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'You won't have to worry about that.'

'Why not? Everything depends on it.'

'Mr Bond.' Goldfinger's eyes had a faraway, withdrawn look. 'I will tell you the truth because you will have no opportunity of passing it on. From now, Oddjob will not be more than a yard from your side and his orders will be strict and exact. So I can tell you that the entire population of Fort

Knox will be dead or incapacitated by midnight on D-l. The substance that will be inserted in the water supply, outside the filter plant, will be a highly concentrated form of GB.'

'You're mad! You don't really mean you're going to kill sixty thousand people!'

'Why not? American motorists do it every two years.'

Bond stared into Goldfinger's face in fascinated horror. It couldn't be true! He couldn't mean it! He said tensely, What's this GB?'

'GB is the most powerful of the Trilone group of nerve poisons. It was perfected by the Wehrmacht in 1943, but never used for fear of reprisals. In fact, it is a more effective instrument of destruction than the hydrogen bomb. Its disadvantage lies in the difficulty of applying it to the populace. The Russians captured the entire German stocks at Dyhern-furth on the Polish frontier. Friends of mine were able to supply me with the necessary quantities. Introduction through the water supply is an ideal method of applying it to a densely populated area.'

Bond said, 'Goldfinger, you're a lousy,---bastard.'

'Don't be childish. We have work to do.'

Later, when they had got to the problem of transporting the tons of gold out of the town, Bond had had one last try. He said, 'Goldfinger, you're not going to get this stuff away. Nobody's going to get their hundred tons of gold out of. the place - let alone five hundred. You'll find yourself tearing down the Dixie Highway in a truck with a few gold bars loaded with gamma rays and the American Army on your tail. And you'll have killed sixty thousand people for that? The thing's farcical. Even if you do get a ton or two away, where the hell do you think you're going to hide it?'

'Mr Bond.' Goldfinger's patience was infinite. 'It just happens that a Soviet cruiser of the Sverdlovsk class will be visiting Norfolk, Virginia, on a goodwill cruise at that time. It sails from Norfolk on D+1. Initially by train and then by transport convoy, my gold will arrive on board the cruiser by midnight on D-Day. I shall sail in the cruiser for Kronstadt. Everything has been carefully planned, every possible hitch has been foreseen. I have lived with this operation for five years. Now the time has come for the performance. I have tidied up my activities in England and Europe. Such small debris as remains of my former life can go to the scavengers who will shortly be sniffing on my trail. I shall be gone. I shall have emigrated and, Mr Bond, I shall have taken the golden heart of America with me. Naturally' - Goldfinger was indulgent -'this unique performance will not be immaculate. There has not been enough time for rehearsals. I need these clumsy gangsters with their guns and their men, but I could not bring them into the plan until the last moment. They will make mistakes. Conceivably they will have much trouble getting their own loot away. Some will be caught, others killed. I couldn't care less. These men are amateurs who were needed, so to speak, for the crowd scenes. They are extras, Mr Bond, brought in off the streets. What happens to them after the play is of no interest to me whatsoever. And now, on with the work. I shall need seven copies of all this by nightfall. Where were we...?'

So in fact, reflected Bond feverishly, this was not only a Goldfinger operation with SMERSH in the background. SMERSH had even got the High Praesidium to play. This was Russia versus America with Goldfinger as the spearhead! Was it an act of war to steal something from another country? But who would know that Russia had the gold? No one, if the plan went off as Goldfinger intended. None of the gangsters had an inkling. To them Goldfinger was just another of them, another gangster, slightly larger than life-size. And Goldfinger's staff, his drivers for the golden convoy to the coast? Bond himself, and Tilly Masterton? Some would be killed, including him and the girl. Some, the Koreans for instance, would no doubt sail in the cruiser. Not a trace would be left, not a witness. It was modern piracy with all the old-time trimmings. Goldfinger was sacking Fort Knox as Bloody Morgan had saked Panama. There .was no difference except that the weapons and the techniques had been brought up to date.

And there was only one man in the whole world who could stop it. But how?

The next day was an unending blizzard of paper-work. Every half-hour a note would come in from Goldfinger's operations room asking for schedules of this, copies of that, estimates, timetables, lists of stores. Another typewriter was brought in, maps, reference books - anything that Bond re quisitioned. But not once did Oddjob relax the extreme care with which he opened the door to Bond's knock, not once did his watchful eyes wander from Bond's eyes, hands, feet when he came into the room to bring meals or notes or supplies. There was no question of Bond and the girl being part of the team. They were dangerous slaves and nothing else.

Tilly Masterton was equally reserved. She worked like a machine - quick, willing, accurate, but uncommunicative. She responded with cool politeness to Bond's early attempts to make friends, share his thoughts with her. By the evening, he had learnt nothing about her except that she had been a successful amateur ice-skater in between secretarial work for Unilevers. Then she had started getting star parts in ice-shows. Her hobby had been indoor pistol and rifle shooting and she had belonged to two marksman clubs. She had few friends. She had never been in love or engaged. She lived by herself in two rooms in Earls Court. She was twenty-four. Yes, she realized that they were in a bad fix. But something would turn up. This Fort Knox business was nonsense. It would certainly go wrong. She thought Miss Pussy Galore was 'divine'. She somehow seemed to count on her to get her out of this mess. Women, with a sniff, were rather good at things that needed finesse. Instinct told them what to do. Bond was not to worry about her. She would be all right.

Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterton was one of those girls whose hormones had got mixed up. He knew the type well and thought they and their male counterparts were a direct consequence of giving votes to women and 'sex equality'. As a result of fifty years of emancipation, feminine qualities were dying out or being transferred to the males. Pansies of both sexes were everywhere, not yet completely homosexual, but confused, not knowing what they were. The result was a herd of unhappy sexual misfits - barren and full of frustrations, the women wanting to dominate and the men to be nannied. He was sorry for them, but he had no time for them. Bond smiled sourly to himself as he remembered his fantasies about this girl as they sped along the valley of the Loire. Entre Deux Seins indeed!

At the end of the day, there was a final note from Gold-finger:

Five principals and myself will leave La Guardia Airport tomorrow at 11 am in chartered plane flown by my pilots for aerial survey of Grand Slam. You will accompany. Masterton will remain. G.

Bond sat on the edge of his bed and looked at the wall. Then he got up and went to the typewriter. He worked for an hour, typing, single-spaced, on both sides of the sheet, exact details of the operation. He folded the sheet, rolled it to a small cylinder about the size of his little finger and sealed it carefully with gum. Next he typed on a slip of paper:

URGENT AND VITAL. REWARD OF FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS IS GUARANTEED WITH NO QUESTIONS ASKED TO THE FINDER WHO DELIVERS THIS MESSAGE UNOPENED TO FELIX LEITER CARE PINKERTON'S DETECTIVE AGENCY, 154 NASSAU STREET, NEW YORK CITY. IMMEDIATE CASH ON DELIVERY.

Bond rolled this message round the cylinder, wrote $5000 REWARD in red ink on the outside, and stuck the little package down the centre of three inches of Scotch tape. Then he sat down again on the edge of the bed and carefully strapped the free ends of the Scotch tape down the inside of his thigh.

CHAPTER TWENTY

JOURNEY INTO HOLOCAUST

'MISTER, Flying Control is buzzing us. Wants to know who we are. They say this is restricted air.'

Goldfinger got up from his seat and went forward into the cockpit. Bond watched him pick up the hand microphone. His voice came back clearly over the quiet hum of the ten-seater Executive Beechcraft. 'Good morning. This is Mr Gold of Paramount Pictures Corporation. We are carrying out an authorized survey of the territory for a forthcoming “A” picture of the famous Confederate raid of 1861 which resulted in the capture of General Sherman at Muldraugh

Hill. Yes, that's right. Gary Grant and Elizabeth Taylor in the lead. What's that? Clearance? Sure we've got clearance. Let me see now' (Goldfinger consulted nothing)' - yes, here it is. Signed by Chief of Special Services at the Pentagon. 'Sure, the Commanding Officer at the Armoured Centre will have a copy. Okay and thanks. Hope you'll enjoy the picture. 'Bye.'

Goldfinger wiped the breezy expression off his face, handed over the microphone and came back into the cabin. He braced his legs and stood looking down at his passengers. 'Well, gentlemen and madam, do you think you've seen enough? I think you'll agree it's all pretty clear and conforms with your copies of the town plan. I don't want to go much lower than six thousand. Perhaps we could make one more circuit and be off. Oddjob, get out the refreshments.'

There was a mumble of comment and questions which Goldfinger dealt with one by one. Oddjob got up from Bond's side and walked down to the rear. Bond followed him and, under his hard, suspicious stare, went into the little lavatory and locked the door.

He sat down calmly and thought. There hadn't been a chance on the way down to La Guardia. He had sat with Oddjob in the back of an unobtrusive Buick saloon. The doors had been locked on them by the driver and the windows tightly closed. Goldfinger had ridden in front, the partition closed behind him. Oddjob had sat slightly sideways, his horn-ridged hands held ready on his thighs like heavy tools. He had not taken his eyes off Bond until the car had driven round the boundary to the charter hangars and come up alongside the private plane. Sandwiched between Goldfinger and Oddjob, Bond had had no alternative but to climb up the steps into the plane and take his seat with Oddjob beside him. Ten minutes later, the others had arrived. There was no communication with them except an exchange of curt greetings. They were all different now - no smart remarks, no unnecessary .talk. These were men who had gone to war. Even Pussy Galore, in a black Dacron macintosh with a black leather belt, looked like some young S.S. guardsman. Once or twice in the plane she had turned and looked at Bond rather thoughtfully. But she hadn't answered his smile. Perhaps she just couldn't understand where Bond fitted in, who he was. When they got back to La

Guardia there would be the same routine. It was now or never. But where? Among the leaves of lavatory paper? But they might be disturbed too soon or not for weeks. Would the ash-tray be emptied? Possibly not. But one thing would.

There was a rattle at the door-handle. Oddjob was getting restless. Perhaps Bond was setting fire to the plane. Bond called, 'Coming, ape.' He got up and lifted the seat. He tore the little package off the inside of his thigh and transferred it to the underside of the fore-edge of the seat. The seat would have to be lifted to get at the Elsan and that would certainly be looked to as soon as the plane got back to the hangar. The $5000 REWARD stared back at him boldly. Not even the most hasty cleaner could miss it. So long as no one preceded the cleaner. But Bond didn't think any of the passengers would lift the seat. The little compartment was too cramped to stand comfortably in. He softly put the seat down, ran some water in the basin, washed his face and smoothed his hair and walked out.

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