“What is that confounded racket!” roared Clackprattle.
Bisset got up from the table.
“I will find out at once,” he said and left the room.
“I don’t like this, Pook,” said Clackprattle. “It’s taking too long to find the second part of the key.”
“I believe, master, that Monsieur Bisset is working with all haste and energy towards our mutually desirable goal,” said Pook. “Indeed, I have myself witnessed him working into the very small hours.”
“Hmm.” said Clackprattle. “I don’t understand, though. We have the map, we have the first key, surely we have all that’s needed?”
“My understanding is that Monsieur Bisset has indeed identified the location of the key on the map,” said Pook. “There is however the matter of translating the places on the map to places in the city itself.”
“So he’s got no further than we could have done,” he said. “Typical. I thought we were using him because he knew Paris so very well.”
“Apparently, the likely sites are not in the most salubrious parts of Paris, and quite understandably, Monsieur Bisset and his esteemed compatriots do not have the requisite knowledge.”
Clackprattle eyed Pook suspiciously.
“Don’t forget who you work for, little pookah,” he said and Pook winced. “I could send you back to the forest in a heartbeat.”
“I can assure you that is never far from my thoughts,” he said, bowing lightly.
Bisset returned to the table.
“Apparently some beggar woman let her dog loose,” said Bisset. “I have dealt with the servant who allowed this to happen. He won’t be a problem again.”
“He has been dismissed from your service?” said Pook.
“From this world,” said Bisset.
“We were talking about the slow progress in finding the second part of the key,” said Clackprattle.
“Ah yes,” said Bisset. “Of course I understand completely your concerns, the situation is somewhat…”
“Shut it!” interrupted Clackprattle. “Just fix it, don’t bore me with the details.”
“I trust progress with our list is going well,” he said. “That we are still working through it, removing the, uh, obstacles.”
“Yes, of course,” said Clackprattle, looking bored. “We’ll do another one this week.”
Bisset glanced at Pook.
“There is one other matter we should discuss,” Bisset said.
“What?” said Clackprattle.
“We should talk about how we might deal with the challenge when we find the location of the second part of the key,” said Bisset.
Clackprattle looked puzzled.
“The Air key challenge must be an intellectual challenge, correct?” he said. “A challenge of one’s wits?”
“Indeed,” said Bisset.
“Then why is there even an iota of debate,” said Clackprattle. “Clearly I shall take up the challenge.
Bisset glanced at Pook again. There was an imperceptible nod of his head.
“I think that whilst your intellectual achievements are unique amongst men,” said Pook, ”there may be an issue of, shall we say, style here.”
“What?” said Clackprattle.
“The, er, local Parisien manner of intellectual discourse runs in a manner different from… from…” started Bisset.
“From your own inimitable direct style,” completed Pook. “You see, as one might expect from a city such as Paris, there is a certain circumlocution, a loquacious eloquence that is the expected in academic intercourse.”
“Fancy talking?” he smirked. “No, I have no talent for that, no sir. I tell it how I see it, how it is.”
“And so,” continued Pook, “whilst that profundity and wisdom is the cornerstone of our success, we have need of something rather more, can I say, evasive and ambiguous. Something more opaque in its meaning.”
Clackprattle brooded for a while.
“It is indeed, quite the curious conundrum,” said Pook.
Clackprattle waved his hand to silence him.
“I’m thinking Pook, I don’t need your prattle,” he said. Then he slapped his hand on the table and pointed at Pook.
“You must do it,” he said. “You can talk the hind legs off a two legged donkey.”
Both Pook and Bisset let out gasps of amazement.
“It would be such an unexpected honour,” said Pook.
“That is indeed a wonderful display of the intellect and wisdom we have come to expect,” said Bisset.