Twenty minutes later Janet and Dennis were in the hotel lobby. Janet had called Pierre
before they went downstairs and he already had a car waiting for them.
“Madam, if I may, you look very stylish today,” Pierre complimented Janet on her outfit.
“Thank you, Pierre. The boutique in old town that you recommended turned out to be
fantastic. I love the local designers.” Janet twirled to showcase her navy striped dress, wide-
brimmed straw hat, and red high-heeled sandals.
“Magnificent!” Pierre exclaimed.
“Thank you, Pierre,” Dennis said wryly. “My wife has been raving about your
recommendations our entire stay.”
Pierre lowered his eyes modestly. “I aim to please. There is so much to see in our town,
but alas, there’s always too little time to see it all.”
“Yes,” Dennis said pointedly. “Too little time indeed.”
“My apologies, the car is waiting for you,” Pierre said, quickly catching Dennis’s drift.
“I checked the gallery hours yesterday and they are open until six in the evening on weekdays.
Enjoy your trip, Jeanette.” Pierre bowed, once he’d walked them to the car.
Janet smiled at the French version of her name, by which Pierre had been addressing her
during the entire stay. “Thank you, Pierre. Hopefully we’ll find something to bring back with
“Oh, I think you will. Joyau Gallery is truly a hidden gem of ours—off the beaten path, as
the saying goes. Few tourists know about it, but I thought you would appreciate it.”
“Thank you, Pierre. I’m really looking forward to it,” Janet said.
Janet looked up as an elderly sales clerk emerged from the back room.
“Bonjour,” the sales clerk greeted them. He was short and very thin, looking almost like a
dried up twig. He wore a tailored suit that fit his slight frame almost like a glove, complete with
a bowtie and patent leather shoes.
“Good afternoon.” Janet smiled. “Pardon me, but do you speak English?”
“Of course.” The sales clerk bowed slightly. “But I am very sorry to say that we are
“Closed?” Dennis frowned. “But our concierge told us you’d be open. Look, we’re
leaving tomorrow. Couldn’t you make an exception?”
The sales clerk shook his head apologetically. “I am very sorry, but we are taking
inventory. Normally we’d be open, but not today.”
“Are you sure you couldn’t make an exception?” Janet decided to give it a try. “You have
such beautiful paintings here, and I was so hoping to buy a nice seascape for our apartment.”
The clerk’s eyes widened, a worried look coming over his face. “Did you say a seascape,
“Yes.” Janet nodded. “A seascape for our new apartment.”
“Mon dieu! Un Americain looking for a seascape for the new apartment! Red shoes, navy
dress—” he muttered. “Forgive my impertinence. This old head isn’t what it used to be.” He
flung up his hands. “I believe I have exactly what you’re looking for. Let me make sure that we
will not be interrupted.” He hurried to lock the front door. “I will be right back.”