فصل 07

مجموعه: جیمز باند / کتاب: نه دکتر / فصل 7

فصل 07

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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER SEVEN

The Gift

After he left Pleydell-Smith’s office, Bond worked for an hour in the library at King’s House. He found a good map of Crab Key and he made notes about the geography of the island. He also made a drawing of the map.

Crab Key was about 20 miles north from the northern shore of Jamaica. Doctor No’s island wasn’t very big. It was about 12 miles long, from east to west, and about 4 miles wide, from north to south. There was high ground at the western end of the island. At the furthest western point, there was a mountain. On one side of the mountain, a steep cliff went down to the sea. It was on this part of the island that the green cormorants lived. The birds lived on the rocks of the steep cliff. The birds’ droppings - the guano - was collected from the rocks and loaded into ships.

The larger part of the island - the eastern part - was an area of swamp. In the middle of this low, swampy ground there was a lake. And from this lake, a small river ran towards the sea in the south. The river flowed into the sea at a small sandy beach, about halfway along the island’s south coast.

Bond knew that the bird sanctuary was in the swampy area of the island. He guessed that the wardens’ camp was probably close to the place where the river flowed out of the lake. The wardens could drink the water from the lake. Also, the river was an easy route to the sea.

The wardens’ camp was not shown on the map in King’s House library, but that was because the map was old. It had been made many years before the roseate spoonbills were found on the island.

By four o’clock, Bond had done everything that he could do at King’s House. He felt tired. He decided to return to the Blue Hills Hotel and rest for a while.

As Bond entered the hotel, a member of the staff called out to him.

‘Mr Bond! Mr Quarrel phoned earlier this afternoon,’ the young woman said. ‘He gave me a message for you. He said, “I’ve arranged everything.” Also, a messenger brought a gift for you. It’s a basket of fruit. The messenger took it up to your room.’

‘That’s strange. Who sent this gift?’ Bond asked.

‘The messenger said that it was from the Acting Governor’s assistant at King’s House,’ the young woman replied.

Bond went to his room and very, very quietly unlocked the door. Then he took out the Walther PPK. With the gun in his hand, he suddenly kicked the door open. There was no one in the room, so he entered carefully. He checked all the cupboards in the bedroom. Then he checked the bathroom. When he was sure that no one was hiding anywhere, he shut and locked the door of the main room.

On a table in a corner of the room there was a huge basket of fruit - oranges, grapefruit, bananas, apples, peaches. On top of the fruit, there was a white card with a message which said: A GIFT FROM THE ACTING GOVERNOR.

Bond knew that the Acting Governor disliked him. Why on earth would the man send him fruit? Bond was very suspicious.

He put his ear next to the basket and listened very carefully. There were no strange sounds. Next, he quickly pushed the basket off the table and jumped backwards. The fruit fell onto the floor. There was nothing else in the basket. No bombs, no poisonous snakes or spiders. But he was still suspicious about this gift.

Bond picked up one of the peaches. It was very ripe56. Soon it would be too ripe. Anyone who wanted to eat the fruit would eat this peach first. Bond put the peach on the table. Then he took a small magnifying glass from one of his cases. As he unlocked the case, he noticed something. Someone had tried to open the case while he’d been out that day. They hadn’t opened the case because it was very strong and it had special locks. It had been made by an SIS engineer. But someone had tried to open it, and that made Bond more suspicious than ever.

He looked through the magnifying glass and checked the peach very carefully. He found a tiny, brown hole in the skin of the fruit. Had someone put something into the peach? Was someone trying to poison him?

‘Well, this is a war, then!’ Bond said to himself. ‘Doctor No has decided to start a war with the SIS. It’s time for me to stir things up for that gentleman!’

Bond checked all the other fruits. They all had tiny holes in them. Somebody wasn’t sure if Bond liked peaches!

Bond picked up the phone by his bed and he called Kings’ House. He asked to speak to the Colonial Secretary.

‘You said that you wanted to help me,’ Bond said to Pleydell-Smith, when he answered the call. ‘Well, there is something that you can do for me. I’ve received a gift - it’s a basket of fruit. It’s here in my hotel room. I want you to find a scientist who can make some tests on it. I want someone to find out if there’s poison in the fruit. Please can you send a messenger to collect it now? I won’t be here tomorrow.’

Bond listened for a moment to the other man’s reply. Then he spoke again.

‘I’ll be at Beau Desert, near Morgan’s Harbour, for the next week or two,’ he said. ‘Will you send the scientist’s report to me there, please? Please don’t tell anybody else about the report. And please don’t tell anybody where I’ve gone. You wanted me to stir things up again, and I’m going to do that soon. But the Acting Governor won’t like it. So don’t tell him what I’m doing. And please don’t tell your secretary, Miss Taro, about this. This is most important. I’ll explain the reason when I see you again. Goodbye.’

When he’d finished his call, Bond started thinking. Should he contact London? Perhaps he should tell his boss that everything had changed and that he needed some help from London. There were some dangerous people doing some bad things on Jamaica. Bond could ask M to declare an emergency and to send more agents. He could tell M that Doctor No had tried to kill him with poisoned fruit. But was that a good idea? He didn’t know yet if the fruit was poisoned. And he wasn’t sure that Doctor No had sent it. M might think, ‘What’s this nonsense about poisoned peaches? 007 has completely lost his nerve and now he’s become crazy. He must come home.’

After a few minutes, Bond decided not to contact London. But he was taking a risk. If something did go wrong now, and he hadn’t sent a warning to M, Bond would be in trouble. He might lose his job. Or he might die.

‘Well,’ he told himself. ‘I must make sure that nothing goes wrong!’

After the messenger from King’s House had taken away the fruit, Bond had a meal and a few drinks. Then he locked all the windows of his room. Finally, he packed his bags and he went to bed early. He had to be ready to leave the hotel soon after six o’clock the next morning. The night was hot, so he covered himself with only a sheet.

In the middle of the night, James Bond woke up suddenly. What had woken him? He listened carefully. There was no sound. The room was very dark, so he could see nothing but the numbers on his luminous watch. The time was 3 a.m.

Then Bond felt a movement on his right foot. Something was starting to move slowly up his leg. Was it a snake? Was it an insect? If it was some kind of insect, it was a big one. Bond thought that it must be about six inches long. And he could feel its feet lightly touching his skin as it moved. How many feet did this creature have? A hundred?!

Suddenly Bond knew what was crawling over his body. It was a centipede. As he realized this, the hair on his head stood up straight and he went cold with fear. He knew that some centipedes in the Caribbean were very, very dangerous. If this creature bit him and its poison went into his body, Bond would probably die!

Now the centipede had reached his knee. Bond knew that there was only one thing that he could do. He had to remain completely still. If he moved, the creature would bite him. But it was difficult to remain still while the centipede moved up his body. The next five minutes passed very slowly for Bond - they seemed more like five hours. The centipede walked across Bond’s stomach and onto his chest. Bond started to sweat - drops of water started to come out of his skin.

The creature stopped for a while over Bond’s heart.

‘If it bites me there,’ he told himself, ‘I’ll certainly die.’

But the centipede moved on slowly and it reached Bond’s shoulder. Bond tried to hold his body absolutely still. But the muscles of his stomach, arms and legs started to tremble. He must not move!

He felt the centipede crawl up his neck, onto his chin and over the corner of his mouth. Then it moved along his nose. He closed his eyes. A moment later, the creature was moving over his left eye. Bond felt ill with disgust and fear.

The centipede stopped for a while on his head. What if the creature got caught in his hair? Bond realized that it was drinking his sweat. Then it slowly crawled off his head, onto his pillow.

A moment later, Bond jumped up from the bed, switched on the light, and grabbed one of his shoes. He watched while the huge brown centipede crawled down the side of the bed and onto the floor.

Then he crashed the shoe down onto the insect, as hard as he could. The centipede’s body burst open and yellow liquid came out of it. Bond ran to the bathroom and vomited.

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