Bond and Vesper have arrived at their reward…a getaway for a week together at a lonely seaside inn. Bond is eager to start his “fun” with Vesper, embracing and kissing her passionately as soon as they walk into their room. At first, she responds, but then ends up pushing him away, and Bond apologizes, and they sit on the bed, staring at each other hungrily.
She leant over and kissed him on the corner of the mouth, then she brushed the black comma of hair back from his damp forehead.
‘My darling.’ she said. Give me a cigarette. I don’t know where my bag is.’
She looked vaguely around the room.
Bond lit one for her and put it between her lips. She took a deep lungful of smoke and let it pour out through her mouth with a slow sigh.
Bond put his arm round her, but she got up and walked over to the window.
She stood there with her back to him.
Bond makes another effort to get close to her, and she tells him “not now”. He believes she is crying, but isn’t sure. He takes the hint and goes out to the beach for a swim. On the way we learn another tidbit about his personal habits. He had always slept nude until the end of the war when he came across “the perfect compromise” – a pyjama-coat. This article of clothing will be mentioned again in future adventures. While he is walking to the beach, he passes under their window, and doesn’t look up to see if she is still standing there. Given her strange behavior just a few minutes ago, as well as earlier this afternoon, while they were driving out, (from the previous chapter), you would figure Bond might catch on that something was up. He doesn’t seem to. At this point, Fleming clearly doesn’t know what to do with Bond. Did he envision a series of Bond adventures? Was he thinking that this was a one book character? Should he marry off Bond, which would essentially end his secret agent career, or should he keep him free?
Bond takes a long swim about a mile down the beach, and then dries off by lying in the sun. He’s thinking about Vesper. He admits to himself that he is confused about his feelings, and doesn’t like it. At the beginning, he figured he could just have this week with her, maybe see her a couple times back in England, and then have the “inevitable disengagement”. But he realizes that she has snuck up on him, and he has deeper feelings for her. He enjoys her “easy and unexacting” companionship. He does recognize that there is a part of her from which is, and always will be, shut out. He also reflects on what she’d be like in bed. Keep in mind, he has not slept with her yet. (What, we’re almost at the end of the book, and Bond hasn’t slept with a woman yet? This isn’t the movies…) While he’s thinking about her in bed, there are some rather disturbing thoughts coming across this mind.
If you’re offended easily, you might wish to skip this passage. It’s not politically correct, not now or then.
And now he knew that she was profoundly, excitingly sensual, but that the conquest of her body, because of the central privacy in her, would each time have the sweet tang of rape. Loving her physically would each time be a thrilling voyage without the anticlimax of arrival. She would surrender herself avidly, he thought, and greedily enjoy all the intimacies of the bed without over allowing herself to be possessed.
Wow. “sweet tang of rape”? What type of statement is that? It’s very offensive now, but consider it in the context of 1953. I’m surprised it made it past the editor. The roles of men and women then were obviously different then they were now. Men were more dominant. It doesn’t explain the passage, but I’m sure there is an explanation other than the fact that Fleming was a sexist pig. That’s putting it mildly.
After thinking about all of this, Bond heads back to the hotel. However, the chapter ends with an intriguing line:
“At that moment his mind was mind up.”