Chapter Three -- Inspector Ganimard's Ward
Outside, where the bankers met their clients, things were relatively quiet for a place that had only recently been the site of a daring heist. Inconspicuous gendarmes wandered the premises with clockwork regularity; customers came and went, oblivious to the furious activity in the vaults. Due to the high profile nature of the crime, the Suréte had made sure to keep the incident from the press, at least for the time being. Within the next few days, of course, it would make headlines, but day's reprieve from the scrutiny of the public was a blessing to the police and the bank alike.
Inspector Ganimard lead Sherlock and Watson into the back of the bank, picking through the corridors filled with anxious clerks, wandering to and fro with their heads down. Like grass that becomes taller and thicker the farther afield one goes, the scattered plain-clothes gendarmes became a uniformed presence closer to the vaults, wandering back and forth and talking amongst themselves.
They found the scene of the crime roped sectioned off with chalk and a pair of uniformed keeping watch. A third gendarme -- a very young man with a sallow complexion and angular features -- was engaged in an animated conversation with a man whose mildly unfashionable suit and expensive bowler hat proclaimed him a mid-level manager.
" -- and I demand a look!" said the bank manager, his face growing red. The young man pursed his thin lips in irritation.
"With all due respect, sir," the young gendarme said, his voice cold, "you are not a policeman."
"Nevertheless, I -- "
"Something the matter, Monsieur?" said Inspector Ganimard with a cheerful smile. The bank manager whirled on his heels, but his words of anger died on his lips when he found himself face to face with France's most famous detective flanked by a concerned-looking Doctor Watson and the unmistakable profile of the famous Sherlock Holmes. "Juve? Is this man interfering with police business?"
"No, no! Of course not!" snapped the manager, speaking over the young man's irritated "Yes!". "I was just passing through. Carry about your business, Inspector Ganimard -- and...and your companions." And with a curt bow to Sherlock Holmes, the bank manager ducked out of the corridor as quickly as he could.
"Still concerned about your celebrity?" Watson whispered to Sherlock, with a bit of a smile. Sherlock did not answer.
The young gendarme adjusted his spectacles and peered at Inspector Ganimard. "Thanks," the boy muttered. Ganimard beamed.
"Oh, don't be so shy. Monsieur Holmes? Doctor Watson? It is my distinct pleasure to introduce Officer Juve Desmarais, one of our newest and most promising recruits. Additionally, he is my godson and -- as of last Thursday -- my ward." The boy shuffled awkwardly.
"I've only been on the force a few weeks," Juve said. "No need to go making pronouncements."
"Nonsense, nonsense," said Ganimard. "Don't put yourself down in front of your elders! This is Monsieur Sherlock Holmes, an amateur detective from England -- or, perhaps I should say, a freelancer, since I doubt that Monsieur Holmes could reasonably be described as an amateur. And this is his biographer and assistant, Dr James Watson."
"How do you do?" Watson said, extending his hand for the boy to shake, which he did with a firm grip. Sherlock merely nodded curtly, peering at Juve with his keen, glancing eyes. Juve looked uncomfortable -- people often did when under the scrutiny of Sherlock Holmes. When he looked at one, it seemed as though he could read one's thoughts written out as plainly as a book.
"You have recently left the university," Sherlock said. It was not a question. Juve raised his eyebrows.
"So Doctor Watson really did tell the truth in those stories..." he said. "You're like a mind-reader." Sherlock snorted disdainfully.
"Mind-reading! It's only logic," he said. "You see, your --"
"No," Juve cut Sherlock's explanation off before he could begin. The detective looked at him quizzically. "I don't want to hear an explanation, Monsieur Holmes," Juve continued quietly. "I will puzzle it out for myself, or I'll simply go on not knowing." Watson, who had spent several years in the company of the impassive detective, could not suppress a small smile when he saw a nigh-imperceptible look of satisfaction cross Sherlock's ordinarily serious face. The young gendarme nodded politely to Watson and Sherlock, then gestured in the direction of the vault. "Do you want to have a look, Messieurs?"
"Yes, yes," Sherlock said, brushing past Juve and ducking into the bank vault. Ganimard smiled, laid his hand on Juve's blue-clad shoulder. "Something the matter?" Ganimard inquired. "Juve shook his head.
"No, no. I'm simply thinking," he said. "Just left university..." he muttered.
"Don't push yourself too hard, young man," Ganimard said. "Sherlock Holmes is --"
"A genius," Juve interrupted. "Yes. I know."
"...I was going to say, not a personable sort," said Ganimard. "But both are true."
"The world will need more of him," Juve said.
"Juve, my dear young fellow," Ganimard said, after a moment's thought, "I am not entirely sure that the world is quite equipped to handle more of him."