Bond said, 'Well thanks, Alfred. I'd be interested to see how this chap plays. But why not leave it like this? Say I've dropped in to get a dub made up. Old member. Used to play here before the war. And I need a new number four wood anyway. Your old one has started to give at the seams a bit. Just be casual. Don't say you've told me he's about. I'll stay in the shop so it'll give him a chance to take his choice without offending me. Perhaps he won't like my face or something. Right?'
'Very good, Mr James. Leave it to me. That's his car coming now, sir.' Blacking pointed through the window. Half a mile away, a bright yellow car was turning off the road and coming up the private drive. 'Funny looking contraption. Sort of motor car we used to see here when I was a boy.'
Bond watched the old Silver Ghost sweep majestically up the drive towards the club. She was a beauty! The sun glittered off the silver radiator and off the engine-turned aluminium shield below the high perpendicular glass cliff of the windscreen. The luggage rail on the roof of the heavy coach-built limousine body - so ugly twenty years ago, so strangely beautiful today - was polished brass, as were the two Lucas 'King of the Road' headlamps that stared so haughtily down the road ahead, and the wide mouth of the old boa-constrictor bulb horn. The whole car, except for a black roof and black carrosserie lines and curved panels below the windows, was primrose yellow. It crossed Bond's mind that the South
American president might have had it copied from the famous yellow fleet in which Lord Lonsdale had driven to the Derby and Ascot.
And now? In the driver's seat sat a figure in a cafe-au-lait dust coat and cap, his big round face obscured by black-rimmed driving goggles. Beside him was a squat figure in black with a bowler hat placed firmly on the middle of his head. The two figures stared straight in front of them with a curious immobility. It was almost as if they were driving a hearse.
The car was coming closer. The six pairs of eyes - the eyes of the two men and the great twin orbs of the car -seemed to be looking straight through the little window and into Bond's eyes.
Instinctively, Bond took a few paces back into the dark recesses of the workroom. He noticed the movement and smiled to himself. He picked up somebody's putter and bent down and thoughtfully addressed a knot in the wooden floor.
PART TWO: COINCIDENCE
ALL TO PLAY FOR
'GOOD AFTERNOON, Blacking. All set?' The voice was casual, authoritative. 'I see there's a car outside. Not somebody looking for a game, I suppose?'
'I'm not sure, sir. It's an old member come back to have a club made up. Would you like me to ask him, sir?'
'Who is it? What's his name?'
Bond smiled grimly. He pricked his ears. He wanted to catch every inflection.
'A Mr Bond, sir.'
There was a pause. 'Bond?' The voice had not changed. It was politely interested. 'Met a fellow called Bond the other day. What's his first name?'
'Oh yes.' Now the pause was longer. 'Does he know I'm here?' Bond could sense Goldfinger's antennae probing the situation.
'He's in the workshop, sir. May have seen your car drive up.' Bond thought: Alfred's never told a lie in his life. He's not going to start now.
'Might be an idea.' Now Goldfinger's voice unbent. He wanted something from Alfred Blacking, some information. 'What sort of a game does this chap play? What's his handicap?'
'Used to be quite useful when he was a boy, sir. Haven't seen his game since then.'
Bond could feel the man weighing it all up. Bond smelled that the bait was going to be taken. He reached into his bag and pulled out his driver and started rubbing down the grip with a block of shellac. Might as well look busy. A board in the shop creaked. Bond honed away industriously, his back to the open door.
'I think we've met before.' The voice from the doorway was low, neutral.
Bond looked quickly over his shoulder. 'My God, you made me jump. Why' - recognition dawned - 'it's Gold, Goldman... er - Goldfinger.' He hoped he wasn't overplaying it. He said with a hint of dislike, or mistrust, 'Where have you sprung from?'
'I told you I played down here. Remember?' Goldfinger was looking at him shrewdly. Now the eyes opened wide. The X-ray gaze pierced through to the back of Bond's skull.
'Did not Miss Masterton give you my message?'
'No. What was it?'
'I said I would be over here and that I would like a game of golf with you.'
'Oh, well,' Bond's voice was coldly polite, 'we must do that some day.'
'I was playing with the professional. I will play with you instead.' Goldfinger was stating a fact.
There was no doubt that Goldfinger was hooked. Now Bond must play hard to get.
'Why not some other time? I've come to order a club. Anyway I'm not in practice. There probably isn't a caddie.' Bond was being as rude as he could. Obviously the last thing he wanted to do was play with Goldfinger.
'I also haven't played for some time.' (Bloody liar, thought Bond.) 'Ordering a club will not take a moment.' Goldfinger turned back into the shop. 'Blacking, have you got a caddie for Mr Bond?'
'Then that is arranged.'
Bond wearily thrust his driver back into his bag. 'Well, all right then.' He thought of a final way of putting Goldfinger off. He said roughly, 'But I warn you I like playing for money. I can't be bothered to knock a ball round just for the fun of it.' Bond felt pleased with the character he was building up for himself.
Was there a glint of triumph, quickly concealed, in Gold-finger's pale eyes? He said indifferently, 'That suits me. Anything you like. Off handicap, of course. I think you said you're nine.'
Goldfinger said carefully, 'Where, may I ask?5
'Huntercombe.' Bond was also nine at Sunningdale. Huntercombe was an easier course. Nine at Huntercombe wouldn't frighten Goldfinger.
'And I also am nine. Here. Up on the board. So it's a level game. Right?'
Bond shrugged. 'You'll be too good for me.'
'I doubt it. However,' Goldfinger was offhand,'tell you what I'll do. That bit of money you removed from me in Miami. Remember? The big figure was ten. I like a gamble. It will be good for me to have to try. I will play you double or quits for that.'
Bond said indifferently, 'That's too much.' Then, as if he thought better of it, thought he might win, he said - with just the right amount of craft mixed with reluctance - 'Of course you can say that was “found money”. I won't miss it if it goes again. Oh, well, all right. Easy come easy go. Level match. Ten thousand dollars it is.'
Goldfinger turned away. He said, and there was a sudden sweetness in the flat voice, 'That's all arranged then, Mr Blacking. Many thanks. Put your fee down on my account. Very sorry we shall be missing our game. Now, let me pay the caddie fees.'
Alfred Blacking came into the workroom and picked up Bond's clubs. He looked very directly at Bond. He said, 'Remember what I told you, sir.' One eye closed and opened again. 'I mean about that flat swing of yours. It needs watching - all the time.'
Bond smiled at him. Alfred had long ears. He might not have caught the figure, but he knew that somehow this was to be a key game. 'Thanks, Alfred. I won't forget. Four Pen-folds - with hearts on them. And a dozen tees. I won't be a minute.'
Bond walked through the shop and out to his car. The bowler-hatted man was polishing the metal work of the Rolls with a cloth. Bond felt rather than saw him stop and watch Bond take out his zip bag and go into the club house. The man had a square flat yellow face. One of the Koreans?
Bond paid his green-fee to Hampton, the steward, and went into the changing-room. It was just the same - the same tacky smell of old shoes and socks and last summer's sweat. Why was it a tradition of the most famous golf clubs that their standard of hygiene should be that of a Victorian private school? Bond changed his socks and put on the battered old pair of nailed Saxones. He took off the coat of his yellowing black and white hound's tooth suit and pulled on a faded black wind-cheater. Cigarettes? Lighter? He was ready to go
Bond walked slowly out, preparing his mind for the game. On purpose he had needled this man into a high, tough match so that Goldfinger's respect for him should be increased and Goldfinger's view of Bond - that he was the type of ruthless, hard .adventurer who might be very useful to Goldfinger - would be confirmed. Bond had thought that perhaps a hundred-pound Nassau would be the form. But ten thousand dollars! There had probably never been such a high singles game in history-except in the finals of American Championships or in the big amateur Calcutta Sweeps where it was the backers rather than the players who had the money on. Goldfinger's private accounting must have taken a nasty dent. He wouldn't have liked that. He would be aching to get some of his money back. When Bond had talked about playing high, Goldfinger had seen his chance. So be it. But one thing was certain, for a hundred reasons Bond could not afford to lose.
He turned into the shop and picked up the balls and tees from Alfred Blacking.
'Hawker's got the clubs, sir.'
Bond strolled out across the five hundred yards of shaven seaside turf that led to the first tee. Goldfinger was practising on the putting green. His caddie stood near by, rolling balk to him. Goldfinger putted in the new fashion - between his legs with a mallet putter. Bond felt encouraged. He didn't believe in the system. He knew it was no good practising himself. His old hickory Calamity Jane had its good days and its bad. There was nothing to do about it. He knew also that the St Marks practice green bore no resemblance, in speed or texture, to the greens on the course.
Bond caught up with the limping, insouciant figure of his caddie who was sauntering along chipping at an imaginary ball with Bond's blaster. 'Afternoon, Hawker.'
'Afternoon, sir.' Hawker handed Bond the blaster and threw down three used balls. His keen sardonic poacher's face split in a wry grin of welcome. 'HowVe you been keep in', sir? Played any golf in the last twenty years? Can you still put them on the roof of the starter's hut?' This referred to the day when Bond, trying to do just that before a match, had put two balls through the starter's window.
'Let's see.' Bond took the blaster and hefted it in his hand, gauging the distance. The tap of the balls on the practice green had ceased. Bond addressed the ball, swung quickly, lifted his head and shanked the ball almost at right angles. He tried again. This time it was a dunch. A foot of turf flew up. The ball went ten yards. Bond turned to Hawker, who was looking his most sardonic. 'It's all right, Hawker. Those were for show. Now then, one for you.' He stepped up to the third ball, took his club back slowly and whipped the club head through. The ball soared a hundred feet, paused elegantly, dropped eighty feet on to the thatched roof of the starter's hut and bounced down.
Bond handed back the club. Hawker's eyes were thoughtful, amused. He said nothing. He pulled out the driver and handed it to Bond. They walked together to the first tee, talking about Hawker's family.
Goldfinger joined them, relaxed, impassive. Bond greeted Goldfinger's caddie, an obsequious, talkative man called Foulks whom Bond had never liked. Bond glanced at Gold-finger's clubs. They were a brand new set of American Ben Hogans with smart St Marks leather covers for the woods. The bag was one of the stitched black leather holdalls favoured by American pros. The clubs were in individual cardboard tubes for easy extraction. It was a pretentious outfit, but the best.
'Toss for honour?' Goldfinger flicked a coin.
It was heads. Goldfinger took out his driver and unpeeled a new ball. He said, 'Dunlop 65. Number One. Always use the same ball. What's yours?'
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