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Goldfinger smiled politely at Bond. 'A light but very strong alloy, Mr Bond. I fear that will have damaged the felt covering, but Oddjob will put on another. He's surprisingly quick with a needle and thread. As you can imagine, that blow would have smashed a man's skull or half severed his neck. A homely and a most ingeniously concealed weapon, I'm sure you'll agree.'

'Yes, indeed.' Bond smiled with equal politeness. 'Useful chap to have around."

Oddjob had picked up his hat and disappeared. There came the boom of a gong. 'Ah, dinner! Shall we go in?' Goldfinger led the way to a door concealed in the panelling to the right of the fireplace. He pressed a hidden latch and they walked through.

The small dining-room matched the heavy wealth of the hall. It was brilliantly lit from a central chandelier and by candles on a round table that glittered with silver and glass. They sat down opposite each other. Two yellow-faced servants in white mess-jackets brought dishes from a loaded serving-table. The first course was some curried mess with rice. Goldfinger noticed Bond's hesitation. He gave a dry chuckle. 'It's all right, Mr Bond. Shrimp, not the cat.'

'Ah.' Bond's expression was non-committal.

'Please try the Moselle. I hope it will be to your taste. It is a Piesporter Goldtropfchen '53. Help yourself. These people are as likely to pour it into your plate as your glass.'

There was a slim bottle in an ice bucket in front of Bond. He poured some of the wine and tasted it. It was nectar and ice cold. Bond congratulated his host. Goldfinger gave a curt nod.

'I don't myself drink or smoke, Mr Bond. Smoking, I find the most ridiculous of all the varieties of human behaviour and practically the only one that is entirely against nature. Can you imagine a cow or any animal taking a mouthful of smouldering straw then breathing in the smoke and blowing it out through its nostrils? Pah!' Goldfinger showed a rare trace of emotion. 'It is a/vile practice. As for drinking, I am something of a chemist and I have yet to find a liquor that is free from traces of a number of poisons, some of them deadly, such as fusel oil, acetic acid, ethylacetate, acetal-dehyde and furfurol. A quantity of some of these poisons taken neat would kill you. In the small amounts you find in a bottle of liquor they produce various ill effects most of which are lightly written off as “a hangover”.' Goldfinger paused with a forkful of curried shrimp half way to his mouth. 'Since you are a drinker, Mr Bond, I will give you one word of good advice. Never drink so-called Napoleon brandy, particularly when it is described as “aged in the wood”. That particular potion contains more of the poisons I have mentioned than any other liquor I have analysed. Old bourbon comes next.' Goldfinger closed his animadversions with a mouthful of shrimp.

'Thank you. I'll remember. Perhaps for those reasons I have recently taken to vodka. They tell me its filtration through activated charcoal is a help.' Bond, dredging this piece of expertise out of dim recollections of something he had read, was rather proud of having been able to return Goldfinger's powerful serve.

Goldfinger glanced at him sharply. 'You seem to understand something of these matters. Have you studied chemistry?'

'Only dabbled in it.' It was time to move on. 'I was very impressed by that chauffeur of yours. Where did he learn that fantastic combat stuff? Where did it come from? Is that what the Koreans use?'

Goldfinger patted his mouth with his napkin. He snapped his fingers. The two men cleared away the plates and brought roast duckling and a bottle of Mouton Rothschild 1947 for Bond. When they had withdrawn into immobility at each end of the serving-table, Goldfinger said, 'Have you ever heard of Karate? No? Well that man is one of the three in the world who have achieved the Black Belt in Karate. Karate is a branch of judo, but it is to judo what a Spandau is to a catapult.'

'I could see that.'

'The demonstration was an elementary one. Mr Bond' -Goldfinger held up the drumstick he had been gnawing - 'I can tell you that if Oddjob had used the appropriate single blow on any one of seven spots on your body, you would,now be dead.' Goldfinger bit at the side of the drumstick with relish.

Bond said seriously, 'That's interesting. I only know five ways of killing Oddjob with one blow.'

Goldfinger seemed not to hear the comment. He put down his drumstick and took a deep draught of water. He sat back and spoke while Bond went on eating the excellent food. 'Karate, Mr Bond, is based on the theory that the human body possesses five striking surfaces and thirty-seven vulnerable spots - vulnerable, that is, to an expert in Karate whose finger-tips, the side of the hands and the feet are hardened into layers of corn, which is far stronger and more flexible than bone. Every day of his life, Mr Bond, Oddjob spends one hour hitting either sacks of unpolished rice or a strong post whose top is wound many times round with thick rope. He then spends another hour at physical training which is more that of a ballet school than of a gymnasium.'

'When does he practise tossing the bowler hat?' Bond had no intention of succumbing to this psychological warfare.

Goldfinger frowned at the interruption. 'I have never inquired,' he said without humour. 'But I think you can take it that Oddjob keep his eye in at all his skills. However, you were asking where Karate originated. It originated in China where wandering Buddhist priests became an easy prey for footpads and bandits. Their religion did not allow them to carry weapons, so they developed their own form of unarmed combat. The inhabitants of Okinawa refined the art to its present form when the Japanese forbade them to carry weapons. They developed the five striking surfaces of the human body - the fist, the edge of the hand, the fingertips, the ball of the foot and the elbows - and toughened them until they were enveloped in layers of corn. There is no follow-through in a Karate blow. The entire body is stiffened at the moment of impact, with the emphasis on the hips, and then instantly relaxed so that balance is never lost. It is astonishing what Oddjob can do. I have seen him hit a brick wall with his entire force and not hurt his hand. He can split three half-inch thick boards, piled one upon the other, with one blow of the hand. You have seen what he can do with his foot.'

Bond took a deep draught of the delicious claret. 'All this must be rather hard on your furniture.'

Goldfinger shrugged. 'I have no more use for this house. I thought a demonstration would amuse you. I hope you agree that Oddjob earned his cat.' The X-ray eyes blazed briefly across the table.

'Does he train on cats?'

'He regards them as a great delicacy. He acquired the taste during a famine in his country when he was young.'

Bond thought it was time to delve rather more deeply. 'Why do you need such a man? He can't be very good company.'

'Mr Bond' - Goldfinger snapped his fingers for the two servants - 'it happens that I am a rich man, a very rich man, and the richer the man the more he needs protection. The ordinary bodyguard or detective is usually a retired policeman. Such men are valueless. Their reactions are slow, their methods old-fashioned, and they are open to bribery. Moreover, they have a respect for human life. That is no good if I wish to stay alive. The Koreans have no such feelings. That is why the Japanese employed them as guards for their prison camps during the war. They are the cruellest, most ruthless people in the world. My own staff are hand picked for these qualities. They have served me well. I have no complaints. Nor have they. They are well paid and well fed and housed. When they want women, street women are brought down from London, well remunerated for their services and sent back. The women are not much to look at, but they are white and that is all the Koreans ask - to submit the white race to the grossest indignities. There are sometimes accidents but' - the pale eyes gazed blankly down the table - 'money is an effective winding-sheet.'

Bond smiled.

'You like the aphorism? It is my own.'

An excellent cheese souffle came and was followed by coffee. They ate in silence, both apparently comfortable and relaxed by these confidences. Bond certainly was. Goldfinger, obviously by design, was letting his hair down - not far, not farther than his shoulders, but he was showing Bond one of his private faces, presumably the one to which he thought Bond would respond - the ruthlessly efficient, cold-blooded tycoon. Perhaps, after all, Bond's spying in the house, which Goldfinger must at least presume, had revealed something about Bond that Goldfinger was pleased to know - that Bond had a crooked side to him, that he wasn't 'a gentleman' in more than appearance. Now there should be more probing and then, with luck, the proposition would follow.

Bond sat back and lit a cigarette. He said, 'That's a beautiful car you've got. Must be about the last of the series. About 1925, wasn't it - two blocks of three cylinders with two plugs for each cylinder, one set fired from the mag. and the other from the coil?'

'You are correct. But in other respects. I have had to introduce some modifications. I have added five leaves to the springs and fitted disc brakes to the rear wheels to increase the braking power. The Servo-operated front-wheel brakes were not sufficient.'

'Oh. Why not? The top speed wouldn't be more than fifty. The body can't be all that heavy.'

Goldfinger raised his eyebrows. 'You think not? One ton of armour plating and armour-plated glass make a big difference.'

Bond smiled. 'Ah! I see. You certainly do take good care of yourself. But how does that work flying the Channel? Doesn't the car go through the floor of the plane?'

T take a plane to myself. The Silver City company knows the car. It is a regular routine, twice a year.'

'Just touring round Europe?'

'A golfing holiday.'

'Great fun. Always wanted to do it myself.'

Goldfinger didn't take the bait. 'You can afford to now.'

Bond smiled. 'Oh, that extra ten thousand dollars. But I may need that if I decide to move to Canada.'

'You think you could make money there? Do you want to make a lot of money?'

Bond's voice was eager. 'Very much. There's no other point in working.'

'Unfortunately most ways of making big money take a long time. By the time one has made the money one is too old to enjoy it.'

'That's the trouble. I'm always on the lookout for shortcuts. You won't find them here. Taxation's too heavy.'

'Quite. And the laws are strict.'

'Yes. I found that out.'

'Indeed?'

'Got on the fringe of the heroin racket. Only just got out without burning my fingers. Of course this'll go no further?'

Goldfinger shrugged his shoulders. 'Mr Bond, someone said that “law is the crystallized prejudices of the community”. I agree with that definition. It happens to apply most strongly to the traffic in drugs. Even if it didn't, I am not concerned with assisting the police.'

'Well, it was like this...' Bond launched into the story of the Mexican traffic, swapping roles with Blackwell. He ended up, 'I was lucky to get away with it, but it didn't make me particularly popular with Universal Export.'

'I daresay not. An interesting story. You seem to have shown resource. You are not tempted to continue in the same line of business?'

Bond shrugged his shoulders. 'A bit too tricky. To judge by this Mexican, the big men in the business aren't quite big enough when it comes to the pinch. When things got tough he didn't fight back - except with his mouth.'

'Well, Mr Bond,' Goldfinger got up from the table and Bond followed suit. 'It's been an interesting evening. I don't know that I would go back into heroin. There are safer ways of making big money. You want to be certain that the odds are right and then you should hazard everything. Doubling one's money isn't easy and the chances don't occur frequently. You would like to hear another of my aphorisms?'

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