Eventually, an explanation was arrived at, and it was as follows. Each student had been provided with a drawing of a three‑dimensional geometric object—a component for a water pump in fact—and the task was to draw it in plan, elevation and side‑elevation with all dimensions shown. It was not difficult, but somehow that day it all went wrong for Kidneys Wilkes, the smartest boy in the class, who managed to misunderstand the task completely. Other boys around him saw what he was doing, and they looked at their own efforts and saw them not the same. One thing they knew for sure was that if Kidneys was doing it differently to them, then they had to be wrong. One by one, they all copied each other, all that is except the one too far away to be able to see the work of anyone else. The result was that I alone got it right and was the only member of the class to pass the examination.
There was a sharp ‘phut’, no louder than a bubble of air escaping from a tube of toothpaste. No other noise at all, and suddenly Le Chiffre had grown another eye, a third eye on a level with the other two, right where the thick mound started to jut out below the forehead. It was a small black eye, without eyelashes or eyebrows
For a second the three eyes looked out across the room and then the whole face seemed to slip and go down on one knee. The two outer eyes turned trembling up towards the ceiling. Then the heavy head fell sideways and the right shoulder and finally the whole body going over the arm of the chair as if Le Chiffre were going to be sick. But there was only a short rattle of his heels on the ground and then no other movement.
The tall back of the chair looked impassively out across the dead body in its arms.
There was a faint movement behind Bond. A hand came from behind and grasped his chin and pulled it back.
For a moment, Bond looked up into two glittering eyes behind a narrow black mask. There was an impression of a crag-like face under the hat-brim, the collar of a fawn mackintosh. He could take in nothing more before the head was pushed down again.
“You are fortunate,” said the voice. “I have no orders to kill you…”
Really, only the barest outline of James Bond was visible in Ian Fleming’s first novel. He is a gambler, deployed by the British to embarrass the other side by playing one of its best agents into debt, and forcing his superiors to execute him. There is no real action, and Bond is not at all sure of himself. He then exposes the woman he loves as a double agent and she suicides, evoking the final line.
“Yes, dammit, I said ‘was’. The bitch is dead now.”
None of the subsequent charm was evident either.
Casino Royale was first published in 1953 and they only printed 4000 copies because they didn’t think it would sell.
The first edition cover, designed by the author.
They never let him do that again.