Labours Of Hercules By Agatha Christie

his companion said suddenly is it the way the priest

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Unformatted text preview: been a fine dream," said Japp enviously. 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 Poirot'!" 388 11 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. H 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 389 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' 390 "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 beautiful emeralds.33 Poirot murmured with an apparent quickening of interest: "Apples r9 "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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