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Somehow Bond had expected it, but this was no card-sharp. Goldfinger dealt quickly and efficiently, but with no hint of the Mechanic's Grip, those vital three fingers curled round the long edge of the cards and the index finger at the outside short upper edge - the grip that means you are armed for dealing Bottoms or Seconds. And he wore no signet ring for pricking the cards, no surgical tape round a finger for marking them.

Mr Du Pont turned to Bond. 'Deal of fifteen cards,' he commented. 'You draw two and discard one. Otherwise straight Regency rules. No monkey business with the red treys counting one, three, five, eight, or any of that European stuff.'

Mr Du Pont picked up his cards. Bond noticed that he sorted them expertly, not grading them according to value from left to right, or holding his wild cards, of which he had two, at the left - a pattern that might help a watchful opponent. Mr Du Pont concentrated his good cards in the centre of his hand with the singletons and broken melds on either side.

The game began. Mr Du Pont drew first, a miraculous pair of wild cards. His face betrayed nothing. He discarded casually. He only needed two more good draws to go out unseen. But he would have to be lucky. Drawing two cards doubles the chance of picking up what you want, but it also doubles the chance of picking up useless cards that will only clutter up your hand.

Goldfinger played a more deliberate game, almost irritatingly slow. After drawing, he shuffled through his cards again and again before deciding on his discard.

On the third draw, Du Pont had improved his hand to the extent that he now needed only one of five cards to go down and out and catch his opponent with a handful of cards which would all count against him. As if Goldfinger knew the danger he was in, he went down for fifty and proceeded to make a canasta with three wild cards and four fives. He also got rid of some more melds and ended with only four cards in his hand. In any other circumstances it would have been ridiculously bad play. As it was, he had made some four hundred points instead of losing over a hundred, for, on the next draw Mr Du Pont filled his hand and, with most of the edge taken off his triumph by Goldfinger's escape, went down unseen with the necessary two canastas.

'By golly, I nearly screwed you that time.' Mr Du Font's voice had an edge of exasperation. 'What in hell told you to cut an' run?'

Goldfinger said indifferently, 'I smelled trouble.' He added up his points, announced them and jotted them down, waiting for Mr Du Pont to do the same. Then he cut the cards and sat back and regarded Bond with polite interest.

'Will you be staying long, Mr Bomb?'

Bond smiled. 'It's Bond, B-O-N-D. No, I have to go back to New York tonight.'

'How sad.' Goldfinger's mouth pursed in polite regret. He turned back to the cards and the game went on. Bond picked up his paper and gazed, unseeing, at the baseball scores, while he listened to the quiet routine of the game. Goldfinger won that hand and the next and the next. He won the game. There was a difference of one thousand five hundred points -one thousand five hundred dollars to Goldfinger.

'There it goes again!' It was the plaintive voice of Mr Du Pont.

Bond put down his paper. 'Does he usually win?'

'Usually!' The word was a snort. 'He always wins.'

They cut again and Goldfinger began to deal.

Bond said, 'Don't you cut for seats? I often find a change of seat helps the luck. Hostage to fortune and so on.'

Goldfinger paused in his deal. He bent his gaze gravely on Bond. 'Unfortunately, Mr Bond, that is not possible or I could not play. As I explained to Mr Du Pont at our first game, I suffer from an obscure complaint - agoraphobia -the fear of open spaces. I cannot bear the open,horizon. I must sit and face the hotel.' The deal continued.

'Oh, I'm so sorry.' Bond's voice was grave, interested. 'That's a very rare disability. I've always been able to understand claustrophobia, but not the other way round. How did it come about?'

Goldfinger picked up his cards and began to arrange his hand. 'I have no idea,' he said equably.

Bond got up. 'Well, I think I'll stretch my legs for a bit. See what's going on in the pool.'

'You do just that,' said Mr Du Pont jovially. 'Just take it easy, James. Plenty of time to discuss business over lunch. I'll see if I can't dish it out to my friend Goldfinger this time instead of taking it. Be seeing you.'

Goldfinger didn't look up from his cards. Bond strolled down the roof, past the occasional splayed-out body, to the rail at the far end that overlooked the pool. For a time he stood and contemplated the ranks of pink and brown and white flesh laid out below him on the steamer chairs. The heavy scent of suntan oil came up to him. There were a few children and young people in the pool. A man, obviously a professional diver, perhaps the swimming instructor, stood on the high-dive. He balanced on the balls of his feet, a muscled Greek god with golden hair. He bounced once, casually, and flew off and down, his arms held out like wings. Lazily they arrowed out to cleave the water for the body to pass through. The impact left only a brief turbulence. The diver jack-knifed up again, shaking his head boyishly. There was a smattering of applause. The man trudged slowly down the pool, his head submerged, his shoulders moving with casual power. Bond thought, good luck to you! You won't be able to keep this up for more than another five or six years. High-divers couldn't take it for long - the repeated shock to the skull. With ski-jumping, which had the same shattering effect on the frame, high-diving was the shortest-lived sport. Bond radioed to the diver, 'Cash in quick! Get into films while the hair's still gold.'

Bond turned and looked back down the roof towards the two Canasta players beneath the cliff of the hotel. So Gold-finger liked to face the hotel. Or was it that he liked Mr Du Pont to have his back to it? And why? Now, what was the number of Goldfinger's suite? No 200, the Hawaii Suite. Bond's on the top floor was 1200. So, all things being equal, Goldfinger's would be directly below Bond's, on the second floor, twenty yards or so above the roof of the Cabana Club -twenty yards from the card table. Bond counted down. He closely examined the frontage that should be Goldfinger's. Nothing. An empty sun balcony. An open door into the dark interior of the suite. Bond measured distances, angles. Yes, that's how it might be. That's how it must be! Clever Mr Goldfinger!

CHAPTER FOUR

OVER THE BARREL

AFTER LUNCHEON -the traditional shrimp cocktail, 'native' snapper with a minute paper cup of tartare sauce, roast prime ribs of beef au jus, and pineapple surprise- it was time for the siesta before meeting Goldfinger at three o'clock for the afternoon session.

Mr Du Pont, who had lost a further ten thousand dollars or more, confirmed that Goldfinger had a secretary. 'Never seen her. Sticks to the suite. Probably just some chorine he's brought down for the ride.' He smiled wetly. 'I mean the daily ride. Why? You on to something?'

Bond was non-committal. 'Can't tell yet. I probably won't be coming down this afternoon. Say I got bored watching -gone into the town.' He paused. 'But if my idea's right, don't be surprised at what may happen. If Goldfinger starts to behave oddly, just sit quiet and watch. I'm not promising anything. I think I've got him, but I may be wrong.'

Mr Du Pont was enthusiastic. 'Good for you, boyo!' he said effusively. 'I just can't wait to see that bastard over the barrel. Damn his eyes!'

Bond took the elevator up to his suite. He went to his suitcase and extracted an M3 Leica, an MC exposure meter, a K2 filter and a flash-holder. He put a bulb in the holder and checked the camera. He went to his balcony, glanced at the sun to estimate where it would be at about three-thirty and went back into the sitting-room, leaving the door to the balcony open. He stood at the balcony door and aimed the exposure meter. The exposure was one-hundredth of a second. He set this on the Leica, put the shutter at f 11, and the distance at twelve feet. He clipped on a lens hood and took one picture to see that all was working. Then he wound on the film, slipped in the flash-holder and put the camera aside.

Bond went to his suitcase and took out a thick book - The Bible Designed to be Read as Literature- opened it and extracted his Walther PPK in the Berns Martin holster. He slipped the holster inside his trouser band to the left. He tried one or two quick draws. They were satisfactory. He closely examined the geography of his suite, on the assumption that it would be exactly similar to the Hawaii. He visualized the scene that would almost certainly greet him when he came through the door of the suite downstairs. He tried his pass-key in the various locks and practised opening the doors noiselessly. Then he pulled a comfortable chair in front of the open balcony door and sat and smoked a cigarette while he gazed out across the sea and thought of how he would put things to Goldfinger when the time came.

At three-fifteen, Bond got up and went out on to the balcony and cautiously looked down at the two tiny figures across the square of green baize. He went back into the room and checked the exposure meter on the Leica. The light was the same. He slipped on the coat of his dark blue tropical worsted suit, straightened his tie and slung the strap of the Leica round his neck so that the camera hung at his chest. Then, with a last look round, he went out and along to the elevator. He rode down to the ground floor and examined the shop windows in the foyer. When the elevator had gone up again, he walked to the staircase and slowly climbed up two floors. The geography of the second floor was identical with the twelfth. Room 200 was where he had expected it to be. There was no one in sight. He took out his pass-key and silently opened the door and closed it behind him. In the small lobby, a raincoat, a light camel-hair coat and a pale grey Homburg hung on hooks. Bond took his Leica firmly in his right hand, held it up close to his face and gently tried the door to the sitting-room: It was not locked. Bond eased it open.

Even before he could see what he expected to see he could hear the voice. It was a low, attractive, girl's voice, an English voice. It was saying, 'Drew five and four. Completed canasta in fives with two twos. Discarding four. Has singletons in king's, knaves, nines, sevens.'

Bond slid into the room.

The girl was sitting on two cushions on top of a table which had been pulled up a yard inside the open balcony door. She had needed the cushions to give her height. It was at the top of the afternoon heat and she was naked except for a black brassiere and black silk briefs. She was swinging her legs in a bored fashion. She had just finished painting the nails on her left hand. Now she stretched the hand out in front of her to examine the effect. She brought the hand back close to her lips and blew on the nails. Her right hand reached sideways and put the brush back in the Revlon bottle on the table beside her. A few inches from her eyes were the eyepieces of a powerful-looking pair of binoculars supported on a tripod whose feet reached down between her sunburned legs to the floor. Jutting out from below the binoculars was a microphone from which wires led to a box about the size of a portable record player under the table. Other wires ran from the box to a gleaming indoor aerial on the sideboard against the wall.

The briefs tightened as she leant forward again and put her eyes to the binoculars. 'Drew a queen and a king. Meld of queens. Can meld kings with a joker. Discarding seven.' She switched off the microphone.

While she was concentrating, Bond stepped swiftly across the floor until he was almost behind her. There was a chair. He stood on it, praying it wouldn't squeak. Now he had the height to get the whole scene in focus. He put his eye to the viewfinder. Yes, there it was, all in line, the girl's head, the edge of the binoculars, the microphone and, twenty yards below, the two men at the table with Mr Du Font's hand of cards held in front of him. Bond could distinguish the reds and the blacks. He pressed the button.

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