Moonraker Page 2

He took no holidays, but was generally given a fortnight’s leave at the end of each assignment-in addition to any sick-leave that might be necessary. He earned £1500 a year, the salary of a Principal Officer in the Civil Service, and he had a thousand a year free of tax of his own. When he was on a job he could spend as much as he liked, so for the other months of the year he could live very well on his £2000 a year net.

He had a small but comfortable flat off the Kings Road, an elderly Scottish housekeeper-a treasure called May-and a 1930 4 1/2-litre Bentley coupé, supercharged, which he kept expertly tuned so that he could do a hundred when he wanted to.

On these things he spent all his money and it was his ambition to have as little as possible in his banking account when he was killed, as, when he was depressed, he knew he would be, before the statutory age of forty-five.

Eight years to go before he was automatically taken off the 00 list and given a staff job at Headquarters. At least eight tough assignments. Probably sixteen. Perhaps twenty-four. Too many.

There were five cigarette-ends in the big glass ashtray by the time Bond had finished memorizing the details of ‘Mainline’. He picked up a red pencil and ran his eye down the distribution list on the cover. The list started with ‘M.’, then ‘CoS.’, then a dozen or so letters and numbers and then, at the end ‘oo’. Against this he put a neat tick, signed it with the figure 7, and tossed the file into his OUT tray.

It was twelve o’clock. Bond took the next folder off the pile and opened it. It was from the Radio Intelligence Division of NATO, ‘For Information Only’ and it was headed ‘Radio Signatures’.

Bond pulled the rest of the pile towards him and glanced at the first page of each. These were their titles:

The Inspectoscope-a machine for the detection of contraband.

Philopon-A Japanese murder-drug.

Possible points of concealment on trains. No. II. Germany.

The methods of Smersh. No. 6. Kidnapping.

Route five to Pekin.

Vladivostock. A photographic Reconnaissance by U.S. Thunderjet.

Bond was not surprised by the curious mixture he was supposed to digest. The OO Section of the Secret Service was not concerned with the current operations of other sections and stations, only with background information which might be useful or instructive to the only three men in the Service whose duties included assassination-who might be ordered to kill. There was no urgency about these files. No action was required by him or his two colleagues except that each of them jotted down the numbers of dockets which he considered the other two should also read when they were next attached to Headquarters. When the OO Section had finished with this lot they would go down to their final destination in ‘Records’.

Bond turned back to the NATO paper.

‘The almost inevitable manner’, he read, ‘in which individuality is revealed by minute patterns of behaviour, is demonstrated by the indelible characteristics of the “fist” of each radio operator. This “fist”, or manner of tapping out messages, is distinctive and recognizable by those who are practised in receiving messages. It can also be measured by very sensitive mechanisms. To illustrate, in 1943 the United States Radio Intelligence Bureau made use of this fact in tracing an enemy station in Chile operated by “Pedro”, a young German. When the Chilean police closed in on the station, “Pedro” escaped. A year later, expert listeners spotted a new illegal transmitter and were able to recognize “Pedro” as the operator. In order to disguise his “fist” he was transmitting left-handed, but the disguise was not effective and he was captured.

‘NATO Radio Research has recently been experimenting with a form of “scrambler” which can be attached to the wrist of operators with the object of interfering minutely with the nerve centres which control the muscles of the hand. However…’

There were three telephones on Bond’s desk. A black one for outside calls, a green office telephone, and a red one which went only to M. and his Chief of Staff. It was the familiar burr of the red one that broke the silence of the room.

It was M’s Chief of Staff.

“Can you come up?” asked the pleasant voice.

“M.?” asked Bond.


“Any clue?”

“Simply said if you were about he’d like to see you.”

“Right,” said Bond, and put down the receiver.

He collected his coat, told his secretary he would be with M. and not to wait for him, left his office and walked along the corridor to the lift.

While he waited for it, he thought of those other times, when, in the middle of an empty day, the red telephone had suddenly broken the silence and taken him out of one world and set him down in another. He shrugged his shoulders-Monday! He might have expected trouble.

The lift came. “Ninth,” said Bond, and stepped in.



THE NINTH was the top floor of the building. Most of it was occupied by Communications, the hand-picked inter-services team of operators whose only interest was the world of microwaves, sunspots, and the ‘heaviside layer’. Above them, on the flat roof, were the three squat masts of one of the most powerful transmitters in England, explained on the bold bronze list of occupants in the entrance hall of the building by the words ‘Radio Tests Ltd.’ The other tenants were declared to be ‘Universal Export Co.’, ‘Delaney Bros. (1940) Ltd.’, ‘The Omnium Corporation’, and ‘Enquiries (Miss E. Twining, OBE)’.

Miss Twining was a real person. Forty years earlier she had been a Loelia Ponsonby. Now, in retirement, she sat in a small office on the ground floor and spent her days tearing up circulars, paying the rates and taxes of her ghostly tenants, and politely brushing off salesmen and people who wanted to export something-or have their radios mended.

It was always very quiet on the ninth floor. As Bond turned to the left outside the lift and walked along the softly carpeted corridor to the green baize door that led to the offices of M. and his personal staff, the only sound he heard was a thin high-pitched whine that was so faint that you almost had to listen for it.

Without knocking he pushed through the green door and walked into the last room but one along the passage.

Miss Moneypenny, M.’s private secretary, looked up from her typewriter and smiled at him. They liked each other and she knew that Bond admired her looks. She was wearing the same model shirt as his own secretary, but with blue stripes. “New uniform, Penny?” said Bond. She laughed. “Loelia and I share the same little woman,” she said. “We tossed and I got blue.”

A snort came through the open door of the adjoining room. The Chief of Staff, a man of about Bond’s age, came out, a sardonic grin on his pale, overworked face.

“Break it up,” he said, “M.’s waiting. Lunch afterwards?”

“Fine,” said Bond. He turned to the door beside Miss Moneypenny, walked through and shut it after him. Above it, a green light went on. Miss Moneypenny raised her eyebrows at the Chief of Staff. He shook his head.

“I don’t think it’s business, Penny,” he said. “Just sent for him out of the blue.” He went back into his own room and got on with the day’s work.

When Bond came through the door, M. was sitting at his broad desk, lighting a pipe. He made a vague gesture with the lighted match towards the chair on the other side of the desk and Bond walked over and sat down. M. glanced at him sharply through the smoke and then threw the box of matches on to the empty expanse of red leather in front of him.

“Have a good leave?” he asked abruptly. “Yes, thank you, sir,” said Bond.

“Still sunburned, I see.” M. looked his disapproval. He didn’t really begrudge Bond a holiday which had been partly convalescence. The hint of criticism came from the Puritan and the Jesuit who live in all leaders of men.

“Yes, sir,” said Bond noncommittally. “It’s very hot near the equator.”

“Quite,” said M. “Well-deserved rest.” He screwed up his eyes without humour. “Hope the colour won’t last too long. Always suspicious of sunburned men in England. Either they’ve not got a job of work to do or they put it on with a sun-lamp.” He dismissed the subject with a short sideways jerk of his pipe.

He put the pipe back in his mouth and pulled at it absent-mindedly. It had gone out. He reached for the matches and wasted some time getting it going again.

“Looks as if we’ll get that gold after all,” he said finally. “There’s been some talk of the Hague Court, but Ashenheim’s a fine lawyer.”* (* This refers to Bond’s previous assignment, described in Live and Let Die, by the same author.)

“Good,” said Bond.

There was silence for a moment. M. gazed into the bowl of his pipe. Through the open windows came the distant roar of London’s traffic. A pigeon landed on one of the window-sills with a clatter of wings and quickly took off again.

Bond tried to read something in the weatherbeaten face he knew so well and which held so much of his loyalty. But the grey eyes were quiet and the little pulse that always beat high up on the right temple when M. was tense showed no sign of life.

Suddenly Bond suspected that M. was embarrassed. He had the feeling that M. didn’t know where to begin. Bond wanted to help. He shifted in his chair and took his eyes off M. He looked down at his hands and idly picked at a rough nail.

M. lifted his eyes from his pipe and cleared his throat.

“Got anything particular on at the moment, James?” he asked in a neutral voice.

‘James.’ That was unusual. It was rare for M. to use a Christian name in this room.

“Only paper-work and the usual courses,” said Bond. “Anything you want me for, sir?”

“As a matter of fact there is,” said M. He frowned at

Bond. “But it’s really got nothing to do with the Service. Almost a personal matter. Thought you might give me a hand.”

“Of course, sir,” said Bond. He was relieved for M.’s sake that the ice had been broken. Probably one of the old man’s relations had got into trouble and M. didn’t want to ask a favour of Scotland Yard. Blackmail, perhaps. Or drugs. He was pleased that M. should have chosen him. Of course he would take care of it. M. was such a desperate stickler about Government property and personnel. Using Bond on a personal matter must have seemed to. him like stealing the Government’s money.

“Thought you’d say so,” said M., gruffly. “Won’t take up much of your time. An evening ought to be enough.” He paused. “Well now, you’ve heard of this man Sir Hugo Drax?”

“Of course, sir,” said Bond, surprised at the name. “You can’t open, a paper without reading something about him. Sunday Express is running his life. Extraordinary story.”

“I know,” said M. shortly. “Just give me the facts as you see them. I’d like to know if your version tallies with mine.” Bond gazed out of the window for a moment to marshal his thoughts. M. didn’t like haphazard talk. He liked a fully detailed story with no um-ing and er-ing. No afterthoughts or hedging.

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