|青云志手游荒火gm|唐振煜|The News

Proverbs XX, 14

Print E-mail


Bond turned to Honeychile. He smiled at her. "It looks very comfortable, don't you think, darling?"

'They must weigh a ton.'In July, 1864, Washington is once more within reach if not of the invader at least of the raider. The Federal forces had been concentrated in Grant's lines along the James, and General Jubal Early, one of the most energetic fighters of the Southern army, tempted by the apparently unprotected condition of the capital, dashed across the Potomac on a raid that became famous. It is probable that in this undertaking, as in some of the other movements that have been referred to on the part of the Southern leaders, the purpose was as much political as military. Early's force of from fifteen to sixteen thousand men was, of course, in no way strong enough to be an army of invasion. The best success for which he could hope would be, in breaking through the defences of Washington, to hold the capital for a day or even a few hours. The capture of Washington in 1864, as in 1863 or in 1862, would in all probability have brought about the long-hoped-for intervention of France and England. General Lew Wallace, whose name became known in the years after the War through some noteworthy romances, Ben Hur and The Fair God, and who was in command of a division of troops stationed west of Washington, and composed in part of loyal Marylanders and in part of convalescents who were about to be returned to the front, fell back before Early's advance to Monocacy Creek. He disposed his thin line cleverly in the thickets on the east side of the creek in such fashion as to give the impression of a force of some size with an advance line of skirmishers. Early's advance was checked for some hours before he realised that there was nothing of importance in front of him; when Wallace's division was promptly overwhelmed and scattered. The few hours that had thus been saved were, however, of first importance for the safety of Washington. Early reached the outer lines of the fortifications of the capital some time after sunset. His immediate problem was to discover whether the troops which were, as he knew, being hurried up from the army of the James, had reached Washington or whether the capital was still under the protection only of its so-called home-guard of veteran reserves. These reserves were made up of men more or less crippled and unfit for work in the field but who were still able to do service on fortifications. They comprised in all about six thousand men and were under the command of Colonel Wisewell. The force was strengthened somewhat that night by the addition of all of the male nurses from the hospitals (themselves convalescents) who were able to bear arms. That night the women nurses, who had already been in attendance during the hours of the day, had to render double service. Lincoln had himself in the afternoon stood on the works watching the dust of the Confederate advance. Once more there came to the President who had in his hands the responsibility for the direction of the War the bitterness of the feeling, if not of possible failure, at least of immediate mortification. He knew that within twenty-four or thirty-six hours Washington could depend upon receiving the troops that were being hurried up from Grant's army, but he also realised what enormous mischief might be brought about by even a momentary occupation of the national capital by Confederate troops. I had some personal interest in this side campaign. The 19th army corps, to which my own regiment belonged, had been brought from Louisiana to Virginia and had been landed on the James River to strengthen the ranks of General Butler. There had not been time to assign to us posts in the trenches and we had, in fact, not even been placed in position. We were more nearly in marching order than any other troops available and it was therefore the divisions of the 19th army corps that were selected to be hurried up to Washington. To these were added two divisions of the 6th corps. Now breeches, boots, and scarlet pride Tiger looked at him quizzically. 'You have done well, Bondo-san. Apart from your inclination to make Western jokes about Eastern customs. Fortunately I am a man of infinite patience, and I must admit that your company has given me much pleasure and a certain amount of amusement. I will award you seventy-five marks out of a possible hundred.' This ideographic art I could at least comprehend sufficiently to grasp its general nature, but it must also have symbolized ranges of experience beyond my reach. It played a great part in the decoration of the temples; and certain ideograms, which remained meaningless to me, seemed to have a mystical power over anyone that earnestly contemplated them.

Bond was told to get in the back of the car. They set off. Once again that offered neck! Crazy not to take him now! But it was open country with no cover and there were five guns riding behind. The odds simply weren't good enough. What was the plan for his removal? During the "hunting" presumably. James Bond smiled grimly to himself. He was feeling happy. He wouldn't have been able to explain the emotion. It was a feeling of being keyed up, wound taut. It was the moment, after twenty passes, when you got a hand you could bet on-not necessarily win, but bet on. He had been after this man for over six weeks. Today, this morning perhaps, was to come the payoff he had been ordered to bring about. It was win or lose. The odds? Foreknowledge was playing for him. He was more heavily forearmed than the enemy knew. But the enemy had the big battalions on their side. There were more of them. And, taking only Scaramanga, perhaps more talent. Weapons? Again leaving out the others, Scaramanga had the advantage. The long-barrelled Colt .45 would be a fraction slower on the draw, but its length of barrel would give it more accuracy than the Walther automatic. Rate of fire? The Walther should have the edge-and the first empty chamber of Scaramanga's gun, if it hadn't been discovered, would be an additional bonus. The steady hand? The cool brain? The sharpness of the lust to kill? How did they weigh up? Probably nothing to choose on the first two,. Bond might be a shade trigger-happy-of necessity. That he must watch. He must damp down the fire in his belly. Get ice-cold. In the lust to kill, perhaps he was the strongest. Of course. He was fighting for his life. The other man was just amusing himself-providing sport for his friends, displaying his potency, showing off. That was good! That might be decisive! Bond said to himself that he must increase the other man's unawareness, his casual certitude, his lack of caution. He must be the P. G. Wodehouse Englishman, the limey of the cartoons. He must play easy to take. The adrenalin coursed into James Bond's bloodstream. His pulse rate began to run a fraction high. He felt it on his wrist. He breathed deeply and slowly to bring it down. He found that he was sitting forward, tensed. He sat back and tried to relax. All of his body relaxed except his right hand. This was in the control of someone else. Resting on his right thigh, it still twitched slightly from time to time like the paw of a sleeping dog chasing rabbits.

'Oh! How ridiculous!' cried Dora.

'I can't make it out,' said Mr. Dick, shaking his head. 'There's something wrong, somewhere. However, it was very soon after the mistake was made of putting some of the trouble out of King Charles's head into my head, that the man first came. I was walking out with Miss Trotwood after tea, just at dark, and there he was, close to our house.'