Sir John and Marie stood next to the north side of the Notre Dame admiring the gargoyles. They had sent away Miss Henderson and Morag who had both shown far too much curiosity in Albrecht. Emile had decided that he had, in his words, important things to do and had left for his apartment. His head had been shaking a lot and he had sworn a few times as he left. Since it was late afternoon in Paris none of this caught anyone’s attention.
“Albrecht!” said Marie calling up to the gargoyle, who seemed to be completely stationary.
“Albrecht? It’s us.”
The statue didn’t move and Marie looked perplexed at the situation. Sir John looked down and saw a couple looking askance at Marie.
“Is… your friend okay?” said the man, with an American accent.
“She has… had a little wine,” said Sir John. “And a little bit of brandy. Maybe some absinthe.”
“Paris!” said the woman to the man by way of explanation and they walked away,
“Pfff…” said Albrecht. “I thought they would never leave. I was caught in the most uncomfortable position when I saw them. You should be more careful.”
“I’m sorry,” said Marie. “But you wouldn’t believe what has happened to us.”
“Let me see, has your arch enemy arrived in Paris and begun looking for a key to a formidable weapon and they have one part and you have one part and now you both seek the third?” said Albrecht.
“Yes,” said Marie, looking crestfallen. “How do you know?”
“I’m sitting in the very heart of Paris surrounded by creatures who stare all day at the city and have nothing to do but gossip. If a mermaid sneezes in the Seine then we say Bless You.”
“There are mermaids in the Seine?” said Sir John.
“It’s a figure of speech,” said Albrecht.
“No it’s not!” said Marie.
“No… it’s not,” said Albrecht, “but keep that one secret.”
“Since you know our predicament, we wondered what else you knew, like…” started Marie.
“Where are the third and fourth keys, where is the weapon, what does it do?” said Albrecht.
“Yes,” said Marie, “exactly!”
“Well…” started Albrecht. “Oh, people!”
A crocodile of school children wandered by the cathedral. The leader pointed to various interesting architectural features of the cathedral as the Jennings stood there waiting. After an age they wandered off.
“Well?” said Marie urgently.
“Well I can’t help you,” said Albrecht. “We don’t know anything.”
“What?” said Marie. “Nothing?”
“We never heard of this weapon until you came along. Like I said, we’re just getting the news and gossiping.” said Albrecht. “It’s very interesting though.”
“Is that them?” said another gargoyle. “Are they the good ones or the bad?”
“Go away Lucas,” said Albrecht to the other gargoyle.
“Look, can you help us with the location of the next key?” said Sir John. “We’re a bit stumped.”
The two gargoyles looked at each other.
“What is stumped?” said Lucas. “Is that an English dish with suet?”
“No,” said Sir John, “I mean we’re stuck, we don’t know the answer.”
“We’re looking for a garden on the river, which has seen great happiness and sadness and witnessed a lot of death,” said Marie. “And where something was caged.”
“Hmm…” said Lucas, “I can’t think of one place.”
“Me neither,” said Albrecht.
“Apart from the Jardin des Plantes,” said Lucas. “Remember Albrecht, during the siege?”
“Mon Dieu,” said Marie and went white.