Unformatted text preview: le Samoushenka, the exquisite
dancer? Ah! she was the real thing, that
little one." He kissed his fingertips. "What
fire -- what abandon! She would have gone
far--she would have been the Premiere
Ballerina of her day -- and then suddenly
it all ends -- she creeps away -- to the end of the world -- and soon, ah! so soon, they forget her."
"Where is she then ?" demanded Poirot.
"In Switzerland. At Vagray les Alpes.
It is there that they go, those who have
the little dry cough and who grow thinner
and thinner. She will die, yes, she will die! She has a fatalistic nature. She
will surely die."
Poirot coughed to break the tragic
spell. He wanted information.
"You do not, by chance, remember a
maid she had? A maid called Nita
"Valetta? Valetta? I remember seeing
a maid once — at the station when I was
seeing Katrina off to London. She was an
Italian from Pisa, was she not ? Yes, I am
sure she was an Italian who came from
Hercule Poirot groaned.
"In that case," he said, "I must now
journey to Pisa."
Hercule Poirot stood in the Campo Santo
at Pisa and looked down on a grave.
So it was here that his quest had come
to an end — here by this humble mound
of earth. Underneath it lay the joyous
creature who had stirred the heart and
imagination of a simple English mechanic. Was this perhaps the best end to that sudden strange romance? Now the girl
would live always in the young man's
memory as he had seen her for those few
enchanted hours of a June afternoon. The
clash of opposing nationalities, of different
standards, the pain of disillusionment, all
that was ruled out for ever.
Hercule Poirot shook his head sadly.
His mind went back to his conversation
with the Valetta family. The mother, with
her broad peasant face, the upright griefstricken
father, the dark hard-lipped sister.
"It was sudden. Signer, it was very
sudden. Though for many years she had
had pains on and off. . . . The doctor gave
us no choice--he said there must be an
operation immediately for the appendicitis.
He took her off to the hospital then and
there.... Si, siy it was under the anaesthetic
she died. She never recovered consciousness."
The mother sniffed, murmuring:
"Bianca was always such a clever girl.
It is terrible that she should have died
so young. ..."
Hercule Poirot repeated to himself: "She died young...."
That was the message he must take back
to the young man who had asked his help
^She is not for you, my friend. She died
His quest had ended -- here where the
leaning Tower was silhouetted against the
sky and the first spring flowers were
showing pale and creamy with their
promise of life and joy to come.
Was it the stirring of spring that made
him feel so rebelliously disinclined to
accept this final verdict ? Or was it something
else ? Something stirring at the back
of his brain -- words -- a phrase -- a
name? Did not the whole thing finish
View Full Document