Miss Henderson arrived with the next course of food and noted with approval the smile on Marie’s face. She put the used plates onto a trolley she had brought and then laid two plates of meat in front of the Jennings.
“This is a gnu,” she said and promptly left. Sir John looked at the meat with suspicion and took a bite.
“Ah!” he said. “It’s lamb. So … you met a gargoyle?”
“I didn’t know at first,” explained Marie, “I was sitting crying, and this old man’s voice said ‘What is the matter mademoiselle?’ It was a rough voice, but you could hear the kindness underneath. I was distraught, hands over my face and said the first thing that came to mind: ‘I’m a monster.’
“‘Hmm,’ said the voice, ‘there are worse things to be.’
“I looked up in confusion and saw that I was talking to a gargoyle. I could see it moving clearly, in fact all of the gargoyles on the building were moving. No one else seemed to notice. ‘Who are you?’ I said.
“‘My name is Albrecht,’ said the gargoyle.
“‘Isn’t that a strange name for a gargoyle?’ I said.
“‘Do you know many gargoyles?’ he said.
“‘No,’ I admitted, ‘I think you are my first.’
“We talked for some time then. I’m sure the people around me thought I was crazy, talking to myself. But many people were crazy then. Albrecht said that he knew I was a witch, that he could tell straight away. Just like the man, the faun, by the river. I asked him what he knew about witches. He told me that of the few he had met, they were nice, friendly, well dressed, and very powerful. I asked him what he meant, and he said they could do powerful magic. When I asked him for more details he shrugged and said, ‘I’m just a gargoyle, Marie. I don’t get around too much.’
“After what he said, that there were more of my kind, that they were good people, I tried to find out all I could. Oh, I went to all sorts of strange things mon cher, to seances and magic shows, trying to find out more. I always went back to Albrecht to tell him what I had learned. It was such a mess of information, some false, some mad, and it was hard to make sense of. I thought I needed some order to this search, so I joined the Société d’Evénements Mystérieux looking for the truth. I heard they had a program of scientific investigation of mysterious events. I hoped they would help me make sense of the patchwork of information I had. Of course, I got little from them. They were charlatans and fools whose theories were fancies made grand by scientific language. The whole thing was a waste but for one thing of course…”
Sir John looked puzzled.
“I met you,” said Marie.
The couple looked warmly at each other as Miss Henderson entered.
“Chef has prepared an ass he et from Marge,” she said and placed some cheese on the table.