In London, Liz receives a letter from Party Centre, an organizational headquarters for Communist party members, inviting her to visit Leipzig to exchange experiences with other Branch Secretaries there. She thinks her name must have been suggested by that “queer” man Ashe from Cultural Relations, who had taken her out to coffee and asked her so many personal questions about herself, like whether she had a boyfriend. The trip is quite soon, and she wonders why they think she will be able to get the time off from work, but then remembers that she told Ashe that she has vacation days left for the year. She also finds it an oddly long letter, given the fact that the Centre is usually short on secretaries. She does recognize the signature on the letter, however, and its tone matches the usual “awkward, semi-bureaucratic, semi-Messianic style” of most communications from the party.
In the time since Leamas has left, Ashe has come to get to know Liz and she has been promoted to Branch Secretary of her local Communist organization. Ashe is one of the Communists who recruited Leamas, and Leipzig is in East Germany, which recalls Fiedler’s menacing hint that it might be “too late” to never mention Liz to Leamas again. For the first time, Liz can feel that there is something odd in the way she is being treated by the Communist Party, but she does not suspect that she is being manipulated for any consequential reason, because she does not think that there is anything for the party to gain by manipulating her.
The letter compliments Liz on her work spreading the word about Communism, when in fact that is her least favorite part of the work. When she is sent out to sell copies of the Daily Worker she sometimes just buys them herself so she can go home. She knows other party members do the same, and she wonders how they justify it to themselves, and why they all need to lie so much. She also wonders about why she was made Branch Secretary in the first place. She assumes it was because someone wanted to sleep with her, and then the others had gone along with the suggestion because she could type. She finds it very odd.
Although Liz is a heartfelt believer in Communist ideology, she is suspicious of some of the Party’s rhetoric and methods. She herself is not above cheating when she is sent to sell newspapers that no one wants to buy, because this does not seem to her like the true work of the Party. She sees that the lofty goals set by Communists often lead to people cutting corners and telling lies, which she finds morally repugnant.
Although the circumstances are strange, Liz is excited for the trip, which she could never afford to take on her own. She has never been abroad before at all. She does feel a bit suspicious of Germans, even though the party says East Germany is democratic and peaceful and West Germany is full of fascists. It occurs to her that perhaps she has been invited because her father was killed during World War II. This thought reassures her. The Party, she feels, wants her to travel to Germany as a gesture of reconciliation. Liz responds to the letter, accepting the offer. As she closes her desk drawer she catches sight of Smiley’s card, and remembers him asking her if the Party knew about her relationship with Leamas. The trip, Liz reflects, will take her mind off missing Leamas.
Liz feels sure that there is a hidden reason that she has been chosen to go on this exciting trip, but she does not suspect that it has to do with the geopolitical competition between East and West, or with Leamas. Instead, she thinks that the distant powers-that-be in Party Centre must have a reason for wanting her to travel to Leipzig that coincides with her own moral convictions. She wants to be a part of an effort to strengthen the post-war peace, and willfully believes that there is nothing sinister behind this odd invitation.