So here we are. Bond has been captured by Le Chiffre and his henchmen. He is taken to the villa. Fleming paints the word picture of the room in which Bond is taken, describing it as “sparsely furnished in cheap French art nouveau style. It’s clearly Fleming and not Bond making these observations, as Bond has other things on his mind. Such as what the villains have in mind for him.
He doesn’t have long to wait. He is told to strip naked, and after a brief, puny show of resistance, he does as he is told. Le Chiffre orders the round cane seat cut out of a chair in the room and Bond is securely strapped to the chair. Le Chiffre is seated opposite him, sipping coffee, but holding a carpet beater in his hand.
He looked Bond carefully, almost caressingly, in the eyes. Then his wrists sprang suddenly upwards on his knee.
The result was startling.
Bond’s whole body arched in an involuntary spasm. His face contracted in a soundless scream and his lips drew right away from his teeth. At the same time his head flew back with a jerk showing the taut sinews of his neck. For an instant, muscles stood out in knots all over his body and his toes and fingers clenched until they were quite white. Then his body sagged and perspiration started to bead all over his body. He uttered a deep groan.
How do you feel reading that? Again, this is not the James Bond of the Roger Moore movies that perhaps you grew up watching. This is the kind of stuff that had critics accusing Fleming of sadism. I rather doubt this scene will appear in the upcoming movie Casino Royale, but who knows? (Edit: It did.)
Once Bond’s body has calmed somewhat and his eyes open, Le Chiffre begins the interrogation to find out where Bond has stashed the cashier’s cheque from the casino. The game seems ages ago. He addresses Bond as “My dear boy” in a very condescending tone. He tells him the game of “Red Indians” is over, and that
You are not equipped my dear boy, to play games with adults and it was very foolish of your nanny in London to have sent you out here with your spade and bucket.
This taunt may only serve to steel Bond’s determination, which is perhaps what Le Chiffre wants, as he appears to be enjoying this moment very much. He asks Bond directly where the money is and Bond glares at him. Le Chiffre employs the carpet beater again and again, informing Bond that “There is no one to stage a last-minute rescue”. Bond focuses on what he knows about torture, that the beginning is the worst, and hoping to black out. He remembers something.
He had been told by colleagues who had survived torture by the Germans and the Japanese that towards the end there came a wonderful period of warmth and languor leading into a sort of sexual twilight where pain turned to the pleasure and where hatred and fear of the torturers turned to a masochistic infatuation.
Sadism, anyone? Bond doesn’t get to that point however, because Le Chiffre knows enough to pause and allow for Bond to slightly recover before the next assault. Bond is informed that his room has been searched and though they find many interesting things in “childish hiding places”, they did not find the cheque. So the torture goes on. Finally Bond asks for a drink so he can speak and has coffee poured into him. He weakly attempts to dissuade Le Chiffre by saying the money will be traced to him. Le Chiffre cheerfully explains how they have that all covered, and the beating continues. He even suggests that he is curious to see how long a man can stand this treatment. Finally he angrily beats at Bond until he passes out. Time goes by. When Bond comes to, Le Chiffre says that the beating is over. Bond has not given him the information he requires. He reaches toward the knife on the table, and the chapter ends with chilling words.
“Say good-bye to it, Bond.”