Clackprattle's Gloved Hand

“What could be worse!” said the fat man walking down the Parisian street. He strode and kept his head fixed ahead as his shorter, smaller companion scurried to keep pace with him. “What could be worse than another day in this vile, sodden, drunken town with its whimpering, whining inhabitants.”

“Indeed Mr Clackprattle…” started the companion.

“You call me Master now Pook,” said Arthur Clackprattle and waved a gloved fist at his companion. “Don’t you forget.”

“Indeed, one thousand apologies Mi … Master,” said Ernest Pook. “I think I can say without contradiction that your … power and magnificence is most firmly impressed on my mind. And I agree with you most heartily, this is indeed a most decadent town with many, many citizens all too willing to embrace the most depraved pleasures of the flesh, but, and I feel I must stress this point, we should strive to remind ourselves of our most glorious goal and our proximity to it.”

Clackprattle snorted.

“Our proximity to it … are you blind man?” he said. “We’ve been here a month already and have nothing but the rantings of laudanum addled lunatics and frauds of the first order. We’re no closer to finding this weapon than on the day we left London.”

“Whilst I feel no urge to contradict you,” said Pook, “I feel that circumstances are a little better than you fear. We have learned, have we not, of the key and its significance in our search? We have found, have we not, a gentleman who promises to divulge to us the map of where the key may be found?”

“A map for a key for a weapon,” said Clackprattle. “Riddles within riddles, all the smoke and mirrors this whorehouse of a city inspires. How do we know, Pook, that we can trust this man, his map, this Key or any of these wild goose chases.”

“We should have faith Mi … Master,” said Pook. “Our cause is just, and thanks to our helpful friends in London our wallets are deep. We should not gamble the knowledge we would gain for a small lack of patience.”

Clackprattle stopped in the street and stared coldly at Pook.

“Sir, anyone who thinks Arthur Clackprattle lacks patience is terribly mistaken. I was patient in Manchester, when our plans were ruined. I was patient in London, when our prize was stolen from us, and oh yes, I am patient here in this … cesspit.”

“Indeed sir,” said Pook, lowering his head slightly, “no one that knew you would say anything other. I am sure that our investigations will yield the progress that leads to the goal we seek. See, sir, we are a few yards away now from the emporium. Let us cross the threshold and find our reward.”

Clackprattle turned away and grunted and walked towards a bookshop. He stood just outside waiting as Pook scurried around and opened the door for him. Clackprattle and Pook made their way inside.

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