A sharp voice broke in. 'G-ALGY give your position. G-ALGY give your position. This is Gander Control. Emergency. G-ALGY...'

London came over faintly. An excited voice began chattering. Now voices were coming at them from all directions. Bond could imagine the fix being quickly co-ordinated at all flying control stations, the busy men under the arcs working on the big plot, telephones being lifted, urgent voices talking to each other across the world. The strong signal of Gander Control smothered all other transmissions. 'We've located G-ALGY. We've got them at about 50 N by 70 E. All stations stop transmitting. Priority. I repeat, we have a fix on G-ALGY...'

Suddenly the quiet voice of C for Charlie came in. 'This is Ocean Station Charlie calling Speedbird 510. Charlie calling G-ALGY. Can you hear me? Come in Speedbird 510.'

Bond slipped the small gun into his pocket and took the offered microphone. He pressed the transmitter switch and talked quietly into it, watching the crew over the oblong of plastic.

'C for Charlie this is G-ALGY Speedbird hi-jacked last evening at Idlewild. I have killed the man responsible and partly disabled the plane by depressurizing the cabin. I have the crew at gunpoint. Not enough fuel to make Goose so propose to ditch as close to you as possible. Please put put line of flares.'

A new voice, a voice of authority, perhaps the captain's, came over the air. 'Speedbird this is C for Charlie. Your message heard and understood. Identify the speaker. I repeat identify the speaker over.'

Bond said and smiled at the sensation his words would cause, 'Speedbird to C for Charlie. This is British Secret Service agent Number 007,1 repeat Number 007. Whitehall Radio will confirm. I repeat check with Whitehall Radio over.'

There was a stunned pause. Voices from round the world tried to break in. Some control, presumably Gander, cleared them off the air. C for Charlie came back, 'Speedbird this is C for Charlie alias the Angel Gabriel speaking okay I'll check with Whitehall and Wilco the flares but London and Gander want more details...'

Bond broke in, 'Sorry C for Charlie but I can't hold five men in my sights and make polite conversation just give me the sea conditions would you and then I'm going off the air till we come in to ditch over.'

'Okay Speedbird I see the point wind here force two sea conditions long smooth swell no broken crests you should make it okay I'll soon have you on the radar and we'll keep constant watch on your wavelength have whisky for one and iroas for five waiting good luck over.'

Bond said, 'Thanks C for Charlie add a cup of tea to that order would you I've got a pretty girl on board this is Speed-bird saying over and out.'

Bond released the switch and handed the microphone to the radio officer. He said, 'Pilot, they're putting down flares and keeping constant watch on our wavelength. Wind force two, long smooth swell with no broken crests. Now take it easy and let's try and get out of this alive. As soon as we hit the water I'll get the hatch open. Until then if anyone comes through the cockpit door he gets shot. Right?'

The girl's voice sounded from the door behind Bond. 'I was just coming to join the party but I won't now. Getting shot doesn't agree with me. But you might call that man back and make it two whiskies. Tea makes me hiccup.'

Bond said, 'Pussy, get back to your basket.' He gave a last glance round the cockpit and backed out of the door.

Two hours, two years, later Bond was lying in the warm cabin in Weathership Charlie listening dreamily to an early morning radio programme from Canada. Various parts of his body ached. He had got to the tail of the plane and made the girl kneel down with her head cradled in her arms on the seat of a chair. Then he had wedged himself in behind and over her and had held her life-jacketed body tightly in his arms and braced his back against the back of the seat behind him.

She had been nervously making facetious remarks about the indelicacy of this position when the belly of the Strato-cruiser had thudded into the first mountain of swell at a hundred miles an hour. The huge plane skipped once and then crashed nose first into a wall of water. The impact had broken the back of the plane. The leaden weight of the bullion in the baggage compartment had torn the plane in half, spewing Bond and the girl out into the icy swell, lit red by the line of flares. There they had floated, half stunned, in their yellow life-jackets until the lifeboat got to them. By then there were only a few chunks of wreckage on the surface and the crew, with three tons of gold round their necks, were on their way down to the bed of the Atlantic. The boat hunted for ten minutes but when no bodies came to the surface they gave up the search and chugged back up the searchlight beam to the blessed wall of iron of the old frigate.

They had been treated like a mixture of royally and people from Mars. Bond had answered the first, most urgent questions and then it had all suddenly seemed to be too much for his tired mind to cope with. Now he was lying luxuriating in the peace and the heat of the whisky and wondering about Pussy Galore and why she had chosen shelter under his wing rather than under Goldfinger's.

The connecting door with the next cabin opened and the girl came in. She was wearing nothing but a grey fisherman's jersey that was decent by half an inch. The sleeves were rolled up. She looked like a painting by Vertes. She said, 'People keep on asking if I'd like an alcohol rub and I keep on saying that if anyone's going to rub me it's you, and if I'm going to be rubbed with anything it's you I'd like to be rubbed with.' She ended lamely, 'So here I am.'

Bond said firmly, 'Lock that door, Pussy, take off that sweater and come into bed. You'll catch cold.'

She did as she was told, like an obedient child.

She lay in the crook of Bond's arm and looked up at him. She said, not in a gangster's voice, or a Lesbian's, but in a girl's voice, Will you write to me in Sing Sing?'

Bond looked down into the deep blue-violet eyes that were no longer hard, imperious. He bent and kissed them lightly. He said, 'They told me you only liked women.'

She said, 'I never met a man before.' The toughness came back into her voice. 'I come from the South. You know the definition of a virgin down there? Well, it's a girl who can run faster than her brother. In my case I couldn't run as fast as my uncle. I was twelve. That's not so good, James. You ought to be able to guess that.'

Bond smiled down into the pale, beautiful face. He said, 'All you need is a course of TLC.'

'What's TLC?'

'Short for Tender Loving Care treatment. It's what they write on most papers when a waif gets brought in to a children's clinic.'

'I'd like that.' She looked at the passionate, rather cruel mouth waiting above hers. She reached up and brushed back the comma of black hair that had fallen over his right eyebrow. She looked into the fiercely slitted grey eyes. 'When's it going to start?'

Bond's right hand „ came slowly up the firm, muscled thighs, over the flat soft plain of the stomach to the right breast. Its point was hard with desire. He said softly, 'Now.' His mouth came ruthlessly down on hers.

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