Today I have had the certainty. Today I’ve noticed their stinky breath in my neck. Now I know for certain that spies from all over Europe are stepping on my toes to discover if a normal human being (within what can be considered normal to someone whose great-uncle had been granted the title of Samurai by the very Emperor of France) could become the latest thing in the arms race. I’m afraid that some of them witnessed my sudden takeoff yesterday and now I fear for my life. So I’ve said goodbye to Gilberte and her parents hastily, and I’ve made the first excuse that crossed my mind. And of all the things to stick in my mouth it had to be my foot! I knew that in those days the newspaper L’Auto-Vélo was sponsoring the first Tour de France cycling stage race. And, I don’t know why, that’s exactly what came to my mind. “I must return to Paris because I’ve just won the Tour de France and I have to go pick up the trophy” I said as if stupefied. I know! I know! It was nonsense! How could I have won the Tour de France without moving from Karslbad? But do you know the work involved in thinking logically when subjected to great pressure? So, non of your smart aleck stuff with me, please. To make matters worse, Monsieur Swann has happened to be an avid reader of L’ Auto-Vélo and, consequently, he knew positively that the race had not yet begun. So he got a big laugh out of it thinking that I was joking and that what I really meant was that I had to go back to Paris to take part in the race. He took it as a pleasant surprise on my part and immediately decided that they would accompany me. And to celebrate my “anticipated victory”, he invited us to dinner in the most luxurious restaurant in Karlsbad.