A few minutes later, Mr Strap came hurrying through the train. 'Ten minutes to go! On your toes, folks! Squads A, B and C get their equipment on. Everything's going fine. Stay calm. Remember your duties.' He hurried through to the next compartment and Bond heard the voice repeating its message.

Bond turned to Oddjob. 'Listen, you ape, I'm going to the lavatory and probably Miss Masterton will too.' He turned to the girl. What about it, Tilly?"

'Yes,' she said indifferently, 'I suppose I'd better."

Bond said, 'Well, go ahead.'

The Korean beside the girl looked inquiringly at Oddjob. Oddjob shook his head.

Bond said, "Unless you leave her alone I'm going to start a fight. Goldfinger won't like that.' He turned to the girl. 'Go ahead, Tilly. I'll see to these apes.'

Oddjob uttered a series of barks and snarls which the other Korean seemed to understand. The guard got up and said, 'Okay, but not locking the door.' He followed the girl down the Pullman and stood and waited for her to come out.

Oddjob carried out the same routine with Bond. Once inside, Bond took off his right shoe, slid out the knife and slipped it down inside the waist-band of his trousers. One shoe would now have no heel, but no one was going to notice that this morning. Bond washed himself. The face in the mirror was pale and the blue-grey eyes dark with tension. He went out and back to his seat.

Now there was a distant shimmer away to the right and a hint of low buildings rising like a mirage in the early morning ground mist. They slowly defined themselves as hangars with a squat control tower. Godman Field! The soft pounding howl of the train slackened. Some trim modern villas, part of a new housing development, slid by. They seemed to be unoccupied. Now, on the left, there was the black ribbon of Brandenburg Station Road. Bond craned. The gleaming modern sprawl of Fort Knox looked almost soft in the light mist. Above its jagged outline the air was dear as crystal -not a trace of smoke, no breakfasts cooking! The train slowed to a canter. On Station Road there had been a bad motor accident. Two cars seemed to have met head on. The body of a man sprawled half out of a smashed door. The other car lay on its back like a dead beetle. Bond's heart pounded. The main signal box came and went. Over the levers something white was draped. It was a man's shirt.

Inside the shirt the body hung down, its head below the level of the window. A row of modern bungalows. A body clad in singlet and trousers flat on its face in the middle of a trim lawn. The lines of mown grass were beautifully exact until, near the man, the mower had written an ugly flourish and had then come to rest on its side in the newly turned earth of, the border. A line of washing that had broken when the woman had grasped it. The woman lay in a white pile at one end of the sagging string of family underclothes, cloths and towels. And now the train was moving at walking pace into the town and everywhere, down every street, on every sidewalk, there were the sprawling figures - singly, in clumps, in rocking-chairs on the porches, in the middle of intersections where the traffic lights still unhurriedly ticked off their coloured signals, in cars that had managed to pull up and in others that had smashed into shop windows. Death! Dead people everywhere. No movement, no sound save the click of the murderer's iron feet as his train slid through the graveyard.

Now there was bustle in the carriages. Billy Ring came through grinning hugely. He stopped by Bond's chair. 'Oh boy!' he said delightedly, 'old Goldie certainly slipped them the Micky Finn! Too bad some people were out for a ride when they got hit. But you know what they say about omelettes: can't make 'em without you break some eggs, right?'

Bond smiled tightly. 'That's right.'

Billy Ring made his silent O of a laugh and went on his way.

The train trundled through Brandenburg Station. Now there were scores of bodies - men, women, children, soldiers. The platform was scribbled with them, faces upwards to the roof, down in the dust, cradled sideways. Bond searched for movement, for an inquisitive eye, for a twitching hand. Nothing! Wait! What was that? Thinly through the closed window there came a soft, mewing wail. Three perambulators stood against the ticket office, the mothers collapsed beside them. Of course! The babies in the perambulators would have drunk milk, not the deadly water.

Oddjob got to his feet. So did the whole of Goldfinger's team. The faces of the Koreans were indifferent, unchanged, only their eyes flickered constantly like nervous animals. The

Germans were pale, grim. Nobody looked at anyone else. Silently they filed towards the exit and lined up, waiting.

Tilly Masterton touched Bond's sleeve. Her voice trembled. 'Are you sure they're only asleep? I thought I saw some sort of... sort of froth on some of the lips.'

Bond had seen the same thing. The froth had been pink. He said, 'I expect some of them were eating sweets or something when they fell asleep. You know what these Americans are - always chewing something.' He softly mouthed the next words. 'Stay away from me. There may be shooting.' He looked hard at her to see she understood.

She nodded dumbly, not looking at him. She whispered out of the corner of her mouth, 'I'm going to get near Pussy. She'll look after me.'

Bond gave her a smile and said 'Good', encouragingly.

The train clicked slowly over some points and slid to rest. There came one blast of the diesel's windhorn. The doors swung open and the different groups piled out on to the platform of the Bullion Depository siding.

Now everything went with military precision. The various squads formed up in their battle order-first an assault group widi sub-machine guns, then the stretcher-bearers to get the guard and other personnel out of the vault (surely an unnecessary refinement now, thought Bond) then Goldfinger's demolition team - ten men with their bulky tarpaulin-covered package - then a mixed group of spare drivers and traffic-control men, then the group of nurses, now all armed with pistols, who were to stay in the background with a heavily armed reserve group that was to deal with any unexpected interference from anybody who, as Goldfinger had put it, 'might wake up'.

Bond and the girl had been included in the Command Group which consisted of Goldfinger, Oddjob and the five gang leaders. They were to be stationed on the flat roofs of the two diesel locomotives which now stood, as planned, beyond the siding buildings and in full view of •the objective and its approaches. Bond and the girl were to handle the maps, the timetables and the stop-watch, and Bond was to watch out for fumbles and delays and bring them at once to Goldfinger's attention to be rectified by walkie-talkie with die squad leaders. When the bomb was due to be fired, they would take shelter behind the diesels.

There came a double blast from the windhorn and, as Bond and the girl climbed to their position on the roof of the first diesel, the assault squad, followed by the other sections, doubled across the twenty yards of open ground between the railway and Bullion Boulevard. Bond edged as close as he could to Goldfinger. Goldfinger had binoculars to his eyes. His mouth was close to the microphone strapped to his chest. But Oddjob stood between them, a solid mountain of flesh, and his eyes, uninterested in the drama of the assault, never flickered from Bond and the girl.

Bond, under cover of scanning his plastic map-case and keeping an eye on the stop-watch, measured inches and angles. He glanced at the next-door group of the four men and the woman. They were gazing, in frozen attention, at the scene before them. Now Jack Strap said excitedly, 'They're through the first gates.' Bond, putting half his mind to work on his own plans, took a quick look at the battlefield.

It was an extraordinary scene. In the centre stood the huge squat mausoleum, the sun glinting off the polished granite of its walls. Outside the big open field in which it stood, the roads - the Dixie Highway, Vine Grove and Bullion Boulevard - were lined with trucks and transporters two deep with the recognition flags of the gangs flying from the first and last vehicle of each convoy. Their drivers lay piled up outside the shelter of the surrounding guard wall of the vault while, through the main gate, poured the tidy disciplined squads from the train. Outside this world of movement there was absolute stillness and silence as if the rest of America was holding its breath at the committal of this gigantic crime. And outside lay the bodies of the soldiers, sprawling where they had fallen - the sentries by their pill boxes, still clutching their automatic pistols, and, inside the protecting wall, two ragged squads of soldiers in battledress. They lay in vague, untidy heaps, some bodies athwart or on top of their neighbours. Outside, between Bullion Boulevard and the main gate, two armoured cars had crashed into each other and now stood locked, their heavy machine guns pointing, one at the ground and the other at the sky. A driver's body sprawled out of the turret of one of the vehicles.

Desperately Bond looked for a sign of life, a sign of movement, a hint that all this was a careful ambush. Nothing! Not a cat moved, not a sound came out of the crowded buildings that formed a backdrop to the scene. Only the squads hurried about their tasks or now stood waiting in their planned dispositions.

Goldfinger spoke quietly into his microphone. 'Last stretcher out. Bomb squad ready. Prepare to take over.'

Now the covering troops and the stretcher-bearers were hurrying for the exit, getting down under cover of the guard wall. There would be five minutes' delay to clear the area before the bomb squad, now waiting bunched at the main gate, would go in.

Bond said efficiently, 'They're a minute ahead of time.'

Goldfinger looked past Oddjob's shoulder. The pale eyes were aflame. They stared into Bond's. Goldfinger's mouth twisted into a harsh snarl. He said through his teeth, 'You see, Mr Bond. You were wrong and I was right. Ten more minutes and I shall be the richest man in the world, the richest man in history! What do you say to that?' His mouth spat out the words.

Bond said equably, 'I'll tell you after those ten minutes are up.'

'Will you?' said Goldfinger. 'Maybe.' He looked at his watch and spoke rapidly into his microphone. The Goldfinger squad loped slowly through the main gate, their heavy burden slung from four shoulders in a cradle of webbing.

Goldfinger looked past Bond at the group on the roof of the second diesel. He called out triumphantly, 'Another five minutes, gentlemen, and then we must take cover.' He turned his eyes on Bond and added softly, 'And then we will say goodbye, Mr Bond. And thank you for the assistance you and the girl have given me.'

Out of the corner of his eye, Bond saw something moving - moving in the sky. It was a black, whirling speck. It reached the top of its trajectory, paused and then came the ear-splitting crack of a maroon signal.

Bond's heart leapt. A quick glance showed him the ranks of dead soldiers springing to life, the machine guns on the locked armoured cars swinging to cover the gates. A loudspeaker roared from nowhere, 'Stand where you are. Lay down your arms.' But there came a futile crackle of fire from one of the rearguard covering party and then all hell broke loose.

Bond seized the girl round the waist and jumped with her.

It was a tenfoot drop to the platform. Bond broke his fall with his left hand and hoisted the girl to her feet with a jerk of his hip. As he began to run, close to the train for cover, he heard Goldfinger shout, 'Get them and kill them.' A splatter of lead from Goldfinger's automatic whipped at the cement to his left. But Goldfinger would have to shoot left handed. It was Oddjob that Bond feared. Now, as Bond tore down the platform with the girl's hand in his, he heard the lightning scuffle of the running feet.

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