own skin from any police enquiries regarding the bomb, but the Professor has alternative advice: "Fasten
yourself upon the woman for all she's worth", meaning that Ossipon should find Winnie and exploit her
new widowhood. In order to do so, Ossipon sets off for Brett Street.
The narrator follows the Professor as he walks through the streets, dwarfed by the crowds but "meditating confidently on his power", the power he gains from having a bomb in his pocket and thus a "supreme guarantee of his sinister freedom". He bumps into Chief Inspector Heat as he is walking down an alleyway, a detective who recognises the Professor as one of the anarchists.
The narrative slips into the mind of Heat as he remembers how that afternoon he was hauled over by his boss (the Assistant Commissioner) for the Greenwich bomb, since his job was to prevent such events by patrolling the anarchists' activities. In defence, Heat denied that it could have been anything to do with the anarchists. His visit to the hospital to view the remains of the victim of the bomb is described: the body he inspects is "a heap of rags, scorched and bloodstained, half concealing what might have been an accumulation of raw material for a cannibal feast". Importantly, the Chief Inspector is told that the man seen heading towards the scene of the explosion just before the bomb went off was "a fair-haired fellow". This is the first of four major clues in this chapter that point to the idea that it was not Verloc who died.
Secondly, it is reported by a witness that the person carrying the bomb must have stumbled, a hint that the victim was not particularly practical. Thirdly, the Chief Inspector salvages from the remains a small, triangular label attached to a velvet collar, which later turns out to be a sure sign of the identity of the corpse. The narrative moves back into the alley where the detective is facing the Professor. They exchange slightly ridiculous threats, such as Heat's assertion, "You may be sure our side will win in the end". They part, the Professor disappearing into the crowd and Heat heading back to his office. More information about the bomb emerges - the fourth hint as to who it was who died - the bomber was "escorted" to the park by another man, a detail which reaffirms the likelihood of the dead man being somewhat incompetent.
Set in the grand apartments of the patroness of Michaelis, this chapter mocks patronage as conducted by high society. The "Lady Patroness" (no other name is given for her, reinforcing the sense that the agencies behind the anarchists' activities - as with The Embassy - are nobodies, or rather anybodies, and totally outside the law) likes to "watch what the world was coming to" by inviting various people to her salon. These include the Assistant Commissioner, as well as the anarchist Michaelis, who is a great favourite with his patroness because of child-like quality, fostered by a life spent in prison, for a crime committed when he was very young. The Patroness makes it clear that a police officer that makes any moves to arrest Michaelis for his anarchist activities will lose her favour, and "Her arbitrary kindness would not brook patiently any interference with Michaelis' safety".
The chapter moves to the office of the Assistant Commissioner, where he is interviewing his subordinate Heat regarding the bomb attack. The Assistant Commissioner seems keen to protect Michaelis from the enquiry: Conrad thus highlights the ingrained corruption of the police, by showing the Assistant Commissioner protecting his own connections at the expense of public safety. The old system of patronage is still running in the institutions Conrad depicts. Heat tells his boss (and the readers) that the triangular label found on the velvet coat of the dead bomber bore the address "32 Brett Street". Heat knows Verloc (because he has been acting as a double agent and informing the British police of anarchist activities) and thus recognises this as where Verloc lives. Is the dead man Verloc, or possibly another resident at the address?
The Assistant Commissioner visits "a great personage", Sir Ethelred the Secretary of State. He is a haughty figure, telling the Assistant Commissioner, "Don't go into details. I have no time for that", and giving the impression that he finds the bombing highly irritating. The Assistant Commissioner gets out of the situation by blaming Heat and implying he is unprofessional, which, given the preceding chapter, strikes the reader as hypocritical.
Sir Ethelred sheds more light on the incident, stating that the bomber "has destroyed himself by accident", and muses on whether the man was a deaf mute. Chapter by chapter, the reader gains more information about the identity of the corpse, and is thus forced to carry out a process of deduction similar to the one the characters are enacting. This is similar to the gathering of hearsay about the mysterious Kurtz in Conrad's other early masterpiece, Heart of Darkness.
Under order to report any developments to Sir Ethelred at the House (of Commons) later that evening, the Assistant Commissioner sets off for Brett Street. He stops to dine in an Italian restaurant before continuing on to the sinister and shadowy Brett Street.
The novel now flashes back to an earlier time, where Chapter Three left off, which is three weeks before the day of the bombing. While Verloc is absorbed in "deep meditations" (he is wondering how to accomplish Vladimir's commission), Winnie's frail mother
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