``A remarkable woman,´´ Tarrant said, watching the heavy smoke coiling up in the warm fluorescent light. ``If you had been a child, on your own, in a Middle East DP camp in 1945, do you think you could have managed to retire at twentysix with well over half a million sterling? A small female child, of course.´´
You couldn´t make yourself over again at twenty-six. She had learned that lesson over the past twelve months.
In the dark years long gone, almost from the first dawnings of memory, each night and each day had held fear and danger for the lone child moving like some small wild creature through the war turmoil of the Balkans and the Levant. But later, with puberty, there came a time when fear was transmuted into stimulus, and the moments of danger which had once brought terror now brought only a keener sense of being alive.
Alone in the tiny cell, Willie Garvin lay with a gray lethargy blanketing his mind. It was like the old day, the grimy, pointless and hated days, the days before Modesty Blaise, who had suddenly and magically turned his world upside down and made everything All Right.
But now the light that had been turned on in his head throughout those seven years was no longer there. The old groping obscurity was back.
Willie Garvin knew that he should be doing something. A crummy load of ragged-arsed soldiers had caught him and put him in jail and were going to shoot him soon. If this had been a couple of years back, and on a caper for the Princess, it would have been a dawdle. His mind would have been buzzing with ideas. Given two hours he could have figured six different capers for walking out of this stinking hole.
He felt sickened by himself, but there was nothing to be done now because the light had gone out and the wheels in his head had stopped turning. After seven years in which he had walked like a man ten feet tall, he was back in the void again, without anchor or purpose or hope. And soon he would be dead.
Christ, shell be mad at me when she hears, Willie thought vaguely.
Something clinked gently against the bars of the door. He turned his head and saw the black figure half-crouched in the wedge of light.
There was no instant of delay in recognition. Willie Garvin sat up unhurriedly, swung his feet to the ground, and walked quietly to the door. In that time, smoothly and quite undramatically, the light in his head was there again and the wheels were turning.
(from: Modesty Blaise by Peter O´Donnell, 1965)