Sir John sat at the desk in his study. Papers were covering every inch of the desk and indeed several chairs. He was staring intently and rather glumly at one of them. Miss Henderson came in with a tray with tea and biscuits.
“Oh bravo, Miss Henderson,” said Sir John. “Do we have any more of those butter biscuits we brought back.”
“The petty bores?” said Miss Henderson. “I’m afraid you’ve had them all. There’s just some nice oat biscuits from the baker.”
“Well I’m sure they’ll do wonderfully,” said Sir John with a forced cheerfulness.
“Is there any news from Mrs Jennings?” said Miss Henderson casually whilst needlessly dusting some papers. Sir John glanced down.
“She’s still with her mother,” said Sir John, “learning more about her family and their… traditions. It’s very important, you know. It’s what we went for, in a way.”
“Well you wouldn’t go there for the food,” said Miss Henderson. “I was glad to get back to some nice home cooking. Which reminds me, there’s a pot of mulligatawny soup I left for you.”
“Oh, are you off out?” said Sir John.
“Yes,” said Miss Hendeson patiently, “I think I mentioned it earlier. I’m having dinner with Detective Symonds.”
“How is he?” said Sir John. “You’re quite good friends aren’t you?”
“Indeed,” said Miss Henderson who looked downcast now. “Good friends.”
There was an awkward pause.
“Oh, and the trial of that villain Bisset concluded.”
“Oh good,” said Miss Henderson. “How many did he get?”
Sir John looked perplexed.
“How many years,” said Miss Henderson, “for… well, shooting me for a start. And Mr… I mean mon sewer, er Emile.”
“Oh, he got life,” said Sir John. “For attempted murder and aiding and abbeting actual murders. You know all those people who died? All those scientists and so on? He did the lot, with Clackprattle.”
“And what about that sinister organisation of his?” said Miss Henderson.
“No sign at all, neither hide nor hair. The defence made out it was a fantasy,” said Sir John.
“But you don’t believe them?” said Miss Henderson.
“It’s the problem with secret societies,” said Sir John. “They’re hard to find by definition. Still life is life and that’s something, I guess.”
“I thought they chopped heads off over there,” said Miss Henderson.
“That was rather a while ago,” said Sir John. “Somewhat in history. Talking of which, Mr Bosch sends his regards. I saw him earlier today.”
“You know, I almost thought he might stay in Paris with his… friend,” said Miss Henderson.
“Me too,” said Sir John. “But it seems he returned. I understand Osvold wasn’t keen to leave Paris nor Mr Bosch London.”
“Distance can put a real damper on…” started Miss Henderson. “Oh, is that the time? I should be off.”
“Well, have a pleasant evening,” said Sir John wanly. He started to work and presently heard the front door open and close. A short duration passed whilst he read the same sentence repeatedly before the door opened again. Sir John smiled to himself and opened the door.
“Forget something, did we Miss Henderson?” he said and saw his wife in front of him.