فصل 18

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فصل 18

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  • زمان مطالعه 8 دقیقه
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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER eighteen

Dead Men Can’t Speak

It was eleven o’clock the next evening. There were only a few people left in the Veranda Grill. It was quiet, with only the soft sound of the sea outside. Bond and Tiffany had finished their dinner. They were holding hands and looking silently into each other’s eyes. After a time, they got up and walked to the smoking room. They found a small table in a corner and ordered coffee.

Bond suddenly saw that two men were looking at him. They were sitting at a table across the room, and they looked away quickly. One man had white hair, and the other was big and fat. Bond looked carefully at the fat man. Had he seen this man before? He turned back to Tiffany.

‘Those two men across the room seem interested in us,’ he said.

She looked past his shoulder. ‘They’re not looking at us now. The fat man’s sucking his thumb. The white-haired man just looks stupid.’

‘Sucking his thumb?’ said Bond. He was trying to remember something.

‘Forget it, James,’ said Tiffany. ‘Let’s go.’

They finished their coffee and went down the stairs to the deck below. Bond put his arm round her, and Tiffany put her head on his shoulder. They walked in silence until they were inside Bond’s cabin. Then Bond put his arms around her and said softly, ‘My darling…’

Bond woke up to the sound of the telephone. The last thing he remembered was the door closing after Tiffany had left sometime during the night.

The telephone bell rang again.

Bond picked the telephone up. A voice said, ‘There is a message for you, Sir. Shall I send it down to you?’

‘Yes, thanks,’ said Bond. He looked at his watch. Three o’clock in the morning. He climbed out of bed and went into the shower. Afterwards he pulled on a shirt and trousers. There was a knock on the door. Bond opened it and took the message from the man outside.

It was from the Chief of Staff in London. It said:

SECRET CHECK OF SAYE’S OFFICE FOUND MESSAGE TO ‘ABC’ FROM ‘Q.E.’ SIGNED BY WINTER. WINTER KNOWS THAT YOU ARE ON QUEEN ELIZABETH. REPLY ADDRESSED TO WINTER ORDERS HIM TO KILL TIFFANY CASE. WE BELIEVE SAYE IS ABC. SAYE FLEW TO PARIS YESTERDAY AND IS NOW REPORTED TO BE IN DAKAR. WE THINK THAT MAN AT SIERRA LEONE IS BEGINNING OF PIPELINE. HE IS BEING WATCHED. YOU WILL FLY TO SIERRA LEONE TOMORROW NIGHT.

Bond sat quite still in his chair. So somebody from the Spangled Gang was on the ship. Who? Where? He quickly picked up the telephone and phoned Tiffany. He heard it ring once, twice, three times. Bond dropped the phone and ran to her cabin.

It was empty.

Bond tried to think. Would the man question her before he killed her? Would he try to find out what she knew about Bond? Would he take her to his cabin? But which cabin?

Bond ran to his cabin and found the Passenger List. Winter! Cabin A49. Suddenly, he remembered everything. Winter. Wint and Kidd. The two men in hoods! The two men on the plane from London!

Bond got his gun and pushed it into the top of his trousers. A49 was below his cabin.

‘That helps,’ he thought. He opened one of the two round windows in his cabin and looked down. How far down was A49? More than two metres. The sea was calm, and there was no wind.

‘It’s a hot night,’ Bond thought. ‘Will one of their windows be open?’

He took the sheets from his bed and began to tie them together. He tied one end of the ‘rope’ round part of the window. Then he threw the tied sheets down the side of the ship.

‘Don’t look up and don’t look down,’ he told himself. ‘Don’t even think about it.’ His mouth was dry and he could feel his heart beating fast.

Some minutes later, he felt the metal window of A49 beneath his feet. It was open! His foot told him that the curtains inside the window were closed. He climbed on down.

There were voices inside the room. Suddenly, a girl’s voice cried, ‘No!’ There was a moment’s silence, then the sound of a slap. It was as loud as a gun firing a shot.

Bond pushed himself through the curtains and into the cabin. He crashed to the floor, rolled over, and came up with his gun in his hand. It pointed at a place between two men.

‘Who sent for you?’ said the fat man, calmly. He was sitting in a chair opposite Tiffany. She was sitting on another chair. She was naked except for a pair of pants. She looked at Bond, and her eyes were wild and frightened. The white-haired man was sitting on the bed. He smiled at Bond.

‘Tiffany,’ said Bond. ‘Go into the bathroom and close the door. Then get into the bath and lie down.’

She moved quickly to the bathroom and shut the door behind her. ‘Now she’s safe from bullets,’ Bond thought. ‘And she won’t see what I have to do.’

‘Forty-eight sixty-five eighty-six.’ The fat man said the words fast. Were the words an American football signal? The fat man suddenly threw himself onto the floor. The white- haired man started to roll of if the bed and away from Bond.

Bond fired his gun. A hole opened up just below the man’s white hair. His body fell.

The fat man on the floor had his gun half-out of his trousers.

‘Drop it and get up!’ ordered Bond.

The fat man dropped the gun and stood up. He looked into Bond’s eyes. He was afraid.

‘Sit down,’ said Bond.

The fat man turned and walked back towards his chair. He sat down. Suddenly, his right hand reached down the side of his leg and came up with a throwing knife.

Crack! The bullet from Bond’s gun and the knife went past each other in the air.

The eyes of the two men showed sudden pain. But the fat man’s eyes closed a moment later. He fell backwards with his hand on the hole in his chest. Bond’s eyes looked down at the blood on the front of his shirt. The handle of the knife was hanging down from his shirt.

He turned and looked out of the open window. Very slowly, his body started to relax. After a moment or two he pulled the knife from his shirt and threw it out of the window into the darkness.

He walked across to the bathroom. ‘Tiffany, it’s me,’ he said, and opened the door.

She was lying face down in the bath with her hands over her ears. He helped her out of the bath and stood with his arms round her.

‘You’re hurt,’ she said.

She took off his shirt and washed the cut on his chest with soap and water. Bond collected her clothes from the cabin and brought them back to the bathroom.

‘Get dressed,’ he said. ‘Then clean everything that you’ve touched. We don’t want to leave any fingerprints.’

He went back into the cabin. For the next half hour, he did everything very carefully. He held the gun over the hole in the fat man’s shirt, and fired a second bullet through the hole. Now there were smoke marks around the hole. Next he put the gun in the fat man’s right hand. ‘You shot yourself,’ he told the dead man.

He went across to the white-haired man and picked him up. He carried him to the window and pushed him through it.

He looked back at the fat man. ‘You and your friend had a fight,’ he said. ‘You shot yourself after you threw your friend out of the window. That’s the story. I hope the police like it when we get to Southampton.’

He cleaned his fingerprints off everything that he had touched, pulled the sheets off one of the beds, then went to get Tiffany. He had to get her back to his cabin without anyone seeing them. And then - sleep, with her body close to his and his arms round her forever.

Forever?

He looked at the dead eyes of the body on the floor. They seemed to speak to him, saying, ‘Nothing is forever. Only death is forever.’

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