They pulled up under the portico of the Royal Bahamian and Bond gave the keys to the parking attendant. Leiter checked in and they went up to his room and sent for two double dry martinis on the rocks and the menu.
From the pretentious dishes, “For Your Particular Consideration,'' printed in Ornamental Gothic, Bond chose Native Seafood Cocktail Supreme followed by Disjointed Home Farm Chicken, Sauté au Cresson, which was described in italics as ”Tender Farm Chicken, Broiled to a Rich Brown, Basted with Creamery Butter and Disjointed for Your Convenience. Price 38/6 or dollars 5.35.'' Felix Leiter went for the Baltic Herring in Sour Cream followed by "Chopped Tenderloin of Beef, French Onion Rings (Our Renowned Beef is Chef-Selected from the Finest Corn-fed, Mid-Western Cattle, and Aged to Perfection to Assure You of the Very Best). Price 40/3 or dollars 5.65.''
When they had both commented sourly and at length about the inflated bogosity of tourist-hotel food and particularly the mendacious misuse of the English language to describe materials which had certainly been in various deepfreezes for at least six months, they settled down on the balcony to discuss Bond's findings of the morning. Half an hour and one more double dry martini later, their luncheon came. The whole thing amounted to about five shillings' worth of badly cooked rubbish. They ate in a mood of absent-minded irritation, saying nothing. Finally Leiter threw down his knife and fork. “This is hamburger and bad hamburger. The French onion rings were never in France, and what's more''---he poked at the remains with a fork---”they're not even rings. They're oval.'' He looked belligerently across at Bond. "All right, Hawkshaw. Where do we go from here?''
“The major decision is to eat out in future. The next is to pay a visit to the Disco ---now.'' Bond got up from the table. ”When we've done that, we'll have to decide whether or not these people are hunting pieces of eight or £100,000,000. Then we'll have to report progress.'' Bond waved at the packing cases in a corner of the room. "I've got the loan of a couple of rooms on the top floor of police headquarters here. The Commissioner's cooperative and a solid character. These Colonial Police are good, and this one's a cut above the rest. We can set up the radio there and make contact this evening. Tonight there's this party at the Casino. We'll go to that and see if any of these faces mean anything to either of us. The first thing's to see if the yacht's clean or not. Can you break that Geiger counter out?''
“Sure. And it's a honey.'' Leiter went to the cases, selected one, and opened it. He came back carrying what looked like a Rolleiflex camera in a portable leather case. ”Here, give me a hand.'' Leiter took off his wrist watch and strapped on what appeared to be another watch. He slung the “camera'' by its strap over his left shoulder. ”Now run those wires from the watch up my sleeve and down inside my coat. Right. Now these two small plugs go through these holes in my coat pocket and into the two holes in the box. Got it? Now we're all fixed.'' Leiter stood back and posed. “Man with a camera and a wrist watch.'' He unbuttoned the flap of the camera. ”See? Perfectly good lenses and all that. Even a button to press in case you have to seem to take a picture. But in back of the make-believe there's a metal valve, a circuit, and batteries. Now take a look at this watch. And it is a watch.'' He held it under Bond's eyes. “Only difference is that it's a very small watch mechanism and that sweep secondhand is a meter that takes the radioactive count. Those wires up the sleeve hitch it on to the machine. Now then. You're still wearing that old wrist watch of yours with the big phosphorus numerals. So I walk round the room for a moment to get the background count. That's basic. All sorts of things give off radiation of some sort. And I take an occasional glance at my watch---nervous type, and I've got an appointment coming up. Now here, by the bathroom, all that metal is giving off something and my watch is registering positive, but very little. Nothing else in the room and I've established the amount of background interference I'll have to discount when I start to get hot. Right? Now I come close up to you and my camera's only a few inches away from your hand. Here, took a look. Put your watch right up against the counter. See! The sweephand is getting all excited. Move your watch away and it loses interest. It's those phosphorus numerals of yours. Remember the other day one of the watch companies withdrew an air pilots' watch from the market because the Atomic Energy People got fussy? Same thing. They thought this particular pilots' watch, with the big phosphorescent numerals, was giving off too much radiation to be good for the wearer. Of course''---Leiter patted the camera case---”this is a special job. Most types give off a clicking sound, and if you're prospecting for uranium, which is the big market for these machines, you wear earphones to try and pick up the stuff underground. For this job we don't need anything so sensitive. If we get near where those bombs are hidden, this damned sweephand'll go right off the dial. Okay? So let's go hire ourselves a sixpenny sick and pay a call on the ocean greyhound.''
"My Name Is Emilio Largo''
Leiter's “sixpenny sick'' was the hotel launch, a smart Chrysler-engined speedboat that said it would be $20 an hour. They ran out westward from the harbor, past Silver Cay, Long Cay, and Balmoral Island and round Delaporte Point. Five miles farther down the coast, encrusted with glittering seashore properties the boatman said cost £400 per foot of beach frontage, they rounded Old Fort Point and came upon the gleaming white and dark blue ship lying with two anchors out in deep water just outside the reef. Leiter whistled. He said in an awestruck voice, ”Boy, is that a piece of boat! I'd sure like to have one of those to play with in my bath.''
Bond said, "She's Italian. Built by a firm called Rodrigues at Messina. Thing called an Aliscafo . She's got a hydrofoil under the hull and when she gets going you let this sort of skid down and she rises up and practically flies. Only the screws and a few feet of the stern stay in the water. The Police Commissioner says she can do fifty knots in calm water. Only good for inshore work of course, but they can carry upwards of a hundred passengers when they're designed as fast ferries. Apparently this one's been designed for about forty. The rest of the space is taken up with the owner's quarters and cargo space. Must have cost damned near a quarter of a million.''
The boatman broke in. “They say on Bay Street that she goin' go after the treasure these next few days or so. All the people that own share in the gold come in a few days ago. Then she spen' one whole night doin' a final recce. They say is down Exhuma way, or over by Watlings Island. Guess you folks know that's where Columbus make him first landfall on this side of the Atlantic. Around fourteen ninety somethin'. But could be anywhere down there. They's always been talk of treasure down 'mongst the Ragged Islands---even as far as Crooked Island. Fact is she sail out southward. Hear her myself, right until her engines died away. East by southeast, I'da say.'' The boatman spat discreetly over the side. ”Must be plenty heap of treasure with the cost of that ship and all the money they throwing 'way. Every time she go to the Hoiling Wharf they say the bill's five hundred pound.''
Bond said casually, "Which night was it they did the final recce?''
"Night after she hoiled. That'd be two nights ago. Sail round six.''
The blank portholes of the ship watched them approach. A sailor polishing brass round the curve of the enclosed dome that was the bridge walked through the hatch into the bridge and Bond could see him talking into a mouthpiece. A tall man in white ducks and a very wide mesh singlet appeared on deck and observed them through binoculars. He called something to the sailor, who came and stood at the top of the ladder down the starboard side. When their launch came alongside, the man cupped his hands and called down, "What is your business, please? Have you an appointment?''
Bond called back, "It's Mr. Bond, Mr. James Bond. From New York. I have my attorney here. I have an inquiry to make about Palmyra, Mr. Largo's property.''
“One moment, please.'' The sailor disappeared and returned accompanied by the man in white ducks and singlet. Bond recognized him from the police description. He called down cheerfully, ”Come aboard, come aboard.'' He gestured for the sailor to go down and help fend the launch. Bond and Leiter climbed out of the launch and went up the ladder.
Largo held out a hand. "My name is Emilio Largo. Mr. Bond?''
And . . .?''
“Mr. Larkin, my attorney from New York. Actually I'm English, but I have property in America.'' They shook hands. ”I'm sorry to bother you, Mr. Largo, but it's about Palmyra, the property I believe you rent from Mr. Bryce.''
“Ah, yes, of course.'' The beautiful teeth gleamed warmth and welcome. ”Come on down to the stateroom, gentlemen. I'm sorry I am not properly dressed to receive you.'' The big brown hands caressed his flanks, the wide mouth turned down in deprecation. "My visitors usually announce themselves on the ship-to-shore. But if you will forgive the informality . . .'' Largo allowed the phrase to die on the air and ushered them through a low hatch and down a few aluminum steps into the main cabin. The rubber-lined hatch hissed to behind him.
It was a fine large cabin paneled in mahogany with a deep wine-Red carpet and comfortable dark blue leather club chairs. The sun shining through the slats of Venetian blinds over the broad square ports added a touch of gay light to an otherwise rather somber and masculine room, its long center table littered with papers and charts, glass-fronted cabinets containing fishing gear and an array of guns and other weapons, and a black rubber underwater diving suit and aqualung suspended, almost like the skeleton in a sorcerer's den, from a rack in one corner. The air-conditioning made the cabin deliciously cool, and Bond felt his damp shirt slowly freeing itself from his skin.
“Please take a chair, gentlemen.'' Largo carelessly brushed aside the charts and papers on the table as if they were of no importance. ”Cigarettes?'' He placed a large silver box between them. “And now what can I get you to drink?'' He went to the loaded sideboard. ”Something cool and not too strong perhaps? A Planter's Punch? Gin and tonic? Or there are various beers. You must have had a hot journey in that open launch. I would have sent my boat for you if only I had known.''
They both asked for a plain tonic. Bond said, "I'm very sorry to barge in like this, Mr. Largo, No idea I could have got you on the telephone. We just got in this morning, and as I've only a few days I have to get a move on. The point is, I'm looking for a property down here.''
“Oh, yes?'' Largo brought the glasses and bottles of tonic to the table and sat down so that they formed a comfortable group. ”What a good idea. Wonderful place. I've been here f9r six months and already I'd like to stay forever. But the prices they're asking---'' Largo threw up his hands. "These Bay Street pirates. And the millionaires, they are even worse. But you are wise to come at the end of the season. Perhaps some of the owners are disappointed not to have sold. Perhaps they will not open their mouths so wide.''
“That's what I thought.'' Bond sat comfortably back and lit a cigarette. ”Or rather what my lawyer, Mr. Larkin, advised.'' Leiter shook his head pessimistically. “He had made some inquiries and he frankly advised that real-estate values down here have gone mad.'' Bond turned politely toward Leiter to bring him into the conversation. ”Isn't that so?''