Doctor No had come through a door behind his desk. He stood looking at them benignly, with a thin smile on his lips.
'Dear me!' I said.
Like an octopus under a rock, Le Chiffre watched him from the other side of the table.
'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.'
There were none. All eyes were on Goldfinger, waiting. Once again the authority of his words had gripped them. This man seemed to know more about the secrets of Fort Knox than had ever been released to the outside world.
He looked quickly at me. "What do you mean, awful? You feeling ill or something?"
Wadakin, on the road across the mountains to the ancient capital of Kyoto, was a little upland hamlet without distinction. Tiger gave decisive orders to the driver of the hired car and they arrived at a tall, barn-like building in a back street. There was a strong smell of cattle and manure. The chief herdsman, as he turned out to be, greeted them. He had the apple cheeks and wise kindly eyes of his counterparts in Scotland and the Tyrol. Tiger had a long conversation with him. The man looked at Bond and his eyes twinkled. He bowed perfunctorily and led the way inside. It was cool out of the sun. There were rows of stalls in which vastly fat brown cows lay chewing the cud. A gay small dog was licking the muzzle of one of them and being occasionally given a lick in return. The herdsman lifted a barrier and said something to one of the cows which got unsteadily up on to legs that had become spindly through lack of exercise. It ambled unsteadily out into the sunshine and looked warily at Tiger and Bond. The herdsman hauled out a crate of beer bottles. He opened one and handed it to Bond. Tiger said peremptorily, 'Give it to the cow to drink.'