“You can tell this is one of hers, because of the colour scheme, virginal white with blue leading edges on the wings, let’s see what the message is.” Delicately for such a big, strong man Tompkins unclasped the small casket containing the message, unscrewed the top, and read out loud the words on the high-class parchment: ‘Message received old boy. Am on my way. Let’s see what he says.’

“Sounds like someone will be undertaking a rites of passage, Tomcat,” observed Dr Black, tilting his head to one side.

“Very much, Dr Black, he will undergo a trial, though it won’t feel like one, in fact it might well be the opposite of one, he will have a smile on his face, that’s for sure, but if he says the wrong things then he won’t die with a smile on his face, but it will be a recent memory as he fades out of sight into whatever comes to us after this life.”

“Sounds serious, is it necessary, though?”

“To preserve the integrity of our close-knit pack of patriotic pals, yes it is necessary, because it shows we won’t tolerate any spies, traitors, or turncoats. We have to preserve our order of fairplay.”

A waiter came across to the table – “Sir, would you like me to cook the pigeon for you? Might I recommend poached?”

Tompkins’s stentorian boom of laughter reverberated around the room – “Oh well, I think my friend who owns this purebred racing pigeon would be upset about that. I will send him back with a message. Thank you for the suggestion – I am not that hungry.”

As the waiter left, Tompkins tore the parchment in two, putting the message in his top pocket and writing ‘Tophole’ on the rest. He placed the message in the casket, clasped it to the pigeon’s leg, and walked out of the room. He returned a minute later looking satisfied.

“Message sent?” said Dr Black.

“Absolutely, Bertie is on his way back to his owner.”

“I see.”

“There was something else in that message, Dr. There were 13 words, meaning that the person who wrote the message thinks the person she’s seeing will be unlucky. That can mean only one thing – knowledge of previous indiscretions I am unaware of. That is bad news for the victim.”

“And who is this, Tomcat, can you tell me?”

“Sorry, this is done on a need to know basis at the moment, as our group, our pal’s pact, our patriotic set have either been infiltrated or contains someone who is providing information to the people we are trying to overcome. We can’t have that and we have to restrict certain information.”

“I understand, Tomcat, anyway I must leave, I have to operate tomorrow morning at 10am and I need my sleep.”

“I quite understand, don’t want your fingers shaking at the table tomorrow, do we?” With that Tompkins shook Dr Black warmly by the hand and wished him adieu. Two of Tompkins’s Varsity pals slipped into the vacant seats.

Pig Wig Smythe was about 6ft high with short black hair. H’d a sharp eye for fashion. Pig Wig had taken Classics at Oxford and was now a teacher at a public school in the North Midlands.

Binky Featherstone was wealthy from her father’s chain of shoe shops in the Home Counties. She taught at a Kindergarten in Mayfair. She was a petite brunette who wore bright red lipstick on social occasions such as this. Binky spent most of the day wondering how to make more of her degree in Applied Mathematics.

“Are you having him followed, Tomcat?” asked Pig Wig.

“Casually, Pig Wig. He seemed to know a lot about kielbasa, but that’s not a bad thing, an unpatriotic thing, or a reason for suspicion, but we’ll see if he does anything odd or foreign on the way home.”