And Now For Something Completely Different 2.

Working hard on the short stories, about half way to the little e-book

Todays Effort!

                                                            Gruffeau’s Girl

A cold wind blew through 23 Avenue Chaise du Pont. This was strange as the day was proving to be uncommonly warm.

Madame du Champ had come to visit and she was not in a happy mood. When the Madame was not happy the rest of the world could not be happy.

Doucette scuttled around behind her mistress and rolled her eyes at Tom when he risked a wave.

When she had been informed that the Magister was not at home and had flounced out again Tom breathed a sigh of relief. These little explosions were increasing in frequency and he was getting the worst of it.

The Magister never seemed to be at home these days. The word was that he had another Madame installed in a house on the other side of the city and spent most of his time with her.

They had been quiet of late, no magical dealings or problems beset them. Even Gruffeau was taking a break. Every evening he could be seen heading for the river a fishing rod over his shoulder.

It amused Tom to think of Gruffeau with a hobby. He wondered idly if there were a secret family of little Gruffeau’s somewhere, all mufflered up to the eyeballs and grunting like a litter of piglets.

Anyway, the Madame had gone so he and his master were safe for the day. If this Madame ever met the other one who knew what would happen.

The Magister came home and was soon asleep, he did not want to be disturbed. Tom set about his books until a ring on the doorbell and a second visitor disturbed his studies.

Inspector de la Croix tapped his foot and nudged Sergeant Le Feuvre to ring the doorbell again.

Le Feuvre sighed, normally he found it easier to leave the Magisters to their business. Generally the magical community were a peaceful lot and caused him little trouble. Anyone who went about their business without causing work was ok with him.

The Inspector caused him a lot of paperwork. He was new to Paris and very keen to impress. He dug into all the little corners and disturbed things that had lain peacefully hidden for years.

Most of all he had taken against the magical community. Unholy he called it. The Sergeant had seen plenty of unholy things in his time, none of them very magical.

Tom opened the door and his heart sank. The Inspector would probably want to search the house and that could take all afternoon.

De la Croix looked around the spacious hallway with its lamps and skylight. He was going to enjoy this.

“Please fetch your master” he said “We need to speak to him.”

Within five minutes the Magister still sleepy and without his hat had been taken away in handcuffs. He told Tom not to worry and that all would be well.

“Does he have spiders in his roof” the boy said to Le Feuvre, why has he arrested my master.

The Sergeant shrugged. “We had a report that your master was seen dumping a body off a bridge at some unholy hour this morning. Probably some old busy body who should have been attending to the business of sleeping.”

He smiled “Don’t worry too much Tom, the Inspector will have to let him go when no evidence is found. The river always gives up its dead you know that, but I think that this time nothing will be found”

The Magister sat quietly in his cell awaiting news. He had spent the time with a pencil correcting the spellings of words written on the prison wall.

Finally the door opened, Le Feuvre came in and told him he could go.

“I’m very sorry about this” he said

The Magister told him everything was fine and that he hoped the new inspector would soon settle in.

Gruffeau was waiting with the carriage containing Tom. The apprentice was burning with curiosity

“Master” he started…

The Magister held up a hand. “before you ask for explanations Tom we have a little journey to make. We are going to visit a great lady” He tapped his stick “on Gruffeau” he called and they took off through the night.

They went swiftly in the direction of the river and a deserted wharf, silent and still in the moonlight.

“Are we going to see your new Madame then Master” the boy asked

The Magister laughed “oh so that’s what you think is it Tom.”

“Madame du Champ is not very happy, and Doucette won’t even speak to me!” he said.

“They will soften when I explain” “No Tom she is not my new Madame, this one is entirely Gruffeau’s girl!”

Tom tried not to laugh

The Magister put a finger to his lips “Sssh” he said “You will upset him”

The old driver climbed down and disappeared into the darkness.

The Magister sighed ” I will tell you the tale while Gruffeau is gone, but not a word to him, are we clear about this.”

Tom nodded

“Many years ago our Gruffeau went to sea. He yearned for adventure and wanted to see the world for himself, instead of reading about it in books.”

Tom was all attention as he listened to his masters story.

“On one of his voyages he was shipwrecked in a great storm and cast into the sea. When he came to himself he was flung up on a beach quite whole and safe. But his mind kept remembering a strange promise he had made to a golden haired girl who had taken him to land. His sailor friends teased him and he felt foolish, but a year to the day later he found himself sitting on the bank of the Seine waiting for her to come to him, and he has done so ever since.”

“A Mermaid?”

“Yes Tom a Mermaid”

“This year he found that she was sick, he bundled her into the carriage and came to find me”

We put her in a bath of river water and I have been keeping her company as Gruffeau is not much of a talker these days”

“He has been catching her supper, it’s what Mermaids eat Tom, live fish!”

“Pearl has recovered and we were returning her to the river when that old sharp nose saw us.”

“If you look out of the window you may just catch a glimpse as she swims away.”

Tom stared then he laughed, “that isn’t a mermaid master, that is just a regular old woman swimming around in there.” “Mermaids are beautiful. Someone has been playing tricks” he said disappointed.

“You are young” the Magister said, “You think you will always be so, and that the old have always been old. Even Mermaids age Tom”

“He has repayed his debt to her and she is grateful. Now you and I have some fences to mend, with Madame du Champ and the fair Doucette. Perhaps a posy for yours and roses for mine.” He clapped his hands and the carriage was filled with flowers.

“On Gruffeau”

The old driver grunted and the carriage took off, under his muffler next to his heart was lodged his own flower a beautiful anemone from some distant ocean. He smiled to himself and spurred the horses in the direction of Madame du Champ’s.

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