Two Gendarmes-Arrondissement Part Seventeen

“It was more or less of a coincidence,” said Sergeant Gendarme Arpin.

Mistress Rosamund took a deep drag of her cigarillo and regarded Arpin and Detective Durand sitting in her back office. One gendarme visiting was irritating but easy enough to deal with, but two was not an accident.

It was a smallish room, but not plagued by disorder. Papers were in orderly pile and a pen and inkwell stood at the ready. A calendar hung on the wall as well as a small painting of a mesa.

“I see.”

Durand placed a folder on the barkeep’s desk.

“Mademoiselle, are you familiar with the ghost of Etitan Chardin?” she asked opening the folder to reveal a daguerreotype of the spirit in question.

“I am. We used to have an act together.”

“Why did you stop working together?”

“Spirit shows lost their appeal for folks, so we stopped.”

“Would you say you parted on good terms?”

“No hard feelings for my part.”

“And his?”

“If he had, he never said anything to me.”

Durand, who had been taking notes, nodded.

“Mind if I asked you a question detective?”

“By all means.”

“Why are you coming in asking me about my past with Etitan?”

“Monsieur Chardin has been reported missing.”

Rosamund smiled.

“In my experience, when a spirit can’t be found, it usually means they’ve passed on. Of course it’s a mite challenging to confirm that.”

“This is true, but associates of Monsieur Chardin have filed a report with my office, so I’m duty bound to investigate matters.”

“Do you think I killed him?”

They each laughed at the idea.

“The living cannot kill the dead mademoiselle, but the dead still have rights, as you should well know as a former spirit wrangler.”

“True enough.”

“Have you seen Monsieur Chardin in the last few weeks?”

Mistress Rosamund took a puff on her cigarillo and considered the question.

“I can’t say I have, business has been booming lately.”

Sergeant Gendarme Arpin spoke up, “Even with the break in? I would think that might discourage people from coming.”

“A little notoriety gets folks curious, I’m happy to say.”

Durand produced a card which she placed on the desk.

“If you should recall anything or encounter our wayward ghost, please contact me immediately.”
“I surely will detective.”

The two gendarmes stood, bid her a good day and began to leave. Arpin stopped and turned around.

“One last question Mistress Rosamund, if you don’t mind?”

“Not at all.”

He took his notebook out opened it to a sketch of the floret spider.

“Do you recognize this symbol?”

She looked at it, her nostrils flaring and but she did not reply. After a moment, Arpin asked, “Pardon me, are you alright?”

Rosamund looked him straight in the eyes.

“Sorry, I’ve never seen that before.”

“Thank you for your time, au revoir Mistress Rosamund.”

“Happy trails.”

Once the two investigators had emerged back on the street, they stopped in a café for coffee.

“She was of course, lying,” said Durand.

“True, but we have no proof,” Arpin replied.

“Not yet.”

“D’accord. Thank you for inviting me to join you on your visit.”

“There is a connection between our two cases.”

“Mistress Rosamund.”

“Indeed. As to why and how…”

“We will see.”

They tapped their mugs lightly and looked each other in the eyes, as was the custom.

“Yes we will,” she said.

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