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"Why?"

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'Another writ has been issued (in His Majesty's High Court of King's Bench at Westminster), in another cause of HEEP V. MICAWBER, and the defendant in that cause is the prey of the sheriff having legal jurisdiction in this bailiwick.

He jerked himself about, after this compliment, in such an intolerable manner, that my aunt, who had sat looking straight at him, lost all patience. I knew something about machinery-every North American child is brought up with motor cars-and I weighed up the attractions of the little 125-c.c. model and of the sturdier, faster 150-c.c. Gran Sport. Of course, I plumped for the sporty one with its marvelous acceleration and a top speed of nearly sixty. It would only do around eighty miles to the gallon, compared with the smaller one's hundred, but I told myself that gas was cheap in America and that I must have the speed or I would take months to get south. The dealer was enthusiastic. He pointed out that in bad weather, or if I got tired, I could just put the thing on a train for a stretch. He could get about thirty pounds' purchase tax off the price of one hundred and ninety pounds by delivering it to a ship that would get it over to Canada in ten days. That would give me extra money to spend on spares and deluxe accessories. I didn't need any pressuring. We did one or two runs up and down the bypass, with the dealer sitting on the back, and the Vespa went like a bird and was as easy to drive as a bicycle. So I signed up for it, bought a leopard-skin cover for the seat and spare wheel, racy-looking deluxe wheel-trims, a rear mirror, a luggage rack, white saddlebags that went beautifully with the silver finish of the body, a Perspex sports windscreen, and a white crash helmet that made me feel like Pat Moss. The dealer gave me some good ideas about clothes, and I went to a store and bought white overalls with plenty of zips, some big goggles with soft fur round the edges, and a rather dashing pair of lined black kid motorcycling gloves. After this I sat down in my hotel with the maps and planned my route for the first stage down from Quebec. Then I booked myself on the cheapest Trans-Canada flight to Montreal, cabled Aunt Florence, and, on a beautiful first-of-September morning, I was off. The small talk continued as the manager personally took Bond up in the lift and showed him into one of the handsome grey and white Directoire rooms with the deep rose coverlet on the bed that Bond remembered so well. Then, with a final exchange of courtesies, James Bond was alone.

There was a buzz of comment and some desultory clapping. This time Mr. Snowman's reaction was even slower and the auctioneer twice repeated the last bid. Finally he looked directly at Mr. Snowman. "Against you, sir." At last Mr. Snowman raised five fingers.

I put a hand out to him and felt his shoulder. It was naked. I pressed it to reassure him, and the hand came away from my mouth. He whispered, "Wait there! Don't move! Be back in a second," and he slipped noiselessly away.

Ahead, the rumble of the train became a deep boom.