The Sentence

Live and Let Die Chapter 21

James Bond is led up towards the entrance of the cave, pausing a couple times, apparently so that Mr Big can control his breathing and heart. Closer to the top, they pause in front of what is evidently a cell. They go inside and Bond notices the shackles on the stone walls. This was an ancient place to imprisonment and torture. Mr Big speaks her name and Solitaire comes running from in the darkness. She is hysterical at seeing Bond.

Mr Big orders the pair tied up, as he has some things to say to them. Bond’s arms are tied behind his back and his legs tied together as well. He is then propped on the ground with his arms hoisted up and secured behind him. Mr Big dismisses the guard and as Bond reflects that the gangster is still just a mortal man with a diseased heart, Mr Big begins to speak.

‘You are the best of those that have been sent against me,’ said Mr. Big. His quiet flat voice was thoughtful, measured. ‘And you have achieved the death of four of my assistants. My followers find this incredible. It was fully time that accounts should be squared. What happened to the American was not sufficient. The treachery of this girl,’ he still looked at Bond, ‘whom I found in the gutter and whom I was prepared to put on my right hand, has also brought my infallibility in question. I was wondering how she should die, when providence, or Baron Samedi as my followers will believe, brought you also to the altar with your head bowed ready for the axe.’

He informs Bond that he and Solitaire will die right around six o’clock in the morning. Mr Big continues speaking, bragging about being the first great negro “criminal” though he says he only uses that word because Bond is a “policeman”. He says he owes his success to his “infinite capacity for taking pains” in everything that he does.

What he has in mind for Bond and Solitaire is a modern day take on “keel-hauling”.

‘We have a paravane on board the yacht,’ continued Mr. Big as if he was a surgeon describing a delicate operation to a body of students, ‘which we use for trawling for shark and other big fish. This paravane, as you know, is a large buoyant torpedo-shaped device, which rides on the end of a cable, away from the side of a ship, and which can be used for sustaining the end of a net, and drawing it through the water when the ship is in motion, or if fitted with a cutting device, for severing the cables of moored mines in time of war.

‘I intend,’ said Mr. Big, in a matter-of-fact discursive tone of voice,’ to bind you together to a line streamed from this paravane and to tow you through the sea until you are eaten by sharks.’

Bond’s mind races, as he tries to calculate the time that he set the fuse to go off that is going to blow up the Secatur. It’s going to be close. Solitaire suddenly cries out, saying that she sees much death, Bond is worried that Mr Big will take her outburst to indicate more than their own deaths and investigate any threats to the ship.

The chapter ends with Mr Big explaining that everything he does has a purpose. The deaths of Bond and Solitaire, in addition to exacting the revenge necessary and leaving no trace, will also benefit the world of science as he is curious to see how the sharks react to their bodies after they have been dragged over the reef and are bleeding in the water. He bids them : “A short, but very good night to you both.”