Christmas was coming, and as Trebitsch walked towards the Paris embassy he recalled the scene a few months earlier. Lister had his head in the diary when he’d slapped the two letters on the counter in front of him.
“Inform Sir Bertie he has a visitor,” said Trebitsch.
Sir Bertie had arrived full of himself. “Oh, he’s come back for more!” he bellowed. He tore them open coolly with an ominous smile.
Inglis was with him. “After your last visit, Mr. Lister wrote to Mr. Ponsonby about your preposterous demands and your unsuitable behaviour. You will find you have wasted your trip.”
Old Bertie the Bull had fiercely ripped apart the second envelope, paper falling to the floor. Trebitsch remembered the tension in his face, it caving in on itself. He took great joy in rising to Inglis.
“The first letter is a personal introduction from Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary, as you seem to feel the need to bother him. The second is also official, on behalf of the Prime Minister of the British Empire, by Mr. Ponsonby. He rebukes Sir Bertie and your own behaviour and requires you to provide me each book on my list.”
Bertie’s breath became a heave. “We’ll see to it.”
Trebitsch had said he would call back in December for the works and asked Lister to make him an appointment.
“Minister!” said Lister.
Inglis said, “No! Sir Bertie, surely—“
And Bertie had bowed his head and said, “Get him…his FUCKING books.”
Now, returning, he was shown through without any fuss. Inglis’s office table bore ten thick volumes on Commerce and thirteen on Labour. Trebitsch looked them up and down and tapped and flicked a view.
“As it took so much trouble to acquire these I am very sure standard mail is insufficient. Mr. Inglis, please be so good as to have them wrapped and sent special delivery to Mr. Rowntree’s home in York.”
Inglis nodded silently. Trebitsch saw Sir Bertie on the way out. His rage appeared not to have subsided in the intervening months.
Ignacz The Watch Thief is serialised five days a week. To donate go to patreon.com/andyluke and access four advance chapters, commentaries or bonus art.