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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.

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James Bond said, "Now this is what we're going to do. First of all, I want you somewhere where you can help but where I don't have to worry about you. Otherwise, if I know these men, they'll concentrate on you and guess that I'll do anything, even let them get away rather than let you get hurt." NEW YORK, April 2, 1909. Bond lay frozen. He had once seen a tropical centipede in a bottle of spirit on the shelf in a museum. It had been pale brown and very flat and five or six inches long-about the length of this one. On either side of the blunt head there had been curved poison claws. The label on the bottle had said that its poison was mortal if it hit an artery. Bond had looked curiously at the corkscrew of dead cuticle and had moved on. "Good luck," she whispered back.

In the early middle period of the world empire, while innovation was still possible, a group of physiologists and surgeons had devized a method which, it was hoped, would settle the matter for ever. The new technique was a half-way stage towards true ectogenesis. The womb and other necessary organs were removed from a young woman and kept alive artificially. The mutilated donor of these precious organs was then destroyed, but part of her blood-stream was put into artificial circulation through the excised organs and used as the medium for supplying them with necessary chemicals. The womb could then be inseminated, and would produce an infant. By various technical methods the process could be made far more rapid than normal reproduction. Moreover quintuplets could be procured from every conception. Unfortunately the excised organs could not be kept alive for more than ten years, so it was necessary to have a constant supply of young women. The government therefore imposed the death penalty on women for the most trivial offences, and used them up for artificial reproduction. At the same time it tried to educate female children in such a way that when they reached maturity many would actually desire the supreme glory of sacrificing their lives so that their wombs might live on with enhanced fertility. The response to this propaganda was disappointing. In fear of a really catastrophic decline of population the government passed a law that every woman, except members of the sacred governing class, must ‘give her life for her children’s sake’ at the age of twenty-five.

`Oi, Vida,' lamented a woman in the crowd. She needn't have worried. Even Bond could see that Vida was shamming as she lay on the ground, apparently winded. He could see her eyes glinting under her bent arm as Zora's foot came flashing at her ribs.