Goldfinger

Page 25

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The noise in Bond's ear was something between a hiss and a shrill whistle. There was a dry, twanging thud. The aluminium feathers of the steel arrow trembled like a humming bird's wings in front of Bond's eyes. The shaft of the arrow straightened. The gold ring tinkled down the shaft until it reached the bark of the tree.

Slowly, almost incuriously, Bond turned his head.

Ten yards away - half in moonlight, half in shadow - the black melon-headed figure crouched, its legs widely straddled in the judo stance. The left arm, thrust forward against the glinting semicircle of the bow, was straight as a duellist's. The right hand, holding the feathers of the second arrow, was rigid against the right cheek. Behind the head, the taut right elbow lanced back in frozen suspense. The silver tip of the second arrow pointed exactly between the two pale raised profiles.

Bond breathed the words, 'Don't move an inch.' Aloud he said, 'Hullo, Oddjob. Damned good shot.'

Oddjob jerked the tip of the arrow upwards.

Bond got to his feet, shielding the girl. He said softly, out of the corner of his mouth, 'He mustn't see the rifle.' He said to Oddjob, speaking casually, peaceably, 'Nice place Mr Goldfinger has here. Want to have a word with him sometime. Perhaps it's a bit late tonight. You might tell him I'll be along tomorrow.' Bond said to the girl, 'Come on, darling. We've had our walk in the woods. Time to get back to the hotel.' He took a step away from Oddjob towards the fence.

Oddjob stamped his forward foot. The point of the second arrow swung to the centre of Bond's stomach.

'Oargn.' Oddjob jerked his head sideways and downwards towards the house.

'Oh, you think he'd like to see us now? All right. You don't think we'll be disturbing him? Come on, darling.'

Bond led the way to the left of the tree, away from the rifle that lay in the shadowed grass.

As they went slowly down the hill, Bond talked softly to the girl, briefing her. 'You're my girl friend. I brought you out from England. Seem surprised and interested by our little adventure. We're in a tough spot. Don't try any tricks.' Bond jerked back his head. 'This man's a killer.'

The girl said angrily, 'If only you hadn't interfered.'

'Same to you,' said Bond shortly. He took it back. 'I'm sorry, Tilly. Didn't mean that. But I don't think you could have got away with it.'

'I had my plans. I'd have been over the frontier by midnight.'

Bond didn't answer. Something had caught his eye. On top of the tall chimney, the oblong mouth of the radar-thing was revolving again. It was that that had spotted them -heard them. It must be some kind of sonic detector. What a bag of tricks this man was! Bond hadn't meant to underestimate Goldfinger. Had he managed to do so - decisively? Perhaps, if he had had his gun...? No. Bond knew that even his split-second draw wouldn't have beaten the Korean - wouldn't do so now. There was a total deadliness about this man. Whether Bond had been armed or unarmed, it would have been a man fighting a tank.

They reached the courtyard. As they did so, the back door of the house opened. Two more Koreans, who might have been the servants from Reculver, ran out towards them through the warm splash of electric light. They carried ugly-looking polished sticks. 'Stop!' Both men wore the savage, empty grin that men from Station J, who had been in Japanese prison camps, had described to Bond. 'We search. No trouble or...' The man who had spoken, cut the air with a whistling lash of his stick. 'Hands up!'

Bond put his hands slowly up. He said to the girl, 'Don't react... whatever they do.'

Odd job came forward and stood, menacingly, watching the search. The search was expert. Bond coldly watched the hands on the girl, the grinning faces.

'Okay. Come!'

They were herded through the open door and along a stone-flagged passage to the narrow entrance hall at the front of the house. The house smelled as Bond had imagined it would musty and fragrant and summery. There were white-panelled doors. Oddjob knocked on one of them.


'Yes?'

Oddjob opened the door. They were prodded through.

Goldfinger sat at a big desk. It was neatly encumbered with important-looking papers. The desk was flanked by grey metal filing cabinets. Beside the desk, within reach of Gold-finger's hand, stood a short-wave wireless set on a low table. There was an operator's keyboard and a machine that ticked busily and looked like a barograph. Bond guessed that this had something to do with the detector that had intercepted them.

Goldfinger wore his purple velvet smoking-jacket over an open-necked white silk shirt. The open neck showed a tuft of orange chest-hair. He sat very erect in a high-backed chair. He hardly glanced at the girl. The big china-blue eyes were fixed on Bond. They showed no surprise. They held no expression except a piercing hardness.

Bond blustered, 'Look here, Goldfinger. What the hell's all this about? You put the police on to me over that ten thousand dollars and I got on your tracks with my girl friend here, Miss Soames. I've come to find out what the hell you mean by it. We climbed the fence - I know it's trespassing, but I wanted to catch you before you moved on somewhere else. Then this ape of yours came along and damned near killed one of us with his bow and arrow. Two more of your bloody Koreans held us up and searched us. What the hell's going on? If you can't give me a civil answer and full apologies I'll put the police on you.'

Goldfinger's flat, hard stare didn't flicker. He might not have heard Bond's angry-gentleman's outburst. The finely chiselled lips parted. He said, 'Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action.” Miami, Sandwich and now Geneva. I propose to wring the truth out of you.' Gold-finger's eyes slid slowly past Bond's head. 'Oddjob. The Pressure Room.'

PART THREE: ENEMY ACTION

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

THE PRESSURE ROOM

BOND'S REACTION was automatic. There was no reason behind it. He took one quick step forward and hurled himself across the desk at Goldfinger. His body, launched in a shallow dive, hit the top of the desk and ploughed through the litter of papers. There was a heavy thud as the top of his head crashed into Goldfinger's breastbone. The momentum of the blow rocked Goldfinger in his chair. Bond kicked back at the edge of the desk, got a purchase and rammed forward again. As the chair toppled backwards and the two bodies went down in the splintering woodwork, Bond's fingers got to the throat and his thumbs went into its base and downwards with every ounce of his force.

Then the whole house fell on Bond, a baulk of timber hit him at the base of the neck and he rolled sluggishly off Goldfinger on to the floor and lay still.

The vortex of light through which Bond was whirling slowly flattened into a disc, a yellow moon, and then into a burning Cyclops eye. Something was written round the fiery eyeball. It was a message, an important message for him. He must read it. Carefully, one by one, Bond spelled out the tiny letters. The message said: SOCIÉTÉ ANONYME MAZDA. What was its significance? A hard bolt of water hit Bond in the face. The water stung his eyes and filled his mouth. He retched desperately and tried to move. He couldn't. His eyes cleared, and his brain. There was a throbbing pain at the back of his neck. He was staring up into a big enamelled light bowl with one powerful bulb. He was on some sort of a table and his wrists and ankles were bound to its edges. He felt with his fingers. He felt polished metal.

A voice, Goldfinger's voice, flat, uninterested, said, 'Now we can begin.'

Bond turned his head towards the voice. His eyes were dazzled by the light. He squeezed them hard and opened them. Goldfinger was sitting in a canvas chair. He had taken off his jacket and was in his shirt sleeves. There were red marks round the base of his throat. On a folding table beside him were various tools and metal instruments and a control panel. On the other side of the table Tilly Masterton sat in another chair. She was strapped to it by her wrists and ankles. She sat bolt upright as if she was in school. She looked incredibly beautiful, but shocked, remote. Her eyes gazed vacantly at Bond. She was either drugged or hypnotized.

Bond turned his head to the right. A few feet away stood the Korean. He still wore his bowler hat but now he was stripped to the waist. The yellow skin of his huge torso glinted with sweat. There was no hair on it. The flat pectoral muscles were as broad as dinner plates and the stomach was concave below the great arch of the ribs. The biceps and forearms, also hairless, were as thick as thighs. The ten-minutes-to-two oil slicks of the eyes looked pleased, greedy. The mouthful of blackish teeth formed an oblong grin of anticipation.

Bond raised his head. The quick look round hurt. They were in one of the factory workrooms. White light blazed round the iron doors of two electric furnaces. There were bluish sheets of metal stacked in wooden frames. From somewhere came the whir of a generator. There was a distant, muffled sound of hammering, and, behind the sound, the faraway iron pant of the power plant.

Bond glanced down the table on which he lay spread-eagled. He let his head fall back with a sigh. There was a narrow slit down the centre of the polished steel table. At the far end of the slit, like a foresight framed in the vee of his parted feet, were the glinting teeth of a circular saw.

Bond lay and stared up at the little message on the lamp bulb. Goldfinger began to speak in a relaxed conversational voice. Bond pulled the curtains tight across the ghastly peep-show of his imagination and listened.

'Mr Bond, the word “pain” comes from the Latin poena meaning “penalty” - that which must be paid. You must now pay for the inquisitiveness which your attack upon me proves, as I suspected, to be inimical. Curiosity, as they say, killed the cat. This time it will have to kill two cats, for I fear I must also count this girl an enemy. She tells me she is staying at the Bergues. One telephone call proved that to be false. Oddjob was sent to where you were both hidden and recovered her rifle and also a ring which it happens that I recognize. Under hypnotism the rest came out. This girl came here to kill me. Perhaps you did too. You have both failed. Now must come the poena. Mr Bond' - the voice was weary, bored - 'I have had many enemies in my time. I am very successful and immensely rich, and riches, if I may inflict another of my aphorisms upon you, may not make you friends but they greatly increase the class and variety of your enemies.'

'That's very neatly put.'

Goldfinger ignored the interruption. 'If you were a free man, with your talent for inquiry, you would be able to find round the world the relics of those who have wished me ill, or who have tried to thwart me. There have, as I said, been many of these people and you would find, Mr Bond, that their remains resemble those of hedgehogs squashed upon the roads in summertime.'

'Very poetic simile.'

'By chance, Mr Bond. I am a poet in deeds - not often in words. I am Concerned to arrange my actions in appropriate and effective patterns. But that is by the way. I wish to convey to you that it was a most evil day for you when you first crossed my path and, admittedly in a very minor fashion, thwarted a minuscule project upon which I was engaged. On that occasion it was someone else who suffered the poena that should have been meted out to you. An eye was taken for the eye, but it was not yours. You were lucky and, if you had then found an oracle to consult, the oracle would have said to you, “Mr Bond, you have been fortunate. Keep away from Mr Auric Goldfinger. He is a most powerful man. If Mr Goldfinger wanted to crush you, he would only have to turn over in his sleep to do so.”'

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