The two men sat shivering, their bruised faces looking anxiously at the well dressed gentlemen standing opposite.
“So,” said Pook, “I understand the operation was, shall we say, less than successful?”
“We had no idea,” said the man sitting, “how strong the lady was. We was more worried about the dog.”
“The… lady?” asked Pook.
“Yes Mr Pook sir,” said the second man. “She was a maid with Sir John. He seemed like he’d been drinking or maybe taking something stronger and the maid and the dog were trying to keep up with him.”
“Oh, I understand now,” said Pook, clapping his hands together. “Sir John did this to you in a crazed drunken stupor?”
“Not exactly Mr Pook,” said the first man, looking down at shoes, or as far as he could with the ropes around him. “At first they seemed shocked, on account of the uniforms I suppose. But then they gets wind of who we are and… well the maid… she must…”
“She must have had some training or somesuch,” said the second man. “She was fast and strong and…”
“Violent,” said the first. “She were very, very violent. Hence this.”
The man tried to indicate the bruises on his naked torso but the ropes prevented him from moving.
“So,” said Bisset, “your finest men were beaten half to death in a Paris side street by a… maid?’
Pook pursed his lips and looked sharply at the two men who trembled.
“So it was lucky for you when the police arrived I suppose?” said Pook.
“Yes sir,” said the first man, “we would have got a proper walloping otherwise. Then they hauled us away in the back of a wagon and… well… here we are.”
“Well here we are,” echoed Pook, a big smile on his face. “Thank you gentlemen for your report. I’d be pleased if you waited in the next room.”
Pook nodded into the darkness and a man came forward, cutting the others free from their chairs. They rubbed their arms and wrists as they were manoeuvred into a side room.
As the door closed behind them, Bisset covered his hand with his mouth and made a strange snorting noise. Pook smiled widely at him.
“Your little ruse worked then?” said Bisset. “At least on them.”
“Indeed,” said Pook. “As I was sure it would. Pierre? Please come and tell us more.”
A man dressed in a police uniform came forward.
“It was a complete success,” he said. “They trusted us absolutely.”
“And now?” said Pook.
“We have convinced them that they need us for protection. Even now Claude is the church, keeping watch.”
Pook clapped his hands together.
“You see what happens when a simple change of management occurs,” he said to Bisset.
“Indeed,” said Bisset, “it is excellent work. We now have our adversary under constant surveillance.”
Pook nodded Pierre to go.
“So we just need to be sure if they have found the location of the key,” said Pook. “Then we can proceed.”
Bisset nodded in approval.
“What about those two?” said Bisset, nodding to the other room. “They are merely stooges, no?”
Pook’s eyes widened.
“But we must make an example,” he said. “Otherwise standards will fall.”
From the room next door there came a loud scream, then panicked shouting, another scream and finally silence.
Bisset covered his mouth again and made the snorting noise while Pook giggled lightly.