Page 7


“Why's that?”

“Him have plenty watchmen. An' guns-machine guns. An' a radar. An' a spottin' plane. Frens o' mine have landed dere and him never been seen again. Dat Chinee keep him island plenty private. Tell da trut', cap'n,” Quarrel was apologetic, “dat Crab Key scare me plenty.”

Bond said thoughtfully, “Well, well.”

The food came. They ordered another round of drinks and ate. While they ate, Bond gave Quarrel an outline of the Strangways case. Quarrel listened carefully, occasionally asking questions. He was particularly interested in the birds on Crab Key, and what the watchmen had said, and how the plane was supposed to have crashed. Finally he pushed his plate away. He wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. He took out a cigarette and lit it. He leant forward. “Cap'n,” he said softly, “I no mind if hit was birds or butterflies or bees. If dey was on Crab Key and da Commander was stickin' his nose into da business, yo kin bet yo bottom dollar him been mashed. Him and him girl. Da Chinee mash dem for sho.”

Bond looked carefully into the urgent grey eyes. “What makes you so certain?”

Quarrel spread his hands. To him the answerwas simple. “Dat Chinee love him privacy. Him want be left alone. I know him kill ma frens order keep folk away from da Crab. Him a mos' powerful man. Him kill hanyone what hinterfere with him.”

“Why?”

“Don' rightly know, cap'n,” said Quarrel indifferently.“People dem want different tings in dis world. An' what dem want sufficient dem gits.”

A glint of light caught the corner of Bond's eye. He turned quickly. The Chinese girl from the airport was standing in the nearby shadows. Now she was dressed in a tight-fitting sheath of black satin slashed up one side almost to her hip.

She had a Leica with a flash attachment in one hand. The other was in a leather case at her side. The hand came out holding a flashbulb. The girl slipped the base into her mouth to wet it and improve the contact and made to screw it into the reflector.

“Get that girl,” said Bond quickly.

In two strides Quarrel was up with her. He held out his hand. “Evenin”, missy," he said softly.

The girl smiled. She let the Leica hang on the thin strap round her neck. She took Quarrel's hand. Quarrel swung her round like a ballet dancer. Now he had her hand behind her back and she was in the crook of his arm.

She looked up at him angrily. “Don't. You're hurting.”

Quarrel smiled down into the flashing dark eyes in the pale, almond-shaped face. “Cap'n like you take a drink wit” we," he said soothingly. He came back to the table, moving the girl along with him. He hooked a chair out with his foot and sat her down beside him, keeping the grip on her wrist behind her back. They sat bolt upright, like quarrelling lovers.

Bond looked into the pretty, angry little face. “Good evening. What are you doing here? Why do you want another picture of me?”

“I'm doing the nightspots,” the Cupid's bow of a mouth parted persuasively. “The first picture of you didn't come out. Tell this man to leave me alone.”

“So you work for the Gleaner? What's your name?”

“I won't tell you.”

Bond cocked an eyebrow at Quarrel.

Quarrel's eyes narrowed. His hand behind the girl's back turned slowly. The girl struggled like an eel, her teeth clenched on her lower lip. Quarrel went on twisting. Suddenly she said “Ow!” sharply and gasped, “I'll tell I” Quarrel eased his grip. The girl looked furiously at Bond: “Annabel Chung.”

Bond said to Quarrel, “Call the Pus-Feller.”

Quarrel picked up a fork with his free hand and clanged it against a glass. The big Negro hurried up.

Bond looked up at him. “Ever seen this girl before?”

“Yes, boss. She come here sometimes. She bein' a nuisance? Want for me to send her away?”

“No. We like her,” said Bond amiably, “but she wants to take a studio portrait .of me and I don't know if she's worth the money. Would you call up the Gleaner and ask if they've got a photographer called Annabel Chung? If she really is one of their people she ought to be good enough.”

“Sure, boss.” The man hurried away.

Bond smiled at the girl. “Why didn't you ask that man to rescue you?”

The girl glowered at him.

“I'm sorry to have to exert pressure,” said Bond, “but my export manager in London said that Kingston was full of shady characters. I'm sure you're not one of them, but I really can't understand why you're so anxious to get my picture. Tell me why.”

“What I told you,” said the girl sulkily. “It's my job.”

Bond tried other questions. She didn't answer them. The Pus-Feller came up. “That's right, boss. Annabel Chung. One of their freelance girls. They say she takes fine pictures. You'll be okay with her.” He looked bland. Studio portrait! Studio bed, more like.

“Thanks,” said Bond. The Negro went away. Bond turned back to the girl. “Freelance,” he said softly. “That still doesn't explain who wanted my picture.” His face went cold. “Now give!”

“No,” said the girl sullenly.

“All right, Quarrel. Go ahead.” Bond sat back. His instincts told him that this was the sixty-four thousand dollar question. If he could get the answer out of the girl he might be saved weeks of legwork.

Quarrel's right shoulder started to dip downwards. The girl squirmed towards him to ease the pressure, but he held her body away with his free hand. The girl's face strained towards Quarrel's. Suddenly she spat full in his eyes. Quarrel grinned and increased the twist. The girl's feet kicked wildly under the table. She hissed out words in Chinese. Sweat beaded on her forehead.

“Tell,” said Bond softly. “Tell and it will stop and we'll be friends and have a drink.” He was getting worried. The girl's arm must be on the verge of breaking.

“------you.” Suddenly the girl's left hand flew up and into

Quarrel's face. Bond was too slow to stop her. Something glinted and there was a sharp explosion. Bond snatched at her arm and dragged it back. Blood was streaming down Quarrel's cheek. Glass and metal tinkled on to the table. She had smashed the flashbulb on Quarrel's face. If she had been able to reach an eye it would have been blinded.

Quarrel's free hand went up and felt his cheek. He put it in front of his eyes and looked at the blood. “Aha!” There was nothing but admiration and a feline pleasure in his voice. He said equably to Bond, “We get nuthen out. of dis gal, cap'n. She plenty tough. You want fe me to break she's arm?”

“Good God, no.” Bond let go the arm he was holding. “Let her go.” He felt angry with himself for having hurt the girl and still failed. But he had learned something. Whoever was behind her held his people by a steel chain.

Quarrel brought the girl's right arm from behind her back. He still held on to the wrist. Now he opened the girl's hand.

He looked into her eyes. His own were cruel. “You mark me, Missy. Now I mark you.” He brought up his other hand and took the Mount of Venus, the soft lozenge of flesh in the palm below her thumb, between his thumb and forefinger. He began to squeeze it. Bond could see his knuckles go white with the pressure. The girl gave a yelp. She hammered at Quarrel's hand and then at his face. Quarrel grinned and squeezed harder. Suddenly he let go. The girl shot to her feet and backed away from the table, her bruised hand at her mouth. She took her hand down and hissed furiously. “He'll get you, you bastards!” Then, her Leica dangling, she ran off through the trees.

Quarrel laughed shortly. He took a napkin and wiped it down his cheek and threw it on the ground and took up another. He said to Bond, “She's Love Moun' be sore long after ma face done get healed. Dat a fine piece of a woman, de Love Moun'. When him fat like wit' dat girl you kin tell her'll be good in bed. You know dat, cap'n?”

“No,” said Bond. “That's new to me.”

“Sho ting. Dat piece of da han' most hindicative. Don' you worry 'bout she,” he added, noticing the dubious expression on Bond's face. “Hers got nuttin but a big bruise on she's Love Moun'. But boy, was dat a fat Love Moun'! I come back after dat girl sometime, see if ma teory is da troof.”

Appropriately the band started playing 'Don' touch me tomato'. Bond said “Quarrel, it's time you married and settled down. And you leave that girl alone or you'll get a knife between your ribs. Now come on. We'll get the check and go. It's three o'clock in the morning in London where I was yesterday. I need a night's sleep. You've got to start getting me into training. I think I'm going to need it. And it's about time you put some plaster on that cheek of yours. She's written her name and address on it.”

Quarrel grunted reminiscently. He said with quiet pleasure, “Dat were some tough baby.” He picked up a fork and clanged it against his glass.

V

FACTS AND FIGURES

HE'LL GET you... He'll get you... He'll get you, you bastards.'

The words were still ringing in Bond's brain the next day as he sat on his balcony and ate a delicious breakfast and gazed out across the riot of tropkal gardens to Kingston, five miles below him.

Now he was sure that Strangways and the girl had been killed. Someone had needed to stop them looking any further into his business, so he had killed them and destroyed the records of what they were investigating. The same person knew or suspected that the Secret Service would follow up Strangways's disappearance. Somehow he had known that Bond had been given the job. He had wanted a picture of Bond and he had wanted to know where Bond was staying. He would be keeping an eye on Bond to see if Bond picked up any of the leads that had led to Strangways's death. If Bond did so, Bond would also have to be eliminated. There would be a car smash or a street fight or some other innocent death. And how, Bond wondered, would this person react to their treatment of the Chung girl? If he was as ruthless as Bond supposed, that would be enough. It showed that Bond was on to something. Perhaps Strangways had made a preliminary report to London before he was killed. Perhaps someone had leaked. The enemy would be foolish to take chances. If he had any sense, after the Chung incident, he would deal with Bond and perhaps also with Quarrel without delay.

Bond lit his first cigarette of the day-the first Royal Blend he'had smoked for five years-and let the smoke come out between his teeth in a luxurious hiss. That was his 'Enemy Appreciation'. Now, who was this enemy?

Well, there was only one candidate, and a pretty insubstantial one at that, Doctor No, Doctor Julius No, the German Chinese who owned Crab Key and made his money out of guano. There had been nothing on this man in Records and a signal to the FBI had been negative. The affair of the roseate spoonbills and the trouble with the Audubon Society meant precisely nothing except, as M had said, that a lot of old women had got excited about some pink storks. All the same, four people had died because of these storks and, most significant of all to Bond, Quarrel was scared of Doctor No arid his island. That was very odd indeed. Cayman Islanders, least of all Quarrel, did not scare easily. And why had Doctor No got this mania for privacy? Why did he go to such expense and trouble to keep people away from his guano island? Guano-bird dung. Who wanted the stuff? How valuable was it? Bond was due to call on the Governor at ten o'clock. After he had made his number he would get hold of the Colonial Secretary and try and find out all about the damned stuff and about Crab Key and, if possible, about Doctor No.

P/S: Copyright -->www_Novel12_Com

***