The trio were gathered around a tiny table with Emile on the outside. His bulky frame was blocking the narrow aisle, a situation made worse by his constant gesticulating. At least once he sent flying a plate of food ferried by a waiter. His response was to look bemused and mildly annoyed at the plate, as if it had been deliberately in the way.
“So enough about me,” Emile finished, after a lengthy monologue, “tell me what you ‘ave been doing and why you are ‘ere.”
“Well we finally set up the paranormal detective agency,” said Sir John, struggling to be heard over the din.
“You have any cases, any success?” said Emile, glancing at a passing lady as he spoke.
“Yes we’ve had quite some success,” said Sir John. “Four cases, successfully concluded.”
“Really,” said Emile, staring quite blatantly at the girl now, “sounds interesting.”
“Yes,” continued Sir John, “we’ve investigated a haunting, a case of mesmerism, a… Well I don’t know what to call it, a fiend of some kind, and a strange case featuring an alchemist.”
“Go on,” said Emile, eyes still averted and absently lighting a cigarette.
“Two of them seem linked,” said Sir John. “The underlying agent was a pookah.”
Emile swivelled round then and looked at Sir John.
“Are you, what is it, pulling my trousers?” he said.
“It’s true,” said Marie. “He was controlling this ‘orrible little man. Well quite a big man in fact, but he was the mesmerist and was wrapped up with the alchemist.”
“My God,” said Emile, “and I was impressed when I thought I had captured an imprint of a spectre. A pookah? And all this time you’ve let me rattle on about inconsequential nothings.”
“Well you were quite animated,” started Sir John.
“Excuse me monsieur,” said a man who appeared at Emile’s side. He was young with a thin wisp of moustache and expensive clothes. “You have been staring at my woman, I won’t have it.”
“Then you ‘ad better go somewhere else,” said Emile, not looking up. The man went to raise his cane. A waiter stepped in and stopped the flight.
“Messieurs,” said the the waiter, ”this is not acceptable.”
“Indeed not!” said Emile, voice rising in indignation. “Here we stand on the cusp of the 20th century and this, this imbecile insists on treating a woman like a possession, like chattel.”
He stood up, easily towering over the younger man.
“Messieurs,” said the waiter slightly hysterically, “enough, I must ask you to leave.”
Emile shrugged and took his jacket. The Jennings got up to leave and the trio left the place. When they were a little down the road a waiter raced after them.
“Monsieur! The bill!” he called, “The Lafite!”
“Yes,” called back Emile, not breaking stride, “it was very nice, thank you.”
The Jennings struggled to keep up with the Frenchman’s strides and he didn’t stop until the waiter was some distance behind.
“Did you plan that?” said Marie.
“Who can plan the ways of the heart,” said Emile. “I will see you this evening, yes, and you can tell me your plans and more about this creature.”
“Alright,” said Sir John, “I imagine we can occupy ourselves for the rest of the day.”
Emile made a noise.
“Of course you can!” he said, “It is January in Paris, what could be better!”