Fellow Passenger
bill,’ I said. ‘You can pay the rest when you fetch me.’
     
    ‘We shall be back to-night,’ the schoolmaster declared, trying to be sinister.
     
    ‘No, you won’t. I shall be very lucky if this intolerable muddle is straightened out by to-morrow night. Now, get on back to London and report!’
     
    I patted them on the back to show that there was no ill feeling and shoved them into their car. Then I picked up Michael Bassoon’s stage properties and managed to get a room at the pub just before closing-time.
     
    The fact that all decisions would now be taken for me induced a sense of delicious relaxation. The merits of communism as a rest-cure have never been fully realized - except theoretically and by professional psychologists. It is not a thought which would occur to party members, like myself, who must pride themselves on their dynamism. I dined on bacon and eggs and whisky, slept till ten in the morning, bathed luxuriously, had a chicken killed for me and ate the whole of it. I will not say qualms were entirely absent, but the party peace was far better than continuing the safe and objectless life of that tramp Bassoon.
     
    Another car turned up the following evening. This time the schoolmaster was not in it. The minor civil servant had as his companion an altogether more efficient type. He had a round, fair face; he never smiled as if he meant it; and he certainly was not English - though his trace of accent would not have been noticeable if one had not been waiting for it.
     
    I took them up to my bedroom and ordered drinks. The new, alarmingly genuine comrade put his gin down in one gulp. I nearly told him that he should never do that in public if he wanted to be taken for an Englishman, but decided that bluff, when I used it, should be more subtle.
     
    He went pretty straight to the point.
     
    ‘I am to give you this letter,’ he said. ‘We have been holding it for you for some time.’
     
    The envelope was beautifully non-committal, addressed in a semi-educated hand and properly stamped and postmarked. When I opened it, I grinned.
     
    ‘You recognize the writing?’ asked my new comrade.
     
    ‘Chris Emmassin,’ I answered.
     
    I have not the letter by me. It vanished with all the other papers of Bassoon. But the wording was very close to this.
     
    My Dear Cousin
     
    It’s of course obvious to me now that all the time we were working together your true loyalty was where mine now is. Your discretion astonishes all of us.
     
    But, as no one knows better than you, too much discretion may lead to an honest worker being deceived by someone cleverer than himself.
     
    Your uncle and aunt are genuinely sorry that they lost sight of you. There have, of course, been quite a number of changes in the family since you last saw us in 1938, and it is quite possible that your particular friends are no longer with us. Assuming that you acted in good faith, uncle tells me that you need have no fear of his resentment and that he is prepared to give you a good job in the business.
     
    If this letter manages to find you, I expect some of the family will be getting in touch at the same time. My advice to you is to trust them absolutely.
     
    ‘Are you prepared to obey orders?’ asked the professional.
     
    ‘With delight and relief, comrade.’
     
    ‘Have you any papers you wish to hand over to us for safe-keeping?’
     
    ‘My dear fellow, I got rid of them long ago!’ I answered with a pretence of astonishment.
     
    ‘Impossible! You were searched when you were caught!’
     
    ‘But inside the place. Before I was caught. Surely you know that?’
     
    ‘To whom?’
     
    ‘Comrade,’ I replied reproachfully. ‘You really must know that I am not authorized to answer that question.’
     
    ‘Oh, damn the lot of ‘em!’ said my other comrade, suddenly becoming more English than international. ‘Get him away first, and let them settle up their own bloody muddle afterwards.’
     
    The foreigner

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