Bond stopped outside the door and watched the flying figure swerve down the stairs and out of sight. Then, as he heard the scurrying squeak of the rubber-soled shoes as they fled down the stairs and across the hall, he laughed abruptly to himself and went back into his room and locked the door. Short of beating the man's brains out it hadn't looked as if he would get much out of Krebs. He had given him something to think about. Crafty little brute. His injuries couldn't have been so bad after all. Well, it would be up to Drax to punish him. Unless, of course, Krebs had been carrying out Drax's orders.
"He's not sure," said M. "He's mainly concerned with protecting his girl from the Press and seeing that her cover doesn't get blown. All the papers are on to it, of course. It'll be in the midday editions. And they're all howling for a picture of the girl. Vallance is having one cooked up and got down to her that'll look more or less like any girl, but just sufficiently like her. She'll send it out this evening. Fortunately the reporters can't get near the place. She's refusing to talk and Vallance is praying that some friend or relation won't blow the gaff. They're holding the inquest today and Vallance is hoping that the case will be officially closed by this evening and that the papers will have to let it die for lack of material."
James Bond frowned. He didn't know that he had frowned, and he wouldn't have been able to explain why he had done so. He said, and lowered his voice, again inexplicably, "Admiral Sir Miles Messervy. He is head of a department in your Ministry. The number of his room used to be twelve on the eighth floor. He used to have a secretary called Miss Moneypenny. Good-looking girl. Brunette. Shall I give you the Chief of Staff's name? No? Well, let's see, it's Wednesday. Shall I tell you what'll be the main dish on the menu in the canteen? It should be steak-and-kidney pudding."
'You are going through, sir?' said the coachman.
"Are you not overcautious when you assume that you cannot do what the enemy is constantly doing? Should you not claim to be at least his equal in prowess, and act upon the claim? As I understand, you telegraphed General Halleck that you cannot subsist your army at Winchester unless the railroad from Harper's Ferry to that point be put in working order. But the enemy does now subsist his army at Winchester, at a distance nearly twice as great as you would have to do, without the railroad last named. He now waggons from Culpeper Court House, which is just about twice as far as you would have to do from Harper's Ferry. He is certainly not more than half as well provided with waggons as you are.... Again, one of the standard maxims of war, as you know, is to 'operate upon the enemy's communications without exposing your own.' You seem to act as if this applies against you, but cannot apply it in your favour. Change positions with the enemy, and think you not he would break your communication with Richmond in twenty-four hours?... You are now nearer Richmond than the enemy is by the route you can and he must take. Why can you not reach there before him, unless you admit that he is more than your equal on a march? His route is the arc of a circle, while yours is the chord. The roads are as good on your side as on his ... If he should move northward, I would follow him closely, holding his communications. If he should prevent our seizing his communications and move towards Richmond, I would press closely to him, fight him, if a favourable opportunity should present, and at least try to beat him to Richmond on the inside track. I say 'Try'; if we never try, we shall never succeed.... If we cannot beat him when he bears the wastage of coming to us, we never can when we bear the wastage of going to him.... As we must beat him somewhere or fail finally, we can do it, if at all, easier near to us than far away.... It is all easy if our troops march as well as the enemy, and it is unmanly to say that they cannot do it."
* * *
'Of great talent,' repeated Mrs. Micawber. 'My family are of opinion, that, with a little interest, something might be done for a man of his ability in the Custom House. The influence of my family being local, it is their wish that Mr. Micawber should go down to Plymouth. They think it indispensable that he should be upon the spot.'