Four men and a woman are seated around a meeting room table in the Washington DC offices of the United States Intelligence Agency. One of the men is reading aloud from the Washington Evening Star newspaper.
“…and in his defense he charged that the murder victim, Mr. Townsend had tried to kill him the night before,” concludes the reading man.
“Brother!” says another man.
“What about that?” asks a third man.
“Does anyone know this Thornhill?” asks the woman.
“No, not me,” says one of the men.
“Never heard of him,” adds another.
“Professor?” asks the woman, turning to an elderly man with glasses seated at the head of the table. The Professor shakes his head.
“Apparently, the poor sucker got mistaken for George Kaplan,” says the second man.
“How could he be mistaken for George Kaplan when he doesn’t even exist?” asks the third man.
“Don’t ask me how it happened, but obviously it happened,” replies the second man. “Vandamm’s men must have grabbed him and tried to put him away, using Lester Townsend’s house.”
“And unsuspecting Townsend winds up with a stray knife in his back,” says the third man.
“C’est la guerre,” says the second man.
“It’s so horribly sad, ” says the first man, “Why is it I feel like laughing?”
“What are we going to do?” asks the woman.
“Do?” asks the first man.
“About Mr. Thornhill?” replies the woman.
We – we do nothing,” answers the Professor.
“Nothing?” asks the woman.
“That’s right: nothing,” replies the Professor. “Oh, we could congratulate ourselves on a marvelous stroke of good fortune…”