Chapter 5 Summary

The professor leaves the restaurant and makes his way home. Disappointed by the failed outcome of the Greenwich bombing, the Professor reflects on the mission of anarchist terrorism to which he has devoted his life. Although many anarchists are driven by a desire to remake the world as a better place, the Professor is moved more by personal ambition and a thirst for power.

After moving slowly down a crowded street, the Professor decides to walk down a less crowded alley. Coincidentally he runs into Chief Inspector Heat of the London police walking down the same deserted alley.

The Professor assumes that the Inspector wants to question him about the bombing, but Heat says that he is not looking for him. Heat has had a busy, unpleasant day since learning of the bombing. He is annoyed first and foremost because just a week before he told his supervisors that he anticipated no outbreaks of anarchist activity. He is upset with himself for appearing astonished before his supervisor when hearing the news of the bottom, hurting his reputation as a policeman.

After hearing the news of the bombing, Heat goes to the park to investigate, then to the hospital, where he examines the remains of the bomber. The site of the mangled limbs and body parts is stomach churning to Heat, but he does uncover a piece of dark-blue velvet from the mess that he believes could be a clue to the bomber’s identity.

He also talks to a woman who claims to have seen two men leave the train station at Greenwich. One was big and the other was smaller, and the smaller one appeared to be carrying a tin can. Heat figures that the bomber stumbled in the park on the way to his target, that he fell and accidentally set the bomb off.

Heat thinks about his chaotic day as he walks down the alley and meets the Professor. Heat hates dealing with anarchists because they have no palpable conviction. Before he was assigned to the special crimes unit, he investigated thieves. Heat has a certain respect for thieves because they commit crime for a logical reason: to feed themselves. However Heat cannot understand the absurd actions of anarchists, who seem to murder for no logical reason.

Angry at the sneering Professor, Heat tells him that when he does want the small bespectacled man, he will have him. The Professor responds that any such taking would result in both of their deaths. This comment infuriates Heat even more, and he responds by making fun of the anarchist’s failure to carry out their plots. After this the two men separate.

Heat returns to the police station and meets with his supervisor, the Assistant Commissioner. Heat informs the Assistant Commissioner of his one lead in the case: the two men the woman saw had come from the country train station of Maze Hill, where the noted anarchist Michaelis was staying.