“Mon cher,” said Marie after the policemen had left, “this sounds very dangerous. Maybe we should not get involved. Maybe it would be better if it was someone else.”
Sir John was pacing round the room in an agitated manner, grasping a large glass of brandy.
“Well, I confronted that swine Clackprattle and no harm came to me,” he said, then took a large swig of brandy.
“But … vampires,” said Marie. “It’s a different thing, and we don’t know where to start even. We don’t have any books on these creatures.”
“Well, we can research, we can go to the British Library, they have every sort of book there,” said Sir John. He looked at his empty brandy glass. He crossed the room and opened the door. The maid fell into the room, clutching a glass tumbler.
“Marvellous!” said Sir John. “Could you fetch me another brandy bottle?”
“I’m sorry, Sir Jenkins,” started Mrs Flitwick.
“Jennings?” said Sir John.
“No Sir, Flitwick,” said the maid. “I’m sorry but I couldn’t help but overhear what you was saying.”
“I thought you were outside the room?” said Sir John looking puzzled.
“Yes, Sir Jenkins, I was, but I had this tumbler against the door. That’s what I couldn’t help. My previous employer had a meeting with some constables that didn’t end so well, so I wanted to make sure everything was alright before I found myself destitute again.”
“I see,’ said Sir John, still a little uncertain.
“So, I heard you mention something unmentionable, and it made me think of someone who might be able to help you, sir. She is a woman with uncanny abilities at seeing the future and finding hidden personages.”
“Go on,” said Sir John, “please explain.”
“Well sir, my sister’s husband went missing, and so my sister went to see this woman, the one I’m telling you about. This woman said that her husband was somewhere in Penge and that his life was in terrible danger, which turned out to be true.”
“How so?” said Sir John.
“Well, my sister’s best friend lives in Penge, so my sister went there to visit and found her friend with her husband … in flagrante,” said the maid, looking meaningful.
Sir John looked puzzled.
“Is that a foreign restaurant?” he said. Marie leaned over and whispered in his ear. He went bright red.
“Oh, yes, I see, yes, so, er, what did your sister do?”
“She killed him sir, thus proving the fortune teller was right.”
“Very interesting,” said Sir John.
Marie sat up. “Where might we find this lady?” she said.
“Well, she’s in prison now, madam,” said Mrs Flitwick.
“No, I mean the fortune teller,” said Marie.
“Oh – she’s apparently called Gypsy Rosa Marvelosa, although I heard her real name is Agnes Pudding. She lives Hammersmith way and operates above a shop in the High Street.”
“Thank you, Mrs Flitwick,” said Marie. “You may go.”
“So, I don’t need to be packing?”
“Not at all,” said Marie. “Everything is perfectly fine.”
As the maid left, Marie turned to Sir John
“Why don’t you go see this woman? I can go to the British Library for books,” she said.
“It doesn’t sound terribly … scientific,” said Sir John.
“Mon cher,” said Marie. “We may learn something useful, and at worst it will be a minor diversion whilst the next steps become clear.”