"On special service, the same as yon, sir!" said the man with a grin and Desmond understood.
Really, the Chief was extremely thorough.
They went to the stores in the Haymarket, to Fortnum and Mason's, and lastly, to a small, grubby shop at the back of Mayfair where Desmond and his brother had bought their cigarettes for years past. Desmond purchased a hundred of their favored brand, the Dionysus, as a reserve for his journey back to France, and stood chatting over old times with the fat, oily-faced Greek manager as the latter tied up his cigarettes into a clean white paper parcel, neatly sealed up with red sealing wax.
Then Desmond drove back to the Nineveh Hotel where he left his taxi-driving colleague in the courtyard on the understanding that at 7.25 the taxi would be waiting to drive him to the station.
Desmond went straight upstairs to his room to put his kit together. In the strong, firmly woven web spread by the Chief, he felt as helpless as a fly caught in a spider's mesh. He had no idea of what his plans were. He only knew that he was going back to France, and that it was his business to get on the leave-boat that night.
As he passed along the thickly carpeted, silent corridor to his room, he saw the door of Strangwise's room standing ajar. He pushed open the door and walked in unceremoniously. A suitcase stood open on the floor with Strangwise bending over it. At his elbow was a table crowded with various parcels, a case of razors, different articles of kit, and some books. Desmond halted at the door, his box of cigarettes dangling from his finger.
"Hullo, Maurice," he said, "are you off, too?"
Strangwise spun round sharply. The blood had fished to his face, staining it with a dark, angry flush.