All was quiet in the drawing room at Southampton Row when Sir John Jennings burst in, brandishing The Times.
“Well it’s in, my dear! The advert is in! Shall I read it to you?”
His wife looked at him warmly and said gently in her French accent, “I have heard it, peut etre?”
“Perhaps not the final wording. I think I had the polished article in the end. Ahem… ‘Jennings and Jennings, Paranormal Investigators, available for hire in the Home Counties. Are you plagued by supernatural goings on or troubled by fantastical events? We can help, using the most modern scientific advances, to rid you of even the most ancient of terrors. 3 pence an hour, double on Sunday.’”
“Very good, mon cher,” said Marie Jennings, working on some crochet. “Now, I suppose we wait.”
“Indeed,” said Sir John, pacing around the room. “Anytime now we may get a card or a telegram or may even a contact on the new telephonic device.” He indicated a large brass object with a mouthpiece and a listening horn.
“The Queen has one you know!” he added.
“You may have mentioned that,” said Marie.
“Yes, sorry dear, to be such a bore. It’s just so exciting to finally put all of these ideas into action. The years of tinkering, inventing. There was a time when only you believed in me, I fancy, when you were the only one who understood my fascinations.”
He was interrupted by a buzzing noise coming from the telephonic device.
“What should I do?” he said, turning white.
“Perhaps you should answer it?” said his wife.
Sir John grabbed at the listening horn and put it to his ear and moved to the mouthpiece.
“Your Majesty?” he said, then quickly, “No, no, sorry I just thought… No, no I wasn’t expecting her to… Please stay on the line. Who are we? We are investigators of the paranormal, madam. We use scientific breakthroughs, many of them of my own invention and fashioning to uncover the truth and shed some light on the darkest of domains.”
He winked at his wife as he said this and she smiled indulgently.
“Experience? Well some of our work is of a theoretical nature at this juncture…. Yes, but I’m confident we can… Well let’s say no result, no fee, how’s that? Yes, good… and the nature of the er, event? Oh, a haunting…Oh yes, that shouldn’t present any problem. But surely a priest could be called… Oh, you did… Ran screaming from the building, I see… No, not at all… and the address? Grimley Hall, Woesbury. Well that sounds like a… like a place. You’re about half a day away I think. Tomorrow? Say at lunch? Good.”
Sir John put down the phone.
“Well Mrs Jennings, we have our first case”
Marie smiled up at him and noticed that his hand was only shaking a little.