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Bond got moving. Now there were other things to think about. He must catch up with the Rolls before Macon and get the next fork, to Geneva or Lyons, right. He must solve the problem of the girl and if possible get her off the road. Pretty or not, she was confusing the issue. And he must stop and buy himself something to eat and drink. It was one o'clock and the sight of Goldfinger eating had made him hungry. And it was time to fill up and check the water and oil.

The drone of the Homer grew louder. He was in the outskirts of Macon. He must close up and take the risk of being spotted. The busy traffic would hide his low-slung car. It was vital to know if the Rolls crossed the Saone for the Bourg road or if it turned right at the bridge and joined the N6 for Lyons. Far down the Rue Rambuteau there was a glimpse of yellow. Over the railway bridge and through the little square. The high yellow box kept on towards the river. Bond watched the passers-by turn their heads to follow the gleaming Rolls. The river. Would Goldfinger turn right or keep on across the bridge? The Rolls kept straight on. So it was Switzerland! Bond followed over into the suburb of St Laurent. Now for a butcher and a baker and a wine shop. A hundred yards ahead the golden head of a calf hung over the pavement. Bond glanced in his driving mirror. Well, well! The little Triumph was only feet away from his tail. How long had she been there? Bond had been so intent on following the Rolls that he hadn't glanced back since entering the town. She must have been hiding up a ^ide street. So! Now coincidence was certainly out. Something must be done. Sorry, sweetheart. I've got to mess you up. I'll be as gentle as I can. Hold tight. Bond stopped abruptly in front of the butcher's shop. He banged the gears into reverse. There was a sickening scrunch and tinkle. Bond switched off his engine and got out.

He walked round to the back of the car. The girl, her face tense with anger, had one beautiful silken leg on the road. There was an indiscreet glimpse' of white thigh. The girl stripped off her goggles and stood, legs braced and arms akimbo. The beautiful mouth was taut with anger.

The Aston Martin's rear bumper was locked into the wreckage of the Triumph's lamps and radiator grille. Bond said amiably, 'If you touch me there again you'll have to marry me.'

The words were hardly out of his mouth before the open palm cracked across his face. Bond put up a hand and rubbed his cheek. Now there was quite a crowd. There was a murmur of approval and ribaldry. 'Allez y la gosse! Main-tenant le knock-out!'

The girl's rage had not dissipated with the blow. 'You bloody fool! What the hell do you think you're doing?'

Bond thought: If only pretty girls were always angry they would be beautiful. He said, 'Your brakes can't be up to much.'

'My brakes! What the hell do you mean? You reversed into me.'

'Gears slipped. I didn't know you were so close.' It was time to calm her down. 'I'm most frightfully sorry. I'll pay for all the repairs and everything. It really is bad luck. Let's see what the damage is. Try and back away. Doesn't look as if our bumpers have over-ridden.' Bond put a foot on the Triumph's bumpers and rocked.

'Don't you dare touch my car! Leave it alone.' Angrily the girl climbed back into the driver's seat. She pressed the self-starter. The engine fired. Metal clanged under the bonnet. She switched off and leant out. 'There you are, you idiot! You've smashed the fan.'

Bond had hoped he had. He got into his own car and eased it away from the Triumph. Bits of the Triumph, released by Bond's bumper, tinkled on to the road. He got out again. The crowd had thinned. There was a man in a mechanic's overalls. He volunteered to call a breakdown van and went off to do so. Bond walked over to the Triumph. The girl had got out and was waiting for him. Her expression had changed. Now she was more composed. Bond noticed that her eyes, which were dark blue, watched his face carefully.

Bond said, 'It really won't be too bad. Probably knocked the fan out of alignment. They'll put temporary headlamps in the sockets and straighten up the chrome. You'll be off again by tomorrow morning. Now,' Bond reached into his pocket for his notecase,'this is maddening for you and I'll certainly take all the blame. Here's a hundred thousand francs to cover the damage and your expenses for the night and telephoning your friends and so on. Please take it and call it quits. I'd love to stay here and see you get on the road all right tomorrow morning. But I've got an appointment this evening and I've simply got to make it.'

'No.' The one word was cool, definite. The girl put her hands behind her back and waited.

'But...' What was it she wanted, the police? Have him charged with dangerous driving?

'I've got an appointment this evening too. I've got to make it. I've got to get to Geneva. Will you please take me there? It's not far. Only about a hundred miles. We could do it in two hours in that.' She gestured at the DB III. 'Will you? Please?'

There was a desperate urgency in the voice. No cajolery, no threats, only a blazing need.

For the first time Bond examined her as more than a pretty girl who perhaps - they were the only explanations Bond had found to fit the facts - wanted to be picked up by Goldfinger or had a blackmail on him. But she didn't look capable of either of these things. There was too much character in the face, too much candour. And she wasn't wearing the uniform of a seductress. She wore a white, rather masculine cut, heavy silk shirt. It was open at the neck, but it would button up to a narrow military collar. The shirt had long wide sleeves gathered at the wrists. The girl's nails were unpainted and her only piece of jewellery was a gold ring on her engagement finger (true or false?). She wore a very wide black stitched leather belt with double brass buckles. It rose at the back to give some of the support of a racing driver's corset belt. Her short skirt was charcoal-grey and pleated. Her shoes were expensive-looking black sandals which would be comfortable and cool for driving. The only touch of colour was the pink handkerchief which she had taken off her head and now held by her side with the white goggles. It all looked very attractive. But the get-up reminded Bond more of an equipment than a young girl's dress. There was something faintly mannish and open-air about the whole of her behaviour and appearance. She might, thought Bond, be a member of the English women's ski team, or spend a lot of her time in England hunting or show-jumping.

Although she was a very beautiful girl she was the kind who leaves her beauty alone. She had made no attempt to pat her hair into place. As a result, it looked as a girl's hair should look - untidy, with bits that strayed and a rather crooked parting. It provided the contrast of an uneven, jagged dark frame for the pale symmetry of the face, the main features of which were blue eyes under dark brows, a desirable mouth, and an air of determination and independence that came from the high cheek-bones and the fine line of the jaw. There was the same air of self-reliance in her figure. She held her body proudly - her fine breasts out-thrown and unashamed under the taut silk. Her stance, with feet slightly parted and hands behind her back, was a mixture of provocation and challenge.

The whole picture seemed to say, 'Now then, you handsome bastard, don't think you can “little woman” me. You've got me into this mess and, by God, you're going to get me out! You may be attractive, but I've got my life to run, and I know where I'm going.'

Bond weighed her request. How much of a nuisance would she be? How soon could he get rid of her and get on with his business? Was there any security risk? Against the disadvantages, there was his curiosity about her and what she was up to, the memory of the fable he had spun round her and which had now taken its first step towards realization, and, finally, the damsel-in-distress business - any woman's appeal for help.

Bond said curtly, 'I'll be glad to take you to Geneva. Now then,' he opened up the back of the Aston Martin, 'let's get your things in. While I fix up about the garage here's some money. Please buy us lunch - anything you like for yourself. For me, six inches of Lyon sausage, a loaf of bread, butter, and half a litre of Macon with the cork pulled.'

Their eyes met and exchanged a flurry of masculine/feminine master/slave signals. The girl took the money. 'Thank you. I'll get the same things for myself.' She went to the boot of the Triumph and unlocked it. 'No, don't bother. I can manage these.' She hauled out a bag of golf clubs with a cover zipped shut and a small, expensive looking suitcase. She brought them over to the Aston Martin and, rejecting Bond's offer of help, fitted them in alongside Bond's suitcase. She watched him lock the back of the car and went back to the Triumph. She took out a wide, black-stitched leather shoulder bag.

Bond said, 'What name and address shall I give?'

'What?'

Bond repeated his question, wondering if she would lie about the name or the address, or both.

She said, 'I shall be moving about. Better say the Bergues at Geneva. The name's Soames. Miss Tilly Soames.' There was no hesitation. She went into the butcher's shop.

A quarter of an hour later they were on their way.

The girl sat upright and kept her eyes on the road. The drone on the Homer was faint. The Rolls must have gained fifty miles. Bond hurried. They flashed through Bourg and over the river at Pont d'Ain. Now they were in the foothills of the Jura and there were the S-bends of N84. Bond went at them as if he was competing in the Alpine Trials. After the girl had swayed against him twice she kept her hand on the handle on the dash and rode with the car as if she were his spare driver. Once, after a particularly sharp dry skid that almost took them over the side, Bond glanced at her profile. Her lips were parted and her nostrils slightly flared. The eyes were alight. She was enjoying herself.

They came to the top of the pass and there was the run down towards the Swiss frontier. Now the Homer was sending out a steady howl. Bond thought, I must take it easy or we shall be running into them at the Customs. He put his hand under the dash and tuned the noise down. He pulled in to the side of the road. They sat in the car and ate a polite but almost silent picnic, neither making any attempt at conversation, both, it seemed, with other things on their minds. After ten minutes, Bond got going again. He sat relaxed, motoring easily down the curving road through the young whispering pines.

The girl said, 'What's that noise?'

'Magneto whine. Gets worse when I hurry. Started at Orleans. Have to get it fixed tonight.'

She seemed satisfied with this mumbo-jumbo. She said diffidently, 'Where are you heading for? I hope I haven't taken you very far out of your way.'

Bond said in a friendly voice, 'Not at all. As a matter of fact, I'm going to Geneva too. But I may not stop there tonight. May have to get on. Depends on my meeting. How long will you be there?'

'I don't know. I'm playing golf. There's the Swiss Women's Open Championship at Divonne. I'm not really that class, but I thought it would be good for me to try. Then I was going to play on some of the other courses.'

Fair enough. No reason why it shouldn't be true. But Bond was certain it wasn't the whole truth. He said, 'Do you play a lot of golf? What's your home course?'

'Quite a lot. Temple.'

It had been an obvious question. Was the answer true, or just the first golf course she had thought of? 'Do you live near there?'

'I've got an aunt who lives at Henley. What are you doing in Switzerland. Holiday?'

'Business. Import and Export.'

'Oh.'

Bond smiled to himself. It was a stage conversation. The voices were polite stage voices. He could see the scene, beloved of the English theatre - the drawing-room, sunshine on hollyhocks outside french windows, the couple sitting on the sofa, on the edge of it, she pouring out the tea. 'Do you take sugar?"

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