A tall dark man stood on the deck watching as Bunty and Lola walked down the ramp and into their awaiting limousine. He now travelled under the name of Professor Hawking and had rejuvenated by at least twenty years in his physical appearance since he was known as Mr Dorking.
He hailed a taxi and ordered it to follow the car.
Unknown to him he was also being watched by a very neat man in a bowler hat who also ordered a taxi to follow the Professor.
“Bunty take that ludicrous hat off, it makes your ankles look fat!” said Lola, sipping her morning champers.
“Don’t be silly!” said Bunty, “It’s my lucky hat!”
“Lucky no-one we know can see you wearing it!” muttered Lola.
“It’s the Tuff-Muffin poker hat, we’ve had it since the time of Alfred the Great!” countered Bunty.
Lola was about to argue the historical accuracy of this comment, but decided that she couldn’t be bothered and lit a cigarette, gazing at the passing landscape on the coastal road. The ancient town was being swallowed by new developments of which she approved; she had been in too many haunted gothic piles and fancied somewhere modern for a change. She was considering buying some land and building a hotel and casino complex of her own and maybe even a yacht, although neither she nor Bunty could swim and they had been hopeless sailors at school where they had accidentally been responsible for many fatalities and a disaster at sea.
Bunty was very excited, she was jolly good at card games; snap, old maid and poker. She thought that Lola might make a good player, but her uncontrollable sneer reflex might be a problem.
At Ricketts, Branwell had nearly completed his rebuild and was to be found stomping about the moors looking decidedly brooding; he had gone right off gardening and grooming, he was sick of being treated like a servant. He had already decided to have an enormous green house built which would block the view of Ricketts and had even hit on a name for his florists business, “Bunty’s Big Bloomers”, which he hoped would further endear her to him.
The Ladies arrived at the Casino Royale and were impressed by the grandeur of the hotel whose lawns swept out to the sea. It was built in a palatial style as the name suggested and the entrance hall glimmered with gold leaf, black marble columns and crystal chandeliers. They were greeted by a servile employee who leapt to attention when Lola flashed a letter of introduction, and ushered them with great ceremony into a private room where a high stakes poker game, played by world-class multi millionaire players was to take place.
“I hope you are as good as you say Bunty,” whispered Lola, “I’ve got a fortune riding on you! This isn’t a game of snap played for aniseed balls and cigarettes like we used to play at school!”
“Don’t worry!” said Bunty, “I have my technique honed to a fine art!”
Lola gasped as she spied a tall elegant man standing at the bar looking at her with one eye brow raised.
“Oh my goodness, it’s Bond, Brooke Bond!” and fainted.