The RAF sergeant handed it back to him and saluted. “Sir Hugo’s expecting you, sir. It’s the big house up in the woods there.” He pointed to some lights a hundred yards further on towards the cliffs.
Bond heard him telephoning to the next guard point. He motored slowly along the new tarmac road that had been laid across the fields behind Kingsdown. He could hear the distant boom of the sea at the foot of the tall cliffs and from somewhere close at hand there was a high-pitched whine of machinery which grew louder as he approached the trees.
He was stepped again by a plain-clothes guard at a second wire fence through which a five-bar gate gave access to the interior of the wood, and as he was waved through he heard the distant baying of police dogs which suggested some form of night patrol. All these precautions seemed efficient. Bond decided that he wouldn’t have to worry himself with problems of external security.
Once through the trees the car was running over a flat concrete apron the limits of which, in the bad light, were out of range even of the huge twin beams of his Marchal headlamps. A hundred yards to his left, on the edge of the trees, there were the lights of a large house half-hidden behind a wall six feet thick, that rose straight up off the surface of the concrete almost to the height of the house. Bond slowed the car down to walking pace and turned its bonnet away from the house towards the sea and towards a dark shape that suddenly glinted white in the revolving beams of the South Goodwin Lightship far out in the Channel. His lights Cut a path down the apron to where, almost on the edge of the cliff and at least half a mile away, a squat dome surged up about fifty feet out of the concrete. It looked like the top of an observatory and Bond could distinguish the flange of a joint running east and west across the surface of the dome.
He turned the car back and slowly ran it up between what he now assumed to be a blast-wall and the front of the house. As he pulled up outside the house the door opened and a manservant in a white jacket came out. He smartly opened the door of the car.
“Good evening, sir. This way please.” He spoke woodenly and with a trace of accent. Bond followed hint into the house and across a comfortable hall to a door on which the butler knocked. “In.”
Bond smiled to himself at the harsh tone of the well-remembered voice and at the note of command in the single monosyllable.
At the far end of the long, bright, chintzy living-room Drax was standing with his back to an empty grate, a huge figure in a plum-coloured velvet smoking-jacket that clashed with the reddish hair on his face. There were three other people standing near him, two men and a woman.
“Ah, my dear fellow,” said Drax boisterously, striding forward to meet him and shaking him cordially by the hand. “So we meet again. And so soon. Didn’t realize you were a ruddy spy for my Ministry or I’d have been more careful about playing cards against you. Spent that money yet?” he asked, leading him towards the fire.
“Not yet,” smiled Bond. “Haven’t seen the colour of it.”
“Of course. Settlement on Saturday. Probably get the cheque just in time to celebrate our little firework display, . what? Now let’s see.” He led Bond up to the woman. “This is my secretary, Miss Brand.”
Bond looked into a pair of very level blue eyes. “Good evening.” He gave her a friendly smile. There was no answering smile in the eyes which looked calmly into his. No answering pressure of her hand. “How do you do,” she said indifferently, almost, Bond sensed, with hostility.
It crossed Bond’s mind that she had been well-chosen. Another Loelia Ponsonby. Reserved efficient, loyal, virginal. Thank heavens, he thought. A professional.
“My right-hand man, Dr Walter.” The thin elderly man with a pair of angry eyes under the shock of black hair seemed not to notice Bond’s outstretched hand. He sprang to attention and gave a quick nod of the head. “Valter,” said the thin mouth above the black imperial, correcting Drax’s pronunciation.
“And my-what shall I say-my dogsbody. What you might call my ADC, Willy Krebs.” There was the touch of a slightly damp hand. “Ferry pleased to meet you,” said an ingratiating voice and Bond looked into a pale round unhealthy face now split in a stage smile which died almost as Bond noticed it. Bond looked into his eyes. They were like two restless black buttons and they twisted away from Bond’s gaze.
Both men wore spotless white overalls with plastic zip fasteners at the sleeves and ankles and down the back. Their hair was close-cropped so that the skin shone through and they would have looked like people from another planet but for the untidy black moustache and imperial of Dr Walter and the pale wispy moustache of Krebs. They were both caricatures-a mad scientist and a youthful version of Peter Lorre.
The colourful ogreish figure of Drax was a pleasant contrast in this chilly company and Bond was grateful to him for the cheerful roughness of his welcome and for his apparent wish to bury the hatchet and make the best of his new security officer.
Drax was very much the host. He rubbed his hands together. “Now, Willy,” he said, “how about making one of your excellent dry Martinis for us? Except, of course, for the Doctor. Doesn’t drink or smoke,” he explained to Bond, returning to his place by the mantelpiece. “Hardly breathes.” He barked out a short laugh. “Thinks of nothing but the rocket. Do you, my friend?”
The Doctor looked stonily in front of him. “You are pleased to joke,” he said.
“Now, now,” said Drax, as if to a child. “We will go back to those leading edges later. Everybody’s quite happy about them except you.” He turned to Bond. “The good Doctor is always frightening us,” he explained indulgently. “He’s always having nightmares about something. Now it’s the leading edges of the fins. They’re already as sharp as razor blades-hardly any wind resistance at all. And he suddenly gets it into his head that they’re going to melt. Friction of the air. Of course everything’s possible, but they’ve been tested at over 3000 degrees and, as I tell him, if they’re going to melt then the whole rocket will melt. And that’s just not going to happen,” he added with a grim smile.
Krebs came up with a silver tray with four full glasses and a frosted shaker. The Martini was excellent and Bond said so.
“You are ferry kind,” said Krebs with a smirk of satisfaction. “Sir Hugo is ferry exacting.”
“Fill up his glass,” said Drax, “and then perhaps our friend would like to wash. We dine at eight sharp.”
As he spoke there came the muffled wail of a siren and almost immediately the sound of a body of men running in strict unison across the concrete apron outside.
“That’s the first night shift,” explained Drax. “Barracks are just behind the house. Must be eight o’clock. We do everything at the double here,” he added with a gleam of satisfaction in his eye. “Precision. Lot of scientists about, but we try to run the place like a military establishment. Willy, look after the Commander. We’ll go ahead. Gome along, my dear.”
As Bond followed Krebs to the door through which he had entered, he saw the other two with Drax in the lead make for the double doors at the end of the room which had opened as Drax finished speaking. The manservant in the white coat stood in the entrance. As Bond went out into the hall it crossed his mind that Drax would certainly go into the dining-room ahead of Miss Brand. Forceful personality. Treated his staff like children. Obviously a born leader. Where had he got it from? The Army? Or did it grow on one with millions of money? Bond followed the slug-like neck of Krebs and wondered.
The dinner was excellent. Drax was a genial host and at his own table his manners were faultless. Most of his conversation consisted in drawing out Dr Walter for the benefit of Bond, and it covered a wide range of technical matters which Drax took pains to explain briefly after each topic had been exhausted. Bond was impressed by the confidence with which Drax handled each abstruse problem as it was raised, and by his immense grasp of detail. A genuine admiration for the man gradually developed in him and overshadowed much of his previous dislike. He felt more than ever inclined to forget the Blades affair now that he was faced with the other Drax, the creator and inspired leader of a remarkable enterprise.
Bond sat between his host and Miss Brand. He made several attempts to engage her in conversation. He failed completely. She answered with polite monosyllables and would hardly meet his eye. Bond became mildly irritated. He found her physically very attractive and it annoyed him to be unable to extract the smallest response. He felt that her frigid indifference was overacted and that security would have been far better met with an easy, friendly approach instead of this exaggerated reticence. He felt a strong urge to give her a sharp kick on the ankle. The idea entertained him and he found himself observing her with a fresh eye-as a girl and not as an official colleague. As a start, and under cover of a long argument between Drax and Walter, in which she was required to join, about the collation of weather reports from the Air Ministry and from Europe, he began to add up his impressions of her.
She was far more attractive than her photograph had suggested and it was difficult to see traces of the severe competence of a policewoman in the seductive girl beside him. There was authority in the definite line of the profile, but the long black eyelashes over the dark blue eyes and the rather wide mouth might have been painted by Marie Lau-rencin. Yet the lips were too full for a Laurencin and the dark brown hair that curved inwards at the base of the neck was of a different fashion. There was a hint of northern blood in the high cheekbones and in the 杭州不正规的足浴店还有吗very slight upward slant of the eyes, but the warmth of her skin was entirely English. There was too much poise and authority in her gestures and in the carriage of her head for her to be a very convincing portrait of a secretary. In fact she seemed almost a member of Drax’s team, and Bond noticed that the men listened with attention as she answered Drax’s questions.
Her rather severe evening dress was in charcoal black gros-grain with full sleeves that came below the elbow. The wrap-over bodice just showed the swell of her breasts, which were as splendid as Bond had guessed from the measurements on her record sheet. At the point of the vee there was a bright blue cameo brooch, a Tassie intaglio, Bond guessed, cheap but imaginative. She wore no other jewellery except a half-hoop of small diamonds on her engagement finger. Apart from the warm rouge on her lips, she wore no make-杭州洗浴按摩女郎 up and her nails were square-cut with a natural polish.
Altogether, Bond decided, she was a very lovely girl and beneath her reserve, a very passionate one. And, he reflected, she might be a policewoman and an expert at jujitsu, but she also had a mole on her right breast.
With this comforting thought Bond turned the whole of his attention to the conversation between Drax and Walter and made no further attempts to make friends with the girl.
Dinner ended at nine. “Now we will go over and introduce you to the Moonraker,” said Drax, rising abruptly from the table. “Walter will accompany us. He has much to do. Come along, my dear Bond.”
Without a word to Krebs or the girl he strode out of the room. Bond and Walter followed him.
They left the house and walked across the concrete towards the distant shape on the edge of the cliff. The moon
had risen and in the distance the squat 杭州特殊spa dome shone palely in its light.
A hundred yards from the site Drax stopped. “I will explain the geography,” he said. “Walter, you go ahead. They will be waiting for you to have another look at those fins. Don’t worry about them, my dear fellow. Those people at High Duty Alloys know what they’re doing. Now,” he turned to Bond and gestured towards the milk-white dome, “in there is the Moonraker. What you see is the lid of a wide shaft that has been cut about forty foot down into the chalk. The two halves of the dome are opened hydraulically and folded back flush with that twenty-foot wall. If they were open now, you would see the nose of the Moonraker just protruding above the level of the wall. Over there,” he pointed to a square shape that was almost out of sight in the direction of Deal, “is the firing point. Concrete blockhouse. Full of radar tracking gadgets-Doppler velocity radar and flight-path radar, for instance. Information 杭州桑拿哪里营业 is fed to them by twenty telemetering channels in the nose of the rocket. There’s a big television screen in there too so that you can watch the behaviour of the rocket inside the shaft after the pumps have been started. Another television set to follow the beginning of its climb. Alongside the blockhouse there’s a hoist down the face of the cliff. Quite a lot of gear has been brought to the site by sea and then sent up on the hoist.
That whine you hear is from the power house over there,” he gestured vaguely in the direction of Dover. “The men’s barracks and the house are protected by the blast-wall, but when we fire there won’t be anyone within a mile of the site, except the Ministry experts and the BBC team who are going to be in the firing point. Hope it’ll stand up to the blast. Walter says that the site and a lot of the concrete apron will be melted by the heat. That’s all. Nothing else you need to know about until we get inside. Come along.”