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“He is accustomed to capturing rich prizes!” said the corpulent gentleman. A laugh followed this most original piece of wit.

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The first vertical drop had a spine-chilling bliss to it. Bond got down into his old Arlberg crouch, his hands forward of his boots, and just let himself go. His skis were an ugly six inches apart. The Kannonen he had watched had gone down with their boots locked together, as if on a single ski. But this was no time for style, even if he had been capable of it! Above all he must stay upright!

As the game went on, Bond looked over the spectators leaning on the high brass rail round the table. He soon saw Le Chiffre's two gunmen. They stood behind and to either side of the banker. They looked respectable enough, but not sufficiently a part of the game to be unobtrusive. Scaramanga stopped in his stride and looked hard at Bond. "These are all respectable guys, mister whoosis." "Hazard is the name." Mr. Micawber then smiled, settled his chin again, and looked about him.

It was seven-thirty when the KGB submachinegun was gently drawn back into the black interior. One by one the bottom sashes of the four windows were closed. The coldhearted game was over for the night. 272 was still holed up. Two more nights to go! - Bond softly drew the curtain over his shoulders and across the muzzle of the Winchester. He got up, pulled off his cowl, and went into the bathroom, where he stripped and had a shower. Then he had two large whiskeys-on-the-rocks in quick succession, while he waited, his ears pricked, for the now muffled sound of the orchestra to stop. At eight o'clock it did, with the expert comment from Sender-"Borodin's Prince Igor, Choral Dance Number 17, I think."-who had been getting off his report in garbled language to the Head of Station.

“Oh, you know, about him and Lady Susan, you know.”

In the echoing silence, a cricket started to zing in the thorn bush, and somewhere near at hand there was the anxious chirrup of a nightbird.