James Bond signalled late, braked more violently than a Bentley driving instructor would have liked,
and slewed the big car off the E5 motorway and on to the last exit road just north of Brussels. It was
merely a precaution. If he was going to reach Strasbourg before midnight it would have made more
sense to carry on, follow the ring road around Brussels, then keep going south on the Belgian N4. Yet
even on holiday, Bond knew that it was only prudent to remain alert. The small detour across country
would quickly establish whether anyone was on his tail, and he would pick up the E40 in about an
hour or so.
Lately there had been a directive to all officers of the Secret Service, advising ‘constant vigilance,
even when off duty, and particularly when on leave and out of the country’.
He had taken the morning ferry to Ostend, and there had been over an hour’s delay. About half-way
into the crossing the ship had stopped, a boat had been lowered, and had moved out, searching the
water in a wide circle. After some forty minutes the boat had returned and a helicopter appeared
overhead as they set sail again. A little later the news spread throughout the ship. Two men
overboard, and lost, it seemed.
‘Couple of young passengers skylarking,’ said the barman. ‘Skylarked once too often. Probably cut
to shreds by the screws.’