James Bond recited Sable Basilisk’s examples of the Habsburg lip, the royal tail, and the others. He then leaned forward in his chair for emphasis. ‘And such a physical peculiarity exists in connexion with the de Bleuvilles. You did not know this?’
‘I was not aware of it. No. What is it?’
‘I have good news for you, Count.’ Bond smiled his congratulations. ‘All the de Bleuville effigies or portraits 佛山夜生活888 that we have been able to trace have been distinctive in one vital respect, in one inherited characteristic. It appears that the family had no lobes to their ears!’
The Count’s hands went up to his ears and felt them. Was he acting?
‘I see,’ he said slowly. ‘Yes, I see.’ He reflected. ‘And you had to see this for
yourself? My word, or a photograph, would not have been sufficient?’
Bond looked embarrassed. ‘I am sorry. Count. But that was the ruling of Garter King of Arms. I am only a junior free-lance research worker for one of the Pursuivants. He in turn takes his orders in these matters from above. I hope you will appreciate that the College has to be extremely strict in cases concerned with a most ancient and honourable title such as the one in question.’
The dark pools aimed themselves at Bond like the muzzles
of 佛山桑拿q群 guns. ‘Now that you have seen what you came to see, you regard the title as still in question?’
This was the worst hurdle. ‘What I have seen certainly allows me to recommend that the work should continue, Count. And I would say that our chances of success have greatly multiplied. I have brought out the materials for a first sketch of the Line of Descent, and that, in a matter of days, I could lay before you. But alas, as I have said, there are still many gaps, and it is most important for me to satisfy Sable Basilisk particularly about the stages of your family’s migration from Augsburg to Gdynia. It would be of the greatest help if I might question you closely about your parentage in the male line. Even details about your father and grandfather would be of the greatest assistance. And then, of course, it would be of the utmost importance if you could spare a day to accompany me to Augsburg to see if the handwriting of these Blofeld families in the Archives, their Christian names and other family details, awaken any memories or connexions in your mind. The rest would then remain with us at the College. I could spare no more than a week on this work. But I am at your disposal if you wish it.’
The Count got to his feet. Bond followed suit. He walked casually over to the railing and admired the view. Would this bedraggled fly be taken? Bond now desperately hoped so. During the interview he had come to one certain conclusion. There was not a single one of the peculiarities in the Count’s appearance that could not have been achieved by good acting and by the most refined facial and stomach surgery applied to the original Blofeld. Only the eyes could not have been tampered with. And the eyes were obscured.
‘You think that with patient work, even with the inclusion of a few question marks where the connecting links are obscure, I would achieve an Acte de Notoriete that would satisfy the Minister of Justice in Paris?’
‘Most certainly,’ lied Bond. ‘With the authority of the College in support.’
The fixed smile widened minutely. ‘That would give me much satisfaction, Sir Hilary. I am the Comte de Bleuville.
I am certain of it in my heart, in my veins.’ There was real fervour in the voice. ‘But I am determined that my title shall be officially recognized. You will be most welcome to remain as my guest and I shall be constantly at your disposal to help with your researches.’
Bond said politely, but with a hint of weariness, of resignation, ‘All right, Count. And thank you. I will go and make a start straight away.’
12 Two Near Misses
BOND WAS shown out of the building by a man in a white coat with the conventional white gauze of the laboratory worker over the lower half of his face. Bond attempted no conversation. He was now well inside the fortress, but he would have to continue to walk on tiptoe and be damned careful where he put his feet!
He returned to his room and got out one of the giant sheets of squared paper with which he had been furnished. He sat down at his table and wrote firmly at the top centre of the paper ‘Guillaume de Bleuville, 1207-1243’. Now there were five hundred years of de Bleuvilles, with their wives and children, to be copied down from his books and notes. That would fill up an impressive number of pages with impeccable fact. He could certainly spread that chore over three days, interspersed with more tricky work – gassing with Blofeld about the Blofeld end of the story. Fortunately there were some English Blofields he could throw in as makeweight. And some Bluefields and Blumfields. He could start some pretty hares running in those directions! And, in between these idiotic activities, he would ferret and ferret away at the mystery of what in hell the new Blofeld, the new SPECTRE, were up to!
One thing was certain, they had already been through his belongings. Before going for his interview, Bond had gone into the bathroom, away from that seemingly watchful hole in the ceiling, and had painfully pulled out half a dozen of his hairs. These, while he had selected the books he needed to take with him, he had dispersed inconspicuously among his other papers and in his passport. The hairs were all gone. Someone had been through all his books. He got up and went to the chest of drawers, ostensibly for a handkerchief. Yes, the careful patterns in which he had laid out his things had all been minutely disturbed. Unemotionally he went back to his work, thanking heaven he had travelled as ‘clean’ as a whistle! But by God he’d have to keep his cover solid! He didn’t at all like the thought of that one-way trip down the bob-run!
Bond got as far as 1350 and then the noise from the veranda became too distracting. Anyway, he had done a respectable stint, almost to the bottom of the giant page. He would go out and do a little very discreet exploring. He wanted to get his bearings, or rather confirm them, and this would be a perfectly reasonable activity for a newcomer. He had left his door into the passage ajar. He went out and along to the reception lounge, where the man in the plum coat was busy entering the names of the morning’s visitors in a book. Bond’s greeting was politely answered. There was a ski-room and workshop to the left of the exit. Bond wandered in. One of the Balkan types was at the workbench, screwing a new binding on to a ski. He looked up and went on with his work while Bond gazed with seeming curiosity at the ranks of skis standing along the wall. Things had changed since his day. The bindings were quite different and designed, it seemed, to keep the heel dead flat on the ski. And there were new safety releases. Many of the skis were of metal and the ski-sticks were fibre-glass lances that looked to Bond extremely dangerous in the event of a bad fall. Bond wandered over to the work-bench and feigned interest in what the man was doing. In fact he had seen something that excited him very much – an untidy pile of lengths of thin plastic strip for the boot to rest on in the binding, so that, on the shiny surface, snow would not ball under the sole. Bond leaned over the work-bench, resting on his right elbow, and commented on the precision of the man’s work. The man grunted and concentrated all the more closely to avoid further conversation. Bond’s left hand slid under his leaning arm, secured one of the strips and slid it up his sleeve. He made a further inane comment, which was not answered, and strolled out of the ski-room.
(When the man in the workshop heard the front door hiss shut, be turned to the pile of plastic strips and counted them carefully twice. Then he went out to the man in the plum-coloured coat and spoke to him in German. The man nodded and picked up the telephone receiver and dialled O. The workman went stolidly back to his ski-room.)
As Bond strolled along the path that led to the cable station, he transferred the plastic strip from his sleeve to his trouser pocket, feeling pleased with himself. He had at least provided himself with one tool – the traditional burglar’s tool for opening the Yale-type locks that secured the doors.
Away from the club house, to which only a thin trickle of smart-looking people were making their way, he got into the usual mountain-top crowd – people swarming out of the cable-head, skiers wobbling or schussing down the easy nursery slopes on the plateau, little groups marshalled under individual teachers and guides from the valley. The terrace of the public restaurant was already crowded with the underprivileged who hadn’t got the money or the connexions to join the club. He walked below it on the well-trampled snow and stood among the skiers at the top of the first plunging schuss of the Gloria run. A large notice-board, crowned with the G and the coronet, announced GLORIA ABFAHRT! Then below, ROT – FREIE FAHRT. GELB – FREIE FAHRT.
SCHWARZ – GESPERRT, meaning that the red and yellow runs were open but the black dosed, presumably because of avalanche danger. Below this again was a painted metal map of the three runs. Bond had a good look at it, reflecting that it might be wise to commit to memory the red, which was presumably the easiest and most popular. There were red, yellow, and black marker flags on the map, and Bond could see the actual flags fluttering way down the mountain until the runs, studded with tiny moving figures, disappeared to the left, round the shoulder of the mountain and under the cable railway. The red seemed to continue to zigzag under the cable and between the few high pylons until it met the tree line. Then there was a short stretch of wood-running until the final easy schuss across the undulating lower meadows to the bottom cable-head, beyond which lay the main railway line and then the Pontresina-Samaden road. Bond tried to get it all fixed in his mind. Then he watched some of the starts. These varied between the arrow-like dive of the Kannonen, the stars, who took the terrific schuss dead straight in a low crouch with their sticks jauntily tucked under their arm-pits, the average amateur who braked perhaps three or four times on his way down, and the terrified novice who, with stuck-out behind, stemmed his way down, his skis angled and edged like a snow-plough, with occasional straight runs diagonally across the polished slope – dashing little sprints that usually ended in a mild crash as he ran off the flattened surface into the thick powder snow that edged the wide, beaten piste.
The scene was the same as a thousand others Bond had witnessed when, as a teenager, he learned his skiing in the old Hannes Schneider School at St Anton in the Arlberg. He had got pretty good and had won his golden K, but the style in those days was rudimentary compared with what he was now witnessing from the occasional expert who zoomed down and away from beside him. Today the metal skis seemed to run faster and truer than the old steel-edged hickory. There was less shoulder-work and the art of Wedeln, a gentle waggling of the hips, was a revelation. Would it be as effective in deep new snow as it was on the well-beaten piste? Bond was doubtful, but he was envious of it. It was so much more graceful than the old Arlberg crouch. Bond wondered how he would fare on this terrific run. He would certainly not dare to take the first schuss straight. He would brake at least twice, perhaps there and there. And his legs would be trembling before he had been going for five minutes. His knees and ankles and wrists would be giving out. He must get on with his exercises!
Bond, excited, left the scene and followed arrows that pointed to the GLORIA EXPRESS BOB-RUN. It lay on the other side of the cable station. There was a small wooden hut, the starter’s hut, with telephone-wires connected to the station, and, beneath the cable station, a little ‘garage’ that housed the bob-sleighs and one-man skeleton-bobs. A chain, with a notice on it.saying ABFAHRTEN TДGLICH 0900-1100, was stretched across the wide mouth of the gulch of blue ice that curved away to the left and then disappeared over the shoulder. Here again was a metal map showing the zigzag course of the run down into the valley. In deference to the English traditions at the sport, outstanding curves and hazards were marked with names such as ‘Dead Man’s Leap’, ‘Whizz-Bang Straight’, ‘Battling S’, ‘Hell’s Delight’, ‘The Boneshaker’, and the finishing straight down ‘Paradise Alley’. Bond visualized the scene that morning, heard again that heart-rending scream. Yes, that death certainly had the old Blofeld touch!
‘Sair Hilary! Sair Hilary!’
Startled out of his thoughts, Bond turned. Fraulein Irma Bunt, her short arms akimbo, was standing on the path to the club.
‘Lunch time! Lunch!’
‘Coming,’ Bond called back, and strolled up the slope towards her. He noted that, even in that hundred yards, his breathing was shallow and his limbs were heavy. This blasted height! He really must get into training!
He came up with her. She looked surly. He said that he was sorry, he had not noticed the time. She said nothing. The yellow eyes surveyed him with active dislike before she turned her back and led the way along the path.
Bond looked back over the morning. What had he done? Had he made a mistake? Well, he just might have. Better re-insure! As they came through the entrance into the reception lounge, Bond said casually, ‘Oh, by the way, Fraulein Bunt, I was in the ski-room just now.’
She halted. Bond noticed that the head of the receptionist bent a fraction lower over his visitors’ book.
Bond took the length of plastic out of his pocket. ‘I found just what I wanted.’ He stitched a smile of innocent pleasure on his face. ‘Like an idiot I forgot to bring a ruler with me. And there were these things on the work-bench. Just right. So I borrowed one. I hope that was all right. Of course I’ll leave it behind when I go. But for these family trees, you know9 – Bond sketched a series of descending straight lines in the air – ‘one has to get them on the right levels. I hope you don’t mind.’ He smiled charmingly. ‘I was going to confess the nest time I saw you.’
Irma Bunt veiled her eyes. ‘ It is of no consequence. In future, anything you need you will perhaps ring for, isn’t it? The Count wishes you to have every facility. Now’ – she gestured – ‘if you will perhaps go out on the terrace. You will be shown to our table. I will be with you in a moment.’
Bond went through the restaurant door. Several of the interior tables were occupied by those who had had enough sun. He went across the room and out through the now open french windows. The man Fritz, who appeared to be the maitre d’hotel, came towards him through the crowded tables. His eyes too were cold with hostility. He held up a menu. ‘Please to follow me.’
Bond followed him to the table up against the railing. Ruby and Violet were already there. Bond felt almost lighthearted with relief at having clean hands again. By God, he must pay attention, take care! This time he had got away with it. And he still had the strip of plastic! Had he sounded innocent enough, stupid enough? He sat down and ordered a double medium-dry vodka Martini, on the rocks, with lemon peel, and edged his feet up against Ruby’s.
She didn’t withdraw hers. She smiled. Violet smiled. They all started talking at once. It was suddenly a beautiful day.
Fraulein Bunt appeared and took her place. She was gracious again. ‘I am so pleased to hear that you will be staying with us for a whole week, Sair Hilary. You enjoyed your interview with the Count? Is he not an interesting man?’
‘Very interesting. Unfortunately our talk was too short and we discussed only my own subject. I was longing to ask him about his research work. I hope he didn’t think me very rude.’
Irma Bunt’s face closed perceptibly. ‘I am sure not. The Count does not often like to discuss his work. In these specialized scientific fields, you understand, there is much jealousy and, I am sorry to say, much intellectual thieving.’ The box-like smile. ‘I do not of course refer to yourself, my dear Sair Hilary, but to scientists less scrupulous than the Count, to spies from the chemical companies. That is why we keep ourselves very much to ourselves in our little Eagle’s Nest up here. We have total privacy. Even the police in the valley are most co-operative in safeguarding us from intruders. They appreciate what the Count is doing.’
‘The study of allergies?’
‘Just so.’ The maitre d’hotel was standing by her side. His feet came together with a perceptible click. Menus were handed round and Bond’s drink came. He took a long pull at it and ordered OBufs Gloria and a green salad. Chicken again for Ruby, cold cuts ‘with stacks of potatoes’ for Violet. Irma Bunt ordered her usual cottage cheese and salad.
‘Don’t you girls eat anything but chicken and potatoes? Is this something to do with your allergies?’
Ruby began, ‘Well, yes, in a way. Somehow I’ve come to simply love…’
Irma Bunt broke in sharply. ‘Now then, Ruby. No discussion of treatments, you remember? Not even with our good friend Sair Hilary.’ She waved a hand towards the crowded tables around them. ‘A most interesting crowd, do you not find, Sair Hilary? Everybody who is anybody. We have quite taken the international set away from Gstaad and St Moritz. That is your Duke of Marlborough over there with such a gay party of young things. And near by that is Mr Whitney and Lady Daphne Straight. Is she not chic? They are both wonderful skiers. And that beautiful girl with the long fair hair at the big table, that is Ursula Andress, the film star. What a wonderful tan she has! And Sir George Dunbar, he always has the most enchanting companions.’ The box-like smile. ‘Why, we only need the Aga Khan and perhaps your Duke of Kent and we would have everybody, but everybody. Is it not sensational for the first season?’
Bond said it was. The lunch came. Bond’s eggs were delicious – chopped hard-boiled eggs, with a cream and cheese sauce laced with English mustard (English mustard seemed to be the clue to the Gloria specialities), gratings in a copper dish. Bond commented on the excellence of the cooking.
‘Thank you,’ said Irma Bunt. ‘We have three expert Frenchmen in the kitchen. Men are very good at cooking, is it not?’
Bond felt rather than saw a man approaching their table. He came up to Bond. He was a military-looking man, of about Bond’s age, and he had a puzzled expression on his face. He bowed slightly to the ladies, and said to Bond, ‘Excuse me, but I saw your name in the visitors’ book. It is Hilary Bray, isn’t it?’
Bond’s heart sank. This situation had always been a possibility and he had prepared a fumbling counter to it. But this was the worst possible moment with that damned woman watching and listening!
Bond said, ‘Yes, it is,’ with heartiness.
‘Sir Hilary Bray?’ The pleasant face was even more puzzled.
Bond got to his feet and stood with his back to his table, to Irma Bunt. ‘That’s right.’ He took out his handkerchief and blew his nose to obscure the next question, which might be fatal.
‘In the Lovat Scouts during the war?’
‘Ah,’ said Bond. He looked worried, lowered his voice appropriately. ‘You’re thinking of my first cousin. From Ben Trilleachan. Died six months ago, poor chap. I inherited the title.’
‘Oh, lord!’ The man’s puzzlement cleared. Grief took its place. ‘Sorry to hear that. Great pal of mine in the war. Funny! I didn’t see anything about it in The Times. Always read the “Births, Marriages, and Deaths”. What was it?’
Bond felt the sweat running down under his arms; ‘Fell off one of those bloody mountains of his. Broke his neck.’
‘My God! Poor chap! But he was always fooling around the tops by himself. I must write to Jenny at once.’ He held out his hand. ‘Well, sorry to have butted in. Thought this was a funny place to find old Hilary. Well, so long, and sorry again.’ He moved off between the tables. Out of the corner of his eye, Bond saw him rejoin a very English-looking table of men and, obviously, wives, to whom he began talking animatedly.
Bond sat down, reached for his drink and drained it and went back to his eggs. The woman’s eyes were on him. He felt the sweat running down his face. He took out his handkerchief and mopped at it.’ Gosh, it’s hot out here in the sun! That was some pal of my first cousin’s. My cousin had the same name. Collateral branch. Died not long ago, poor chap.’ He frowned sadly. ‘Didn’t know this man from Adam. Nice-looking fellow.’ Bond looked bravely across the table. ‘Do you know any of his party, Fraulein Bunt?’
Without looking at the party, Fraulein Bunt said shortly, ‘No, I do not know everyone who comes here.’ The yellow eyes were still inquisitive, holding his. ‘But it was a curious coincidence. Were you very alike, you and your cousin?’
‘Oh, absolutely,’ said Bond, gushing. ‘Spit image. Often used to get taken for each other.’ He looked across at the English group. Thank God they were picking up their things and going. They didn’t look particularly smart or prosperous. Probably staying at Pontresina or under the ex-officers’ scheme at St Moritz. Typical English skiing party. With any luck they were just doing the big runs in the neighbour-‘ hood one by one. Bond reviewed the way the conversation had gone while coffee came and he made cheerful small talk with Ruby, whose foot was again clamped against his, about her skiing progress that morning.
Well, he decided, the woman couldn’t have heard much of it with all the clatter and chatter from the surrounding tables. But it had been a narrow squeak, a damned narrow squeak. The second of the day! So much for walking on tiptoe inside the enemy lines! Not good enough! Definitely not good enough!
13 Princess Ruby?
MY DEAR Sable Basilisk,
I arrived safely – by helicopter, if you please! – at this beautiful place called Piz Gloria, 10,000 feet up somewhere in the Engadine. Most comfortable with an excellent male staff of several nationalities and a most efficient secretary to the Count named Fraulein Irma Bunt who tells me that she comes from Munich.
I had a most profitable interview with the Count this morning as a result of which he wishes me to stay on for a week to complete the first draft of his genealogical tree. I do hope you can spare me for so long. I warned the Count that we had much work to do on the new Commonwealth States. He himself, though busily engaged on what sounds like very public-spirited research work on allergies and their cause (he has ten English girls here as his patients), has agreed to see me daily in the hope that together we may be able to bridge the gap between the migration of the de Bleuvilles from France and their subsequent transference, as Blofelds, from Augsburg to Gdynia. I have suggested to him that we conclude the work with a quick visit to Augsburg for the purposes you and I discussed, but he has not yet given me his decision.
Please tell my cousin Jenny Bray that she may be hearing from a friend of her late husband who apparently served with him in the Lovat Scouts. He came up to me at lunch today and took me for the other Hilary! Quite a coincidence!
Working 佛山桑拿上门服务 conditions are excellent. We have complete privacy here, secure from the madding world of skiers, and very sensibly the girls are confined to their rooms after ten at night to put them out of the temptation of roaming and gossiping. They seem a very nice lot, from all over the United Kingdom, but rather on the dumb side!
Now for my most interesting item. The Count has not got lobes to his ears! Isn’t that good news! He also is of a most distinguished appearance and bearing with a fine head of silvery hair and a charming smile. His slim figure also indicates noble extraction. Unfortunately he has to wear dark-green contact lenses because of weak eyes and the strength of the sunshine at this height, and his aquiline nose is blemished by a deformed nostril which I would have thought could easily have been put right by 佛山桑拿按摩qq facial surgery. He speaks impeccable English with a gay lilt to his voice and I am sure that we will get on very well.
Now to get down to business. It would be most helpful if you would get in touch with the old printers of the Almanach de Gotha and see if they can help us over our gaps in the lineage. They may have some traces. Cable anything helpful. With the new evidence of the ear-lobes I am quite confident that the connexion exists.
That’s all for now.
P.S. Don’t tell my mother, or she will be worried for my safety among the eternal snows! But we had a nasty accident here this morning. One of the staff, a Yugoslav it seems, slipped on the bob-run and went the whole way to the bottom! Terrible 佛山桑拿按摩洗浴中心 business. He’s apparently being buried in Pontresina tomorrow. Do you think we ought to send some kind of a wreath? H.B.
Bond read the letter several tunes. Yes, that would giv the officers in charge of Operation ‘Corona’ plenty to bite on Particularly the hint that they should get the dead man’s name from the registrar in Pontresina. And he had covered up a bit on the Bray mix-up when the letter, as Bond was sure it would be, was steamed open and photostated before dispatch. They might of course just destroy it. To prevent this, the bit of bogosity about the Almanach de Gotha would be a clincher. This source of heraldic knowledge hadn’t been mentioned before. It would surely excite the interest of Blofeld.
Bond rang the bell, handed out the letter for dispatch, and got back to his work, which consisted initially of going 佛山桑拿价格2012 into the bathroom with the strip of plastic and his scissors in his pocket and snipping two inch-wide strips off the end. These would be enough for the purposes he and, he hoped, Ruby would put them to. Then, using the first joint of his thumb as a rough guide, he marked off the remaining eighteen inches into inch measures, to support his lie about the ruler, and went back to his desk and to the next hundred years of the de Bleuvilles.