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Bond was not amused. She speaks French like a native and knows her job backwards. What is more natural than that you should pick up a pretty girl here?
He had his two guards with him. They look pretty capable fellows. One of them has been seen visiting a little pension in the town where three mysterious and rather subhuman characters checked in two days ago.
They may be part of the team. Their papers are in or- der — stateless Czechs apparently — but one of our men says the language they talk in their room is Bulgarian.
The Russians use them for simple killings or as fall-guys for more complicated ones. Which is mine to be? Come to the bar of the Hermitage before lunch.
Ask her to dinner this evening. Then it will be natural for her to come into the Casino with you. London told me to tell you.
May come in useful. Mathis switched it off and they exchanged some phrases about the set and about how Bond should pay for it.
Then with effusive farewells and a final wink Mathis bowed himself out. He was completely blown and under really professional sur- veillance.
An attempt might be made to put him away even before he had a chance to pit himself against Le Chiffre at the tables. The Russians had no stupid prejudices about murder.
And then there was this pest of a girl. Women were for recreation. On a job, they got in the;; way and fogged things up with sex and hurt feelings and all the emotional baggage they carried around.
One had to look out for them and take care of them. There was a strong scent of pine and mimosa in the air, and the freshly watered gardens of the Casino opposite, interspersed with neat gravel par- terres and paths, lent the scene a pretty formalism more appropriate to ballet than to melodrama.
The sun shone, and there was a gaiety and sparkle in the air which seemed to promise well for the new era of fashion and prosperity for which the little seaside town, after many vicissitudes, was making its gallant bid.
Royale-les-Eaux, which lies near the mouth of the Somme before the flat coast-line soars up from the beaches of southern Picardy to the Brittany cliffs which run on to Le Havre, had experienced much the same fortunes as Trouville.
Since all French people suffer from liver com- plaints, Royale quickly became Royale-les-Eaux, and Eau Royale, in a torpedo-shaped bottle, grafted itself demurely on to the tail of the mineral-water lists in hotels and restaurant cars.
It did not long withstand the powerful combines of Vichy and Perrier and Vittel. There came a series of lawsuits; a number "of people lost a lot of money, and very soon its sale was again entirely local.
Royale fell back on the takings from French and English families v during the summer, on its fishing-fleet in winter and on the crumbs which fell to its elegantly dilapidated Casino from the tables at Le Touquet.
But there was something splendid about the Negresco baroque of the Casino Royale, a strong whiff of Vic- torian elegance and luxury, and in Royale caught, the fancy of a syndicate in Paris which disposed of large funds belonging to a group of expatriate Vichyites.
Brighton had been revived since the war, and Nice. Nostalgia for more specious, golden times might be a source of revenue. The Casino was repainted in its original white and gilt, and the rooms decorated in the palest grey with wine-red carpets and curtains.
Vast chandeliers were suspended from the ceilings. The gardens were spruced, and the fountains played again, and the two main hotels, the Splendide and the Hermitage, were prinked and furbished and restaffed.
Then the Mahomet Ali Syndicate was cajoled into starting a high game in the Casino and the Socie"te des Bains de Mer de Royale felt that now at last Le Touquet would have to yield up some of the treasure stolen over the years from its parent plage.
Against the background of this luminous and sparkling stage Bond stood in the sunshine and felt his mission to be incongruous and remote and his dark profession an affront to his fellow actors.
He shrugged away the momentary feeling of unease and walked round the back of his hotel and down the ramp to the garage. Bond drove it hard and well and with an almost sensual pleasure.
It was a battleship-grey convertible coupe, which really did convert, and it was capable of touring at ninety with thirty miles an hour in reserve.
Bond eased the car out of the garage and up the ramp, and soon the loitering drumbeat of the two-inch exhaust was echoing down the tree-lined boulevard, through the crowded main street of the little town, and off through the sand dunes to the south.
An hour later, Bond walked into the Hermitage bar and chose a table near one of the broad windows. Everything was brass-studded leather and polished mahogany.
The cur- tains and carpets were in royal blue! The waiters wore striped waistcoats and green baize aprons.
The men were drinking inexhaustible quarter-bottles of champagne, the women dry Martinis. Bond, ap- propriately flustered, rose to his feet.
Are you awaiting someone? May I present my colleague, Mademoiselle Lynd? My dear, this is the gentleman from Jamaica with whom I had the pleasure of doing business this morning.
Would you both care to join me? Mathis and Bond exchanged cheerful talk about the fine weather and the prospects of a revival in the for- x tunes of Royale-les-Eaux.
The girl sat silent. Her movements were economical and precise with no trace of self-consciousness. Bond felt her presence strongly.
While he and Mathis talked, he turned from time to time towards her, politely including her in the conversation, but adding up the impressions recorded by each glance.
Her hair was very black, and she wore it cut square and low on the nape of the neck, framing her face to below the clear and beautiful line of her jaw.
Although it was heavy and moved with the movements of her head, she did not constantly pat it back into place, but let it alone.
Her eyes were wide apart and deep blue, and they gazed candidly back at Bond with a touch of ironical disinterest which, to his annoyance, he found he would like to shatter, roughly.
Her skin was lightly sun- tanned and bore no trace of makeup except on her mouth, which was wide and sensual. Her bare arms and hands had a quality of repose, and the general im- pression Of restraint in her appearance and movements was carried even to her fingernails, which were un- painted and cut short.
Round her neck she wore a plain gold chain of wide flat links, and on the fourth finger of the right hand a broad topaz ring.
Her medium-length dress was of grey soie sauvage with a square-cut bodice, lasciviously tight across her fine breasts. She wore a three-inch, hand-stitched black belt.
A hand-stitched black sabretache rested on 34 CASINO ROYALE the chair beside her, together with a wide cartwheel hat of gold straw, its crown encircled by a thin black velvet ribbon which tied at the back in a short bow.
Her shoes were square-toed of plain black leather. Bond was excited by her beauty and intrigued by her composure. The prospect of working with her stimulated him.
At the same time he felt a vague disquiet. On an impulse he touched wood. After a time he rose. I must arrange my rendezvous for dinner tonight.
Perhaps I will bring you luck. She seemed to acknowledge that they were a team and, as they discussed the time and place of their meeting, Bond realized that it would be quite easy after all to plan the details of his project with her.
He felt that after all she was interested and excited by her role and that she would work willingly with him. He had imagined many hurdles before establishing a rapport, but now he felt he could get straight down to professional details.
He was quite honest to himself about the hypocrisy of his attitude towards her. As a woman, he wanted to sleep with her, but only when the job had been done.
He explained that he was expected back at his hotel to have lunch with friends. When for a moment he held her hand in his he felt a warmth of affection and understanding pass between them that would have seemed impossible half an hour earlier.
Mathis moved his chair close to hers and said softly: I am glad you have met each other. I can already feel the ice-floes on the two rivers breaking up.
It will be a new experience for him. He reminds me rather of Hoagy Carmichael, but there is something cold and ruthless in his Suddenly a few feet , away the entire plate-glass window shivered into con- fetti.
The blast of a terrific explosion, very near, hit them so that they were rocked back in their chairs. There was an instant of silence.
Some objects pattered down on to the pavement outside. Bottles slowly toppled off the shelves behind the bar.
Then there were screams and a stampede for the door. He kicked back his chair and hurtled through the empty window-frame on to the payment.
The day was still beautiful, but by now the sun was very hot and the plane-trees, spaced about twenty feet apart on the grass verge between the pavement and the broad tarmac, gave a cool shade.
There were few people abroad and the two men stand- ing quietly under a tree on the opposite side of the boulevard looked out of place. There was something rather disquieting about their appearance.
They were both small, and they were dressed alike in dark and, Bond reflected, rather hot- looking suits. They had the appearance of a variety turn waiting for a bus on the way to the theatre.
Incongruously, each dark, squat little figure was illuminated by a touch of bright colour. They were both carrying square camera-cases slung from the shoulder.
And one case was bright red and the other case bright blue. By the time Bond had taken in these details, he had come to within fifty yards of the two men.
He was reflecting on the ranges of various types of weapon and the possibilities of cover when an extraordinary and terrible scene was enacted. Red-man seemed to give a short nod to Blue-man.
With a quick movement Blue-man unslung his blue camera case. Blue-man, and Bond could not see exactly as the trunk of a plane-tree beside him just then in- tervened to obscure his vision, bent forward and seemed , to fiddle with the case.
Then with a blinding flash of white light there was the ear-splitting crack of a mon- strous explosion and Bond, despite the protection of the tree-trunk, was slammed down to the pavement by a solid bolt of hot air which dented his cheeks and stomach as if they had been made of paper.
He lay, gazing up at the sun, while the air or so it seemed to him went on twanging with the explosion as if someone had hit the bass register of a piano with a sledge hammer.
From all sides came the sharp tinkle of falling glass. Above in the sky hung a mushroom of black smoke which rose and dissolved as he drunkenly watched it.
For fifty yards down the boulevard the trees were leafless and charred. Opposite, two of them had snapped off near the base and lay drunkenly across the road.
Between them there was a still smoking crater. Of the two men in straw hats, there remained ab- solutely nothing. But there were red traces on the road, and on the pavements and against the trunks of the trees, and there were glittering shreds high up in the branches.
Bond felt himself starting to vomit. It was Mathis who got to him first, and by that time Bond was standing with his arm round the tree which had saved his life.
Stupefied, but unharmed, he allowed Mathis to lead him off towards the Splendide from which guests and servants were pouring in chattering fright.
Mathis paused only to turn on the radio in front of the fireplace, then, while Bond stripped off his blood- flecked clothes, Mathis sprayed him with questions.
He is unhurt, and they are not to worry him. I will explain to them in half an hour. They should tell the Press that it was apparently a vendetta between two Bulgarian communists and that one killed the other with a bomb.
They need say nothing of the third Bulgar who must have been hanging about somewhere, but they must get him at all costs. He will certainly head for Paris.
It must have been faulty. They intended to throw it and then dodge behind their tree. But it all came out the other way round.
We will discover the facts. And these people appear to be taking you seriously. And what was the significance of the red and the blue cases?
We must try and find some fragments of the red one. He was excited, and his eyes glit- tered. This was becoming a formidable and dramatic af- fair, in many aspects of which he was now involved per- sonally.
The door slammed, and silence set- tled on the room. Bond sat for a while by the window and enjoyed being alive. Please take care of yourself.
He dipped the knife into the glass of very hot water which stood beside the pot of Strasbourg porcelain and reminded himself to tip the waiter doubly for this par- ticular meal.
After the remains of his luncheon had been removed, he sat at his window gazing out to sea until there came a knock on the door as the masseur, a Swede, presented himself.
Silently he got to work on Bond from his feet to his neck, melting the tensions in his body and calming his still twanging nerves.
He awoke in the evening completely refreshed. After a cold shower, Bond walked over to the Casino. Since the night before he had lost the mood of the tables.
He needed to reestablish that focus which is half mathematical and half intuitive and which, with a slow pulse and a sanguine temperament, he knew to be the 41 42 CASINO ROYALE essential equipment of any gambler who was set on winning.
Bond had always been a gambler. He loved the dry riffle of the cards and the constant unemphatic drama of the quiet figures round the green tables.
He liked the solid, studied comfort of cardrooms and casinos, the well-padded arms of the chairs, the glass of champagne or whisky at the elbow, the quiet unhurried attention of good servants.
He was amused by the impartiality of the roulette ball and of the playing cards — and their eternal bias. There was only oneself to praise or blame.
Luck was a servant and not a master. Luck had to be accepted with a shrug or taken advantage of up to the hilt. But it had to be understood and recognized for what it was and not confused with a faulty appreciation of the odds, , for, at gambling, the deadly sin is to mistake bad play for bad luck.
And luck in all its moods had to be loved and not feared. Bond saw luck as a woman, to be softly wooed or brutally ravaged, never pandered to or pur- sued.
But he was honest enough to, admit that he had never yet been made to suffer by cards or by women. One day, and he accepted the fact, he would be brought to his knees by love or by luck.
When that happened he knew that he too would be branded with the deadly question-mark he recognized so often in others, the promise to -pay before you have lost: He always did this although he knew that- each turn of the wheel, each fall of the ball into a numbered slot, had absolutely no connexion with its predecessor.
He accepted that the game begins afresh each time the croupier picks up the ivory ball with his right hand, gives one of the four spokes of the wheel a controlled twist clockwise with the same hand and, with a third motion, also with the right hand, flicks the ball round the outer rim of the wheel anticlockwise, against its spin.
It was obvious that all this ritual and all the mechanical minutiae of the wheel, of the numbered slots and the cylinder, had been devised and perfected over the years so that neither the skill of the croupier nor any bias in the wheel could affect the fall of the ball.
And yet it is a convention among roulette players, and Bond rigidly adhered to it, to take careful note of the past history of each session and to be guided by any pe- culiarities in the run of the wheel.
To note, for instance, and consider significant, sequences of more than two on a single number or of more than four at the other chances down to evens.
He simply main- tained that the more effort and ingenuity you put into gambling, the more you took out. He thus had two-thirds of the board covered less the zero and, since the dozens pay odds of two to one, he stood to win a hundred thousand francs every time any number lower than 25 turned up.
After seven coups he had won six times. He lost on the seventh When 30 came up. His net profit was half a million francs. He kept off the table for the eighth throw.
This piece of luck cheered him further and, accepting the 30 as a finger-post to the last dozen, he decided to back the first and last dozens until he had lost twice.
Ten throws later the middle dozen came up twice, costing him four hundred thousand francs, but he rose from the table eleven hundred thousand francs to the good.
Directly Bond had started playing in maximums, his game had become the centre of interest at the table. As he seemed to be in luck, one or two pilot fish started to swim with the shark.
Sitting directly opposite, one of these, whom Bond took to be "an American, had shown more than the usual friendliness and pleasure at his share of the winning streak.
When Bond rose, he too pushed back his chair and called cheerfully across the table: Guess I owe you a drink. Will you join me?
He knew he was right as they strolled off together towards the bar, after Bond had thrown a plaque of ten mille to the croupier and had given a mille to the huissier who drew back his chair.
What shall we have to celebrate? In a deep champagne goblet. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made.
I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. He reached for it and took a long sip. He lowered his voice: Our people are definitely interested.
I expect your fellows are much the same in London. But, anyway, here I am. It turned out that Leiter was from Texas. While he talked on about his job with the Joint Intelligence Staff of N.
Felix Leiter was about thirty-five. He was tall with a thin bony frame and his lightweight, tan-coloured suit hung loosely from his shoulders like the clothes of Frank Sinatra.
His movements and speech were slow," but one had the feeling that there was plenty of speed and strength in him, and that he.
As he sat hunched over the table, he seemed to have some of the jackknife quality of a falcon. There was this impression also in his face, in the sharpness of his chin and cheekbones and the wide wry mouth.
His grey eyes had a feline slant which was in- creased by his habit of screwing them up against the smoke of the Chesterfields which he tapped out of the pack in a chain.
The permanent wrinkles which this habit had etched at the corners gave the impression that he smiled more with his eyes than with his mouth.
A mop of straw-coloured hair lent his face a boyish look which closer examination contradicted. Although he seemed to talk quite openly about his duties in Paris, Bond soon noticed that he never spoke of his American colleagues in Europe or in Washington, and he guessed that Leiter held the interests of his own organization far above the mutual concerns of the North Atlantic Allies.
Bond sympathized with him. Before leaving the Casino, Bond deposited his total capital of twenty-four million at the caisse, keeping only a few notes of ten mille as pocket- money.
As they walked across to the Splendide, they saw that a team of workmen was already busy at the scene of the explosion. Several trees were uprooted and hoses frOm three municipal tank cars were washing down the boulevard and pavements.
The bomb-crater had disap- peared and only a few passers-by had paused to gape. Bond assumed that similar face-lifting had already been carried out at the Hermitage and to the, shops and front- ages which had lost their windows.
Bond was not sure, and said so. All concierges are venal. It is not their fault. They are trained to regard all hotel guests except maharajahs as potential cheats and thieves.
They have as much concern for your comfort or welKbeing as crocodiles. Bond thought it well to say that he still felt a little bit shaky.
CHAPTER 8 Pink Lights and Champagne Bond walked up to his room, which again showed no sign of trespass, threw off his clothes, took a long hot bath followed by an ice-cold shower, and lay down on his bed.
There remained an hour in which to rest and compose his thoughts before he met the girl in the Splendide bar, an hour to examine minutely the details of his plans for the game, and for after the game, in all the various circumstances of victory or defeat.
He had to plan the attendant roles of Mathis, Letter, and the girl and visualize the reactions of the enemy in various contingencies.
He closed his eyes, and his thoughts pursued his imagination through a series of carefully constructed scenes as if he were watching the tumbling chips of coloured glass in a kaleidoscope.
He rose and dressed, dismissing the future completely from his mind. As he tied his thin, double-ended, black satin tie, he His grey-blue eyes looked calmly back with a hint of ironical inquiry and the short lock of black hair which would never stay in place slowly subsided to form a thick comma above his right eyebrow.
With the thin vertical scar down his right cheek the general effect was faintly piratical. Not much of Hoagy Carmichael there, thought Bond, as he filled a flat, light, gun-metal box with fifty of the Morland cigarettes with the triple gold band.
He slipped the case into his hip pocket and snapped his black oxidized Ronson to see if it needed fuel. After pocketing the thin sheaf of ten-mille notes, he opened a drawer and took out a light chamois leather holster and slipped it over his left shoulder so that it hung about three inches below his armpit.
He then took from under his shirts in another drawer a very flat. He charged the weapon again, loaded it, put up the safety catch, and dropped it into the shallow pouch of the shoulder-holster.
He looked carefully round the room to see if anything had been forgotten and slipped his single-breasted dinner-jacket coat over his heavy silk evening shirt.
He felt cool and comfortable. He verified in the mirror that there was absolutely no sign of the flat gun under his left arm, gave a final pull at his narrow tie and walked out of the door and locked it.
She stood and waited for him to come up to her. He had remembered her beauty exactly. He was not surprised to be thrilled by it again.
There was a thin necklace of diamonds at her throat and a diamond clip in the low vee which just exposed the jutting swell of her breasts.
She carried a plain black evening bag, a flat oblong which she now held, her arm akimbo, at her waist. Her jet-black hair hung straight and simply to the final in- ward curl below the chin.
Business must be good in the radio world! It marks when you sit down. And, by the way, if you hear me scream tonight, I shall have sat on a cane chair.
The fashionable part of the restaurant was beside the wide crescent of window built out like the broad stern of a ship over the hotel gardens, but Bond had chosen a table in one of the mirrored alcoves at the back of the great room.
These had survived from Edwardian days and they were secluded and gay in white and gilt, with the red silk-shaded table and wall lights of the late Empire.
He turned to his companion. He said to her abruptly: Bond gave her a look of inquiry. Apparently they wanted to remember it.
An idea struck him. He explained about the special Martini he had invented and his search for a name for it. Can I have it? And now have you decided what you would like to have for dinner?
Is it very shameless to be so certain and so expensive? While Mademoiselle is enjoying the strawberries, I will have an avocado pear with a little French dressing.
Do you ap- prove? With his finger on the page, Bond turned to the sommelier: It comes partly from being a bachelor, but mostly from a habit of taking a lot of trouble over details.
But it sounds rather schoolgirlish when one says it, 5 she added apologetically. The little carafe of Vodka had arrived in its bowl of crushed ice, and Bond filled their glasses.
He was longing to tell you himself. He was in a Citroen, and he had picked up two English hikers as protective colouring.
At the roadblock his French was so bad that they asked for his papers, and he brought out a gun and shot one of the motor-cycle patrol.
Then they took him down to Rouen and extracted the story — in the usual French fashion, I suppose. He said the bright colours would make it easier for them.
He told them that the blue case contained a very powerful smoke-bomb. The red case was the explosive. As one of them threw the red case the other was to press a switch on the blue case, and they would escape under cover of the smoke.
In fact, the smoke-bomb was a pure invention to make the Bulgars think they could get away. Both cases contained an identical high-explosive bomb.
There was no difference between the blue and the red cases. The idea was to destroy you and the bomb- throwers without a trace. Presumably there were other plans for dealing with the third man.
It would be better, they thought, to touch off the smoke- bomb first and, from inside the cloud of smoke, hurl the explosive bomb at you.
What you saw was the assistant bomb-thrower pressing down the lever on the phony smoke-bomb; and, of course, they both went up together.
When he saw what had hapr pened, he assumed they had bungled. But the police picked up some fragments of the unexploded red bomb, and he was confronted with them.
When he saw that they had been tricked and that his two friends were meant to be murdered with you, he started to talk. The caviar was heaped on to their plates, and they ate for a time in silence.
After a while Bond said: For them, it certainly was a case of being hoist with their own petard. What section are you in? It seemed only to be a liaison job, so M.
All they knew was that I was to work with a Double O. I was en- chanted. Probably quite decent people. They just got caught up in the gale of the world like that Yugoslav that Tito bumped off.
How do you like the grated egg with your caviar? Suddenly he regretted the intimacy of their dinner and of their talk.
He felt that he had said too much and what was only a working relationship had become confused. She listened to him coldly, but with attentive obedi- ence.
She- felt thoroughly deflated by his harshness, while admitting to herself that she should have paid more heed to the warnings of Head of S.
Then at a hint 60 CASINO ROYALE that they were finding pleasure together, a hint that was only the first words of a conventional phrase, he had suddenly turned to ice and had brutally veered away as if warmth were poison to him.
She felt hurt and foolish. Then she gave a mental shrug and concentrated with all her attention on what he was saying. She would not make the same mistake again.
The odds against the banker and the player are more or less even. I have about the same. There will be ten players, I ex- pect, and we sit round the banker at a kidney-shaped table.
The banker plays two games, one against each of the tableaux to left and right of him. In that game, the banker should be able to win by playing off one tableau against the other and by first-class accountancy.
I shall be sitting as near dead opposite Le Chiffre as I can get. In front of him he has a shoe containing six packs of cards, well shuffled.
The cards are shuf- fled by the croupier and cut bygone of the players and put into the shoe in full view of the table. It would be useful, but almost impossible, to mark all the cards, and it would mean the connivance at least of the croupier.
Anyway, we shall be watching for that too. The banker announces an opening bank of five hundred thousand francs, or five hundred pounds as it is now.
Then Number 2 has the right to take it; and if he refuses then Number 3, and so on round the table. If no single player takes it all, the bet is offered to the table as a whole and everyone chips in, including sometimes the spectators round the table, until the five hundred thousand is made up.
It may take some time, but in the end one of us two is bound to break the other, irrespective of the other players at the table, although they can, of course, make him richer or poorer in the meantime.
Neither of them drank brandy or a liqueur. Finally, Bond felt it was time to explain the actual mechanics of the game. In this game I get two cards and the banker gets two; and, unless anyone wins outright, either or both of us can get one more card.
The object of the game is to hold two, or three cards which together count nine points, Or as nearly nine as possible. Court cards and tens count nothing; aces one each; any other card its face value.
It is only the last figure of your count that signifies. So nine plus seven equals six — not sixteen. Draws are played over again. Five is the turning point of the game.
According to the odds, the chance of bettering or worsening your hand if you hold a five are exactly even. If he has a natural, he turns them up and wins.
Otherwise he is faced with the same problems as I was. But he is helped in his decision to draw or not to draw a card by my actions.
If I have stood he must assume that I have a five, six, or seven: And this card was dealt to me face up. On its face value and a knowledge of the odds, he will know whether to take another card or to stand on his own.
He has a tiny help over his decision to draw or to stand. But there is always one problem card at this game: Shall one draw or stand on a five, and what will your opponent do with a five?
Some players always draw or always stand,. I follow my intuition. The prospect of at last getting to grips with Le Chiffre stimulated him and quickened his pulse.
He seemed to have completely forgotten the brief coolness between them, and Vesper was relieved and entered into his mood.
He paid the bill and gave a handsome tip to the som- melier. Vesper rose and led the way out of the restaurant and out on to the steps of the hotel.
The big Bentley was waiting and Bond drove Vesper over, parking as close to the entrance as he could. As they walked through the ornate anterooms, he hardly spoke.
She looked at him and saw that his nostrils were , slightly flared. In other respects he seemed completely at ease, acknowledging cheerfully the greetings of the Casino functionaries.
At the door to the salle privee they were not asked for their membership cards. Before they had penetrated very far into the main room, Felix Leiter detached himself from one of the roulette tables and greeted Bond as an old friend.
Then perhaps we could come and watch you when your game starts to warm up. Well, I shall leave you then. Now come with me and watch Number 17 obey my extrasensory perceptions.
He stood at the caisse and took his twenty-four million francs against the receipt which had been given him that afternoon.
He divided the notes into equal , packets and put half the sum into his right-hand coat pocket and the other half into the left.
Then he strolled slowly across the room between the thronged tables until he came to the top of the room where the broad baccarat table waited behind the brass rail.
The chef de partie lifted the velvet-covered chain which allowed entrance through the brass rail. Bond moved inside the rail to which a huissier was holding out his chair.
He sat down with a nod to the players on his right and left. He took out his wide gun- metal cigarette case and his black lighter and placed them on the green baize at his right elbow.
The huissier wiped a thick glass ashtray with a cloth and put it beside them. Bond lit a cigarette and leant back in his chair.
He glanced round the table. He knew most of the players by sight, but, few of their names. At Number 7, on his right, there was a Monsieur Sixte, a wealthy Belgian with metal interests in the Congo.
At Number 9 there was Lord Danvers, a distinguished but weak-looking man whose francs were presumably provided by his rich American wife, a middle-aged woman with the predatory mouth of a barracuda, who sat at Number 3.
Bond reflected that they would probably play a pawky and nervous game and be amongst the early casualties. He would play coldly and well and would be a stayer.
Bond asked the huissier for a card and wrote on it, under a neat question mark, the remaining numbers, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, and asked the huissier to give it to the chef de partie.
Soon it came back with the names filled in. With her sanguine temperament she would play gaily and with panache and might run into a vein of luck.
Du Pont, rich-looking, who might or might not have some of the real Du Pont money behind them. Bond guessed they would be stayers.
They both had a businesslike look about them and were talking together easily and cheerfully as if they felt very much at home at the big game.
Bond was quite happy to have them next to him— Mrs. Du 1 Pont sat at Number 5— and he felt prepared to share with them or with Monsieur Sixte on his right, if they found them- selves faced with too big a bank.
At Number 8 was the Maharajah of a small Indian state, probably with all his wartime sterling balances to play with. But the Maharajah would probably stay late in the game and stand some heavy losses if they were gradual.
Number 10 was a prosperous-looking young Italian, Signor Tomelli, who possibly had plenty of money from rack-rents in Milan and would probably play a dashing and foolish game.
He might lose his temper and make a scene. With the same economy of movement, he cut the thick slab of cards, which the croupier had placed on the table squarely between his blunt relaxed hands.
He gave it a short deliberate slap to settle the cards, the first of which showed its semicircular pale pink tongue through the slanting aluminum mouth of the shoe.
Then, with a thick white forefinger he pressed gently on the pink tongue and slipped out the first card six inches or a foot towards the Greek on his right hand.
Then he slipped out a card for himself, then another for the Greek, then one more for himself. He sat immobile, not touching his own cards.
The two pink crabs scuttled out together and the Greek gathered the cards into his wide left hand and cautiously bent his head so that he could see, in the shadow made by his cupped hand, the value of the bottom of the two cards.
Then he slowly inserted the forefinger of his right hand and slipped the bottom card slightly sideways so that the value of the top card was also just perceptible.
His face was quite impassive. He flattened out his left hand on the table and then withdrew it, leaving the two pink cards face down before him, their secret unrevealed.
Then he lifted his head and looked Le Chiffre in the eye. From the decision to stand on his two cards and not to ask for another, it was clear that the Greek had a five, or a six, or a seven.
To be certain Of winning, the bank had to reveal an eight or a nine. If the banker failed to show either figure, he also had the right to take another card which might or might not improve his count.
With his right hand he picked up the two cards and turned them face up- wards on the table with a faint snap. They were a four and a five, an uhdef eatable natural nine.
Le Chiffre had chosen the second course. The croupier slipped some counters through the slot in the table which receives the cagnotte and announced quietly: Bond lit a cigarette and settled himself in his chair.
The long game was launched, and the sequence of these gestures and the reiteration of this subdued litany would continue until the end came and the players dispersed.
Then the enigmatic cards would be burnt or defaced, a shroud would be draped over the table, and the grass- green baize battlefield would soak up the blood of its victims and refresh itself.
He slowly removed one thick hand from the table and slipped it into the pocket of his dinner-jacket. The hand came out holding a small metal cylinder with a cap which Le Chiffre unscrewed.
He inserted the nozzle of the cylinder, with an obscene deliberation, twice into each black nostril in turn, and luxuriously inhaled the benzedrine vapour.
Unhurriedly he pocketed the inhaler; then his hand came quickly back, above the level of. But for the high-lights on the satin of the shawl-cut lapels, he might have been faced by the thick bust of a black-fleeced Minotaur rising out of a green grass field.
Bond slipped a packet of notes on to the table without counting them. The other players sensed a tension between the two gamblers, and there was a silence as Le Chiffre fingered the four cards out of the shoe.
There was a little gasp of envy from the table, and the players to the left of Bond exchanged rueful glances at their failure to accept the two-million-franc bet.
With the hint of a shrug, Le Chiffre slowly faced his own two cards and flicked them away with his finger- nail. They were two valueless knaves.
Bond slipped them into his right-hand pocket with the unused packet of notes. His face showed no emotion, but he was pleased with the success of his first coup and with the outcome of the silent clash of wills across the: The woman on his left, the American Mrs.
Du Pont, turned to him with a wry smile. Du Pont leant forward from the other side of his wife: They stood behind and to either side of the banker.
His whole long body was restless, and his hands shifted often on the brass rail. Bond guessed that he would kill without interest or concern for what he killed, and that he would prefer strangling.
He had something of Lennie in Of Mice and Men, but his inhumanity would not come from infantilism but from drugs. The other man looked like a Corsican shopkeeper.
He was short and very dark with a flat head covered with thickly greased hair. He seemed to be a cripple.
A chunky Malacca cane with a rubber tip hung on a rail beside him. He must have had permission to bring the cane into the Casino with him, reflected Bond, who knew that neither sticks nor any other objects were allowed in the rooms as a precaution against acts of violence.
He looked sleek and well fed. His mouth hung vacantly half open and revealed very bad teeth. He wore a heavy black moustache, and the backs of his hands on the rail were matted with black hair.
Bond guessed that hair covered most of his squat body. The game continued uneventfully, but with a slight bias against the bank.
Your luck can defeat the first and second tests, but when the third deal comes along it most often spells disaster.
Again and again at this point you find yourself being bounced back to earth. It was like that now. Neither the bank nor any of the players seemed to be able to get hot.
Bond had no idea what profits Le Chiffre had made over the past two days. In fact, Le Chiffre had lost heavily all that afternoon.
At this moment he only had ten million left. Bond was cautiously pleased. Le Chiffre showed no trace of emotion.
He continued to play like an automaton, never speaking except when he gave in- structions in a low aside to the croupier at the opening of each new bank.
Outside the pool of silence round the high table, there was the constant hum of the other tables, chemin-de- - fer, roulette, and trente-et-quarante, interspersed with the clear calls of the croupiers and occasional bursts of laughter or gasps of excitement from different corners of the huge salle.
In the background there thudded always the hidden metronome of the Casino, ticking up its little treasure of one-per-cents with each spin of a wheel and each turn of a card — a pulsing fat-cat with a zero for a heart.
The Greek at Number 1 was still having a bad time. He had lost the first coup of half a million francs and the second. He passed the third time, leaving a bank of two millions.
Carmel Delane at Number 2 refused it. So did Lady Danvers at Number 3. The Du Ponts looked at each other. Again he fixed Le Chiffre with his eye.
Again he gave only a cursory look at his two cards. He held a marginal five. The position was dangerous. Le Chiffre turned up a knave and a four.
He gave the shoe another slap. He drew a three. And lost again, to a natural nine. In two coups he had lost twelve million francs.
Suddenly Bond felt the sweat on his palms. Like snow in sunshine his capital had melted. With the covetous deliberation of the winning gambler, Le Chiffre was tapping a light tattoo on the table with his right hand.
Bond looked across into the eyes of murky basalt. They held an ironical question. There was no hint in his movements that this would be his last stake.
His mouth felt suddenly as dry as flock wall-paper. He looked up and saw Vesper and Felix Leiter standing where the gunman with the stick had stood.
He did not know how long they had been standing there. He heard a faint rattle on the rail behind him and turned his head.
The battery of bad teeth under the black moustache gaped vacantly back at him. The light from the broad satin-lined shades which had seemed so welcoming now seemed to take the colour out of his hand as he glanced at the cards.
Then he looked again. It was nearly as bad as it could have been — the king of hearts and an ace, the ace of spades. It squinted up at him like a black widow spider.
Le Chiffre faced his own two cards. He had a queen and a black five. He looked at Bond and pressed out another card with a wide forefinger.
The table was ab- solutely silent. He faced it and flicked it away. The croupier lifted it delicately with his spatula and slipped it over to Bond.
It was a good card, the five of hearts, but to Bond it was a difficult fingerprint in dried blood. He now had a count of six and Le Chiffre a count of five, but the banker having a five and giving a five, would and must draw another card and try and improve with a one, two, three, or four.
Drawing any other card he would be defeated. It was, unnecessarily, the best, a four, giving the bank a count of nine. He had won, almost slowing up.
Bond was beaten and cleaned out. He opened his wide black case and took out a cigarette. He snapped open the tiny jaws of the Ronson and lit the cigarette and put the lighter back on the table.
He took a deep lungful of smoke and expelled it between his teeth with a faint hiss. Back to the hotel and bed, avoiding the commiserating eyes of Mathis and Leiter and Vesper: He looked round the table and up at the spectators.
Few were looking at him. Leiter had vanished, not wishing to look Bond in the eye after the knock-out, he supposed. Yet Vesper looked curiously unmoved, she gave him a smile of en- couragement.
But then, Bond reflected, she knew nothing of the game. Had no notion, probably, of the bitterness of his defeat. The huissier was coming towards Bond inside the rail.
He stopped beside him. Placed a squat envelope beside Bond on the table. It was as thick as a dictionary. Said something about the caisse.
He took the heavy anonymous envelope below the level of the table and slit it open with his thumbnail, noticing that the gum was still wet on the flap.
Unbelieving and yet knowing it was true, he felt the broad wads of notes. He slipped them into his pockets, retaining the half-sheet of notepaper which was pinned to the topmost of them.
He glanced at it in the shadow below the table. There was one line of writing in ink: With the compliments of the U. He looked over towards Vesper.
Felix Leiter was again standing beside her. He grinned slightly, and Bond smiled back and raised his hand from the table in a small gesture of benediction.
Then he set his mind to sweeping away all traces of the sense of complete defeat which had swamped him a few minutes before.
This was a reprieve, but only a reprieve. There could be no more miracles. This time he had to win— if Le Chif fre had not already made his fifty million — if he was going to go on!
Perhaps, thought Bond, Le Chiffre needed just one more coup, even a minor one of a few million francs, to achieve his object.
Then he would have made his fifty million francs and would leave the table. By tomorrow his deficits would be covered and his position secure.
Then the only hope, thought Bond, was to stamp on him how. Not to share the bank with the table, or to take some minor r part of it, but to go the whole hog.
This would really jolt Le Chiffre. He would hate to see more than ten or fifteen million of the stake covered, and he could not possibly expect anyone to banco the entire thirty-two millions.
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