Could be, thought Bond. There are many ways of checking up whether the owner's at home or away. A servant's appearance and reactions-a glance through the open door. `Well, you're wasting your time because he's away,' would be the obvious reception if the flat was empty. Should he tell the Security Section? Bond shrugged his shoulders irritably. What the hell. There was probably nothing in it. Why should They be interested in him? And, if there was something in it, Security was quite capable of making him change his flat.
The screaming progress of the driverless train changed to a roar as the track took to the trestles of the long bridge. Bond watched it vaguely, wondering when it would run out of steam. What would tie three gangsters do now? Take to the hills? Get the train under control and go on to Green Harbour and try and take the Thunder Bird across to Cuba? Immediately the answer came! Halfway across the bridge, the engine suddenly reared up like a bucking stallion. At the same time there came a crash of thunder and a vast sheet of flame, and the bridge buckled downwards in the centre like a bent leg. Chunks of torn iron sprayed upwards and sideways, and there was a splintering crash as the main stanchions gave and slowly bowed down towards the water. Through the jagged gap, the beautiful Belle, a smashed toy, folded upon itself and, with a giant splintering of iron and woodwork and a volcano of spray and steam, thundered into the river.
I fear that the answer to this question must be found in the habits of procrastination which had at that time grown upon the editor. He had, I imagine, undertaken the work himself, and had postponed its commencement till there was left to him no time for commencing. There was still, it may be said, as much time for him as for me. I think there was — for though he had his magazine to look after, I had the Post Office. But he thought, when unable to trust his own energy, that he might rely upon that of a new recruit. He was but four years my senior in life but he was at the top of the tree, while I was still at the bottom.
At length he said moodily, 'This is a dirty business, James. But I'm afraid it makes sense. Better do something about it, I suppose.' He reached for the red telephone with scrambler attachment that stood beside the black one on his desk and picked up the receiver. It was a direct line to that very private switchboard in Whitehall to which perhaps fifty people in all Britain have access. 'Put me on to Sir Ronald Vallance, would you? Home number, I suppose.' He reached out and took a deep gulp at his cup of tea and put the cup back on its saucer. Then, 'That you, Vallance? M here. Sorry to disturb your afternoon nap.' There was an audible explosion at the other end of the line! M smiled. 'Reading a report on teen-age prostitution? I'm ashamed of you. On Christmas Day too. Well, scramble, would you?' M pressed down the large black button on the side of the cradle. 'Right? Now I'm afraid this is top priority. Remember Blofeld and the Thunderball case? Well, he's up to his tricks again. Too long to explain now. You'll get my side of the report in the morning. And Ag. and Fish, are mixed up in it. Yes, of all people. Man called Franklin is your contact. One of their top pest-control men. Only him and his Minister. So would your chaps report to him, copy to me? I'm only dealing with the foreign side. Your friend O07's got the ball. Yes, same chap. He can nil you in with any extra detail you may need on the foreign angles. Now, the point is this. Even though it's Christmas and all that, could your chaps try at once and lay their hands on a certain girl, Polly Tasker, aged about 25, who lives in East Anglia? Yes, I know it's a hell of a big area, but she'll probably come from a respectable lower-middle-class family connected with turkey farming. Certainly find the family in the telephone book. Can't give you any description, but she's just been spending several weeks in' Switzerland. Got back the last week in November. Don't be ridiculous! Of course you can manage it. And when you find her, take her into custody for importing Fowl Pest into the country. Yes, that's right.' M spelt it out. "The stuff that's been killing all our turkeys.' M muttered 'Thank God!' away from the receiver. 'No, I didn't say anything. Now, be kind to the girl. She didn't know what she was doing. And tell the parents it'll be all right. If you need a formal charge, you'll have to get one out of Franklin. Then tell Franklin when you've got her and he'll come down and ask her one or two simple questions. When he's got the answers, you can let her go. Right? But we've got to find that girl. You'll see why all right when you've read the report. Now then, next assignment. There are ten girls of much the same type as this Polly Tasker who'll probably be flying from Zurich to England and Eire any day from tomorrow on. Each one has got to be held by the Customs at the port or airport of entry. 007 has a list of their names and fairly good descriptions. My people "in Zurich may or may not be able to give us warning of their arrival. Is that all right? Yes, 007 will bring the .list to Scotland Yard this evening. No, I can't tell you what it's all about. Too long a story. But have you ever heard of Biological Warfare? That's right. Anthrax and so on. Well, this is it. Yes. Blofeld again. I know. That's what I'm just going to talk to 007 about. Well now, Vallance, have you got all that? Fine.' M listened. He smiled grimly. 'And a Happy Christmas to you.'
'You're a bloodthirsty old bastard, Tiger. But what's all this lecture about anyway? What's it got to do with friend Shatterhand and his pretty garden?'