The famous Haydon-Prideaux partnership.




"My other name's Bill,"he said. "I was christened Bill but Mr. Thursgood calls me William."

"Bill, eh. The unpaid Bill.Anyone ever call you that?"

"No, sir."

"Good name, anyway."

"Yes, sir."

"Known a lot of Bills. They've all been good'uns."









He imagined also that, like himself, Jim had had a great attachmentthat had failed him, and which he longed to replace. But here Bill Roach's speculationmet a dead end: he had no idea how adults loved each other.




That same term, Jim invented anickname for Roach. He dropped "Bill" and called him Jumbo instead.He gave no reason for this and Roach, as is common in the case of christenings,was in no position to object. In return, Roach appointed himself Jim'sguardian; a regent-guardian was how he thought of the appointment; a stand-inreplacing Jim's departed friend, whoever that friend might be.




And straight on, as if never bythought or word had he subscribed to that silly view: "It was the Czechscandal that put the final nail into Control's coffin, I suppose. That poor fellow who was shot in the backand got himself into the newspapers, the one who was so thick with Bill Haydonalways, so we hear. Ellis, we're to call him, and we still do, don't we,even if we know his real name as well as we know our own."




The scalp-hunters' official namewas Travel. They had been formed by Control on Bill Haydon's suggestion in thepioneer days of the cold war, when murder and kidnapping and crash blackmailwere common currency, and their first commandant was Haydon's nominee.




"Why do I say Ellis?" heasked conversationally. "Why do I talk about the Ellis affair when thepoor man's name was Prideaux?"

"Ellis was hisworkname."

"Of course. So many scandalsin those days, one forgets the details." Hiatus. Swinging of the right forearm.Lunge. "And he was Haydon's friend, not yours?"

"They were at Oxford togetherbefore the war."

"And stablemates in theCircus during and after. The famousHaydon-Prideaux partnership. My predecessor spoke of it interminably."








He also knew, like everyone else,that a big operation had aborted in Czechoslovakia, that the Foreign Office andthe Defence Ministry had jointly blown a gasket and that Jim Prideaux—head of the scalp-hunters—the oldest Czecho hand, and BillHaydon's lifelong stringer, had been shot up and put in the bag. Hence, heassumed, the loud silence and the glum faces. Hence also Bill Haydon's manic anger, of which the news spread likea nervous thrill through all the building: like God's wrath, said Mary, wholoved a full-scale passion. Later he heard the catastrophe called Testify.Testify, Haydon told him much later, was the most incompetent bloody operationever launched by an old man for his dying glory, and Jim Prideaux was the priceof it.




Or that Bill Haydon had resigned,on the grounds that he had been overruled or undercut, but Bill was alwaysresigning. This time, said the rumour, the grounds were somewhat different,however: Haydon was furious that theCircus would not pay the Czech price for Jim Prideaux's repatriation; itwas said to be too high in agents, or prestige. And that Bill had broken out in one of his fits of chauvinism anddeclared that any price was fair to get one loyal Englishman home: give themeverything, only get Jim back.




Another time, raking through warrecords of Circus strong-arm men, more out of nostalgia for the period thanpresent professional optimism, Guillam stumbled twice on Haydon's workname inas many minutes: in 1941 he was running French fishing smacks out of theHelford Estuary; in the same year, with Jim Prideaux as his stringer, he waslaying down courier lines across southern Europe from the Balkans to Madrid.




And hearing Tom Tower strike theevening six, he found himself thinking of Bill Haydon and Jim Prideaux, who musthave arrived here the year that he went down, and were then gathered up by thewar; and he wondered idly how they must have looked together then; Bill, the painter, polemicist andsocialite; Jim, the athlete, hanging on his words. In their heyday together inthe Circus, he reflected, that distinction had all but evened out: Jim grewnimble at the brainwork and Bill in the field was no man's fool. Only at theend, the old polarity asserted itself: the workhorse went back to his stable,the thinker to his desk.




Connie with Bill Haydon one side and Jim Prideaux the other, the menin cricket gear and all three looking very-nicely-thank-you, as Connie put it,on a summer course at Sarratt, the grounds stretching out behind them, mown andsunlit, and the sight screens glistening.




" 'We miss his flair,' says Giles, 'they don't breed them likeBill Haydon any more.' Giles must be a hundred and eight in the shade. Says hetaught Bill modern history, in the days before 'Empire' became a dirty word. Asked after Jim, too. 'His alter ego, wemight say, hem hem, hem hem.' You never liked Bill, did you?"




That Bill Haydon was looking strangely young and that Circus rumoursabout his love-life were not after all so laughable: they said he went bothways.




"You asked me to look out for anything on Prideaux," heannounced at last. "Well, I find that we do have a few papers on him,after all."

He had happened to be going through some files on the internalsecurity of the Circus, he explained, "Simply to clear my decks."Doing so, he had stumbled on some old positive vetting reports. One of themrelated to Prideaux.

"He was cleared absolutely, you understand. Not a shadow.However"—an odd inflexion of his voice caused Smiley to glance athim—"I think it might interest you, all the same. Some tiny murmur abouthis time at Oxford. We're all entitled to be a bit pink at that age."

"Indeed, yes."

The silence returned, broken only by the soft tread of Mendelupstairs.

"Prideaux and Haydonwere really very close indeed, you know," Lacon confessed. "I hadn'trealised."









"...Ellis had been shot but they didn't say killed; otherarrests were imminent. I looked Ellis up in the workname index and found JimPrideaux. And I thought, just as Control must have thought, If Jim is shot andhas Czech papers, how the hell do they know his workname, and how do they knowhe's British? Then Bill Haydon arrived,white as a sheet. Picked up the story on the ticker-tape at his club. Heturned straight round and came to the Circus."




"He was a treat to watch, that's all I can tell you. I used tothink of him as an erratic sort of devil. Not that night, believe me. Allright, he was shaken. Who wouldn't be? He arrived knowing there'd been aGod-awful shooting party and that was about all. But when I told him that it was Jim who'd been shot, he looked at melike a madman. Thought he was going to go for me. 'Shot. Shot how? Shot dead?'I shoved the bulletins into his hand and he tore through them one by one—"




"Anyway, he took over the switchboard and by morning he'dpicked up what few pieces there were and introduced something pretty close tocalm. He told the Foreign Office to sit tight and hold its water; he got holdof Toby Esterhase and sent him off to pull in a brace of Czech agents, studentsat the London School of Economics. Bill had been letting them hatch till then;he was planning to turn them round and play them back into Czecho. Toby'slamplighters sandbagged the pair of them and locked them up in Sarratt. Then Bill rang the Czech head resident inLondon and spoke to him like a sergeant major: threatened to strip him so barehe'd be the laughing-stock of the profession, if a hair of Jim Prideaux's headwas hurt. He invited him to pass that on to his masters. I felt I waswatching a street accident and Bill was the only doctor. He rang a presscontact and told him in strict confidence that Ellis was a Czech mercenary withan American contract; he could use the story unattributably. It actually madethe late editions. Soon as he could, he slid off to Jim's rooms to make surehe'd left nothing around that a journalist might pick on if a journalist wereclever enough to make the connection, Ellis to Prideaux. I guess he did athorough cleaning-up job. Dependants, everything."

"There weren't anydependants," Smiley said. "Apart from Bill, I suppose," headded, half under his breath.





"My dear Fan, I suggest you stir yourself to make a fewenquiries about the young gentleman whose name is appended on the attachedfragment of human skin." [Inquisitors' superfluous note: Prideaux.]"You probably know Jim—if you know him at all—as an athleticus of someaccomplishment. What you do not know but ought to is that he is no meanlinguist nor yet a total idiot either..." [Here followed a biographicalsummary of surprising accuracy:... Lycee Lakanal in Paris, put down for Eton,never went there, Jesuit day-school Prague, two semesters Strasbourg, parentsin European banking, small aristo, live apart... ]

"Hence our Jim's wide familiarity with parts foreign, and hisrather parentless look, which I find irresistible. By the way: though he ismade up of all different bits of Europe, make no mistake: the completed versionis devoutly our own. At present, he is abit of a striver and a puzzler, for he has just noticed that there is a WorldBeyond the Touchline and that world is me.

"But you must first hear how I met him.

"As you know, it is my habit (and your command) now and then toput on Arab costume and go down to the bazaars, there to sit among the greatunwashed and give ear to the word of their prophets, that I may in due coursebetter confound them. The juju man en vogue that evening came from the bosom ofMother Russia herself: one Academician Khlebnikov, presently attached to theSoviet Embassy in London, a jolly, rather infectious little fellow, who managedsome quite witty things among the usual nonsense. The bazaar in question was adebating club called the Populars—our rival, dear Fan, and well known to youfrom other forays I have occasionally made. After the sermon a wildlyproletarian coffee was served, to the accompaniment of a dreadfully democraticbun, and I noticed this large fellow sitting alone at the back of the room,apparently too shy to mingle. His face was slightly familiar from the cricketfield; it turns out we both played in some silly scratch team withoutexchanging a word. I don't quite know how to describe him. He has it, Fan. I amserious now."

Here the handwriting, till now ill-at-ease, spread out as the writergot into his stride:

"He has that heavy quiet that commands. Hard-headed, quiteliterally. One of those shrewd quiet ones that lead the team without anyonenoticing. Fan, you know how hard it is for me to act. You have to remind me allthe time, intellectually remind me, that unless I sample life's dangers I shallnever know its mysteries. But Jim acts from instinct... he is functional... He's my other half, between us we'd makeone marvellous man, except that neither of us can sing. And Fan, youknow that feeling when you just have to go out and find someone new or theworld will die on you?"

The writing steadied again.

" 'Yavas Lagloo,' says I, which I understand is Russian formeet me in the woodshed or something similar, and he says 'Oh, hullo,' which Ithink he would have said to the Archangel Gabriel if he'd happened to bepassing.

" 'What is your dilemma?' says I.

" 'I haven't got one,' says he, after about an hour's thought.

" 'Then what are you doing here? If you haven't a dilemma howdid you get in?'

"So he gives a big placid grin and we saunter over to the greatKhlebnikov, shake his tiny paw for a while, then toddle back to my rooms. Wherewe drink. And drink. And, Fan, he drank everything in sight. Or perhaps I did,I forget. And come the dawn, do you know what we did? I will tell you, Fan. Wewalked solemnly down to the Parks, I sit on a bench with a stop-watch, and bigJim gets into his running kit and lopes twenty circuits. Twenty. I was quiteexhausted.

"We can come to youany time; he asks nothing better than to be in my company or that of my wicked,divine friends. In short, he has appointed me his Mephistopheles and I amvastly tickled by the compliment. By the by, he is virgin, about eight foottall, and built by the same firm that did Stonehenge. Do not be alarmed."

The file died again. Sitting up, Smiley turned the yellowed pagesimpatiently, looking for stronger meat. Thetutors of both men aver (twenty years later) that it is inconceivable that therelationship between the two was "more than purely friendly"...


















Smiley was nearly asleep as he read the last entry on the file,tossed in haphazard long after Jim's formal clearance had come through from thecompetition. It was a cutting from an Oxford newspaper of the day giving areview of Haydon's one-man exhibition in June, 1938, headed "Real orSurreal? An Oxford Eye."

Having torn the exhibition to shreds, thecritic ended on this gleeful note: "Weunderstand that the distinguished Mr. James Prideaux took time off from hiscricket in order to help hang the canvases. He would have done better, inour opinion, to remain in the Banbury Road. However, since his role of Dobbinto the arts was the only heartfelt thing about the whole occasion, perhaps wehad better not sneer too loud..."




Smiley asked: "It never crossed your mind to drop thejob?"

"No. It did not," Jim snapped, his voice rising in athreat.

"Although, right from the start, you thought the idea waspoppycock?" There was nothing but deference in Smiley's tone. No edge, nowish to score: only a wish to have the truth, clear under the night sky."You just kept marching. You'd seen what was on your back, you thought themission absurd, but you still went on, deeper and deeper into the jungle."

"I did."

"Had you perhapschanged your mind about the mission? Did curiosity draw you after all—was thatit? You wanted passionately to know who the mole was, for instance? I'm onlyspeculating, Jim."

"What's the difference? What the hell does my motive matter ina damn mess like this?"









"And what did he say about me?" He repeated: "Whatdid he say about me?"

"Showed me a cigarette lighter. Said it was yours. Present fromAnn. 'With all my love.' Her signature. Engraved."

"Did he mention how he came by it? What did he say, Jim? Comeon, I'm not going to weaken at the knees just because some Russian hood made abad joke about me."

Jim's answer came out like an army order. "He reckoned thatafter Bill Haydon's fling with her, she might care to redraft theinscription." He swung away towards the car. "I told him," he shouted furiously. "Told him to hiswrinkled little face. You can't judge Bill by things like that. Artists havetotally different standards. See things we can't see. Feel things that arebeyond us. Bloody little man just laughed. 'Didn't know his pictures were thatgood,' he said. I told him, George. 'Go to hell. Go to bloody hell. If you hadone Bill Haydon in your damned outfit, you could call it set and match.' Isaid to him: 'Christ Almighty,' I said, 'what are you running over here? Aservice or the bloody Salvation Army?' "







"Yes," he said. "Idid a bit of forgetting, too. So Toby actually mentioned Tinker, Tailor to you.However did he get hold of that story, unless... And no word from Bill?"he went on. "Not even a postcard."

"Bill was abroad," saidJim shortly.

"Who told you that?"


"So you never saw Bill; since Testify, your oldest, closestfriend, he disappeared."

"You heard what Toby said. I was out of bounds. Quarantine."

"Bill was never much of a one for regulations, though, washe?" said Smiley, in a reminiscent tone.

"And you were never one to see him straight," Jim barked.











"So when was the last time you saw Bill, actually? To talkto," Smiley asked, just as one might about any old friend. He hadevidently disturbed Jim in other thoughts, for he took a moment to lift hishead and catch the question.

"Oh, round about," he said carelessly. "Bumped intohim in the corridors, I suppose."

"And to talk to? Never mind." For Jim had returned to hisother thoughts. 






Somewhere the path of pain and betrayal must end. Until thathappened, there was no future; there was only a continued slide into still moreterrifying versions of the present. Thisman was my friend and Ann's lover, Jim's friend and—for all I know—Jim's lover,too; it was the treason, not the man, that belongedto the public domain.




He knew, of course. He had always known it was Bill. Just as Controlhad known, and Lacon in Mendel's house. Just as Connie and Jim had known, andAlleline and Esterhase; all of them had tacitly shared that unexpressedhalf-knowledge which like an illness they hoped would go away if it was neverowned to, never diagnosed.




"WasStevcek's original offer genuine, by the way?" Smiley asked.

"GoodLord, no," said Haydon, actually shocked. "It was a fixfrom the start. Stevcek existed, of course. He was a distinguished Czechgeneral. But he never made an offer to anyone."

Here Smiley sensed Haydon falter. For the first time, he actuallyseemed uneasy about the morality of his behaviour. His manner became noticeablydefensive.

"Obviously,we needed to be certain Control would rise, and how he would rise... and who hewould send. We couldn't have him picking some half-arsed little pavementartist: it had to be a big gun to make the story stick. We knew he'd onlysettle for someone outside the mainstream and someone who wasn't Witchcraft-cleared.If we made it a Czech, he'd have to choose a Czech speaker, naturally."


"Wewanted old Circus: someone who could bring down the temple a bit."

"Yes,"said Smiley, remembering that heaving, sweating figure on the hilltop. "Yes,I see the logic of that."

"Well, damn it, I got him back," Haydon snapped.

"Yes, that was good of you. Tell me, didJim come to see you before he left on that Testify mission?"

"Yes, he did, as a matter of fact."

"To say what?"

For a long, long whileHaydon hesitated, then did not answer. But the answer was written there, allthe same: in the sudden emptying of his eyes, in the shadow of guilt thatcrossed his thin face. He came to warn you, Smiley thought; because he lovedyou. To warn you; just as he came to tell me thatControl was mad, but couldn't find me because I was in Berlin. Jim was watching your back for you righttill the end.

Also, Haydon resumed, it had to be a country with a recent historyof counter-revolution: Czecho was honestly the only place.

Smiley appeared not quite to be listening.

"Whydid you bring him back?" he asked. "For friendship's sake? Because he was harmless and you held all thecards?"

It wasn't just that, Haydon explained. As long as Jim was in a Czechprison (he didn't say Russian), people would agitate for him and see him assome sort of key. But once he was back, everyone in Whitehall would conspire tokeep him quiet; that was the way of it with repatriations.

"I'msurprised Karla didn't just shoot him. Or did he hold back out of delicacytowards you?"

But Haydon had drifted away again into half-baked politicalassertions.





















Smiley shrugged it all aside, distrustful as ever of the standardshapes of human motive. He settled instead for a picture of one of those woodenRussian dolls that open up, revealing one person inside the other, and anotherinside him. Of all men living, only Karla had seen the last little doll insideBill Haydon. When was Bill recruited, and how? Was his right-wing stand atOxford a pose, or was it paradoxically the state of sin from which Karlasummoned him to grace?

Ask Karla: pity I didn't.

Ask Jim: I never shall.






For the rest of that term,Jim Prideaux behaved in the eyes of Roach much as his mother had behaved whenhis father went away. He spent a lot of time onlittle things, like fixing up the lighting for the school play and mending thesoccer nets with string, and in French he took enormous pains over smallinaccuracies. But big things, like his walks and solitary golf, these he gaveup altogether, and in the evenings stayed in and kept clear of the village.Worst of all was his staring empty look when Roach caught him unawares, and theway he forgot things in class, even red marks for merit. Roach had to remindhim to hand them in each week.




By the night of the play, he was more light-hearted than Roach hadever known him. "Hey, Jumbo, you silly toad, where's your mac—can't yousee it's raining?" he called out, as tired but triumphant, they trailed back to themain building after the performance. "His real name is Bill," heheard him explain to a visiting parent. "We were newboys together."




There was lastly the incident ofthe owl, which had a separate place in their opinion of him, since it involveddeath, a phenomenon to which children react variously. The weather continuingcold, Jim brought a bucket of coal to his classroom and one Wednesday lit it inthe grate, and sat there with his back to the warmth, reading a dictee. Firstsome soot fell, which he ignored; then the owl came down, a full-sized barn owlwhich had nested up there, no doubt, through many unswept winters and summersof Dover's rule, and was now smoked out, dazed and black from beating itself toexhaustion in the flue. It fell over the coals and collapsed in a heap on thewooden floorboard with a clatter and a scuffle, then lay like an emissary ofthe devil, hunched but breathing, wings stretched, staring straight out at theboys through the soot which caked its eyes. There was no one who was notfrightened; even Spikely, a hero, was frightened. Except for Jim, who had in asecond folded the beast together and taken it out of the door without a word.They heard nothing, though they listened like stowaways, till the sound ofrunning water from down the corridor as Jim evidently washed his hands. "He's having a pee," said Spikely, which earned a nervous laugh. But asthey filed out of the classroom they discovered the owl still folded, neatlydead and awaiting burial, on top of the compost heap beside the Dip. Its neck,as the braver ones established, was snapped. Only a gamekeeper, declaredSudeley, who had one, would know how to kill an owl so well.




They drove to Sarratt at a madspeed, and there, in the open night under a clear sky, lit by several handtorches and stared at by several white-faced inmates of the Nursery, sat BillHaydon on a garden bench facing the moonlit cricket field. He was wearingstriped pyjamas under his overcoat; they looked more like prison clothes. Hiseyes were open and his head was propped unnaturally to one side, like the headof a bird when its neck has been expertly broken.


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