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datatime: 2022-11-30 04:33:46 Author:HLbSgcOE

Colonel Smithers paused. The rumble of the City came through the half-open window high up in the wall behind his chair. Bond glanced surreptitiously at his watch. Five o'clock. Colonel Smithers got up from his chair. He placed both hands palm downwards on the desk and leant forward. 'It took me five years, Mr Bond, to find out that Mr Goldfinger, in ready money, is the richest man in England. In Zurich, in Nassau, in Panama, in New York, he has twenty million pounds' worth of gold bars on safe deposit. And those bars, Mr Bond, are not Mint bars. They don't carry any official marks of origin whatsoever. They're bars that Mr Goldfinger has melted himself. I flew to Nassau and had a look at the five million pounds' worth or so he holds there in the vaults of the Royal Bank of Canada. Oddly enough, like all artists, he couldn't refrain from signing his handiwork. It needs a microscope to see it, but somewhere, on each Goldfinger bar, a minute letter Z has been scratched in the metal. And that gold, or most of it, belongs to England. The Bank can do nothing about it, so we are asking you to bring Mr Gold-finger to book, Mr Bond, and get that gold back. You know about the currency crisis and the high bank rate? Of course. Well, England needs that gold, badly - and the quicker the better.'

Colonel Smithers came over. 'Fivers,' he commented. 'Just come up from our printing works at Loughton.'

'Isn't all this only a temporary phase? Why should this shortage of gold go on? They seem to be digging it out of Africa fast enough. Isn't there enough to go round? Isn't it just like any other black market that disappears when the supplies are stepped up, like the penicillin traffic after the war?'

'All right.' Colonel Smithers now talked in the soft, tired voice of an overworked man in the service of his Government. It was the voice of the specialist in a particular line of law enforcement. It said that he knew most things connected with that line and that he could make a good guess at all the rest. Bond knew the voice well, the voice of the first-class Civil Servant. Despite his prosiness, Bond was beginning to take to Colonel Smithers. 'All right. Supposing you have a bar of gold in your pocket about the size of a couple of packets of Players. Weight about five and a quarter pounds. Never mind for the moment where you got it from - stole it or inherited it or something. That'll be twenty-four carat -what we call a thousand fine. Now, the law says you have to sell that to the Bank of England at the controlled price of twelve pounds ten per ounce. That would make it worth around the thousand pounds. But you're greedy. You've got a friend going to India or perhaps you're on good terms with an airline pilot or a steward on the Far East run. All you have to do is cut your bar into thin sheets or plates-you'd soon find someone to do this for you - and sew the plates -they'd be smaller than playing cards - into a cotton belt, and pay your friend a commission to wear it. You could easily afford a hundred pounds for the job. Your friend flies off to Bombay and goes to the first bullion dealer in the bazaar. He will be given one thousand seven hundred pounds for your five-pound bar and you're a richer man than you might have been. Mark you,' Colonel Smithers waved his pipe airily,'that's only seventy per cent profit. Just after the war you could have got three hundred per cent. If you'd done only half a dozen little operations like that every year you'd be able to retire by now.'

'All right.' Colonel Smithers now talked in the soft, tired voice of an overworked man in the service of his Government. It was the voice of the specialist in a particular line of law enforcement. It said that he knew most things connected with that line and that he could make a good guess at all the rest. Bond knew the voice well, the voice of the first-class Civil Servant. Despite his prosiness, Bond was beginning to take to Colonel Smithers. 'All right. Supposing you have a bar of gold in your pocket about the size of a couple of packets of Players. Weight about five and a quarter pounds. Never mind for the moment where you got it from - stole it or inherited it or something. That'll be twenty-four carat -what we call a thousand fine. Now, the law says you have to sell that to the Bank of England at the controlled price of twelve pounds ten per ounce. That would make it worth around the thousand pounds. But you're greedy. You've got a friend going to India or perhaps you're on good terms with an airline pilot or a steward on the Far East run. All you have to do is cut your bar into thin sheets or plates-you'd soon find someone to do this for you - and sew the plates -they'd be smaller than playing cards - into a cotton belt, and pay your friend a commission to wear it. You could easily afford a hundred pounds for the job. Your friend flies off to Bombay and goes to the first bullion dealer in the bazaar. He will be given one thousand seven hundred pounds for your five-pound bar and you're a richer man than you might have been. Mark you,' Colonel Smithers waved his pipe airily,'that's only seventy per cent profit. Just after the war you could have got three hundred per cent. If you'd done only half a dozen little operations like that every year you'd be able to retire by now.'

'The usual nosey parker in the salvage firm gossiped to one of the Dover Customs men and in due course a report filtered up through the police and the CID to me, together with a copy of the cargo clearance papers for each of Goldfinger's trips to India. These gave all the cargoes as mineral dust base for crop fertilizers - all perfectly credible because these modern fertilizers do use traces of various minerals in their make-up. The whole picture was clear as crystal. Goldfinger had been refining down his old gold, precipitating it into this brown powder and shipping it to India as fertilizer. But could we pin it on him? We could not. Had a quiet look at his bank balance and tax returns. Twenty thousand pounds at Barclays in Ramsgate. Income tax and super tax paid promptly each year. Figures showed the natural progress of a well-run jewellery business. We dressed a couple of the Gold Squad up and sent them down to knock on the door of Mr Goldfinger's factory at Reculver. "Sorry, sir, routine inspection for the Small Engineering Section of the Ministry of Labour. We have to make sure the Factory Acts are being observed for safety and health."

'Why the high price in India?' Bond didn't really want to know. He thought M might ask him.

Bond, smothered by this cataract of gold history, found no difficulty in looking as grave as Colonel Smithers. He said, 'You certainly make a fascinating story of it. Perhaps the position isn't as bad as you think. They're already mining oil under the sea. Perhaps they'll find a way of mining gold. Now, about this smuggling.'

'All right,' said Bond. 1 think I've got the picture. Now what's your particular problem?' He sat back and lit a cigarette. He was greatly looking forward to hearing about Mr Auric Goldfinger.

'It's a long story. Briefly, India is shorter of gold, particularly for her jewellery trade, than any other country.'

Colonel Smithers came over. 'Fivers,' he commented. 'Just come up from our printing works at Loughton.'

'It's a long story. Briefly, India is shorter of gold, particularly for her jewellery trade, than any other country.'

Colonel Smithers paused. The rumble of the City came through the half-open window high up in the wall behind his chair. Bond glanced surreptitiously at his watch. Five o'clock. Colonel Smithers got up from his chair. He placed both hands palm downwards on the desk and leant forward. 'It took me five years, Mr Bond, to find out that Mr Goldfinger, in ready money, is the richest man in England. In Zurich, in Nassau, in Panama, in New York, he has twenty million pounds' worth of gold bars on safe deposit. And those bars, Mr Bond, are not Mint bars. They don't carry any official marks of origin whatsoever. They're bars that Mr Goldfinger has melted himself. I flew to Nassau and had a look at the five million pounds' worth or so he holds there in the vaults of the Royal Bank of Canada. Oddly enough, like all artists, he couldn't refrain from signing his handiwork. It needs a microscope to see it, but somewhere, on each Goldfinger bar, a minute letter Z has been scratched in the metal. And that gold, or most of it, belongs to England. The Bank can do nothing about it, so we are asking you to bring Mr Gold-finger to book, Mr Bond, and get that gold back. You know about the currency crisis and the high bank rate? Of course. Well, England needs that gold, badly - and the quicker the better.'

'Isn't all this only a temporary phase? Why should this shortage of gold go on? They seem to be digging it out of Africa fast enough. Isn't there enough to go round? Isn't it just like any other black market that disappears when the supplies are stepped up, like the penicillin traffic after the war?'

'Why the high price in India?' Bond didn't really want to know. He thought M might ask him.

'All right,' said Bond. 1 think I've got the picture. Now what's your particular problem?' He sat back and lit a cigarette. He was greatly looking forward to hearing about Mr Auric Goldfinger.

BOND FOLLOWED Colonel Smithers to the lift. While they waited for it, Bond glanced out of the tall window at the end of the passage. He was looking down into the deep well of the back courtyard of the Bank. A trim chocolate-brown lorry with no owner's name had come into the courtyard through the triple steel gates. Square cardboard boxes were being unloaded from it and put on to a short conveyor belt that disappeared into the bowels of the Bank.

Bond smiled at Colonel Smithers's eloquence. This man lived gold, thought gold, dreamed gold. Well, it was an interesting subject. He might just as well wallow in the stuff. In the days when Bond had been after the diamond smugglers he had had first to educate himself in the fascination, the myth of the stones. He said, 'What else ought I to know before we get down to your immediate problem?'

Colonel Smithers took out a handkerchief and mopped his forehead. 'Sorry about that. Sports and welfare are becoming almost too much of a fetish at the Bank. I've just had the women's hockey team thrown into my lap. As if I hadn't got enough to do with the annual gymkhana coming on. How ever' - Colonel Smithers waved these minor irritations aside - 'as you say, time to get on to the smuggling. Well, to begin with, and taking only England and the sterling area, it's a very big business indeed. We employ three thousand staff at the Bank, Mr Bond, and of those no less than one thousand work in the exchange control department. Of those at least five hundred, including my little outfit, are engaged in controlling the illicit movements of valuta, the attempts to smuggle or to evade the Exchange Control Regulations.'

BOND FOLLOWED Colonel Smithers to the lift. While they waited for it, Bond glanced out of the tall window at the end of the passage. He was looking down into the deep well of the back courtyard of the Bank. A trim chocolate-brown lorry with no owner's name had come into the courtyard through the triple steel gates. Square cardboard boxes were being unloaded from it and put on to a short conveyor belt that disappeared into the bowels of the Bank.

'Huge. To give an idea, the Indian Intelligence Bureau and their Customs captured forty-three thousand ounces in 1955.1 doubt if that's one per cent of the traffic. Gold's been coming into India from all points of the compass. Latest dodge is to fly it in from Macao and drop it by parachute to a reception committee - a ton at a time - like we used to drop supplies to the Resistance during the war.'

'All right,' said Bond. 1 think I've got the picture. Now what's your particular problem?' He sat back and lit a cigarette. He was greatly looking forward to hearing about Mr Auric Goldfinger.

Colonel Smithers came over. 'Fivers,' he commented. 'Just come up from our printing works at Loughton.'

'Isn't all this only a temporary phase? Why should this shortage of gold go on? They seem to be digging it out of Africa fast enough. Isn't there enough to go round? Isn't it just like any other black market that disappears when the supplies are stepped up, like the penicillin traffic after the war?'

'All right,' said Bond. 1 think I've got the picture. Now what's your particular problem?' He sat back and lit a cigarette. He was greatly looking forward to hearing about Mr Auric Goldfinger.

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