The Big Man came on. His shoulders were naked, his clothes stripped off him by the explosion, Bond supposed, but the black silk tie had remained and it showed round the thick neck and streamed behind the head like a Chinaman's pigtail.
A splash of water cleared some blood away from the eyes. They were wide open, staring madly towards Bond. They held no appeal for help, only a fixed glare of physical exertion.
Even as Bond looked into them, now only ten yards away, they suddenly shut and the^ great face contorted in a grimace of pain.
'Aarrh,' said the distorted mouth.
Both arms stopped flailing the water and the head went under and came up again. A cloud of blood welled up and darkened the sea. Two six-foot thin brown shadows backed out of the cloud and then dashed back into it. The body in the water jerked sideways. Half of The Big Man's left arm came out of the water. It had no hand, no wrist, no wrist watch.
But the great turnip head, the drawn-back mouth full of white teeth almost splitting it in half, was still alive. And now it was screaming, a long gurgling scream that only broke each time a barracuda hit into the dangling body.
There was a distant shout from the bay behind Bond. He paid no attention. All his senses were focused on the horror in the water in front of him.
A fin split the surface a few yards away and stopped.
Bond could feel the shark pointing like a dog, the shortsighted pink button eyes trying lo pierce the cloud of blood and weigh up the prey. Then it shot in towards the chest and the screaming head went under as sharply as a fisherman's float.
Some bubbles burst on the surface.
There was the swirl of a sharp brown-spotted tail as the huge Leopard shark backed out to swallow and attack again.
The head floated back to the surface. The mouth was closed. The yellow eyes seemed still to look at Bond.
Then the shark's snout came right out of the water and it drove in towards the head, the lower curved jaw open so that light glinted on the teeth. There was a horrible grunting scrunch and a great swirl of water. Then silence.
Bond's dilated eyes went on staring at the brown stain that spread wider and wider across the sea.
Then the girl moaned and Bond came to his senses.
There was another shout from behind him and he turned his head towards the bay.
It was Quarrel, his brown gleaming chest towering above the slim hull of a canoe, his arms flailing at the paddle, and a long way behind him all the other canoes of Shark Bay skimming like water-boatmen across the small waves that had started to ripple the surface.
The fresh north-east trade winds had started to blow and the sun was shining down on the blue water and on the soft green flanks of Jamaica.
The first tears since his childhood came into James Bond's blue-grey eyes and ran down his drawn cheeks into the bloodstained sea.
LIKE dangling emerald pendants the two humming-birds were making their last rounds of the hibiscus and a mocking bird had started on its evening song, sweeter than a nightingale's, from the summit of a bush of night-scented jasmine.
The jagged shadow of a man-of-war bird floated across the green Bahama grass of the lawn as it sailed on the air currents up the coast to some distant colony, and a slate-blue kingfisher chattered angrily as it saw the man sitting in the chair in the garden. It changed its flight and swerved off across the sea to the island. A brimstone butterfly flirted among the purple shadows under the palms.
The graded blue waters of the bay were quite still. The cliffs of the island were a deep rose in the light of the setting sun behind the house.
There was a smell of evening and of coolness after a hot day and a slight scent of peat-smoke that came from cassava being roasted in one of the fishermen's huts in the village away to the right.
Solitaire came out of the house and walked on naked feet across the lawn. She was carrying a tray with a cocktail shaker and two glasses. She put it down on a bamboo table beside Bond's chair.
'I hope I've made it right,' she said. 'Six to one sounds terribly strong. I've never had Vodka Martinis before.'
Bond looked up at her. She was wearing a pair of his white silk pyjamas. They were far too large for her. She looked absurdly childish.
She laughed. 'How do you like my Port Maria lipstick?' she asked, 'and the eyebrows made up with an HB pencil. I couldn't do anything with the rest of me except wash it.'
'You look wonderful,' said Bond. 'You're far the prettiest girl in the whole of Shark Bay. If I had some legs and arms I'd get up and kiss you.'
Solitaire bent down and kissed him long on the lips, one arm tightly round his neck. She stood up and smoothed back the comma of black hair that had fallen down over his forehead.
They looked at each other for a moment, then she turned to the table and poured him out a cocktail. She poured half a glass for herself and sat down on the warm grass and put her head against his knee. He played with her hair with his right hand and they sat for a while looking out between the trunks of the palm trees at the sea and the light fading on the island.
The day had been given over to licking wounds and cleaning up the remains of the mess.
When Quarrel had landed them on the little beach at Beau Desert, Bond had half carried Solitaire across the lawn and into the bathroom. He had filled the bath full of warm water. Without her knowing what was happening he had soaped and washed her whole body and her hair. When he had cleaned away all the salt and coral slime he helped her out, dried her and put merthiolate on the coral cuts that striped her back and thighs. Then he gave her a sleeping draught and put her naked between the sheets in his own bed. He kissed her. Before he had finished closing the jalousies she was asleep.
Then he got into the bath and Strangways soaped him down and almost bathed his body in merthiolate. He was raw and bleeding in a hundred places and his left arm was numb from the barracuda bite. He had lost a mouthful of muscle at the shoulder. The sting of the merthiolate made him grind his teeth.
He put on a dressing-gown and Quarrel drove him to the hospital at Port Maria. Before he left he had a Lucullian breakfast and a blessed first cigarette. He fell asleep in the car and he slept on the operating table and in the cot where they finally put him, a mass of bandages and surgical tape.
Quarrel brought him back in the early afternoon. By that time Strangways had acted on the information Bond had given him. There was a police detachment on the Isle of Surprise, the wreck of the Secatur, lying in about twenty fathoms, was buoyed and the position being patrolled by the Customs launch from Port Maria. The salvage tug and divers were on their way from Kingston. Reporters from the local press had been given a brief statement and there was a police guard on the entrance to Beau Desert prepared to repel the flood of newspapermen who would arrive in Jamaica when the full story got out to the world. Meanwhile a detailed report had gone to M, and to Washington , so that The Big Man's team in Harlem and St. Petersburg could be rounded up and provisionally held on a blanket gold-smuggling charge.
There were no survivors from the Secatur, but the local fishermen had brought in nearly a ton of dead fish that morning.
Jamaica was aflame with rumours. There were serried ranks of cars on the cliffs above the bay and along the beach below. Word had got out about Bloody Morgan's treasure, but also about the packs of shark and barracuda that had defended it, and because of them there was not a swimmer who was planning to get out to the scene of the wreck under cover of darkness.
A doctor had been to visit Solitaire but had found her chiefly concerned about getting some clothes and the right shade of lipstick. Strangways had arranged for a selection to be sent over from Kingston next day. For the time being she was experimenting with the contents of Bond's suitcase and a bowl of hibiscus.
Strangways got back from Kingston shortly after Bond's return from hospital. He had a signal for Bond from M. It read:
PRESUME YOU HAVE FILED CLAIM TO TREASURE IN YOUR NAME BEHALF UNIVERSAL EXPORT STOP PROCEED IMMEDIATELY WITH SALVAGE STOP HAVE ENGAGED COUNSEL TO PRESS OUR RIGHTS WITH TREASURY AND COLONIAL OFFICE STOP MEANWHILE VERY WELL DONE STOP FORTNIGHT'S PASSIONATE LEAVE GRANTED ENDIT
'I suppose he means “Compassionate”,' said Bond.
Strangways looked solemn. 'I expect so,' he said. 'I made a full report of the damage to you. And to the girl,' he added.
'Hm,' said Bond. 'M's cipherenes don't often pick a wrong group. However.'
Strangways looked carefully out of the window with his one eye.
'It's so like the old devil to think of the gold first,' said Bond. 'Suppose he thinks he can get away with it and somehow dodge a reduction in the Secret Fund when the next parliamentary estimates come round. I expect half his life is taken up with arguing with the Treasury. But still he's been pretty quick off the mark.'
'I filed your claim at Government House directly I got the signal,' said Strangways. 'But it's going to be tricky. The Crown will be after it and America will come in somewhere as he was an American citizen. It'll be a long business.'
They had talked some more and then Strangways had left and Bond had walked painfully out into the garden to sit for a while in the sunshine with his thoughts.
In his mind he ran once more the gauntlet of dangers he had entered on his long chase after The Big Man and the fabulous treasure, and he lived again through the searing flashes of time when he had looked various deaths in the face.
And now it was over and he sat in the sunshine among the flowers with the prize at his feet and his hand in her long black hair. He clasped the moment to him and thought of the fourteen tomorrows that would be theirs between them.
There was a crash of broken crockery from the kitchen at the back of the house and the sound of Quarrel's voice thundering at someone.
'Poor Quarrel,' said Solitaire. 'He's borrowed the best cook in the village and ransacked the markets for surprises for us. He's even found some black crabs, the first of the season. Then he's roasting a pitiful little sucking pig and making an avocado pear salad and we're to finish up with guavas and coconut cream. And Commander Strangways has left a case of the best champagne in Jamaica. My mouth's watering already. But don't forget it's supposed to be a secret. I wandered into the kitchen and found he had almost reduced the cook to tears.'
'He's coming with us on our passionate holiday,' said Bond. He told her of M's cable. 'We're going to a house on stilts with palm trees and five miles of golden sand. And you'll have to look after me very well because I shan't be able to make love with only one arm.'
There was open sensuality in Solitaire's eyes as she looked up at him. She smiled innocently.
'What about my back?' she said.
This terrifying gambling case is described in the author's Casino Royale.
This, one of the great travel books, is published by John Murray at 253.