“Let's agree to disagree.” Harold cocked his head to one side and used the half-smile he knew would silence the demon. Sure enough, it worked perfectly. Jasfoup's shoulders slumped.
“All right. If you insist. We've got three hours before we're due at the Magelight offices to meet Jim. What do you want to do until then? Open the shop?”
“Open the shop?” Harold scowled. “Julie's been an integral part of the shop for almost six years. We can't open the shop without her. Who would greet the customers and watch over the imps?”
“Ah, right.” Jasfoup pulled a notebook out of his pocket. It was hard to see how it could ever have fitted in there in the first place, since it was the size of a trade hardback and about as thick as a Stephen King, even without all the bits of loose paper and bits stuck in. It looked more like the journal of an art student desperate to impress his tutor than anything else.
“It's my research notes.” Jasfoup put it on the table where it sprang open on a section detailing the etiquette of surrendering to a foreign officer of lower rank during times of war. “Human interaction is so complicated I started compiling a field guide in the seventeen-fifties. It's not finished yet, though. Every time I think it might be worth compiling social mores change and I have to observe a new set.”
“Fascinating. But you'll never finish it if you try to update it all the time.”
“I know.” Jasfoup flipped to a section headed 'What to do after a death'. “It says here we should cover all the mirrors and swap all the curtains for purple ones, then muffle the horses hooves with leather shoes.”
“Really? Does it say whose horses? Or all of them? I hope not all of them because it'll take years to go up and down the country.”
“I think it just means our own. See? I wrote the note in nineteen-oh-one, when Queen Victoria died.”
“So perhaps we don't have to shroud the shop in purple, just keep it closed due to bereavement. How long is the period of mourning?”
“What?” Harold looked up from the book. “Oh, just until we can employ a new receptionist.”