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"Promise. You're just a darling chick. I'm cow-simple about you."The Ordnance Department reported to the Secretary of War and the Secretary to Lincoln that mortars were on hand but that no mortar-beds were available. It was one of the many cases in which the unpreparedness of the government had left a serious gap in the equipment. The further report was given to Lincoln that two or three months' time would be required to manufacture the thirty mortar-beds that were needed. A delay of any such period would have blocked the entire purpose of Grant's expedition. In his perplexity, Lincoln remembered that in his famous visit to New York two years before, he had been introduced to Mr. Hewitt, "a well-known iron merchant," as "a man who does things." Lincoln telegraphed to Hewitt asking if Hewitt could make thirty mortar-beds and how long it would take. Hewitt told me that the message reached him on a Saturday evening at the house of a friend. He wired an acknowledgment with the word that he would send a report on the following day. Sunday morning he looked up the ordnance officer of New York for the purpose of ascertaining where the pattern mortar-bed was kept. "It was rather important, Major," said Hewitt to me, "that I should have an opportunity of examining this pattern for I had never seen a mortar-bed in my life, but this of course I did not admit to the ordnance officer." The pattern required was, it seemed, in the armory at Springfield. Hewitt wired to Lincoln asking that the bed should be forwarded by the night boat to him in New York. Hewitt and his men met the boat, secured the pattern bed, and gave some hours to puzzling over the construction. At noon on Monday, Hewitt wired to Lincoln that he could make thirty mortar-beds in thirty days. In another hour he received by wire instructions from Lincoln to go ahead. In twenty-eight days he had the thirty mortar-beds in readiness; and Tom Scott, who had at the time, very fortunately for the country, taken charge of the military transportation, had provided thirty flat-cars for the transit of the mortar-beds to Cairo. The train was addressed to "U.S. Grant, Cairo," and each car contained a notification, painted in white on a black ground, "not to be switched on the penalty of death." That train got through and as other portions of the equipment had also been delayed, the mortars were not so very late. Six schooners, each equipped with a mortar, were hurried up the river to support the attack of the army on Fort Donelson. A first assault had been made and had failed. The field artillery was, as Grant had anticipated, ineffective against the earthworks, while the fire of the Confederate infantry, protected by their works, had proved most severe. The instant, however, that from behind a point on the river below the fort shells were thrown from the schooners into the inner circle of the fortifications, the Confederate commander, Floyd, recognised that the fort was untenable. He slipped away that night leaving his junior, General Buckner, to make terms with Grant, and those terms were "unconditional surrender," which were later so frequently connected with the initials of U.S.G. "You know I'd like to work with you, Felix," said Bond seriously. "But I'm still working for the Government while you're probably in competition with yours. But if it turns out our target's the same, there's no sense in getting wires crossed. If we're chasing the same hare, I'll be happy to run with you. Now," Bond looked quizzically at the Texan. "Am I right in thinking you're interested in someone with a blaze face and four white stockings? Called Shy Smile?" Where? Bond knew. They were in the Languard range, somewhere above Pontresina in the Engadine, and their altitude would be about 10,000 feet. He buttoned up his raincoat and prepared for the rasping dagger of the cold anon his lungs when the door was opened. A dedicated family man, he is married to soprano Nancy Stokes. The couple has a 6-year-old son, Shawn, and Milnes has two other children from a previous marriage. He has been a Westsider for almost 10 years.

'Good. Seems that this man Smithers is head of the Bank's research department. From what the Governor told me, that's nothing more or less than a spy system. First time I knew they had one. Just shows what watertight compartments we all work in. Anyway, Smithers and his chaps keep an eye out for anything fishy in the banking world - particularly any monkeying about with our currency and bullion reserves and what not. There was that business the other day of the Italians who were counterfeiting sovereigns. Making them out of real gold. Right carats and all that. But apparently a sovereign or a French napoleon is worth much more than its melted-down value in gold. Don't ask me why. Smithers can tell you that if you're interested. Anyway, the Bank went after these people with a whole battery of lawyers-it wasn't technically a criminal offence - and, after losing in the Italian courts, they finally nailed them in Switzerland. You probably read about it. Then there was that business of dollar balances in Beirut. Made quite a stir in the papers. Couldn't understand it myself. Some crack in the fence we put round our currency. The wide City boys had found it. Well, it's Smithers's job to smell out that kind of racket. The reason the Governor told me all this is because for years, almost since the war apparently, Smithers has had a bee in his bonnet about some big gold leak out of England. Mostly deduction, plus some kind of instinct. Smithers admits he's got damned little to go on, but he's impressed the Governor enough for him to get permission from the PM to call us in.' M broke off. He looked quizzically at Bond. 'Ever wondered who are the richest men in England?'

If the day were half as tremendous to any other professional gentleman in Doctors' Commons as it was to me, I sincerely believe he made some expiation for his share in that rotten old ecclesiastical cheese. Although I left the office at half past three, and was prowling about the place of appointment within a few minutes afterwards, the appointed time was exceeded by a full quarter of an hour, according to the clock of St. Andrew's, Holborn, before I could muster up sufficient desperation to pull the private bell-handle let into the left-hand door-post of Mr. Waterbrook's house.

Critics, if they ever trouble themselves with these pages, will, of course, say that in what I have now said I have ignored altogether the one great evil of rapid production — namely, that of inferior work. And of course if the work was inferior because of the too great rapidity of production, the critics would be right. Giving to the subject the best of my critical abilities, and judging of my own work as nearly as possible as I would that of another, I believe that the work which has been done quickest has been done the best. I have composed better stories — that is, have created better plots — than those of The Small House at Allington and Can You Forgive Her? and I have portrayed two or three better characters than are to be found in the pages of either of them; but taking these books all through, I do not think that I have ever done better work. Nor would these have been improved by any effort in the art of story telling, had each of these been the isolated labour of a couple of years. How short is the time devoted to the manipulation of a plot can be known only to those who have written plays and novels; I may say also, how very little time the brain is able to devote to such wearing work. There are usually some hours of agonising doubt, almost of despair — so at least it has been with me — or perhaps some days. And then, with nothing settled in my brain as to the final development of events, with no capability of settling anything, but with a most distinct conception of some character or characters, I have rushed at the work as a rider rushes at a fence which he does not see. Sometimes I have encountered what, in hunting language, we call a cropper. I had such a fall in two novels of mine, of which I have already spoken — The Bertrams and Castle Richmond. I shall have to speak of other such troubles. But these failures have not arisen from over-hurried work. When my work has been quicker done — and it has sometimes been done very quickly — the rapidity has been achieved by hot pressure, not in the conception, but in the telling of the story. Instead of writing eight pages a day, I have written sixteen; instead of working five days a week, I have worked seven. I have trebled my usual average, and have done so in circumstances which have enabled me to give up all my thoughts for the time to the book I have been writing. This has generally been done at some quiet spot among the mountains — where there has been no society, no hunting, no whist, no ordinary household duties. And I am sure that the work so done has had in it the best truth and the highest spirit that I have been able to produce. At such times I have been able to imbue myself thoroughly with the characters I have had in hand. I have wandered alone among the rocks and woods, crying at their grief, laughing at their absurdities, and thoroughly enjoying their joy. I have been impregnated with my own creations till it has been my only excitement to sit with the pen in my hand, and drive my team before me at as quick a pace as I could make them travel.