Bond and Vesper finish their meal, at one point Vesper makes a wistful comment eluding to how much better it would be if they were not currently on a job. Bond quickly rebukes her, and there is a moment of coldness between them. Bond covers it by going into the details of the job, explaining how the game of baccarat works. Again, the marvels of Fleming’s descriptive writing come in here, as he has Bond explain the game, and later, in the casino, he goes around the table, giving us details on each of the players in the game, information that Bond has requested from the huissier (usher).
Le Chiffre arrives at last, and the game begins. “Messieurs mesdames, les jeux sont faits. Un banco de cinq cent mille” (“Gentleman, ladies, the bets are made. A bank value of five thousand.”) The Greek in position number one at the table is the first to fall to Le Chiffre, who gets a perfect 9 on his first play.
On Bond’s first chance to face his enemy, he picks up a bank of one million, and this time Bond gets the perfect nine to win the coup and collect the bank. Mr and Mrs Du Pont engage Bond in some banter after his successful play. If you haven’t read through the Bond novels, remember Mr Du Point. He makes another appearance later in the series.
The game continues, and Bond has no way of knowing the full desperation of Le Chiffre. We’re told, but Bond doesn’t know that the Russian only has 10 million francs left after an afternoon of heavy losses. Bond has 28 million francs and is feeling good about his position. Then in two hands, Bond sweating it out, loses 12 and 16 million francs respectively to Le Chiffre and is cleaned out. The writing in this chapter is outstanding. You can feel the tension in the room, and Fleming writes with the experience of someone who has been in the exact position that Bond finds himself. In a way, when you read of Bond’s thoughts, feelings and emotions in this game, you’re gaining insight into the mind of Ian Fleming.
We’ll pick up the reading in the next entry with chapter 12.
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