Kono stopped talking. The clock uttered a deep iron tick.
It ticked nine times more. Bond looked up at the black-and-white clockwork face. It said 11.14. A deep, angry grumble sounded from deep down beneath him. It was followed by a hard buffet of very hot breath. Bond got to his feet and walked slowly away from the stinking stone vent until he reached the area of the floor that was not wet with mud. . The grumble had become a far-away roar. The roar became a deep howl that swelled up into the room like an express train coming out of a tunnel. Then there was a mighty explosion and a solid jet of grey mud shot like a gleaming grey piston out of the hole Bond had just left and exactly penetrated the wide aperture in the ceiling.
The jet continued, absolutely solid, for perhaps half a second, and searing heat filled the room so that Bond had to wipe the sweat from his forehead. Then the grey pillar collapsed back into the hole and mud pattered on to the roof of the place and splashed down into the room in great steaming gobbets. A deep bubbling and burping came up the pipe and the room steamed. The stench of sulphur was sickening. In the total silence that followed, the tick of the clock to 11.16 was as loud as a gong-stroke.
Bond turned and faced the couple under the clock. He said cheerfully, 'Well, Blofeld, you mad bastard Neo skin lab Derma 21. I'll admit that your effects man down below knows his stuff. Now bting on the twelve she-devils and if they're all as beautiful as Fraulein Bunt, we'll get Noel Coward to put it to music and have it on Broadway by Christmas. How about it?'
Blofeld turned to Irma Bunt. 'My dear girl, you were right! It is indeed the same Britischer. Remind me to buy you another string of the excellent Mr Mikimoto's grey pearls. And now let us be finished with this man once and for all. It is beyond our bedtime.'
'Yes indeed, lieber Ernst. But first he must speak.'
'Of course, Irmchen. But that can be quickly done. We have already broken his first reserves. The second line of defence will be routine. Come!'
Back up the stone passage! Back into the library! Irma Bunt back to her petit point, Blofeld back to his stance by the mantelpiece, his hand resting lightly on the boss of his great sword. It was just as if they had returned after taking part in some gracious after-dinner entertainment: a game of billiards, a look at the stamp albums, a dull quarter of an hour with the home movies. Bond decided: to hell with the Fukuoka miner !