bond, I lost myself in the study of the human body and the human mind. Why? Because I wished to know what this clay is capable of. I had to learn what my tools were before I put them to use on my next goal-total security from physical weaknesses, from material dangers and from the hazards of living. Then, Mister Bond, from that secure base, armoured even against the casual slings and arrows of the world, I would proceed to the achievement of power-the power, Mister Bond, to do unto others what had been done unto me, the power of life and death, the power to decide, to judge, the power of absolute independence from outside authority. For that, Mister Bond, whether you like it or not, is the” essence of temporal power."

Bond reached for the shaker and poured himself a third drink. He looked at Honeychile. She seemed composed and indifferent-as if her mind was on other things. She smiled at him.

Doctor No said benignly. “I expect you are both hungry. Pray be patient. I will be brief. So, if you recall, there I was, in Milwaukee. In due course, I completed my studies and I left America and went by easy stages round the world. I called myself 'doctor' because doctors receive confidences and they can ask questions without arousing suspicion. I was looking for my headquarters. It had to be safe from the coming war, it had to be an island, it had to be entirely private, and it had to be capable of industrial development. In the end I purchased Crab Key. And here I have remained for fourteen years. They have been secure and fruitful years, without a cloud on the horizon. I was entertained by the idea of converting bird dung into gold, and I attacked the problem with passion. It seemed to me the ideal industry. There was a constant demand for the product. The birds require no care except to be left in peace. Each one is a simple factory for turning fish into dung. The digging of the guano is only a question of not spoiling the crop by digging too much. The sole problem is the cost of the labour. It was 1942. The simple Cuban and Jamaican labourer was earning ten shillings a week cutting cane. I tempted a hundred of them over to the island by paying them twelve shillings a week. With guano at fifty dollars a ton I was well placed. But on one condition-that the wages remained constant. I ensured that by isolating my community from world inflation. Harsh methods have had to be used from time to time, but the result is that my men are content with their wages because they are the highest wages they have ever known. I brought in a dozen Chinese Negroes with their families to act as overseers. They receive a pound a week per man. They are tough and reliable. On occasion I had to be ruthless with them, but they soon learned. Automatically my people increased in numbers. I added some engineers and some builders. We set to work on the mountain. Occasionally I brought in teams of specialists on high wages. They were kept apart from the others. They lived inside the mountain until their work was done and then left by ship. They put in the lighting and the ventilation and the lift. They built this room. Stores and furnishings came in from all over the world. These people built the sanatorium façade which will cover my operations in case one day there is a shipwreck or the Governor of Jamaica decides to pay me a call.” The lips glazed into a smile. “You must admit that I am able, if I wish, to accord visitors a most fragrant reception-a wise precaution for the future! And gradually, methodically, my fortress was built while the birds defecated on top of it. It has been hard, Mister Bond.” The black eyes did not look for sympathy or praise. “But by the end of last year the work was done. A secure, well-camouflaged base had been achieved. I was ready to proceed to the next step-an extension of my power to the outside world.”

Doctor No paused. He lifted his arms an inch and dropped them again resignedly in his lap. "Mister Bond, I said that there was not a cloud in the sky during all these fourteen years. But one was there, all the time, below the horizon. And do you know what it was? It was a bird, a ridiculous bird called a roseate spoonbill! I will not weary you with the details, Mister Bond. You are already aware of some of the circumstances. The two wardens, miles away in the middle of the lake, were provisioned by launch from Cuba. They sent out their reports by the launch. Occasionally, ornithologists from America came by the launch and spent some days at the camp. I did not mind. The area is out of bounds to my men. The wardens were not allowed near my compounds. There was no contact. From the first I made it clear to the Audubon Society that I would not meet their representatives. And then what happens? One day, out of a clear sky, I get a letter by the monthly boat. The roseate spoonbills have become one of the bird wonders of the world. The Society gives me formal notification that they intend to build a hotel on their leasehold, near the river up which you came. Bird lovers from all over the world will come to observe the birds. Films will be taken. Crab Key, they told me in their flattering, persuasive letter, would become famous.

“Mister Bond,” the arms were raised and dropped back. Irony gathered at the edges of the set smile. “Can you believe it? This privacy I had achieved! The plans I had for the future! To be swept aside because of a lot of old women and their birds! I examined the lease. I wrote offering a huge sum to buy it. They refused. So I studied these birds. I found out about their habits. And suddenly the solution was there. And it was easy. Man had always bee:n the worst predator on these birds. Spoonbills are extremely shy. They frighten easily. I sent ”; to Florida for a marsh buggy-the vehicle that is used for oil prospecting, that will cover any kind of terrain. I adapted it to frighten and to burn-not only birds, but humans as well, for the wardens would have to go too. And, one night in December, my marsh buggy howled off across the lake. It smashed the camp, both wardens were reported killed-though one, it turned out, escaped to die in Jamaica-it burned the nesting places, it spread terror among the birds. Complete success! Hysteria spread among the spoonbills. They died in thousands. But then I get a demand for a plane to land on my airstrip. There was to be an investigation. I decide to agree. It seemed wiser. An accident is arranged. A lorry goes out of control down the airstrip as the plane is coming in. The plane is destroyed. All signs of the lorry are removed. The bodies are reverently placed in coffins and I report the tragedy. As I expected, there is further investigation. A destroyer arrives. I receive the captain courteously. He and his officers are brought round by sea and then led inland. They are shown the remains of the camp. My men suggest that the wardens went mad with loneliness and fought each other. The survivor set fire to the camp and escaped in his fishing canoe. The airstrip is examined. My men report that the plane was coming in too fast. The tyres must have burst on impact. The bodies are handed over. It is very sad. The officers are satisfied. The ship leaves. Peace reigns again."

Doctor No coughed delicately. He looked from Bond to the girl and back again, “And that, my friends, is my story-or rather the first chapter of what I am confident will be a long and interesting tale. Privacy has been re-established. There are now no reseate spoonbills, so there will be no wardens. No doubt the Audubon .Society will decide to accept my offer for the rest of their lease. No matter. If they start their puny operations again, other misfortunes will befall them. This has been a warning to me. There will be no more interference.”

“Interesting,” said Bond. “An interesting case history. So that was why Strangways had to be removed. What did you do with him and his girl?”

“They are at the bottom of the Mona Reservoir. I sent three of my best men. I have a small but efficient machine in Jamaica. I need it. I have established a watch on the intelligence services in Jamaica and Cuba. It is necessary for my further operations. Your Mister Strangways became suspicious and started ferreting about. Fortunately, by this time, the routines of this man were known to me. His death and the girl's were a simple matter of timing. I had hoped to deal with you with similar expedition. You were fortunate. But I knew what type of a man you were from the files at King's House. I guessed that the fly would come to the spider. I was ready for you, and when the canoe showed up on the radar screen I knew you would not get away.”

Bond said, “Your radar is not very efficient. There were two canoes. The one you saw was the girl's. I tell you she had nothing to do with me.”

“Then she is unfortunate. I happen to be needing a white woman for a small experiment. As we agreed earlier, Mister Bond, one generally gets what one wants.”

Bond looked thoughtfully at Doctor No. He wondered if it was worth while even trying to make a dent in this impregnable man. Was it worth wasting breath by threatening or bluffing? Bond had nothing but a miserable two of clubs up his sleeve. The thought of playing it almost bored him. Casually, indifferently he threw it down.

“Then you're out of luck, Doctor No. You are now a file in London. My thoughts on this case, the evidence of the poisoned fruit and the centipede and the crashed motor car, are on record. So are the names of Miss Chung and Miss Taro. Instructions were left with someone in Jamaica that my report should be opened and acted upon if I failed to return from Crab Key within three days.” Bond paused. The face of Doctor No was impassive. Neither the eyes nor the mouth had flickered. The jugular vein throbbed evenly. Bond bent forward. He said softly, “But because of the girl, and only because of her, Doctor No, I will strike a bargain. In exchange for our safe return to Jamaica, you may have a week's start. You may take your aeroplane and your packet of stamps and try to get away.”

Bond sat back. “Any interest, Doctor No?”

XVI

HORIZONS OF AGONY

A voice behind Bond said quietly, “Dinner is served.” Bond swung round. It was the bodyguard. Beside him was another man who might have been his twin. They stood there, two stocky barrels of muscle, their hands buried in the sleeves of their kimonos, and looked over Bond's head at Doctor No.

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