Terror By Sea

Live and Let Die Chapter 22

After a sleepless night in the cave cell, during which Bond has outlined his plan and hopes to Solitaire, James Bond and the girl are led out in the misty dawn. Activity is everywhere as Mr Big is preparing to leave this port for the final time.

Bond is counting on Mr Big’s penchant for order and exactitude. Mr Big must sail at promptly six AM. Bond and Solitaire will be towed behind the ship, and as they are dragged through the reef, they will be bloodied and then the sharks and fish will be upon them. The mine must explode and destroy the Secatur before they reach the reef. Bond doesn’t want to ponder the alternative.

If they were still alive when the first shark’s fin showed on the surface behind them Bond had coldly decided to drown Solitaire. Drown her by twisting her body under his and holding her there. Then he would try and drown himself by twisting her dead body back over his to keep him under.

But before that happens, Bond is “absolutely resolved” to fight for their lives to the end. They are taken to the jetty and Bond notes the length of the rope. It appears to be about 50 yards. They are stripped and bound together. Mr Big orders Bond’s wounded shoulder to be bound with strips of Solitaire’s skirt. He doesn’t want blood in the water…yet. Bond sneaks a glance at Mr Big’s watch. Ten minutes to six. He starts counting seconds.

They are tied together facing one another, though their legs are allowed to remain free (to serve as “bait”). They are then left on the jetty as the boat prepares to leave. The road uncoils, and they are jerked into the water. They are dragged along, gasping for air, as Bond tries to calculate the distance to the reef while still counting seconds. He realizes that it is past six, but that they are also approaching the reef rapidly.

Suddenly the breath whistled out of his body and a giant fist thumped him into Solitaire so that she rose right out of the sea above him and then fell back. A split second later lightning flashed across the sky and there was the thunder of an explosion.

They stopped dead in the water and Bond felt the weight of the slack rope pulling them under.

His legs sank down beneath his stunned body and water rushed into his mouth.

It was this that brought him back to consciousness. His legs pounded under him and brought their mouths to the surface. The girl was a dead weight in his arms. He trod water desperately and looked round him, holding Solitaire’s lolling head on his shoulder above the surface.

He looks around, the Secatur is nowhere to be seen. He somehow flounders them over to the reef and manages to rest on one. He notes some smoke and then heads bobbing up and down in the water on the other side of the reef. There are also sharks in the water. He and Solitaire are safe on one side of the reef, and he suddenly spots Mr Big, “executing a blundering breast-stroke. He makes eye-contact with the gangster before the latter is devoured by barracuda. As Bond is ready to faint, there is a shout…it is Quarrel, paddling towards them in a canoe.

The first tears since his childhood came into James Bond’s blue-grey eyes and ran down his drawn cheeks into the bloodstained sea.

What? James Bond is crying?