George Smiley: Ever bought a fake picture, Toby?
Toby Esterhase: I sold a couple once.
George Smiley: The more you pay for it, the less inclined you are to doubt its authenticity.
Toby Esterhase: Why pick on the little guy? Why not pick on the big ones? Percy Allenine, Bill Haydon!
Peter Guillam: I thought you were a big guy these days.
George Smiley: You're the perfect choice, Toby: resentful about slow promotion, sharp-witted, fond of money. With you as his agent, Polyakov has a cover story that really sits up and works. The big three give you the little sealed packets of chickenfeed, and Moscow Centre thinks you're all theirs. The only problem arises when it turns out you've been handing Polyakov the crown jewels, and getting Russian chickenfeed in return. If that's the case, Toby, you're going to need some pretty good friends. Like us. Gerald's a Russian mole, of course. And he's pulled the Circus inside out.
Jerry Westerby: I'll do a deal with you, an offer you can't refuse. I'll shack up with Ann and be the envy of London, and you can have my job on the comic. You've got just the turn of phrase for the women's ping-pong. "Inscrutable Chinese Wizardess". Do you fancy it?
George Smiley: Is that the task for today?
Jerry Westerby: Much bigger stuff, old boy. Footer, the opiate of the people. Heap big transfer... Scottish Thunderboots to rescue of ex-champs now on the slide.
Jerry Westerby: [downs a brandy] Firewater not good for braves. They think I'll blab, crack up.
George Smiley: Come on, Jerry, out with it. Did Toby say something about Ann?
Jerry Westerby: Some story he'd got. I told him to stuff it up his silk drawers.
Oliver Lacon: The Minister's main concern is this: in his own words, how much porcelain gets broken at the end of the day? Scandal, of course, is the name. If we unmask the mole, will the Russians turn around and reveal to the press of the world how they've made fools of us all?
George Smiley: I think not. If you make your enemy look stupid, you lose the justification for taking him on.
Oliver Lacon: Yes, I've told him THAT, George.
George Smiley: So isn't his mind at rest?
Oliver Lacon: He hopes there'll be nothing messy. Nothing that would provoke Moscow.
George Smiley: But proceed?
Oliver Lacon: Oh, heavens, yes!
George Smiley: Clean the stables. Problem: flush out the mole.
George Smiley: Karla really did bring off the perfect fix... for a while. It would be beautiful in another context.
Peter Guillam: Tinker: Alleline. Tailor: Haydon. Soldier: Bland. Spot the Mole.
[Smiley enters a bar to meet an old acquaintance]
Jerry Westerby: [greeting Smiley] George, old boy! What an amazing thing!
Jerry Westerby: The Russians moved in on Saturday, it was the day after they got Jim. Russians knew the lot, knew he was coming. They were lying in wait for him. Bad story, you see. Bad for big chief. Bad for tribe.
Jerry Westerby: Rum chap, Toby Esterhase.
George Smiley: But good.
Jerry Westerby: God, brilliant! First-rate chap! But rum.
[Smiley looks briefly out the window]
George Smiley: Just a shadow, I suppose...
George Smiley: I want to put a thesis to you, Toby. About what's been going on.
George Smiley: The art of being Gerald is to be one with a crowd. But when it comes to Polyakov, that's a whole different story.
Toby Esterhase: You're on a damn long road, George. What happens to you if you never reach the end?
George Smiley: With Lacon and the Minister behind me?
George Smiley: [peering out the window] Toby, you wouldn't be lying, would you? Did you bring a babysitter?
Toby Esterhase: George, I cross my heart, I swear to you.
George Smiley: What would you use for a job like this? Cars?
Toby Esterhase: No.
George Smiley: How many men?
Toby Esterhase: Eight, ten men.
George Smiley: What about one man alone?
Toby Esterhase: One? Never. Impossible.
Toby Esterhase: Listen, George. I know Polyakov works for Moscow. Of course I do, we all do. But come on, think how many operations we run this way. We bought Polyakov. He's a Moscow hood but he's also our joe. But he's got to pretend to his own people he's spying on us. We give him some little sealed packets, chickenfeed, Moscow claps him on the back and tells him he's a big man. It happens all the time. Come on, George, you know the game.
George Smiley: So are you Polyakov's agent inside the Circus?... Someone has to be.
George Smiley: Poor Toby. Yes, I do see, what a dog's life you must have had running between them all.
Peter Guillam: [at a window] Same as you, George: just a feeling that someone's watching my back.
Mendel: I followed both of you to the front door. If either of you had company, it's cleverer than me.
George Smiley: There are two of them, and Alleline.
Oliver Lacon: You've definitely cleared Esterhase?
George Smiley: Oh, yes.
Peter Guillam: The message will be, "Have information vital to the safeguarding of the service. Request immediate meeting. Personal." Remember, "Vital to the safeguarding of the service."
Ricki Tarr: It's even true.
Peter Guillam: Don't forget that. No mistakes, Ricki. Your head's on the block.
Ricki Tarr: Not the only one, Peter.