There had been shouting for a little while now. Phlebotomous and Osvold had come out from their room when they heard Miss Henderson, Sabine and Morag return. Sabine had proudly placed a large meat pie on the table and then they had discovered a note. The note was from Sir John explaining that he and Marie would be away for a few days. That was when things started to go wrong.
Phlebotomous and Osvold had sat quietly whilst everyone had discussed the matter. It was difficult for Phlebotomous to understand exactly what was transpiring. He was aware there were some subtle aspects of human communication that he missed. He wasn’t quite sure, for example, why Miss Henderson’s eyes always seemed to roll back whenever Sabine spoke. Or why Sabine often talked when Miss Henderson was trying to say something.
At first the discussion seemed to focus on what they would do next, with some people thinking it would be a good idea to go and find either Sir John, Marie or Emile. That conversation had somehow changed into one where everyone tried to guess why Marie and Sir John had left. Once again Phlebotomous felt sure he missed something as Miss Henderson and Sabine seemed to start all of their sentences saying, “perhaps if you had…” whilst Morag had repeated, “ladies, please”. Then the shouting had started.
The shouting had continued for some time until Morag had surprised everyone by barking. Phlebotomous couldn’t recall her ever doing that before. She had then explained that it would be much better for everyone if they focussed on solving problems rather than arguing with each other which everyone had agreed was very true. There had been some quiet then and Miss Henderson had muttered something about how she thought she knew how to solve one problem and then there had been more shouting.
After a little while, and some more barking, everyone was quiet and staring at the floor. Phlebotomous was looking down to see what was catching their interest when Emile walked into the church. A few seconds later there was more shouting.
Finally, this last bout of shouting came to a halt and once again everyone looked at the floor. After a quick glance down, Phlebotomous felt that he should add something to the conversation.
“I think the pie might be cold,” he said. Three pairs of human eyes and one pair of dog’s eyes looked over at him with a look of utter confusion.
“This one,” said Phlebotomous pointing at the pie to help clarify. Osvold leaned into him.
“Good point,” he whispered in his ear.
“I don’t have much appetite,” said Emile glumly.
“Nor should you, you dog,” said Sabine.
‘There’s nothing wrong with dogs,” said Miss Henderson.
“Please,” said Morag, “everyone. We have to get past this, we have to try to find the next part of the key and we have to find Clackprattle and Pook.”
“And the acrobat,” said Phlebotomous. Again everyone looked confused at him.
“It’s a sort of person who jumps and does tricks,” he said to explain, “usually in a circus.”
Emile slapped himself on the forehead and swore which made Osvold jump.
“Of course, I saw this earlier and didn’t think of it,” Emile said. He pulled out a newspaper and flipped rapidly through it. He then slapped the paper down and pointed at an article.
“Artist de kirk retroove mort?” read Miss Henderson. Sabine gasped.
“Circus performer found dead,” said Emile. “Quite a coincidence n’est pas?”