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Yes, thought Bond, gazing out across the glistening, starlit lake, that's how it would be - a top-notch smuggling circuit with a minimum risk and maximum profit. How Goldfinger must smile as he pressed the bulb of the old boa-constrictor horn and swept past the admiring policemen of three countries! He certainly seemed to have the answer - the philosopher's stone, the finger of gold! If he hadn't been such an unpleasant man, if he wasn't doing all this to sustain the trigger finger of SMERSH, Bond would have felt admiration for this monumental trickster whose operations were so big that they worried even the Bank of England. As it was, Bond only wanted to destroy Goldnnger, seize his gold, get him behind bars. Goldfinger's gold-lust was too strong, too ruthless, too dangerous to be allowed the run of the world.

It was eight o'clock. The Enzian, the firewater distilled from gentian that is responsible for Switzerland's chronic alcoholism, was beginning to warm Bond's stomach and melt his tensions. He ordered another double and with it a chouc-route and a carafe of Fondant.

And what about the girl, this pretty, authoritarian joker that had suddenly been faced in the deal? What in hell was she about? What about this golf story? Bond got up and went to the telephone booth at the back of the room. He got on to the Journal de Geneve and through to the sports editor. The man was helpful, but surprised at Bond's question. No. The various championships were of course played in the summer when the other national programmes were finished and it was possible to lure a good foreign entry to Switzerland. It was the same with all other European countries. They liked to bring in as many British and American players as possible. It increased the gates. 'Pas de quoi, monsieur.'

Bond went back to his table and ate his dinner. So much for that. Whoever she was, she was an amateur. No professional would use a cover that could be broken down by one telephone call. It had been in the back of Bond's mind -reluctantly, because he liked the girl and was excited by her - that she could, she just could have been an agent of SMERSH sent to keep an eye on Goldfinger, or Bond or both. She had some of the qualities of a secret agent, the independence, the strength of character, the ability to walk alone. But that idea was out. She hadn't got the training.

Bond ordered a slice of gruyere, pumpernickel and coffee. No, she was an enigma. Bond only prayed that she hadn't got some private plot involving either him or Goldfinger that was going to mess up his own operation.

And his own job was so nearly finished! All he needed was the evidence of his own eyes that the story he had woven round Goldfinger and the Rolls was the truth. One look into the works at Coppet - one grain of white gold dust - and he could be off to Berne that very night and be on to the duty officer over the Embassy scrambler. Then, quietly, discreetly, the Bank of England would freeze Goldfinger's accounts all over the world and perhaps, already tomorrow, the Special Branch of the Swiss police would be knocking on the door of Entreprises Auric. Extradition would follow, Goldfinger would go to Brixton, there would be a quiet, rather complicated case in one of the smuggling courts like Maidstone or Lewes. Goldfinger would get a few years, his naturalization would be revoked and his gold hoard, illegally exported, would trickle back into the vaults below the Bank of England. And SMERSH would gnash its blood-stained teeth and add another page to Bond's bulging zapiska.

Time to go for the last lap. Bond paid his bill and went out and got into his car. He crossed the Rhone and motored slowly along the glittering quai through the evening traffic. It was an average night for his purpose. There was a blazing three-quarter moon to see by, but not a breath of wind to hide his approach through the woods to the factory. Well, there was no hurry. They would probably be workirig through the night. He would have to take it very easily and carefully. The geography of the place and the route he had plotted for himself ran before Bond's eyes like a film while the automatic pilot that is in all good drivers took the car along the wide white highway beside the sleeping lake.

Bond followed his route of the afternoon. When he had turned off the main road he drove on his sidelights. He nosed the car off the lane into a clearing in the woods and switched off the engine. He sat and listened. In the heavy silence there was only a soft ticking from the hot metal under the bonnet and the hasty trip of the dashboard clock. Bond got out, eased the door shut and walked softly down the little path through the trees.

Now he could hear the soft heavy pant of the generator engine... thumpah... thumpah... thumpah. It seemed a watchful, rather threatening noise. Bond reached the gap in the iron bars, slipped through and stood, straining his senses forward through the moon-dappled trees.

THUMPAH... THUMPAH... THUMPAH. The great iron puffs were on top of him, inside his brain. Bond felt the skin-crawling tickle at the groin that dates from one's first game of hide and seek in the dark. He smiled to himself at the animal danger signal. What primeval chord had been struck by this innocent noise coming out of the tall zinc chimney? The breath of a dinosaur in its cave? Bond tightened his muscles and crept forward foot by foot, moving small branches carefully out of his way, placing each step as cautiously as if he was going through a minefield.

The trees were thinning. Soon he would be up with the big sheltering trunk he had used before. He looked for it and then stood frozen, his pulse racing. Below the trunk of his tree, spreadeagled on the ground, was a body.

Bond opened his mouth wide and breathed slowly in and out to release the tension. Softly he wiped his sweating palms down his trousers. He dropped slowly to his hands and knees and stared forward, his eyes widened like camera lenses.

The body under the tree moved, shifted cautiously to a new position. A breath of wind whispered in the tops of the trees. The moonbeams danced quickly across the body and then were still. There was a glimpse of thick black hair, black sweater, narrow black slacks. And something else - a straight gleam of metal along the ground. It began beneath the clump of black hair and ran past the trunk of the trees into the grass.

Bond slowly, wearily bent his head and looked at the ground between his spread hands. It was the girl, Tilly. She was watching the buildings below. She had a rifle - a rifle that must have been among the innocent golf clubs - ready to fire on them. Damn and blast the silly bitch!

Bond slowly relaxed. It didn't matter who she was or what she was up to. He measured the distance, planned each stride - the trajectory of the final spring, left hand to her neck, right to the gun. Now!

Bond's chest skidded over the hump of the buttocks and thudded into the small of the girl's back. The impact emptied the breath out of her with a soft grunt. The fingers of Bond's left hand flew to the throat and found the carotid artery. His right hand was on the waist of the rifle's stock. He prised the fingers away, felt that the safety catch was on and reached the rifle far to one side.

Bond eased the weight of his chest off the girl's back and moved his fingers away from her neck. He closed them softly over her mouth. Beneath him, he felt the body heave, the lungs labouring for breath. She was still out. Carefully Bond gathered the two hands behind the girl's back and held them with his right. Beneath him the buttocks began to squirm. The legs jerked. Bond pinned the legs to the ground with his stomach and thighs, noting the strong muscles bunched under him. Now the breath was rasping through his fingers. Teeth gnawed at his hand. Bond inched carefully forwards along the girl. He got his mouth through her hair to her ear. He whispered urgently, 'Tilly, for Christ's sake. Stay still! This is me, Bond. I'm a friend. This is vital. Something you don't know about. Will you stay still and listen?'

The teeth stopped reaching for his fingers. The body relaxed and lay soft under his. After a time, the head nodded once.

Bond slid off her. He lay beside her, still holding her hands prisoned behind her back. He whispered, 'Get your breath. But tell me, were you after Goldfinger?'

The pale face glanced sideways and away. The girl whispered fiercely into the ground, 'I was going to kill him.'

Some girl Goldfinger had put in the family way. Bond let go her hands. She brought them up and rested her head on them. Her whole body shuddered with exhaustion and released nerves. The shoulders began to shake softly. Bond reached out a hand and smoothed her hair, quietly, rhythmically. His eyes carefully went over the peaceful, unchanged scene below. Unchanged? There was something. The radar thing on the cowl of the chimney. It wasn't going round any more. It had stopped with its oblong mouth pointing in their direction. The fact had no significance for Bond. Now the girl wasn't crying any more. Bond nuzzled his mouth close to her ear. Her hair smelled of jasmine. He whispered, TJon't worry. I'm after him too. And I'm going to damage him far worse than you could have done. I've been sent after him by London. They want him. What did he do to you?'

She whispered, almost to herself, 'He killed my sister. You knew her - Jill Masterton.'

.Bond said fiercely, 'What happened?'

'He has a woman once a month. Jill told me this when she first took the job. He hypnotizes them. Then he - he paints them gold.'

'Christ! Why?'

'I don't know. Jill told me he's mad about gold. I suppose he sort of thinks he's - that he's sort of possessing gold. You know - marrying it. He gets some Korean servant to paint them. The man has to leave their backbones unpainted. Jill couldn't explain that. I found out it's so they wouldn't die. If their bodies were completely covered with gold paint, the pores of the skin wouldn't be able to breathe. Then they'd die. Afterwards, they're washed down by the Korean with resin or something. Goldfinger gives them a thousand dollars and sends them away.

Bond saw the dreadful Oddjob with his pot of gold paint, Goldfinger's eyes gloating over the glistening statue, the fierce possession. 'What happened to Jill?'

'She cabled me to come. She was in an emergency ward in a hospital in Miami. Goldfinger had thrown her out. She was dying. The doctors didn't know what was the matter. She told me what had happened to her - what he had done to her. She died the same night.' The girl's voice was dry - matter of fact. 'When I got back to England I went to Train, the skin specialist. He told me this business about the pores of the skin. It had happened to some cabaret girl who had to pose as a silver statue. He showed me details of the case and the autopsy. Then I knew what had happened to Jill. Gold-finger had had her painted all over. He had murdered her. It must have been out of revenge for - for going with you.' There was a pause. The girl said dully, 'She told me about you. She - she liked you. She told me if ever I met you I was to give you this ring.'

Bond closed his eyes tight, fighting with a wave of mental nausea. More death! More blood on his hands. This time, as the result of a careless gesture, a piece of bravado that had led to twenty-four hours of ecstasy with a beautiful girl who had taken his fancy and, in the end, rather more than his fancy. And this petty sideswipe at Goldfinger's ego had been returned by Goldfinger a thousand, a millionfold. 'She left my employ' - the flat words in the sunshine at Sandwich two days before. How Goldfinger must have enjoyed saying that! Bond's fingernails dug into the palms of his hands. By God, he'd pin this murder on Goldfinger if it was the last act of his life. As for himself...? Bond knew the answer. This death he would not be able to excuse as being part of his job. This death he would have to live with.

The girl was pulling at her finger - at the Claddagh ring, the entwined hands round the gold heart. She put her knuckle to her mouth. The ring came off. She held it up for Bond to take. The tiny gold circle, silhouetted against the trunk of the tree, glittered in the moonlight.

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