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Lesson11 Not guilty
Going through the Customs is a tiresome business. The strangest thing about it is that really honest people are often made to feel guilty. The hardened professional smuggler, on the other hand, is never troubled by such feelings, even if he has five hundred gold watches hidden in his suitcase. When I returned from abroad recently, a particularly officious young Customs Officer clearly regarded me as a smuggler.
‘Have you anything to declare?’ he asked, looking me in the eye.
‘No,’ I answered confidently.
‘Would you mind unlocking this suitcase please ?’
‘Not at all,’ I answered.
The Officer went through the case with great care. All the things I had packed so carefully were soon in a dreadful mess. I felt sure I would never be able to close the case again. Suddenly, I saw the Officer’s face light up. He had spotted a tiny bottle at the bottom of my case and he pounced on it with delight.
‘Perfume, eh?’ he asked sarcastically. ‘You should have declared that.’ Perfume is not exempt from import duty.’
‘But it isn’t perfume,’ I said.’ It’s hair-oil.’ Then I added with a smile,’ It’s a strange mixture I make myself.’ As I expected, he did not believe me.
‘Try it!’ I said encouragingly.
The Officer unscrewed the cap and put the bottle to his nostrils. He was greeted by an unpleasant smell which convinced him that I was telling the truth. A few minutes later, I was able to hurry away with precious chalk-marks on my baggage.