Leamas spends three months in prison after the incident. He makes no friends among the other prisoners. They resent this and try to harass him, but he beats one up with a gardening hoe and is left alone. When Leamas leaves the prison, he is given his belongings back in a paper parcel and given a tip for a job. He takes a bus into London and walks for a long time towards a good, cheap restaurant, enjoying the sunshine.
While in prison, Leamas cultivates no personal relationships, sticking strictly to the principle that he should remain solitary to prevent anyone from getting in the way of his mission. He feels some relief from the stress this isolation causes as he gets out of the prison and is able to walk freely through the streets. As is typical of his style, Le Carré skips over or briefly summarizes large events or chunks of time in order to keep the action moving.
Leamas wants to get rid of the parcel. Although it has his identification card and driver’s license in it, he leaves it on a bench and walks away. A man (Ashe) takes the package and calls to him, but Leamas ignores him. The man runs up to him, but Leamas says he will not take the parcel back and asks the man why he has been following him for the last half-hour. The man says that he thought he recognized Leamas from Berlin, where he had borrowed money from him. Leamas thinks that the man is not an amazing liar, but lies decently well. The man introduces himself as Ashe.
Ashe’s ability to quickly come up with a new reason for approaching Leamas, abandoning the excuse that he saw Leamas forget his parcel, strikes Leamas as telling. As a spy playing a role, Leamas recognizes another spy playing a role in the man who approaches him. While Leamas’s role calls for acting withdrawn and rude, Ashe’s role is to be friendly and draw Leamas in.
Ashe describes the times that he and Leamas spent together in Berlin. They go to lunch, and after listening to Ashe talk for a long time, Leamas says he remembers him. Ashe is a people-pleaser, which brings out the bully in Leamas. Leamas is so rude to him that he feels sure Ashe would not stick around without an ulterior motive. They agree to meet the following day so that Ashe can give Leamas back the money he says he borrowed from him in Berlin.
Leamas is testing Ashe with his rude behavior to make sure that Ashe has really been sent to make contact with him by some outside authority. Once he establishes this, Leamas pretends to believe Ashe’s lies. The reader does not yet know what Leamas’s plan to take Mundt down entails, but it seems as if Leamas sees Ashe as part of his mission.
Leamas watches Ashe leave, then walks around, drinks coffee, jumps on a bus, catches a train, then another train, and then walks for a long time. He gets into a cab at Charring Cross, giving his name to the driver as “Mr. Amies.” When he is dropped off at King’s Road, Control opens the door. He tells Leamas that Smiley is out. Leamas tells him he was followed by Ashe that morning, then describes hitting Ford, his encounter with Ashe and his time in prison.
Leamas makes these elaborate detours to make sure no one is following him. He also gives a false name when he gets a cab, disguising his identity as he makes this trip to Smiley’s house. He is going to check in with Control, which does not fit with the role he has been playing of the fired, disaffected ex-spy angry at his old employers.
Control says that he heard Leamas was ill and that it was a shame he had no one to take care of him. After a long silence, Control asks Leamas if he knows that Liz is a Communist. Leamas says he knows. He warns Control not to involve Liz in any way in the mission. Leamas then asks Control who Pitt from the Labour Exchange is. Control says he knows no man named Pitt, and says no more.
Control does not pry much into Leamas’s affair with Liz, only letting him know that he knows about her and is slightly concerned that Leamas has become connected with an ideological “enemy.” When Control denies that he sent Pitt, it is another sign that Control is hiding parts of the plan from Leamas.
Leamas asks why Smiley isn’t at the house, and Control says that Smiley doesn’t like the operation. Control asks if Smiley gave Leamas the background on Mundt, and Leamas says he did. Leamas asks if Smiley knows about the “special interest” the operation is meant to protect. Smiley does know, but he has become squeamish about being involved in spy work, Control explains. Leamas asks how Control can be sure the East Germans are on to him and not Czechs or Russians, but Control only says he is sure of it.
According to Control, Smiley can no longer accept the moral sacrifices that spy work entails. Leamas cannot relate to this lack of loyalty to the Circus: he has undertaken to go on this mission without even knowing who he is meant to protect. At some point, Smiley filled in Leamas about all he knew from his earlier contacts with Mundt, perhaps during the weekend that Leamas spent at Control’s home immediately after returning from Berlin (an event not described to the reader).
Control asks Leamas if he would like anything done for Liz. Leamas says not to give her any money and that he will take care of her when he gets back. Control agrees, saying that it would be dangerous to make contact with Liz now, but then asks again if Leamas wants anything done for her. Leamas asks again that Liz be left alone, and then leaves.
Leamas wants Liz to be protected from the dangers that come with any involvement in spy work. At the same time, he cannot offer her any support during the rest of his mission, because he knows that this could compromise the mission. His hope is that his affair with Liz will ruin neither her life, nor his mission.