The farewells were said and Bond submitted himself, he swore for the last time, to Marc-Ange's embraces, and they went down the steps to the waiting Lancia. Someone, Bond suspected the Consul's wife, had tied white ribbons from the corners of the wind-screen to the grill of the radiator, and there was a small group of bystanders, passers-by, who had stopped, as they do all over the world, to see who it was, what they looked like.

The Consul General shook Bond by the hand. 'I'm afraid we haven't managed to keep this as private as you'd have liked. A woman reporter came on from the Munchener lllustrierte this morning. Wouldn't say who she was. Gossip-writer, I suppose. I had to give her the bare facts., She particularly wanted to know the time of the ceremony, if you can call it that, so that they could send a camera-man along. At least you've been spared that. All still tight, I suppose. Well, so long and the best of luck.'

Tracy, who had elected to 'go away' in a dark-grey Tyroler outfit with the traditional dark-green trimmings and stag's-horn buttons, threw her saucy mountaineer's hat with its gay chamois' beard cockade into the back seat, climbed in, and pressed the starter. The engine purred and then roared softly as she went through the gears down the empty street. They both waved one hand out of a window and Bond, looking back, saw Marc-Ange's 'cylindre' whirling up into the air. There was a small flutter of answering hands from the pavement and then they were round the corner and away.

When they found the Autobahn exit for Salzburg and Kufstein, Bond said, 'Be an angel and pull in to the side, Tracy. I've got two things to do.'

She pulled in on to the grass verge. The brown grass of winter showed through the thin snow. Bond reached for her and took her in his arms. He kissed her tenderly. 'That's the first thing, and I just wanted to say that I'll look after you, Tracy. Will you mind being looked after?'

She held him away from her and looked at him. She smiled. Her eyes were introspective. 'That's what it means being Mr and Mrs, doesn't it? They don't say Mrs and Mr. But you need looking after too. Let's just look after each other.'

'All right. But I'd rather have my job than yours. Now. I simply must get out and take down those ribbons. I can't stand looking like a coronation. D'you mind?'

She laughed. 'You like being anonymous. I want everyone to cheer as we go by. I know you're going to have this car sprayed grey or black as soon as you get a chance. That's all right. But nothing's going to stop me wearing you like a flag from now on. Will you sometimes feel like wearing me like a flag?'

'On all holidays and feast days.' Bond got out and removed the ribbons. He looked up at the cloudless sky. The sun felt warm on his face. He said, 'Do you think we'd be too cold if we took the roof down?'

'No, let's. We can only see half the world with it up. And it's a lovely drive from here to Kitzbühel. We can always put it up again if we want to.'

Bond unscrewed the two butterfly nuts and folded the canvas top back behind the seats. He had a look up and down the Autobahn. There was plenty of traffic. At the big Shell station on the roundabout they had just passed, his eye was caught by a bright-red open Maserati being tanked up. Fast job. And a typical sporty couple, a man and a woman in the driving-seat - white dust-coats and linen helmets buttoned under the chin. Big dark-green talc goggles that obscured most of the rest of the faces. Usual German speedsters' uniform. Too far away to see if they were good-looking enough for the car, but the silhouette of the woman wasn't promising. Bond got in beside Tracy and they set off again down the beautifully landscaped road.

They didn't talk much. Tracy kept at about eighty and there was wind-roar. That was the trouble about open cars. Bond glanced at his watch. 11.45. They would get to Kufstein at about one. There was a splendid Gasthaus up the winding streets towards the great castle. Here was a tiny lane of pleasure, full of the heart-plucking whine of zither music and the gentle melancholy of Tyrolean yodellers. It was here that the German tourist traditionally stopped after his day's outing into cheap Austria, just outside the German frontier, for a last giant meal of Austrian food and wine. Bond put his mouth up close to Tracy's ear and told her about it and about the other attraction at Kufstein - the most imaginative war memorial, for the 1914-18 war, ever devised. Punctually at midday every day, the windows of the castle are thrown open and a voluntary is played on the great organ inside. It can be heard for kilometres down the valley between the giant mountain ranges for which Kufstein provides the gateway. 'But we shall miss it. It's coming up for twelve now.'

'Never mind,' said Tracy, 'I'll make do with the zithers while you guzzle your beer and schnapps.' She turned in to the right-hand fork leading to the underpass for Kufstein, and they were at once through Rosenheim and the great white peaks were immediately ahead.

The traffic was much sparser now and there were kilometres where theirs was the only car on the road that arrowed away between white meadows and larch copses, towards the glittering barrier where blood had been shed between warring armies for centuries. Bond glanced behind him. Miles away down the great highway was a speck of red. The Maserati? They certainly hadn't got much competitive spirit if they couldn't catch the Lancia at eighty! No good having a car like that if you didn't drive it so as to lose all other traffic in your mirror. Perhaps he was doing them an injustice. Perhaps they too only wanted to motor quietly along and enjoy the day.

Ten minutes later, Tracy said, 'There's a red car coming up fast behind. Do you want me to lose him?'

'No,' said Bond. 'Let him go. We've got all the time in the world.'

Now he could hear the rasping whine of the eight cylinders. He leaned over to the left and jerked a laconic thumb forwards, waving the Maserati past.

The whine changed to a shattering roar. The wind-screen of the Lancia disappeared as if hit by a monster fist. Bond caught a glimpse of a taut, snarling mouth under a syphilitic nose, the flash-eliminator of some automatic gun being withdrawn, and then the red car was past and the Lancia was going like hell off the verge across a stretch of snow and smashing a path through a young copse. Then Bond's head crashed into the wind-screen frame and he was out.

When he came to, a man in the khaki uniform of the Autobahn Patrol was shaking him. The young face was stark with horror. 'Was ist denn geschehen? Was ist denn geschehen?'

Bond turned towards Tracy. She was lying forward with her face buried in the ruins of the steering-wheel. Her pink handkerchief had come off and the bell of golden hair hung down and hid her face. Bond put his arm round her shoulders, across which the dark patches had begun to flower.

He pressed her against him. He looked up at the young man and smiled his reassurance.

'It's all right,' he said in a clear voice as if explaining something to a child. 'It's quite all right. She's having a rest. We'll be going on soon. There's no hurry. You see -' Bond's head sank down against hers and he whispered into her hair -'you see, we've got all the time in the world.'

The young patrolman took a last scared look at the motionless couple, hurried over to his motor cycle, picked up the hand-microphone, and began talking urgently to the rescue headquarters.

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