She called and he went in.
The room was in darkness save for his bed-light, which she had turned on.
'Sleep well,' she said.
Bond got out of his coat. He quietly slipped the wedges firmly under both doors. Then he lay down carefully on his right side on the comfortable bed and without a thought for the future fell into a deep sleep, lulled by the pounding gallop of the train.
A few cars away, in the deserted diner, a negro waiter read again what he had written on a telegraph blank and waited for the ten-minute stop at Philadelphia.
THE crack train thundered on through the bright afternoon towards the south. They left Pennsylvania behind, and Maryland. There came a long halt at Washington, where Bond heard through his dreams the measured clang of the warning bells on the shunting engines and the soft think-speak of the public-address system on the station. Then on into Virginia. Here the air was already softer and the dusk, only five hours away from the bright frosty breath of New York , smelled almost of spring.
An occasional group of negroes, walking home from the fields, would hear the distant rumble on the silent sighing silver rails and one would pull out his watch and consult it and announce, 'Hyah comes da Phantom.
Six o'clock. Guess ma watch is right on time.'
'Sho nuff,' one of the others would say as the great beat of the Diesels came nearer and the lighted coaches streaked past and on towards North Carolina. They awoke around seven to the hasty ting of a grade-crossing alarm bell as the big train nosed its way out of the fields into the suburbs of Raleigh. Bond pulled the wedges from under the doors before he turned on the lights and rang for the attendant.
He ordered dry Martinis and when the two little 'personalized' bottles appeared with the glasses and the ice they seemed so inadequate that he at once ordered four more.
They argued over the menu. The fish was described as being 'Made From Flaky Tender Boneless Filets' and the chicken as 'Delicious French Fried to a Golden Brown, Served Disjointed'.
'Eyewash,' said Bond, and they finally ordered scrambled eggs and bacon and sausages, a salad, and some of the domestic Camembert that is one of the most welcome surprises on American menus.
It was nine o'clock when Baldwin came to clear the dishes away. He asked if there was anything else they wanted.
Bond had been thinking. 'What time do we get into Jacksonville ?' he asked.
'Aroun' five 'n the morning, Suh.'
'Is there a subway on the platform?'
'Yassuh. Dis cyar stops right alongside.'
'Gould you have the door open and the steps down pretty quick?'
The negro smiled. 'Yassuh. Ah kin take good care of that.'
Bond slipped him a ten-dollar bill. 'Just in case I miss you when we arrive in St. Petersburg ,' he said.
The negro grinned. 'Ah greatly preeshiate yo kindness, Suh. Good night, Suh. Good night, Mam.'
He went out and closed the door.
Bond got up and pushed the wedges firmly under the two doors.
'I see,' said Solitaire. 'So it's like that.'
'Yes,' said Bond. 'I'm afraid so.' He told her of the warning he had had from
Baldwin. 'I'm not surprised,' said the girl when he had finished. 'They must have seen you coming into the station. He's got a whole team of spies called “The Eyes” and when they're put out on a job it's almost impossible to get by them. I wonder who he's got on the train. You can be certain it's a negro, either a Pullman attendant or someone in the diner. He can make these people do absolutely anything he likes.'
'So it seems,' said Bond. 'But how does it work? What's he got on them?'
She looked out of the window into the tunnel of darkness through which the lighted train was burning its thundering path. Then she looked back across the table into the cool wide grey-blue eyes of the English agent. She thought: how can one explain to someone with that certainty of spirit, with that background of common sense, brought up with clothes and shoes among the warm houses and the lighted streets? How can one explain to someone who hasn't lived close to the secret heart of the tropics, at the mercy of their anger and stealth and poison; who hasn't experienced the mystery of the drums, seen the quick workings of magic and the mortal dread it inspires? What can he know of catalepsy, and thought-transference and the sixth sense of fish, of birds, of negroes; the deadly meaning of a white chicken's feather, a crossed stick in the road, a little leather bag of bones and herbs? What of Mialism, of shadow-taking, of the death by swelling and the death by wasting?
She shivered and a whole host of dark memories clustered round her. Above all, she remembered that first time in the Houmfor where her black nurse had once taken her as a child. 'It do yuh no harm, Missy. Dis powerful good juju. Care fe yuh res 'f yo life.' And the disgusting old man and the filthy drink he had given her. How her nurse had held her jaws open until she had drunk the last drop and how she had lain awake screaming every night for a week. And how her nurse had been worried and then suddenly she had slept all right until, weeks later, shifting on her pillow, she had felt something hard and had dug it out from the pillow-case, a dirty little packet of muck. She had thrown it out of the window, but in the morning she could not find it. She had continued to sleep well and she knew it must have been found by the nurse and secreted somewhere under the floorboards.
Years later, she had found out about the Voodoo drink -a concoction of rum, gunpowder, grave-dirt and human blood. She almost retched as the taste came back to her mouth.
What could this man know of these things or of her half-belief in them?
She looked up and found Bond's eyes fixed quizzically on her.
'You're thinking I shan't understand,' he said. 'And you're right up to a point. But I know what fear can do to people and I know that fear can be caused by many things. I've read most of the books on Voodoo and I believe that it works. I don't think it would work on me because I stopped being afraid of the dark when I was a child and I'm not a good subject for suggestion or hypnotism. But I know the jargon and you needn't think I shall laugh at it. The scientists and doctors who wrote the books don't laugh at it.'
Solitaire smiled. 'All right,' she said. 'Then all I need tell you is that they believe The Big Man is the Zombie of Baron Samedi. Zombies are bad enough by themselves. They're animated corpses that have been made to rise from the dead and obey the commands of the person who controls them. Baron Samedi is the most dreadful spirit in the whole of Voodooism. He is the spirit of darkness and death. So for Baron Samedi to be in control of his own Zombie is a very dreadful conception. You know what Mr. Big looks like. He is huge and grey and he has great psychic power. It is not difficult for a negro to believe that he is a Zombie and a very bad one at that. The step to Baron Samedi is simple. Mr. Big encourages the idea by having the Baron's fetish at his elbow. You saw it in his room.'
She paused. She went on quickly, almost breathlessly: 'And I can tell you that it works and that there's hardly a negro who has seen him and heard the story who doesn't believe it and who doesn't regard him with complete and absolute dread. And they are right,' she added. 'And you would say so too if you knew the way he deals with those who haven't obeyed him completely, the way they are tortured and killed.'
'Where does Moscow come in?' asked Bond. 'Is it true he's an agent of SMERSH?'
'I don't know what SMERSH is,' said the girl, 'but I know he works for Russia, at least I've heard him talking Russian to people who come from time to time. Occasionally he's had me in to that room and asked me afterwards what I thought of his visitors. Generally it seemed to me they were telling the truth although I couldn't understand what they said. But don't forget I've only known him for a year and he's fantastically secretive. If Moscow does use him they've got hold of one of the most powerful men in America . He can find out almost anything he wants to and if he doesn't get what he wants somebody gets killed.'
'Why doesn't someone kill him?' asked Bond.
'You can't kill him,' she said. 'He's already dead. He's a Zombie.'
'Yes, I see,' said Bond slowly. 'It's quite an impressive arrangement. Would you try?'
She looked out of the window, then back at him.
'As a last resort,' she admitted unwillingly. 'But don't forget I come from Haiti. My brain tells me I could kill him, but…' She made a helpless gesture with her hands. '… my instinct tells me I couldn't.'
She smiled at him docilely. 'You must think me a hopeless fool,' she said.
Bond reflected. 'Not after reading all those books,' he admitted. He put his hand across the table and covered hers with it. 'When the time comes,' he said, smiling, 'I'll cut a cross in my bullet. That used to work in the old days.'
She looked thoughtful. 'I believe that if anybody can do it, you can,' she said. 'You hit him hard last night in exchange for what he did to you. She took his hand in hers and pressed it. 'Now tell me what I must do.'
'Bed,' said Bond. He looked at his watch. It was ten o'clock. 'Might as well get as much sleep as we can. We'll slip off the train at Jacksonville and chance being spotted. Find another way down to the Coast.'
They got up. They stood facing each other in the swaying train.
Suddenly Bond reached out and took her in his right arm. Her arms went round his neck and they kissed passionately. He pressed her up against the swaying wall and held her there. She took his face between her two hands and held it away, panting. Her eyes were bright and hot. Then she brought his lips against hers again and kissed in him long and lasciviously, as if she was the man and he the woman.
Bond cursed the broken hand that prevented him exploring her body, taking her. He freed his right hand and put it between their bodies, feeling her hard breasts, each with its pointed stigma of desire. He slipped it down her back until it came to the cleft at the base of her spine and he let it rest there, holding the centre of her body hard against him until they had kissed enough.
She took her arms away from around his neck and pushed him away.
'I hoped I would one day kiss a man like that,' she said. 'And when I first saw you, I knew it would be you.'
Her arms were down by her sides and her body stood there, open to him, ready for him.
'You're very beautiful,' said Bond. 'You kiss more wonderfully than any girl I have ever known.' He looked down at the bandages on his left hand. 'Curse this arm,' he said. 'I can't hold you properly or make love to you. It hurts too much. That's something else Mr. Big's got to pay for.'
She took a handkerchief out of her bag and wiped the lipstick off his mouth. Then she brushed the hair away from his forehead, and kissed him again, lightly and tenderly.
'It's just as well,' she said. 'There are too many other things on our minds.'
The train rocked him back against her.
He put his hand on her left breast and kissed her white throat. Then he kissed her mouth.
He felt the pounding of his blood softening. He took her by the hand and drew her out into the middle of the little swaying room.
He smiled. 'Perhaps you're right,' he said. 'When the time comes I want to be alone with you, with all the time in the world. Here there is at least one man who will probably disturb our night. And we'll have to be up at four in the morning anyway. So there simply isn't time to begin making love to you now. You get ready for bed and I'll climb up after you and kiss you good night.'
They kissed once more, slowly, then he stepped away.
'We'll just see if we have company next door,' he said.