fireplacepp

Pook sat at the large table and looked across at Bisset with a fixed smile. The Frenchman was studying the map and looking at books piled around him. His jacket was off, his sleeves were pulled up and his elegantly coiffured hair was starting to hang limply over his face.

“How is it progressing?” said Pook.

“Bon, bon,” said Bisset absently.

“Your fraternity certainly requires full use of your abilities,” said Pook. “One would almost think there was… no one else.”

Bisset looked up.

“What do you mean?” he said.

“That your fraternity has no one else in it,” said Pook, “with your ability.”

Bisset stared at him.

“We are an order of quite some importance and many aims. The satisfaction of one man’s obsession is not of great significance to us,” he said before continuing his work on the map.

“And your master is very, very obsessed with this… Jennings,” Bisset added casually. “Why is that?”

“Beyond what he told you, I believe Mr Clackprattle feels personally slighted by Sir John and highly aggrieved at his treatment. He wants some reparation, some public reparation, so it is clear who is the superior,” said Pook.

“And you,” asked Bisset. “What do you seek?”

“I am my master’s servant,” said Pook. “His needs and wishes are my needs and wishes.”

Bisset glanced up at the smiling, implacable face, his eyebrows raising slightly.

“Hmm…” he said. “You understood of course that my masters have needs and wishes too.”

“Indeed,” said Pook. “From our original conversation I inferred you had a use for Mister Clackprattle’s unique talent.”

“I have a list,” said Bisset, “of enemies of the fraternity. You will take the list and remove them. But not all at once, please. And you must follow the sequence of the list.”

Pook’s eyebrows raised then.

“That’s rather a strange way to arrange assassinations,” he said.

“Our reports from the shop say that everyone believed Dinard had died of old age.” said Bisset. “Your master’s talent leaves his victims looking unmolested. The list is by age, the oldest first so as to disguise our purpose for as long as possible.”

“Of course,” said Pook. “I understand. The deaths will seem to be merely the sad passing of an aging person, rather than an underhand act.”

“Just so,” said Bisset, then suddenly “Merde! It’s so obvious! Why didn’t I see it?”

He stood up, sighed and pushed back his hair into some kind of order.

“We have the first location. I will take some refreshment now and some rest,” Bisset said wearily.  He walked away out of the room whilst Pook continued to sit.

When the door closed  Pook looked over at the map then emitted a quick, high pitched giggle. He took a pen and a piece of paper and wrote on it.

“Master, all is going to plan, we will start tomorrow.”

He then walked across to the fireplace, the large fire dying down but still active. He threw the paper into the fire and watched as the smoke rose, twisting into shapes like letters. When the paper was burned and the smoke had gone, Pook went back to the table, picked up the map and left the room. The smile on his face didn’t change once.

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