As they walked through the ornate ante-rooms, he hardly spoke. She looked at him and saw that his nostrils were slightly flared. In other respects he seemed completely at ease, acknowledging cheerfully the greetings of the Casino functionaries. At the door to the salle privée they were not asked for their membership cards. Bond’s high gambling had already made him a favoured client and any companion of his shared in the glory. He was tall with a thin bony frame and his lightweight, tan-coloured suit hung loosely from his shoulders like the clothes of Frank Sinatra. His movements and speech were slow, but one had the feeling that there was plenty of speed and strength in him and that he would be a tough and cruel fighter. As he sat hunched over the table, he seemed to have some of the jack-knife quality of a falcon. There was this impression also in his face, in the sharpness of his chin and cheekbones and the wide wry mouth. His grey eyes had a feline slant which was increased by his habit of screwing them up against the smoke of the Chesterfields which he tapped out of the pack in a chain. The permanent wrinkles which this habit had etched at the corners gave the impression that he smiled more with his eyes than with his mouth. A mop of straw-coloured hair lent his face a boyish look which closer examination contradicted.

Bond automatically slammed the brakes full on and braced all his sinews against the wheel to correct the inevitable slew to the left, but he only kept control for a split second. For a split second, resting on the petrol tank, it seemed to paw at the heavens like a giant praying-mantis. Then slowly it toppled over backwards and fell with a splintering crash of coachwork and glass. As he tied his thin, double-ended, black satin tie, he paused for a moment and examined himself levelly in the mirror. His grey-blue eyes looked calmly back with a hint of ironical inquiry and the short lock of black hair which would never stay in place slowly subsided to form a thick comma above his right eyebrow. With the thin vertical scar down his right cheek the general effect was faintly piratical. Not much of Hoagy Carmichael there, thought Bond, as he filled a flat, light gunmetal box with fifty of the Morland cigarettes with the triple gold band. Mathis had told him of the girl’s comment. He loved the dry riffle of the cards and the constant unemphatic drama of the quiet figures round the green tables. He liked the solid, studied comfort of card-rooms and casinos, the well-padded arms of the chairs, the glass of champagne or whisky at the elbow, the quiet unhurried attention of good servants. He was amused by the impartiality of the roulette ball and of the playing-cards–and their eternal bias. He liked being an actor and a spectator and from his chair to take part in other men’s dramas and decisions, until it came to his own turn to say that vital ‘yes’ or ‘no’, generally on a fifty-fifty chance. Satisfied that his room had not been searched while he was at the casino, Bond undressed and took a cold shower. Then he lit his seventieth cigarette of the day and sat down at the writing-table with the thick wad of his stake money and winnings beside him and entered some figures in a small note-book. Over the two days’ play, he was up exactly three million francs. In London he had been issued with ten million, and he had asked London for a further ten. With this on its way to the local branch of Crédit Lyonnais, his working capital amounted to twenty-three million francs, or some twenty-three thousand pounds. For an immersive casino experience, with real live dealer and interactive live games, check out our Live Casino powered by top live casino gaming software providers Evolution Gaming and Ezugi. You will find firms that offer Casino tables and Croupiers for party hire. Clearly you’ll be restricted to individuals who operate where you live, in deciding recognise the company to make use of, ensure to evaluate that you’re obtaining the most effective service available. Select the organization which provides probably most likely probably the most realistic searching tables and equipment. Don’t accept felt layouts that are tossed over trestle tables – this is often hardly Casino Royale style! Chips and cards will want to look good and become in good repair, along with the Roulette wheel , medicine full Casino size 32″ across. Anything less may be as being a toy and could diminish your guests’ Casino experience. The night-club was small and dark, lit only by candles in gilded candelabra whose warm light was repeated in wall mirrors set in more gold picture-frames. The walls were covered in dark red satin and the chairs and banquettes in matching red plush. In the far corner, a trio, consisting of a piano, an electric guitar and drums, was playing ‘La Vie en Rose’ with muted sweetness. Seduction dripped on the quietly throbbing air. It seemed to Bond that every couple must be touching with passion under the tables. He took a hundred-mille plaque from the stacks beside him and slipped it across the table to the chef de partie. He cut short the effusive thanks and asked the croupier to have his winnings carried to the caisse. The other players were leaving their seats. With no banker, there could be no game, and by now it was half past two.

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He took a deep lungful of smoke and expelled it between his teeth with a faint hiss. It was at ten minutes past one by Bond’s watch when, at the high table, the whole pattern of play suddenly altered. The game continued uneventfully, but with a slight bias against the bank. There was a little gasp of envy from the table and the players to the left of Bond exchanged rueful glances at their failure to accept the two million franc bet. He slowly removed one thick hand from the table and slipped it into the pocket of his dinner-jacket. The hand came out holding a small metal cylinder with a cap which Le Chiffre unscrewed. He inserted the nozzle of the cylinder, with an obscene deliberation, twice into each black nostril in turn, and luxuriously inhaled the benzedrine vapour. From the decision to stand on his two cards and not ask for another, it was clear that the Greek had a five, or a six, or a seven. To be certain of winning, the banker had to reveal an eight or a nine. If the banker failed to show either figure, he also had the right to take another card which might or might not improve his count. ‘It’s much the same as any other gambling game. The odds against the banker and the player are more or less even. Only a run against either can be decisive and ‘break the bank’, or break the players. All this had been something of a challenge and she was pleased when she felt she attracted and interested him, as she knew intuitively that she did. Then at a hint that they were finding pleasure together, a hint that was only the first words of a conventional phrase, he had suddenly turned to ice and had brutally veered away as if warmth were poison to him. Then she gave a mental shrug and concentrated with all her attention on what he was saying. She would not make the same mistake again. Before leaving the Casino, Bond deposited his total capital of twenty-four million at the caisse, keeping only a few notes of ten mille as pocket money. But Leiter was still interested in Bond’s drink. ‘You certainly think things out,’ he said with amusement as they carried their glasses to a corner of the room. When, dazed and half-conscious, he raised himself on one knee, a ghastly rain of pieces of flesh and shreds of blood-soaked clothing fell on him and around him, mingled with branches and gravel.

Can I wear a cap in a casino?

You can wear whatever you want in the casinos. There are no dress codes.

Then a shower of small twigs and leaves. From all sides came the sharp tinkle of falling glass. Above in the sky hung a mushroom of black smoke which rose and dissolved as he drunkenly watched it. There was an obscene smell of high explosive, of burning wood, and of, yes, that was it–roast mutton. For fifty yards down the boulevard the trees were leafless and charred. Opposite, two of them had snapped off near the base and lay drunkenly across the road. Between them there was a still smoking crater. Of the two men in straw hats, there remained absolutely nothing. But there were red traces on the road, and on the pavements and against the trunks of the trees, and there were glittering shreds high up in the branches. An hour later, Bond walked into the Hermitage bar and chose a table near one of the broad windows. One of the last of the 4½-litre Bentleys with the supercharger by Amherst Villiers, he had bought it almost new in 1933 and had kept it in careful storage through the war. It was still serviced every year and, in London, a former Bentley mechanic, who worked in a garage near Bond’s Chelsea flat, tended it with jealous care. Bond drove it hard and well and with an almost sensual pleasure. It was a battleship-grey convertible coupé, which really did convert, and it was capable of touring at ninety with thirty miles an hour in reserve. It did not long withstand the powerful combines of Vichy and Perrier and Vittel. There came a series of lawsuits, a number of people lost a lot of money and very soon its sale was again entirely local. Royale fell back on the takings from the French and English families during the summer, on its fishing-fleet in winter and on the crumbs which fell to its elegantly dilapidated Casino from the table at Le Touquet. It was twelve o’clock when Bond left the Splendide and the clock on themairie was stumbling through its midday carillon. ‘Anyway, we told London at once and they will have changed them. A pretty flap we caused, I can tell you.’ He smiled with the satisfaction of a friendly rival. ‘And now to business, before our good “Compagnons” run out of breath. ‘Now it is time for a little more play-acting,’ said Mathis. He walked over to the radio, which was still transmitting close harmony to its audience of three, and switched it off. ‘My dear friend,’ Mathis was delighted, ‘you are blown, blown, blown. ‘My dear monsieur–forgive me please–badly tuned,’ and he again bent to the dials. After a few adjustments the close harmony of the French came over the air and Mathis walked up and clapped Bond very hard on the back and wrang his hand until Bond’s fingers ached. In this way he had made some three million francs and had given his nerves and card-sense a thorough work-out. He had got the geography of the Casino clear in his mind. Above all, he had been able to observe Le Chiffre at the tables and to note ruefully that he was a faultless and lucky gambler. M knew all this already, knew the odds at baccarat as well as Bond. That was his job–knowing the odds at everything, and knowing men, his own and the opposition’s.

Chapter 13’A WHISPER OF LOVE, A WHISPER OF HATE’

He tried to reason with her, but she paid no attention. After glancing once or twice over his shoulder with eyes that held a curious submissiveness, she said that her headache was still bad and that she would spend the afternoon in her room. She left the table and walked indoors without a backward glance. He dried himself and dressed in a white shirt and dark blue slacks. Madame Versoix had been interrupted in the middle of preparing dinner. She wore an apron and held a wooden spoon in one hand. She was younger than her husband, chubby and handsome and warm-eyed. Instinctively Bond guessed that they had no children and that they gave their thwarted affection to their friends and some regular customers, and probably to some pets. He thought that their life was probably something of a struggle and that the inn must be very lonely in winter-time with the big seas and the noise of the wind in the pines. When Mathis came to see him three days later he was propped up in bed and his arms were free. The lower half of his body was still shrouded in the oblong tent, but he looked cheerful and it was only occasionally that a twinge of pain narrowed his eyes. Bond closed his eyes and mentally explored his body. The worst pain was in his wrists and ankles and in his right hand where the Russian had cut him. In the centre of the body there was no feeling. He assumed that he had been given a local anaesthetic. The rest of his body ached dully as if he had been beaten all over. He could feel the pressure of bandages everywhere and his unshaven neck and chin prickled against the sheets. From the feel of the bristles he knew that he must have been at least three days without shaving. That meant two days since the morning of the torture. During the next two days James Bond was permanently in this state without regaining consciousness. He watched the procession of his dreams go by without any effort to disturb their sequence, although many of them were terrifying and all were painful. Steps moved round to behind Bond’s right shoulder. An arm in some grey material came into Bond’s line of vision. A broad hairy hand emerging from a dirty white shirt-cuff was holding a thin stiletto like a fountain-pen. It poised for a moment above the back of Bond’s right hand, immovably bound with flex to the arm of the chair. The point of the stiletto executed three quick straight slashes. A fourth slash crossed them where they ended, just short of the knuckles. Blood in the shape of an inverted ‘M’ welled out and slowly started to drip on to the floor. He tried desperately to read into Le Chiffre’s face what was happening behind him, but all he saw was blind incomprehension and terror. Le Chiffre’s mouth worked, but only a high-pitched ‘eek’ came from it. His heavy cheeks trembled as he tried to collect enough saliva in his mouth to say something, ask something. One of them made a slight movement towards his pocket, but instantly fell back. His round staring eyes had lowered for a split second and Bond guessed there was a gun trained on him. He laid the handle of the carpet-beater down on the floor between his thick legs and rose from his chair.