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With such Agility and Ease they go,

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Scaramanga had been talking to a man who appeared to be the manager, a young American with a neat face and a neat suit. He turned to Bond. "You're in Number twenty-four in the west wing. I'm close by in Number twenty. Order what you want from room service. See you about ten in the morning. The guys'll be coming in from Kingston around midday. Okay?" The cold eyes in the gaunt face didn't mind whether it was or not. Bond said it was. He followed one of the bellboys with his suitcase across the slippery marble floor and was led into a long white corridor with a close-fitted carpet in royal-blue Wilton. There was a smell of new paint and Jamaican cedar. The numbered doors and the light fittings were in good taste. Bond's room was almost at the end on the left. Number 20 was opposite. The bellhop unlocked Number 24 and held the door for Bond. Air-conditioned air gushed out. It was a pleasant modern double bedroom and bath in grey and white. When he was alone, Bond went to the air-conditioning control and turned it to zero. Then he drew back the curtains and wound down the two broad windows to let in real air. Outside, the sea whispered softly on an invisible beach and the moonlight splashed the black shadows of palms across trim lawns. To his left, where the yellow light of the entrance showed a corner of the gravel sweep, Bond heard his car being started up and driven away, presumably to a parking lot, which would, he guessed, be at the rear so as not to spoil the impact of the facade. He turned back into his room and inspected it minutely. The only objects of suspicion were a large picture on the wall above the two beds and the telephone. The picture was a Jamaican market scene painted locally. Bond lifted it off its nail, but the wall behind was innocent. He then took out a pocketknife, laid the telephone carefully, so as not to shift the receiver, upside down on a bed, and very quietly and carefully unscrewed the bottom plate. He smiled his satisfaction. Behind the plate was a small microphone joined by leads to the main cable inside the cradle. He screwed back the plate with the same care and put the telephone quietly back on the night table. He knew the gadget. It would be transistorized and of sufficient power to pick up a conversation in normal tones anywhere in the room. It crossed his mind to say very devout prayers out loud before he went to bed. That would be a fitting prologue for the central recording device!

Goodbyes were said and M rang for Hammond to see the other two out. He then rang again. 'Tea, please, Hammond.' He turned to Bond. 'Or rather have a whisky and soda?' They had said good-night and Bond, in a mood of anticlimax, had gone off to bed. He had taken a mild sleeping pill to try and clear his mind of the bizarre events of the evening and prepare himself for the morning and the office. Before he slept he reflected, as he had often reflected in other moments of triumph at the card table, that the gain to the winner is, in some odd way, always less than the loss to the loser. Farther on, she tugged urgently at his sleeve. "Look," she whispered. She pointed forward to a big clump of bushes beside which the tracks ran. They were leafless and blackened. In the centre there showed the charred remains of birds' nests. "He breathed on them," she said excitedly.

On each of the four walls was a large flower painting in a golden frame. Something almost three dimensional about these paintings caught Bond's attention and he walked over to examine one of them. It was not a painting, but a stylized arrangement of freshly cut flowers set behind glass in niches lined with copper-coloured velvet. The others were the same, and the four Water-ford vases in which the flowers stood were a perfect set.

5. Asthenic. Symptoms: numbness, tingling mouth, abdominal pain, vertigo, vomiting, purging, delirium, paralysis, fainting.

'Oh, poor little fellow! Is he dead?'