Bond didn't look at the man who had received this letter. He slid it back to him across the desk. He took a deep drink of the whisky and reached for the bottle. He said, 'Yes, I see.'
鈥楾he Mission Miss Sahiba must know every lane,
But all writers of fiction who have desired to think well of their own work, will probably have had doubts on their minds before they have arrived at this conclusion. Thinking much of my own daily labour and of its nature, I felt myself at first to be much afflicted and then to be deeply grieved by the opinion expressed by wise and thinking men as to the work done by novelists. But when, by degrees, I dared to examine and sift the sayings of such men, I found them to be sometimes silly and often arrogant. I began to inquire what had been the nature of English novels since they first became common in our own language, and to be desirous of ascertaining whether they had done harm or good. I could well remember that, in my own young days, they had not taken that undisputed possession of drawing-rooms which they now hold. Fifty years ago, when George IV. was king, they were not indeed treated as Lydia had been forced to treat them in the preceding reign, when, on the approach of elders, Peregrine Pickle was hidden beneath the bolster, and Lord Ainsworth put away under the sofa. But the families in which an unrestricted permission was given for the reading of novels were very few, and from many they were altogether banished. The high poetic genius and correct morality of Walter Scott had not altogether succeeded in making men and women understand that lessons which were good in poetry could not be bad in prose. I remember that in those days an embargo was laid upon novel-reading as a pursuit, which was to the novelist a much heavier tax than that want of full appreciation of which I now complain.
Luncheon broke up, and the company dispersed to their rooms. James Bond wandered round to the back of the hotel and found a discarded shingle on a rubbish dump. It was blazing hot under the afternoon sun, but the Doctor's Wind was blowing in from the sea. For all its air-conditioning, there was something grim about the impersonal grey and white of Bond's bedroom. Bond walked along the shore, took off his coat and tie, and sat in the shade of a bush of sea grapes and watched the fiddler crabs about their minuscule business in the sand while he whittled two chunky wedges out of the Jamaican cedar. Then he closed his eyes and thought about Mary Goodnight. She would now be having her siesta in some villa on the outskirts of Kingston. It would probably be high up in the Blue Mountains for the coolness. In Bond's imagination, she would be lying on her bed under a mosquito net. Because of the heat, she would have nothing on, and one could see only an ivory-and-gold shape through the fabric of the net. But one would know that there were small beads of sweat on her upper lip and between her breasts, and the fringes of the golden hair would be damp. Bond took off his clothes and lifted up the corner of the mosquito net, not wanting to wake her until he had fitted himself against her thighs. But she turned, in half-sleep, towards turn and held out her arms. "James. . . ."
desk, held out her hand to me and smiled. "Hi, I'mNatalie," she said.