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“So,'' said Blofeld. ”Then the meeting is now closed. I will instruct the disposal squad to take care of the remains of No. 12. No. 18, please connect me with No. 1 on 20 megacycles. That waveband will have been unoccupied by the French Post Office since eight o'clock.''

7.

"Fasten Your Lap-Strap''

James Bond scraped the last dregs of yoghurt out of the bottom of the carton that said: “ Goat-milk culture. From our own Goat Farm at Stanway, Glos. The Heart of the Cotswolds. According to an authentic Bulgarian recipe .'' He took an Energen roll, sliced it carefully---they are apt to crumble---and reached for the black treacle. He masticated each mouthful thoroughly. Saliva contains ptyalin. Thorough mastication creates ptyalin which helps to convert starches into sugar to supply energy for the body. Ptyalin is an enzyme. Other enzymes are pepsin, found in the stomach, and trypsin and erepsin, found in the intestine. These and other enzymes are chemical substances that break up the food as it passes through the mouth, the stomach, and the digestive tract and help absorb it directly into the blood stream. James Bond now had all these important facts at his fingertips. He couldn't understand why no one had told him these things before. Since leaving Shrublands ten days before, he had never felt so well in his life. His energy had doubled. Even the paper work he had always found an intolerable drudgery was now almost a pleasure. He ate it up. Sections, after a period of being only surprised, were now becoming slightly irritated by the forceful, clear-headed minutes that came shooting back at them from the Double-O Section. Bond awoke so early and so full of beans that he had taken to arriving at his office early and leaving late, much to the irritation of his secretary, the delectable Loelia Ponsonby, who found her own private routines being put seriously out of joint. She also was beginning to show signs of irritation and strain. She had even taken upon herself to have a private word with Miss Moneypenny, M's private secretary and her best friend in the building. Miss Moneypenny, swallowing her jealousy of Loelia Ponsonby, had been encouraging. ”It's all right, Lil,'' she had said over coffee in the canteen. "The Old Man was like that for a couple of weeks after he had got back from that damned nature-cure place. It was like working for Gandhi or Schweitzer or someone. Then a couple of bad cases came up and rattled him and one evening he went to Blades---to take his mind off things I suppose---and the next day he felt awful, and looked it, and from then on he's been all right again. I suppose he got back on the champagne cure or something. It's really the best for men. It makes them awful, but at least they're human like that. It's when they get godlike one can't stand them.''

May, Bond's elderly Scottish treasure, came in to clear the breakfast things away. Bond had lit up a Duke of Durham, king-size, with filter. The authoritative Consumers Union of America rates this cigarette the one with the smallest tar and nicotine content. Bond had transferred to the brand from the fragrant but powerful Morland Balkan mixture with three gold rings round the paper that he had been smoking since his teens. The Dukes tasted of almost nothing, but they were at least better than Vanguards, the new “tobaccoless'' cigarette from America that, despite its health-protecting qualities, filled the room with a faint ”burning leaves'' smell that made visitors to his office inquire whether something was on fire somewhere.

May was fiddling about with the breakfast things---her signal that she had something to say. Bond looked up from the center news page of The Times . "Anything on your mind, May?''

May's elderly, severe features were flushed. She said defensively, “I have that.'' She looked straight at Bond. She was holding the yoghurt carton in her hand. She crumpled it in her strong fingers and dropped it among the breakfast things on the tray. ”It's not my place to say it, Mister James, but ye're poisoning yersel'.''

Bond said cheerfully, "I know, May. You're quite right. But at least I've got them down to ten a day.''

“I'm not talking about yer wee bitty smoke. I'm talking 'bout this---'' May gestured at the tray---”this pap.'' The word was spat out with disdain. Having got this off her chest, May gathered steam. "It's no recht for a man to be eating bairns' food and slops and suchlike. Ye needn't worry that I'll talk, Mister James, but I'm knowing more about yer life than mebbe ye were wishing I did. There's been times when they're brought ye home from hospital and there's talk you've been in a motoring accident or some such. But I'm not the old fule ye think I am, Mister James. Motoring accidents don't make one small hole in yer shoulder or yer leg or somewhere. Why, ye've got scars on ye the noo---ach, ye needn't grin like that, I've seen them---that could only be made by buellets. And these guns and knives and things ye carry around when ye're off abroad. Ach!''

May put her hands on her hips. Her eyes were bright and defiant. "Ye can tell me to mind my ain business and pack me off back to Glen Orchy, but before I go I'm telling ye, Mister James, that if ye get yerself into anuither fight and ye've got nothing but yon muck in yer stomach, they'll be bringing ye home in a hearse. That's what they'll be doing.''

In the old days, James Bond would have told May to go to hell and leave him in peace. Now, with infinite patience and good humor, he gave May a quick run through the basic tenets of “live'' as against ”dead'' foods. “You see, May,'' he said reasonably, ”all these de-naturized foods---white flour, white sugar, white rice, white salts, whites of egg---these are dead foods. Either they're dead anyway like whites of egg or they've had all the nourishment refined out of them. They're slow poisons, like fried foods and cakes and coffee and heaven knows how many of the things I used to eat. And anyway, look how wonderfully well I am. I feel absolutely a new man since I took to eating the right things and gave up drink and so on. I sleep twice as well. I've got twice as much energy. No headaches. No muscle pains. NO hangovers. Why, a month ago there wasn't a week went by but that on at least one day I couldn't eat anything for breakfast but a couple of aspirins and a prairie oyster. And you know quite well that that used to make you cluck and tut-tut all over the place like an old hen. Well''---Bond raised his eyebrows amiably---"what about that?''

May was defeated. She picked up the tray and, with a stiff back made for the door. She paused on the threshold and turned round. Her eyes were bright with angry tears. "Well, all I can say is, Mr. James, that mebbe ye're right and mebbe ye're wrong. What worries the life out of me is that ye're not yersel' any more.'' She went out and banged the door.

Bond sighed and picked up the paper. He said the magical words that all men say when a middle-aged woman makes a temperamental scene, "change of life,'' and went back to reading about the latest reasons for not having a Summit meeting.

The telephone, the red one that was the direct line with Headquarters, gave its loud, distinctive jangle. Bond kept his eyes on the page and reached out a hand. With the Cold War easing off, it was not like the old days. This would be nothing exciting. Probably canceling his shoot at Bisley that afternoon with the new F.N. rifle.

"Bond speaking.''

It was the Chief of Staff. Bond dropped his paper on the floor. He pressed the receiver to his ear, trying, as in the old days, to read behind the words.

"At once please, James. M.''

"Something for me?''

"Something for everyone. Crash dive, and ultra hush. If you've got any dates for the next few weeks, better cancel them. You'll be off tonight. See you.'' The line went dead.

***

Bond had the most selfish car in England. It was a Mark II Continental Bentley that some rich idiot had married to a telegraph pole on the Great West Road. Bond had bought the bits for £1500 and Rolls had straightened the bend in the chassis and fitted new clockwork---the Mark IV engine with 9.5 compression. Then Bond had gone to Mulliners with £3000, which was half his total capital, and they had sawn off the old cramped sports saloon body and had fitted a trim, rather square convertible two-seater affair, power-operated, with only two large armed bucket seats in black leather. The rest of the blunt end was all knife-edged, rather ugly, trunk. The car was painted in rough, not gloss, battleship gray and the upholstery was black morocco. She went like a bird and a bomb and Bond loved her more than all the women at present in his life rolled, if that were feasible, together.

But Bond refused to be owned by any car. A car, however splendid, was a means of locomotion (he called the Continental “the locomotive''. . . ”I'll pick you up in my locomotive'') and it must at all times be ready to locomote---no garage doors to break one's nails on, no pampering with mechanics except for the quick monthly service. The locomotive slept out of doors in front of his flat and was required to start immediately, in all weathers, and, after that, stay on the road.

The twin exhausts---Bond had demanded two-inch pipes; he hadn't liked the old soft flutter of the marque---growled solidly as the long gray nose topped by a big octagonal silver bolt instead of the winged B, swerved out of the little Chelsea square and into King's Road. It was nine o'clock, too early for the bad traffic, and Bond pushed the car fast up Sloane Street and into the park. It would also be too early for the traffic police, so he did some fancy driving that brought him to the Marble Arch exit in three minutes flat. Then there came the slow round-the-houses into Baker Street and so into Regents Park. Within ten minutes of getting the Hurry call he was going up in the lift of the big square building to the eighth and top floor.

Already, as he strode down the carpeted corridor, he smelled emergency. On this floor, besides M's offices, was housed Communications, and from behind the gray closed doors there came a steady zing and crackle from the banks of transmitters and a continuous machine-gun rattle and clack from the cipher machines. It crossed Bond's mind that a General Call was going out. What the hell had happened?

The Chief of Staff was standing over Miss Moneypenny. He was handing her signals from a large sheaf and giving her, routing instructions. “CIA Washington, Personal for Dulles. Cipher Triple X by Teleprinter. Mathis, Deuxième Bureau. Same prefix and route. Station F for Head of NATO Intelligence. Personal. Standard route through Head of Section. This one by Safe Hand to Head of M.I.5, Personal, copy to Commissioner of Police, Personal, and these''---he handed over a thick batch---”Personal to Heads of Stations from M. Cipher Double X by Whitehall Radio and Portishead. All right? Clear them as quick as you can, there's a good girl. There'll be more coming. We're in for a bad day.''

Miss Moneypenny smiled cheerfully. She liked what she called the shot-and-shell days. It reminded her of when she had started in the Service as a junior in the Cipher Department. She leaned over and pressed the switch on the intercom, “007's here, sir.'' She looked up at Bond. ”You're off.'' The Chief of Staff grinned and said, "Fasten your lap-strap.'' The red light went on above M's door. Bond walked through.

Here it was entirely peaceful. M sat relaxed, sideways to his desk looking out of the broad window at the distant glittering fretwork of London's skyline. He glanced up. “Sit down, 007. Have a look at these.'' He reached out and slid some foolscap-sized photostats across the desk. ”Take your time.'' He picked up his pipe and began to fill it, absent-minded fingers dipping into the shell-base tobacco jar at his elbow.

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