'The doctor said I was lucky.'
'The hearing damage means the end of active service, of course,' Miss Maxse went on. 'Even if it is minor. That must be a blow. You joined up straight away last September, didn't you?' She leaned forward, teacup enfolded in her hands.
'Yes. Yes, I did. Excuse me, Miss Maxse, but I'm a bit in the dark . . .'
She smiled again. 'Of course. What did the Foreign Office tell you when they rang?'
'Only that some people there thought there might be some work I could do.'
'Well, we're separate from the FO.' Miss Maxse smiled brightly. 'We're Intelligence.' She gave a tinkling laugh, as though overcome by the strangeness of it all.
'Oh,' Harry said.
Her voice became serious. 'Our work is crucial now, quite crucial. With France gone, the whole Continent is either allied to the Nazis or dependent on them. There aren't any normal diplomatic relationships any more.'
'We're the front line now,' Jebb added. 'Smoke?'
'No, thanks. I don't.'
From Winter in Madrid. Copyright C.J. Sansom. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
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