Bond smiled. How did the old devil know these things? Should he warn Security? No. This man had become a friend. And anyway, all this was Herkos Odonton!
Marc-Ange said diffidently, 'And now may I bring in Teresa? She does not know what we have been discussing. Let us say it is about one of the South of France jewel robberies. You represent the insurance company. I have been making a private deal with you. You can manage that? Good.' He got up and came over to Bond and put his hand on Bond's shoulder. 'And thank you. Thank you for everything.' Then he went out of the door.
Oh my God! thought Bond. Now for my side of the bargain.
Bond of Bond Street?
IT WAS two months later, in London, and James Bond was driving lazily up from his Chelsea flat to his headquarters.
It was nine-thirty in the morning of yet another beautiful day of this beautiful year, but, in Hyde Park, the fragrance of burning leaves meant that winter was only just round the corner. Bond had nothing on his mind except the frustration of waiting for Station Z somehow to penetrate the reserves of the Swiss Securite and come up with the exact address of Blofeld. But their 'friends' in Zurich were continuing to prove obtuse, or, more probably, obstinate. There was no trace of any man, either tourist or resident, called Blofeld in the whole of Switzerland. Nor was there any evidence of the existence of a reborn SPECTRE on Swiss soil. Yes, they fully realized that Blofeld was still urgently 'wanted' by the governments of the NATO alliance. They had carefully filed all the circulars devoted to the apprehension of this man, and for the past year he had been constantly reconfirmed on their 'watch' lists at all frontier posts. They were very sorry, but unless the SIS could come up with further information or evidence about this man, they must assume that the SIS was acting on mistaken evidence. Station Z had asked for an examination of the secret lists at the banks, a search through those anonymous 'numbered' accounts which conceal the owners of most of the fugitive money in the world. This request had been peremptorily refused. Blofeld was certainly a great criminal, but the Securite must point out that such information could only be legally obtained if the criminal in question was guilty of some crime committed on Federal soil and indictable under the Federal Code. It was true that this Blofeld had held up Britain and America to ransom by his illegal possession of atomic weapons. But this could not be considered a crime under the laws of Switzerland, and particularly not having regard to Article 4?B of the banking laws. So that was that! The Holy Franc, and the funds which backed it, wherever they came from, must remain untouchable. Wir bitten hoflichst um Entschuldigung!
Bond wondered if he should get in touch with Marc-Ange. So far, in his report, he had revealed only a lead into the Union Corse, whom he gave, corporately, as the source of his information. But he shied away from this course of action, which would surely have, as one consequence, the reopening with Marc-Ange of the case of Tracy. And that corner of his life, of his heart, he wanted to leave undisturbed for the time being. Their last evening together had passed quietly, almost as if they had been old friends, old lovers. Bond had said that Universal Export was sending him abroad for some time. They would certainly meet when he returned to Europe. The girl had accepted this arrangement. She herself had decided to go away for a rest. She had been doing too much. She had been on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She would wait for him. Perhaps they could go skiing together around Christmas time? Bond had been enthusiastic. That night, after a wonderful dinner at Bond's little restaurant, they had made love, happily, and this time without desperation, without tears. Bond was satisfied that the cure had really begun. He felt deeply protective towards her. But he knew that their relationship, and her equanimity, rested on a knife-edge which must not be disturbed.
It was at this moment in his reflections that the Syncra-phone in his trouser pocket began to bleep. Bond accelerated out of the park and drew up beside the public telephone booth at Marble Arch. The Syncraphone had recently been introduced and was carried by all officers attached to Headquarters. It was a light plastic radio receiver about the size of a pocket watch. When an officer was somewhere in London, within a range of ten miles of Headquarters, he could be bleeped on the receiver. When this happened, it was his duty to go at once to the nearest telephone and contact his office. He was urgently needed.
Bond rang his exchange on the only outside number he was allowed to use, said '007 reporting,' and was at once put through to his secretary. She was a new one. Loelia Ponsonby had at last left to marry a dull, but worthy and rich member of the Baltic Exchange, and confined her contacts with her old job to rather yearning Christmas and birthday cards to the members of the Double-O Section. But the new one, Mary Goodnight, an ex-Wren with blue-black hair, blue eyes, and 37-22-35, was a honey and there was a private five-pound sweep in the Section as to who would get her first. Bond had been lying equal favourite with the ex-Royal Marine Commando who was 006 but, since Tracy, had dropped out of the field and now regarded himself as a rank outsider, though he still, rather bitchily, flirted with her. Now he said to her,' Good morning, Goodnight. What can I do for you? Is it war or peace?'
She giggled unprofessionally. 'It sounds fairly peaceful, as peaceful as a hurry message from upstairs can be. You're to go at once to the College of Arms and ask for Griffon Or.'
'Just Or. Oh, and he's Pursuivant as well, whatever that means. He's one of the Heralds. Apparently they've got some kind of a line on “Bedlam”.'
'Bedlam' was the code name for the pursuit of Blofeld. Bond said respectfully, 'Have they indeed? Then I'd better get cracking. Goodbye, Goodnight.' He heard her giggle before he put the receiver down.
Now what the hell? Bond got back into his car, that had mercifully not yet attracted the police or the traffic wardens, and motored fast across London. This was a queer one. How the hell did the College of Arms, of which he knew very little except that they hunted up people's family trees, allotted coats of arms, and organized various royal ceremonies, get into the act?
The College of Arms is in Queen Victoria Street on the fringe of the City. It is a pleasant little Queen Anne backwater in ancient red brick with white sashed windows and a convenient cobbled courtyard, where Bond parked his car. There are horseshoe-shaped stone stairs leading up to an impressive entrance, over which, that day, there hung a banner showing a splendid heraldic beast, half animal and half bird, in gold against a pale blue background. Griffon, thought Bond. Made of Or. He went through the door into a large gloomy hall whose dark panelling was lined with the musty portraits of proud-looking gentlemen in ruffs and lace, and from whose cornice hung the banners of the Commonwealth. The porter, a kindly, soft-spoken man in a cherry-coloured uniform with brass buttons, asked Bond what he could do for him. Bond asked for the Griffon Or and confirmed that he had an appointment.
'Ah yes, sir,' said the porter mysteriously.' Griffon Or is in waiting this week. That is why his banner is flying outside. This way please, sir.'
Bond followed the porter along a passage hung with gleaming coats of arms in carved wood, up a dank, cobwebby staircase, and round a corner to a heavy door over which was written in gold 'Griffon Or Pursuivant' under a representation of the said golden griffon. The porter knocked, opened the door and announced Bond, and left him facing, across an unkempt study Uttered with books, papers, and important-looking inscribed parchments, the top of a bald, round pink head fringed with grizzled curls. The room smelt like the crypt of a church. Bond walked down the narrow lane of carpet left between the piles of litter and stood beside the single chair that faced the man behind the books on the desk. He cleared his throat. The man looked up and the Pickwickian, pince-nez'd face broke into an absent smile. He got to his feet and made a little bow. 'Bond,' he said in a voice that creaked like the lid of an old chest. 'Commander James Bond. Now then, Bond, Bond, Bond. I think I've got you here." He had kept his finger at the open page of a vast tome. He now sat down and Bond followed suit. 'Yes, yes, yes. Very interesting indeed. Very. But I fear I have to disappoint you, my dear sir. The title is extinct. Actually it's a baronetcy. Most desirable. But no doubt we can establish a relationship through a collateral branch. Now then' - he put his pince-nez very close to the page - 'we have some ten different families of Bonds. The important one ended with Sir Thomas Bond, a most distinguished gentleman. He resided in Peckhain. He had, alas, no issue' - the pince-nez gleamed encouragingly at Bond - 'no legitimate issue that is. Of course in those days, ahem, morals were inclined to be laxer. Now if we could establish some connexion with Peckham...'
'I have no connexion with Peckham. Now, I...'
Griffon Or held up his hand. He said severely, 'Where did your parents come from, if I may ask? That, my dear fellow, is the first step in the chain. Then we can go back from there -Somerset House, parish records, old tomb-stones. No doubt, with a good old English name like yours, we will get somewhere in the end.'
'My father was a Scot and my mother was Swiss. But the point is...'
'Quite, quite. You are wondering about the cost of the research. That, my dear fellow, we can leave until later. But, now tell me. From whereabouts in Scotland did your father come? That is important. The Scottish records are of course less fully documented than those from the South. In those days I am forced to admit that our cousins across the border were little more than savages.' Griffon Or bobbed his head politely. He gave a fleeting and, to Bond's eye, rather false smile. 'Very pleasant savages, of course, very brave and all that. But, alas, very weak at keeping up their records. More useful with the sword than with the pen, if I may say so. But perhaps your grandparents and their forebears came from the South?'
'My father came from the Highlands, from near Glencoe. But look here...'
But Griffon Or was not to be diverted from the scent. He pulled another thick book towards him. His finger ran down the page of small print. 'Hum. Hum. Hum. Yes, yes. Not very encouraging, I fear. Burke's General Armory gives more than ten different families bearing your name. But, alas, nothing in Scotland. Not that that means there is no Scottish branch. Now, perhaps you have other relatives living. So often in these matters there is some distant cousin...' Griffon Or reached into the pocket of the purple-flowered silk waistcoat that buttoned almost up to his neat bow tie, fished out a small silver snuff-box, offered it to Bond and then himself took two tremendous sniffs. He exploded twice into an ornate bandana handkerchief.
Bond took his opportunity. He leaned forward and said distinctly and forcibly, 'I didn't come here to talk about myself. It's about Blofeld.'
'What's that?' Griffon Or looked at him in astonishment. 'You are not interested in your line of descent?' He held up an admonishing finger. 'Do you realize, my dear fellow, that if we are successful, you may be able to claim direct' - he hesitated - 'or at any rate collateral descent from an ancient baronetcy founded' - he went back to his first volume and peered at it - 'in the year 1658! Does it not excite you that a possible ancestor of yours was responsible for the name of one of the most famous streets in the world -1 refer of course to Bond Street? That was the Sir Thomas Bond, Baronet of Peckham in the County of Surrey, who, as you are no doubt aware, was Comptroller of the household of the Queen Mother, Henrietta Maria. The street was built in 1686 and its associations with famous British folk are, of course, well known. The first Duke of St Albans, son of Nell Gwynn, lived there, as did Laurence Sterne. Boswell's famous dinner party took place there, with Johnson, Reynolds, Goldsmith, and Garrick being present. Dean Swift and Canning were residents at different times, and it is intriguing to recall that while Lord Nelson lived at number 141, Lady Hamilton lived at number 145. And this, my dear sir, is the great thoroughfare of which you bear the name! Do you still wish to establish no claim to this vastly distinguished connexion? No?' The bushy eyebrows, raised in astonishment, were now lowered in further admonishment. 'This is the very warp and woof of history, my dear Commander Bond.' He reached for another volume that lay open on his desk and that he had obviously prepared for Bond's delectation. 'The coat of arms, for instance. Surely that must concern you, be at least of profound interest to your family, to your own children? Yes, here we are. “Argent on a chevron sable three bezants ”.' He held up the book so that Bond could see. 'A bezant is a golden ball, as I am sure you know. Three balls.'
P/S: Copyright -->www_Novel12_Com