When, at around two-thirty that afternoon, James Bond had gone in through the double padded doors and had sat down opposite the turned-away profile on the other side of the big desk, he had sensed trouble. There was no greeting. M.'s head was sunk into his stiff turned-down collar in a Churchillian pose of gloomy reflection, and there was a droop of bitterness at the corner of his lips. He swiveled his chair around to face Bond, gave him an appraising glance as if, Bond thought, to see that his tie was straight and his hair properly brushed, and then began speaking, fast, biting off his sentences as if he wanted to be rid of what he was saying, and of Bond, as quickly as possible.
'Twopence-halfpenny,' says the landlord, 'is the price of the Genuine Stunning ale.'
'Oh, all right,' said Bond resignedly. 'Now let's have a look at a photograph of this chap. Has the Superintendent got one?'
He shifted himself unobtrusively away from the roulette he had been playing and went to stand for a moment at the brass rail which surrounded breast-high the top table in the salle privée.
For a while they ate in silence, then they talked of other things while the coffee was served. They smoked. Neither of them drank brandy or a liqueur. Finally, Bond felt it was time to explain the actual mechanics of the game.
Bond slowly relaxed. It didn't matter who she was or what she was up to. He measured the distance, planned each stride - the trajectory of the final spring, left hand to her neck, right to the gun. Now!