Dinard’s shop was empty of people and the dust was dancing in the late afternoon sunlight. From the back room there was a rustling sound and an occasional sigh. The knob on the door to the street rattled.
“It looks like no-one’s in,” said Sir John from outside.
“Good,” said Emile. “Stand over there a minute, will you?”
“If you like,” said Sir John. There was a scratching noise at the door in the lock, then some clicking and finally the door swung open. The sounds in the back room stopped instantly.
“Voila!” said Emile, walking into the shop.
“You can’t do that!” said Sir John, hovering outside the door.
“I just did,” said Emile. “Come on in Sir John and I’ll show you what I saw.”
“I don’t think I should,” said Sir John, still hovering.
“Then I shall bring it out,” said Emile.
“You shouldn’t do that either, it’s theft,” said Sir John. He hopped from one foot to another then sighed and came into the shop.
“I knew you’d see sense,” said Emile. “Besides, this is important.”
“Why couldn’t you tell me before?” said Sir John.
“Well, I didn’t want to scare Marie, and besides I thought you wouldn’t agree to come if I told you what I was planning to do,” said Emile. Sir John sighed again.
“You were probably right,” he said. “What is it you want to show me?”
Emile grinned and then vaulted over the counter. Sir John gapsed and waved his arms in the vague direction of the Frenchman.
“You can’t… that’s not…” spluttered Sir John.
“I was ‘ere the other day, the one after Dinard died,” said Emile from underneath the counter. “I had a book on order from him. I know the tat on the shelves is garbage, but he knew how to get the good stuff too. So I thought I’d try to find his order book and see what had happened to my order.”
Emile stood up and placed a small book onto the counter.
“I didn’t find it,” he said, “but I found something else. His appointment book.”
Emile opened the book and pushed it toward Sir John. The smile had gone now.
“Guess who he saw on his last day?” said Emile.
Sir John looked puzzled at the small book then gasped again.
“Clackprattle!” he said.
“Indeed,” said Emile. “It was maybe a couple of hours before you came in and…”
Emile suddenly stopped and put a finger to his lips. Sir John looked puzzled and Emile tapped his ear. He then darted into the backroom. There was a crashing sound and some shouting and Emile came back dragging a young, thin man with a pale face.
“Who are you?” Emile was shouting. “What are you doing in this shop?”
The young man was shaking and squirming out of the evening sunlight.
“I… I… I…” he said, “I work here, Monsieur, for Monsieur Dinard.”
“Well, I haven’t seen you before,” he said. “Who are you?”
“Os – Osvold”, said the young man. Still squirming and shaking.
Sir John stood very still and tilted his head.
“Osvold,” he said slowly, “do you mostly work at night?”
The young man nodded vigorously.
“And did M Dinard look after you… perhaps… bring you… food?” said Sir John.
Osvold’s eye’s dropped to the floor and he nodded.
“I think,” said Sir John, glancing at Emile, “we need to introduce you to a friend of ours.”