Leamas gets put into a job in the Banking department until his contract runs out. The work in Banking is easy but top-secret, perfect for agents about to be retired. No one at the Circus is surprised by this demotion, because although Leamas did good work during World War II, he failed in Berlin. Elsie from Accounting spreads the word that Leamas will not get his full pension. Leamas begins to drink a great deal, acts enraged, and borrows money and does not repay it. He looks dirty and, as more and more people avoid him, becomes a solitary. One day he leaves the job without saying goodbye to anyone. Soon after, a rumor spreads that he stole several thousand pounds from Banking Section. Before leaving Leamas had often talked bitterly about the Americans, seeming to hate them more than the Abteilung. After his disappearance, people quickly forget about him.
The novel jumps straight from Control’s first slight hints as to how Leamas should begin to act for his next assignment to the moment when Leamas actually begins to play this role, skipping over the consultation with Peter Guillam and George Smiley that Control invited Leamas to have at his house in Chapter 2. Instead, the chapter begins describing the way Leamas is perceived as he enacts a new, but very plausible role. This grumpy, antisocial, heavy drinking man is not very different from the Leamas introduced in the first two chapters, while stealing seems surprising, but not impossible.
Leamas moves into a small, shabby flat. He has no money. He first tries working as a manager at a factory, but quits after a week. He tries to sell encyclopedias door to door, but does not sell a single copy. He gets a reputation in the neighborhood as an absentminded, dirty-looking drunk. A woman comes to clean his apartment but quits after a week, and both she and the local bartender tell others that it looks like Leamas’s money will soon run out. They warn against giving him credit.
Leamas acts as though he is a penniless drunk, and he begins to get a reputation throughout his neighborhood as such. He also seems incapable of holding down any kind of job. He shows no desire to get to know his new neighbors, which is partially an aspect of his new persona for the mission, but also part of the way Leamas believes spies must always operate.