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"Another driver will be waiting outside the customs. He'll tell you what to do next. Now," her voice was urgent, "If anything happens at the customs, either end, you know nothing, see? You just don't know how the balls got into your bag. Whatever they ask you, just go on saying, 'By me'. Act dumb. I shall be watching. And maybe others too. That I wouldn't know. If they lock you up in America, ask for the British Consul and go on asking. You won't get any help from us. But that's what you're being paid for. Okay?"

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Now he could hear the rasping whine of the eight cylinders. He leaned over to the left and jerked a laconic thumb forwards, waving the Maserati past.

"No."As the Young Guns took to the woods, they brought everything that had been learned about sportsscience over the past decade. Matt Carpenter, a mountain runner in Colorado Springs, beganspending hundreds of hours on a treadmill to measure the variations in body oscillations when, forinstance, he took a sip of water (the most bio-mechanically efficient way to hold a water bottle wastucked into his armpit, not held in his hand). Carpenter used a belt sander and a straight razor toshave micro-ounces off his running shoes and plunged them in and out of the bathtub to gaugewater retention and drying speed. In 2005, he used his obsessive knowledge to blast the record atLeadville—he finished in a stunning 15:42, nearly two hours faster than the fastest Tarahumaraever had. Bond went up to his room. On the writing-desk an impressive array of dressings and medicaments had been laid out. He got on to Tracy and said, 'What the hell is this? Have you got a pass-key or something?' 'Well, I don't know how it is, my dear,' he replied, considering about it. 'I am rather so.' We're sitting in her Upper East Side living room, which is decorated in white from floor to ceiling — carpet, chairs, tables, sofa, and even the television. The only picture is a childhood portrait of her daughter Susan Scheftel, now a 27-year-old graduate student.

She paused and smiled up at him. "Now it's your turn again," she said. "Buy me another drink and then tell me what sort of a woman you think would add to you."

James Bond's last shot had been an inner left. Not good enough. He took another glance at the yellow and blue wind flags. They were streaming across range from the east rather more stiffly than when he had begun his shoot half an hour before, and he set two clicks more to the right on the wind gauge and traversed the cross-wires on the sniperscope back to the point of aim. Then he settled himself, put his trigger finger gently inside the guard and onto the curve of the trigger, shallowed his breathing, and very, very softly squeezed.

"Well, we're going to find out," said Mr Spang, "and go on finding out until the guy croaks, and if he thinks he can take it, he's got another think coming." He looked over Bond's head at the guard. "Wint, get Kidd and come back with the boots."