Terrapin and I are some of the better finders, and also some of the more honest. There's this lad with the unfortunate name of Pestle who had a habit of passing off fakes if he couldn't find the real thing, which is both evil and stupid. Stupid because if something could be replaced for less than a finder's fee, who'd hire a finder, and who wouldn't notice? In fact he did screw up badly once. He had promised a young professional girl to locate her class ring, which had been lifted from her bag while she was at Jonquil's dancing. Siso she had been dancing with Absinthe, to the amusement of the cruder element; Absinthe doesn't discriminate as to sex of her partners, and she knows both sets of steps. But I digress. She realized it had been stolen a little after she left the bar. She went back and asked about, and nobody knew anything, but Pestle was loitering and got volunteered.
She was the kind of girl who wears her hair pure green and goes about in an apron with no trousers, and of course she had a tweed coat. People make jokes but really one shouldn't try to frizz them. A girl like that is probably working as somebody's clerk, which is not a job for one who can't keep track of things. She could keep track sure enough. Pestle came back with a fake, it being a class ring and simple enough to get a mold of, and she scratched it and nodded and went at him with her rainshade, and he blew it and whacked her and took off. She came to us the same hour, with a fine shiner and her headband falling off her head, and said, "I want you to find the man called Pestle, so I can make him pay."
We've done manhunts for the gendarme before, although not often. Private individuals, too, people who want to see an old friend, or who think something bad has happened and won't use the gendarmes. Normally we turn down revenge cases. It's either gendarme business or something we wouldn't bloody our hands on. But when she explained matters, it turned out to be a case of the honor of the profession.
Pestle's landlady let us in when we explained matters. Terrapin went through his letters while I sat on the bed and tried to weft anything. I didn't get a tug, but she found a small packet of bills from an address she managed to cun belonged to a certain notorious criminal in the suburbs - we'd been across the street from it once, and the fellow there, who was a rival, had stupidly complained at length and in our presence about the toeholds his enemies had in the neighborhood. Siso I don't like the suburbs. I always feel like I'm half-asleep. But the suburbs it was, alas. "He must have owed Pestle a pretty big favor," she said. "Or Pestle had something on him."
"Lot of money?"
"Nope. But he knew the address well enough to scribble it." She shrugged and showed me the packet, and I shivered as one of my feeling hit like they usually do, and I said, "Something on him. Something big."
We took the next tram out.