Unformatted text preview: been a fine dream," said
Miss Carnaby jumped up. She said:
"I must get home. Emily has been so
anxious. And dear Augustus has been
missing me terribly, I hear."
Hercule Poirot said with a smile:
"He was afraid, perhaps, that like him,
you were going to 'die for Hercule
THE APPLES OF THE HESPERIDES I
ERCULE POIROT looked
thoughtfully into the face of the man behind the big mahogany desk.
He noted the generous brow, the mean
mouth, the rapacious line of the jaw and
the piercing, visionary eyes. He understood
from looking at the man why Emery
Power had become the great financial force
that he was.
And his eyes falling to the long delicate
hands, exquisitely shaped, that lay on the
desk, he understood, too, why Emery
Power had attained renown as a great collector.
He was known on both sides of the
Atlantic as a connoisseur of works of art.
His passion for the artistic went hand in
hand with an equal passion for the historic.
It was not enough for him that a thing
should be beautiful -- he demanded also
that it should have a tradition behind it.
Emery Power was speaking. His voice
was quiet -- a small, distinct voice that was
more effective than any mere volume of
sound could have been.
"You do not, I know, take many cases
nowadays. But I think you will take this one.33
"Is it, then, an affair of great moment ?35
Emery Power said:
"It is of moment to me."
Poirot remained in an enquiring attitude,
his head slightly on one side. He looked
like a meditative robin.
The other went on:
"It concerns the recovery of a work of
art. To be exact, a gold chased goblet, dating from the Renaissance. It is said to
be the goblet used by Pope Alexander VI
--Roderigo Borgia. He sometimes presented
it to a favoured guest to drink
from. That guest, M. Poirot, usually died.35
"A pretty history,33 Poirot murmured.
"Its career has always been associated
with violence. It has been stolen more than
once. Murder has been done to gain
possession of it. A trail of bloodshed has
followed it through the ages.3'
"On account of its intrinsic value or for
other reasons ?"
"Its intrinsic value is certainly considerable.
The workmanship is exquisite (it is said to have been made by Benvenuto
Cellini). The design represents a tree round
which a jewelled serpent is coiled and the
apples on the tree are formed of very
Poirot murmured with an apparent
quickening of interest:
"The emeralds are particularly fine, so
are the rubies in the serpent, but of course
the real value of the cup is its historical
associations. It was put up for sale by the
Marchese di San Veratrino in 1929. Collectors
bid against each other and I secured
it finally for a sum equalling (at the then
rate of exchange) thirty thousand pounds."
Poirot raised his eyebrows. He murmured: "Indeed a princely sum! The Marchese
di San Veratrino was fortunate.55
Emery Power said:
"When I really want a thing, I am wil...
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