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what's the most profitable company

datatime: 2022-12-04 06:22:00 Author:yhfxKVVL

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.

'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.

The telephone rang. Colonel Smithers impatiently snatched up the receiver. 'Smithers speaking.' He listened, irritation growing on his face. 'I'm sure I sent you a note about the summer fixtures, Miss Philby. The next match is on Saturday against the Discount Houses.' He listened again. "Well, if Mrs Flake won't play goals, I'm afraid she'll have to stand down. It's the only position on the field we've got for her. Everybody can't play centre forward. Yes, please do. Say I'll be greatly obliged if just this once. I'm sure she'll be very good - right figure and all that. Thank you, Miss Philby.'

'What's the size of this traffic?'

'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.'

'You're not bored? Well, you were suggesting that gold production was so vast nowadays that it ought to take care of all these various consumers. Unfortunately that is not so. In fact the gold content of the world is being worked out. You may think that large areas of the world have still to be explored for gold. You would be mistaken. Broadly speaking, there only remains the land under the sea and the sea itself, which has a notable gold content. People have been scratching the surface of the world for gold for thousands of years. There were the great gold treasures of Egypt and Mycenae, Montezuma and the Incas. Croesus and Midas emptied the Middle Eastern territories of gold. Europe was worked for it - the valleys of the Rhine and the Po, Malaga and the plains of Granada. Cyprus was emptied, and the Balkans. India got the fever. Ants coming up from under the earth carrying grains of gold led the Indians to their alluvial fields. The Romans worked Wales and Devon and Cornwall. In the Middle Ages there were the finds in Mexico and Peru. These were followed by the opening up of the Gold Coast, then called Negro-land, and after that came the Americas. The famous gold rushes of the Yukon and Eldorado, and the rich strikes at Eureka sounded off the first modern Gold Age. Meanwhile, in Australia, Bendigo and Ballarat had come into production, and the Russian deposits at Lena and in the Urals were making Russia the largest gold producer in the world in the middle of die nineteenth century. Then came the second modern Gold Age - the discoveries on the Wit-watersrand. These were helped by the new method of cyanid-ing instead of separation of the gold from the rock by mercury. Today we are in the third Gold Age with the opening up of the Orange Free State deposits." Colonel Smithers threw up his hands. 'Now, gold is pouring out of the earth. Why, the whole production of the Klondike and the Home-stake and Eldorado, which were once the wonder of the world, would only add up to two or three years of today's production from Africa At this rate, Mr Bond,' Colonel Smithers leaned forward earnestly, ' - and please don't quote me - but I wouldn't be surprised if in fifty years' time we have not totally exhausted the gold content of the earth'

The lift came and they got in. Bond said, 'I'm not very impressed by the new ones. They look like any other country's money. The old ones were the most beautiful money in the world.'

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.'

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.'

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

'You could get a small premium in most countries -Switzerland, for instance-but it wouldn't be worth your while. India's still the place.'

'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.'

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

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

"Come in. Come in." Mr Goldfinger positively welcomed them. Mark you, he may have been tipped off by his bank manager or someone, but that factory was entirely devoted to designing a cheap alloy for jewellers' findings - trying out unusual metals like aluminium and tin instead of the usual copper and nickel and palladium that are used in gold alloys. There were traces of gold about, of course, and furnaces to heat up to two thousand degrees and so forth, but after all Goldfinger was a jeweller and a smelter in a small way, and all this was perfectly above-board. The Gold Squad retired discomfited, our legal department decided the brown dust in the trawler's timbers was not enough to prosecute on without supporting evidence, and that was more or less that, except' - Colonel Smithers slowly wagged the stem of his pipe -'that I kept the file open and started sniffing around the banks of the world.'

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.'

'I'm afraid not, Mr Bond. It isn't quite as easy as that. The population of the world is increasing at the rate of five thousand four hundred every hour of the day. A small percentage of those people become gold hoarders, people who are frightened of currencies, who like to bury some sovereigns in the garden or under the bed. Another percentage needs gold fillings for their teeth. Others need gold-rimmed spectacles, jewellery, engagement rings. All these new people will be taking tons of gold off the market every year. New industries need gold wire, gold plating, amalgams of gold. Gold has extraordinary properties which are being put to new uses every day. It is brilliant, malleable, ductile, almost unalterable and more dense than any of the common metals except platinum. There's no end to its uses. But it has two defects. It isn't hard enough. It wears out quickly, leaves itself on the linings of our pockets and in the sweat of our skins. Every year, the world's stock is invisibly reduced by friction. I said that gold has two defects.' Colonel Smithers looked sad. 'The other and by far the major defect is that it is the talisman of fear. Fear, Mr Bond, takes gold out of circulation and hoards it against the evil day. In a period of history when every tomorrow may be the evil day, it is fair enough to say that a fat proportion of the gold that is dug out of one corner of the earth is at once buried again in another corner.'

'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.'

The lift came and they got in. Bond said, 'I'm not very impressed by the new ones. They look like any other country's money. The old ones were the most beautiful money in the world.'

Colonel Smithers broke off. He looked apologetically at Bond. 'I'm not boring you? I do want you to get the picture of the sort of man this is - quiet, careful, law-abiding and with the sort of drive and single-mindedness we all admire. We didn't even hear of him until he suffered a slight misfortune. In the summer of 1954, his trawler, homeward bound from India, went ashore on the Goodwins and he sold the wreck for a song to the Dover Salvage Company. When this company started breaking the ship up and got as far as the hold they found the timbers ingregnated with a sort of brown powder which they couldn't put a name to. They sent a specimen to a local chemist. They were surprised when he said the stuff was gold. I won't bother you with the formula, but you see gold can be made to dissolve in a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids, and reducing agents - sulphur dioxide or oxalic acid - precipitate the metal as a brown powder. This powder can be reconstituted into gold ingots by melting at around a thousand degrees Centigrade. Have to watch the chlorine gas, but otherwise it's a simple process.

'What's the size of this traffic?'

The telephone rang. Colonel Smithers impatiently snatched up the receiver. 'Smithers speaking.' He listened, irritation growing on his face. 'I'm sure I sent you a note about the summer fixtures, Miss Philby. The next match is on Saturday against the Discount Houses.' He listened again. "Well, if Mrs Flake won't play goals, I'm afraid she'll have to stand down. It's the only position on the field we've got for her. Everybody can't play centre forward. Yes, please do. Say I'll be greatly obliged if just this once. I'm sure she'll be very good - right figure and all that. Thank you, Miss Philby.'

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 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.'

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