'You have your baggage check? Will you follow me, please? And first your passport. This way.'
In the writing of Barchester Towers I took great delight. The bishop and Mrs. Proudie were very real to me, as were also the troubles of the archdeacon and the loves of Mr. Slope. When it was done, Mr. W. Longman required that it should be subjected to his reader; and he returned the MS. to me, with a most laborious and voluminous criticism — coming from whom I never knew. This was accompanied by an offer to print the novel on the half-profit system, with a payment of ￡100 in advance out of my half-profits — on condition that I would comply with the suggestions made by his critic. One of these suggestions required that I should cut the novel down to two volumes. In my reply, I went through the criticisms, rejecting one and accepting another, almost alternately, but declaring at last that no consideration should induce me to cut out a third of my work. I am at a loss to know how such a task could have been performed. I could burn the MS., no doubt, and write another book on the same story; but how two words out of six are to be withdrawn from a written novel, I cannot conceive. I believe such tasks have been attempted — perhaps performed; but I refused to make even the attempt. Mr. Longman was too gracious to insist on his critic’s terms; and the book was published, certainly none the worse, and I do not think much the better, for the care that had been taken with it.
'Howdy.' Mr Jack Strap of the Spangled Mob had the synthetic charm of a front man for the Las Vegas casinos, but Bond guessed he had inherited from the late lamented brothers Spang thanks to other qualities. He was an expansive, showily dressed man of about fifty. He was coming to the end of a cigar. He smoked it as if he was eating it, munching hungrily. From time to time he turned his head sideways and discreetly spat a scrap of it out on to the carpet behind him. Behind this compulsive smoking there would be a lot of tension. Mr Strap had quick conjuror's eyes. He seemed to know that his eyes frightened people because now, presumably not wanting to frighten Bond, he gave them charm by crinkling them at the corners.
'Then that is arranged.'
'That is not a well-known brand,' Bond explained to his companion, 'but it is probably the finest champagne in the world.' He grinned suddenly at the touch of pretension in his remark.