‘Much more powerful. You have heard of the Ching-Pang and Hung-Pang tongs that were so much feared in China in the days of the Kuomintang. No? Well the Black Dragons were a hundred times worse. To have them on your heels was certain death. They were totally ruthless, and not out of any particular political conviction. They operated strictly for cash.’
‘Well, under this doctor from Switzerland, have they done any harm yet?’
‘Oh no. They are nothing more than he says – personal staff, at the worst, if you like, a bodyguard. No. The trouble is quite different, much more complex. You see, this man Shatterhand has created what I can only describe as a garden of death.’
Bond raised his eyebrows. Really, for the head of a national secret service, Tiger’s metaphors were almost ridiculously dramatic.
Tiger exploded his golden smile. ‘Bondo-san, I can see from your face that you think I am either drunk or mad. Now listen. This Doctor Shatterhand has filled this famous park of his uniquely with poisonous vegetation, the lakes and streams with poisonous fish, and he has infested the place with snakes, scorpions and poisonous spiders. He and this hideous wife of his are not harmed by these things, because whenever they leave the castle he wears full suits of armour of the seventeenth century, and she wears some other kind of protective clothing. His workers are not harmed because they wear rubber boots up to the knee, and maskos, that is, antiseptic gauze masks such as many people in Japan wear over the mouth and nose to avoid infection or the spreading of infection.’
‘What a daft set-up.’
Tiger reached into the folds of the yukata he had changed into when they entered the house. He brought out several sheets of paper pinned together. He handed them over to Bond and said, ‘Be patient. Do not judge what you do not understand. I know nothing of these poisonous plants. Nor, I expect, do you. Here is a list of those that have so far been planted by this doctor, together with comments by our Ministry of Agriculture. Read it. Take your time. You will be interested to learn what charming vegetation grows on the surface of the globe.’
Bond took the papers. The first page was a general note on vegetable poisons. There followed an annotated list. The papers bore the seal of the Ministry of Agriculture. This is what he read:
The poisons listed fall into six main categories:
1. Deliriant. Symptoms: spectral illusions, delirium; dilated pupils; thirst and dryness; incoordination; then paralysis and spasms.
2. Inebriant. Symptoms: excitement of cerebral functions and of circulation; loss of coordination and muscular movements; double vision; then sleep and deep coma.
3. Convulsivant. Symptoms: intermittent spasms, from head downwards. Death from exhaustion, usually within three hours, or rapid recovery.
4. Depressant. Symptoms: vertigo, vomiting, abdominal pain, confused vision, convulsions, paralysis, fainting, sometimes asphyxia.
5. Asthenic. Symptoms: numbness, tingling mouth, abdominal pain, vertigo, vomiting, purging, delirium, paralysis, fainting.
6. Irritant. Symptoms: burning pain in throat and stomach, thirst, nausea, vomiting. Death by shock, convulsions or exhaustion; or starvation by injury to throat or stomach.
SPECIMENS LISTED BY CUSTOMS AND EXCISE
DEPARTMENT AS IMPORTED BY DOCTOR GUNTRAM
Jamaica dogwood, fish-poison tree (Piscidia erythrina): Tree, 30 ft. White and blood-coloured flowers. Inebriant. Toxic principle: piscidine. W. Indies.
Nux-vomica tree, poison-nut, crow-fig, kachita (Strychnos nux-vomica): Tree 40 ft. Smooth bark, attractive fruits, which have bitter taste. Greenish-white flowers. Seeds most poisonous part. Convulsivant. Toxic principle: strychnine, brucine. S. India, Java.
Guiana poison-tree (Strychnos toxifera): curare arrow-poison taken from bark. Creeper. Death within one hour from respiratory paralysis. Toxic principles: curare, strychnine, brucine. Guiana.
St Ignatius’s bean (Strychnos Ignatü): small tree, seeds yield brucine. Convulsivant. Philippines.
False Upas-tree (Strychnos tieute): large climbing shrub. Strychnine or brucine from leaf, seed, stem or root-bark. Java.
East Indian snakewood (Strychnos colubrina): climbing tree. Yields strychnine, brucine. Convulsivant. Java, Timor.
Ipecacuanha (Psjchotria ipecacuanha}: shrubby plant. Depressant. Toxic principle: emetine, from root. Brazil.
White-woolly Kombe bean, Gaboon arrow poison (Stropanthus hispidus): woody climber, 6 ft. Toxic principle: strophan-thin, incine. Asthenic. W. Africa.
Ordeal-tree, poison tanghin (Tanghinia venenifera or cerbera tanghin): small evergreen tree, 20 ft. Fruit purplish, tinged with green. Toxic principle: tanghinine, cerberin. Asthenic. Madagascar.
Upas-tree, Malay arrow-poison tree (Antiaria toxicaria): jungle tree – 100 ft. before branches start. Wood light, white, hard, milk-bearing. Toxic principle: antiarin, from milky sap. Asthenic. Java, Borneo, Sumatra, Philippines.
Poison ivy, trailing poison oak (Khus toxicodendron): climbing shrub. Greenish-yellow flowers. Stem contains milky juice – irritant. Toxic principle: toxicodendrol.USA.
Yellow oleander, campanilla, be-still tree (Thevetia peruviana): small tree. All parts can be fatally toxic, particularly fruit. Pulse slows, vomiting, shock. Hawaii.
Castor bean plant (Kicintis communis): seeds are source of castor oil, also contain toxic principle, ricin. Harmless if eaten. If it enters the circulation through scratch or abrasion is fatal within 7-10 days. One hundredth of a milligram can kill a 200 Ib. man. Loss of appetite, emesis, purgation, delirium, collapse and death. Hawaii, S. America.
Common oleander (Nerium Indicum): evergreen shrub. The roots, bark, juice, flowers and leaves all fatally toxic. Acts chiefly on the heart. Used in India as leprosy treatment, abortifacient, means of suicide. India, Hawaii. One death was due to the victim’s having eaten meat cooked over an open fire, spitted on a stick of oleander wood.
Rosary pea, crab’s eye, Jequiritz bean (Abrus precatorius): climbing shrub. Small shiny red seeds weight average 1.75 grains, used by Indian goldsmiths as weights. Seeds are ground down into a paste with a little cold water, made into small pointed cylinders. If these are inserted beneath skin of human or animal death occurs within four hours. India, Hawaii.
Jimson weed (Datura stramonium): variety of thorn apple plant, found in N. Africa, India. Also: Ololiuqui (D. mete-loides) from Mexico, and D. tatula from Central and South America. All three are hallucinatory. D. stramonium’s apples are smoked by Arabs and Swahilis, leaves eaten by E. African Negroes, seeds added to hashish and leaves to hemp by Bengalese Indians. D. tatula was used as a truth-drug by Zapotec Indians in courts of law. Addiction to toloachi, a drink made from D. tatula, causes chronic imbecility,
Gloriosa superba: spectacularly beautiful climbing lily. Roots, stalks, leaves contain an acrid narcotic, superbine, as well as colchicine and choline. Three grains of colchicine are fatal. Hawaii.
Sand-box tree (Hura crepitans}: whole tree contains an active emetocathartic, used as a fish-poison in Brazil. Also contains crepitin, same group of poisons as ricin. Harmless if swallowed, must be taken into circulation through wound to be fatal. Death comes in 7-10 days. C. and S. America.
Pride-of-India, Chinaberry tree, China tree (Melia azedarach}: small tree. Beautiful dark-green leaves, lavender blossoms. Fruit contains toxic narcotic which attacks entire central nervous system. Hawaii, C. and S. America.
Physic nut (Jatropha curcas): bushy tree. Raw seeds violently purgative, often fatal due to exhaustion. Caribbean.
Mexican tuber, camotillo: wild potato, grows generally. According to Indian tradition, it is plucked during the waning of the moon; it is alleged to begin deadly action the same number of days after consumption as it was stored after being dug up. Toxic principle: solanine. Central and S. America.
Divine mushroom (Amanita mexicana): closely related to European Fly Agaric. Black mushroom, eaten fresh or steeped in warm milk laced with agave spirits. Causes hypersensitivity of the skin surface, ultra-acute hearing and sight, then hallucinations of several hours, followed by deep melancholia. Active principle unknown. Central and S. America.
Bond finished his reading. He handed the papers back. He said, ‘Doctor Shatterhand’s garden is indeed a lovesome thing, God wot.’
‘And you have of course heard of the South American piranha fish? They can strip a whole horse to the bones in less than an hour. The scientific name is Serrasalmus. The subspecies Nattered is the most voracious. Our good doctor has preferred these fish to our native goldfish for his lakes. You see what I mean?’
‘No,’ said Bond, ‘frankly I don’t. What’s the object of the good doctor’s exercise?’
SLAY IT WITH FLOWERS
IT WAS three o’clock in the morning. The noise of the traffic to Yokohama had died. James Bond didn’t feel tired. He was now totally absorbed in this extraordinary story of the Swiss doctor, who, as Tiger had originally said, ‘collected death’.
Tiger wasn’t telling him this bizarre case history for his entertainment. There was going to come a moment of climax. What would that climax be?
Tiger wiped his hand over his face. He said, ‘Did you read a story in the evening edition of the Asahi today? It concerned a suicide.’
‘This was a young student aged eighteen who had failed his examination for the university for the second time. He lived in the suburbs of Tokyo. There was construction work on a new department, a department store, going on near where he lived. He went out of his room on to the site. A pile-driver was at work, sinking the foundations. Suddenly this youth broke through the surrounding workmen and, as the pile came crashing down, laid his head on the block beneath it.’
‘What a ghastly business! Why?’
‘He had brought dishonour on his parents, his ancestors. This was his way of expiation. Suicide is a most, unfortunate aspect of the Japanese way of life.’ Tiger paused. ‘Or perhaps a most noble one. It depends how you look at it. That boy, and his family, will have gained great face in his neighbourhood.’
‘You can’t gain face from strawberry jam.’
‘Think again, Bondo-san. Your posthumous VCs, for instance?’
‘They’re not awarded for committing suicide after failing in an examination.’
‘We are not so demokorasu as you are.’ There was irony in Tiger’s voice. ‘Dishonour must be expunged – according to those of us who remain what you would describe as old-fashioned. There is no apology more sincere than the offering up of your own life. It is literally all you have to give.’
‘But even if this boy failed for the university, he could have gone for a lower standard of examination, for a lower grade of college. As you know, we say “Blast!” or perhaps a stronger word if we fail an examination in Britain. But we readjust our sights, or our parents do it for us, and have another bash. We don’t kill ourselves. It wouldn’t occur to us. It would be dishonourable rather than honourable. It would be cowardly – a refusal to stand up to reverses, to life. And it would give great pain to our parents, and certainly no satisfaction to our ancestors.’
‘With us it is different. And despite demokorasu, the parents of this youth will be rejoicing this evening and their neighbours will be rejoicing with them. Honour is more important to us than life – more proud, more beautiful.’
Bond shrugged. ‘Well, I just think that if the boy had the guts to do this thing, it was the waste of a perfectly good Japanese life. In fact, of course, this suicide business in Japan is nothing more than a form of hysteria-an expression of the streak of violence that seems to run all through the history of Japan. If you hold your own life so cheaply, it follows that you will hold others’ lives even more cheaply. The other day, I saw a traffic accident at one of the main crossings. I don’t know the name of it. It was a multiple affair, and there were bodies all over the place. The police came, but instead of concentrating on getting the wounded to hospital, insisted that they should lie where they were so that they could draw chalk lines round them and photograph them – presumably for use when the case came to court.’