Bond suddenly felt the silence of Captain Dexter. He turned to him.
'I shall be very glad to be under your orders here, Captain,' he said tactfully. 'As I understand it, the case breaks pretty neatly into two halves. The first half lies wholly on American territory. Your jurisdiction, of course. Then it looks as if we shall have to follow it into the
Caribbean. Jamaica. And I understand I am to take over outside United States territorial waters. Felix here will marry up the two halves so far as your government is concerned. I shall report to London through CIA while I'm here, and direct to London , keeping CIA informed, when I move to the Caribbean . Is that how you see it?'
Dexter smiled thinly. 'That's just about it, Mr. Bond. Mr. Hoover instructs me to say that he's very pleased to have you along. As our guest,' he added. 'Naturally we are not in any way concerned with the British end of the case and we're very happy that CIA will be handling that with you and your people in London. Guess everything should go fine. Here's luck,' and he lifted the cocktail Leiter had put into his hand.
They drank the cold hard drink appreciatively, Leiter with a faintly quizzical expression on his hawk-like face.
There was a knock on the door. Leiter opened it to let in the bellboy with Bond's suitcases. He was followed by two waiters pushing trolleys loaded with covered dishes, cutlery and snow-white linen, which they proceeded to lay out on a folding table.
'Soft-shell crabs with tartare sauce, flat beef Hamburgers, medium-rare, from the charcoal grill, french-fried potatoes, broccoli, mixed salad with thousand-island dressing, icecream with melted butterscotch and as good a Liebfraumilch as you can get in America. Okay?'
“It sounds fine,' said Bond with a mental reservation about the melted butterscotch.
They sat down and ate steadily through each delicious course of American cooking at its rare best.
They said little, and it was only when the coffee had been brought and the table cleared away that Captain Dexter took the fifty-cent cigar from his mouth and cleared his throat decisively.
'Mr. Bond,' he said, 'now perhaps you would tell us what you know about this case.'
Bond slit open a fresh pack of King Size Chesterfields with his thumb-nail and, as he settled back in his comfortable chair in the warm luxurious room, his mind went back two weeks to the bitter raw day in early January when he had walked out of his Chelsea flat into the dreary half-light of a London fog.
INTERVIEW WITH M
THE grey Bentley convertible, the 1933 4 1/2-litre with the Amherst-Villiers supercharger, had been brought round a few minutes earlier from the garage where he kept it and the engine had kicked directly he pressed the self-starter. He had turned on the twin fog lights and had driven gingerly along King's Road and then up
Sloane Street into Hyde Park.
M's Chief of Staff had telephoned at midnight to say that M wanted to see Bond at nine the next morning. 'Bit early in the day,' he had apologized, 'but he seems to want some action from somebody. Been brooding for weeks. Suppose he's made up his mind at last.'
'Any line you can give me over the telephone?'
'A for Apple and C for Charlie,' said the Chief of Staff, and rang off.
That meant that the case concerned Stations A and C, the sections of the Secret Service dealing respectively with the United States and the Caribbean. Bond had worked for a time under Station A during the war, but he knew little of C or its problems.
As he crawled beside the kerb up through Hyde Park, the slow drumbeat of his two-inch exhaust keeping him company, he felt excited at the prospect of his interview with M, the remarkable man who was then, and still is, head of the Secret Service. He had not looked into those cold, shrewd eyes since the end of the summer. On that occasion M had been pleased.
'Take some leave,' he had said. 'Plenty of leave. Then get some new skin grafted over the back of that hand. “Q” will put you on to the best man and fix a date. Can't have you going round with that damn Russian trade-mark on you. See if I can find you a good target when you've got cleaned up. Good kick.'
The hand had been fixed, painlessly but slowly. The thin scars, the single Russian letter which stands for SCH, the first letter of Spion, a spy, had been removed and as Bond thought of the man with the stiletto who had cut them he clenched his hands on the wheel.
What was happening to the brilliant organization of which the man with the knife had been an agent, the Soviet organ of vengeance, SMERSH, short for Smyert Spionam -Death to Spies? Was it still as powerful, still as efficient? Who controlled it now that Beria was gone? After the great gambling case in which he had been involved at Royale-les-Eaux, Bond had sworn to get back at them. He had told M as much at that last interview. Was this appointment with M to start him on his trail of revenge?
Bond's eyes narrowed as he gazed into the murk of Regents Park and his face in the faint dashlight was cruel and hard.
He drew up in the mews behind the gaunt high building, handed his car over to one of the plain-clothes drivers from the pool and walked round to the main entrance. He was taken up in the lift to the top floor and along the thickly carpeted corridor he knew so well to the door next to M's. The Chief of Staff was waiting for him and at once spoke to M on the intercom.
'007's here now, Sir.'
'Send him in.'
The desirable Miss Moneypenny, M's all-powerful private secretary, gave him an encouraging smile and he walked through the double doors. At once the green light came on, high on the wall in the room he had left. M was not to be disturbed as long as it burned.
A reading lamp with a green glass shade made a pool of light across the red leather top of the broad desk. The rest of the room was darkened by the fog outside the windows.
'Morning, 007. Let's have a look at the hand. Not a bad job. Where did they take the skin from?'
'High up on the forearm, Sir.'
'Hm. Hairs'll grow a bit thick. Crooked too. However. Can't be helped. Looks all right for the time being. Sit down.'
Bond walked round to the single chair which faced M across the desk. The grey eyes looked at him, through him.
'Had a good rest?'
'Yes thank you, Sir.'
'Ever seen one of these?' M abruptly fished something out of his waistcoat pocket. He tossed it half way across the desk towards Bond. It fell with a faint clang on the red leather and lay, gleaming richly, an inch-wide, hammered gold coin.
Bond picked it up, turned it over, weighed it in his hand.
'No, Sir. Worth about five pounds, perhaps.'
'Fifteen to a collector. It's a Rose Noble of Edward IV.'
M fished again in his waistcoat pocket and tossed more magnificent gold coins on to the table in front of Bond. As he did so, he glanced at each one and identified it.
'Double Excellente, Spanish, Ferdinand and Isabella, 1510 ; Ecu au Soleil, French, Charles IX, 1574; Double Ecu d'or, French, Henry IV, 1600; Double Ducat, Spanish, Philip II, 1560; Ryder, Dutch, Charles d'Egmond, 1538; Quadruple, Genoa, 1617; Double louis, a la mcche courte, French, Louis XIV, 1644. Worth a lot of money melted down. Much more to collectors, ten to twenty pounds each. Notice anything common to them all?'
Bond reflected. 'No, Sir.'
'All minted before 1650. Bloody Morgan, the pirate, was Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Jamaica from 1675 to 1688. The English coin is the joker in the pack. Probably shipped out to pay the Jamaica garrison. But for that and the dates, these could have come from any other treasure-trove put together by the great pirates - L'Ollonais, Pierre le Grand, Sharp, Sawkins, Blackbeard. As it is, and both Spinks and the British Museum agree, this is almost certainly part of Bloody Morgan's treasure.'
M paused to fill his pipe and light it. He didn't invite Bond to smoke and Bond would not have thought of doing so uninvited.
'And the hell of a treasure it must be. So far nearly a thousand of these and similar coins have turned up in the United States in the last few months. And if the Special Branch of the Treasury, and the FBI, have traced a thousand, how many more have been melted down or disappeared into private collections? And they keep on coming in, turning up in banks, bullion merchants, curio shops, but mostly pawnbrokers of course. The FBI are in a proper fix. If they put these on the police notices of stolen property they know the source will dry up. They'd be melted down into gold bars and channelled straight into the black bullion market. Have to sacrifice the rarity value of the coins, but the gold would go straight underground. As it is, someone's using the negroes - porters, sleeping-car attendants, truck-drivers - and getting the money well spread over the States. Quite innocent people. Here's a typical case.' M opened a brown folder bearing the Top Secret red star and selected a single sheet of paper. Through the reverse side, as M held it up, Bond could see the engraved heading : 'Department of Justice. Federal Bureau of Investigations.' M read from it:
'Zachary Smith, 35, Negro, Member of the Sleeping Car Porters Brotherhood, address gob West 126th Street, New York City.' (M looked up : ' Harlem ,' he said.) 'Subject was identified by Arthur Fein of Fein Jewels Inc., 870 Lenox Avenue, as having offered for sale on November 21st last four gold coins of the sixteenth and seventeenth century (details attached). Fein offered a hundred dollars which was accepted. Interrogated later, Smith said they had been sold to him in Seventh Heaven Bar-B-Q (a well-known Harlem bar) for twenty dollars each by a negro he had never seen before or since. Vendor had said they were worth fifty dollars each at Tiffany's, but that he, the vendor, wanted ready cash and Tiffany's was too far anyway. Smith bought one for twenty dollars and on finding that a neighbouring pawnbroker would offer him twenty-five dollars for it, returned to the bar and purchased the remaining three for sixty dollars. The next morning he took them to Fein's. Subject has no criminal record.'
M returned the paper to the brown folder.
'That's typical,' he said. 'Several times they've caught up with the next link, the middle man who bought them a bit cheaper and they find that he bought a handful, in one case a hundred of them, from some man who presumably got them cheaper still. All these larger transactions have taken place in Harlem or Florida. Always the next man in the link was an unknown negro, in all cases a white-collar man, prosperous, educated, who said he guessed they were treasure-trove, Blackbeard's treasure.
'This Blackbeard story would stand up to most investigations,' continued M, 'because there is reason to believe that part of his hoard was dug up around Christmas Day, 1928, at a place called Plum Point. It's a narrow neck of land in Beaufort County, North Carolina, where a stream called Bath Creek flows into the Pamlico River. Don't think I'm an expert,' he smiled, 'you can read all about this in the dossier. So, in theory, it would be quite reasonable for those lucky treasure-hunters to have hidden the loot until everyone had forgotten the story and then thrown it fast on the market. Or else they could have sold it en bloc at the time, or later, and the purchaser has just decided to cash in. Anyway it's a good enough cover except on two counts.'
M paused and relit his pipe.
'Firstly, Blackbeard operated from about 1690 to 1710 and it's improbable that none of his coin should have been minted later than 1650. Also, as I said before, it's very unlikely that his treasure would contain Edward IV Rose Nobles, since there's no record of an English treasure-ship being captured on its way to Jamaica. The Brethren of the Coast wouldn't take them on. Too heavily escorted. There were much easier pickings if you were sailing in those days “on the plundering account” as they called it.