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Unformatted text preview: oyed were pursuing their tactics of
lying down on the street crossings and
penetrating into the Ritz. A small body
of them had entered Simpson's Galleries
and lain down with the slogan displayed
of "Art is a Luxury. Feed the Hungry."
The police had been sent for, everyone had
crowded round in eager curiosity, and it was
not till the demonstrators had been forcibly removed by the arm of the law that it was
noticed that the new Rubens had been
neatly cut out of its frame and removed
"It was quite a small picture, you see," explained Mr. Simpson. "A man could put
it under his arm and walk out while everyone
was looking at those miserable idiots
The men in question, it was discovered, had been paid for their innocent part
in the robbery. They were to demonstrate
at Simpson's Galleries. But they had
known nothing of the reason until afterwards. 326
FR1;Hercule Poirot thought that it was an
amusing trick but did not see what he could
do about it. The police, he pointed out, could be trusted to deal with a straightforward
Alexander Simpson said:
"Listen to me, Poirot. I know who stole
the picture and where it is going."
According to the owner of Simpson's
Galleries it had been stolen by a gang
of international crooks on behalf of a
certain millionaire who was not above
acquiring works of art at a surprisingly low price--and no questions asked! The
Rubens, said Simpson, would be smuggled
over to France where it would pass into
the millionaire's possession. The English
and French police were on the alert, nevertheless Simpson was of the opinion
that they would fail. "And once it has
passed into this dirty dog's possession, it's going to be more difficult. Rich men
have to be treated with respect. That's
where you come in. The situation's going
to be delicate. You're the man for that."
Finally, without enthusiasm, Hercule
Poirot was induced to accept the task. He
agreed to depart for France immediately.
He was not very interested in his quest, but because of it, he was introduced to the
case of the Missing Schoolgirl which
interested him very much indeed.
He first heard of it from Chief Inspector
Japp who dropped in to see him just as
Poirot was expressing approval of his
"Ha," said Japp. "Going to France, aren't you ?"
"Mon cher, you are incredibly well
informed at Scotland Yard." Japp chuckled. He said:
"We have our spies! Simpson's got you
on to this Rubens business. Doesn't trust
us, it seems! Well, that's neither here nor
there, but what I want you to do is something
quite different. As you're going to
Paris anyway, I thought you might as well
kill two birds with one stone. Detective
Inspector Heam's over there cooperating
with the Frenchies -- you know Hearn ?
Good chap -- but perhaps not very
imaginative. I'd like your opinion on the
"What is this matter of which you
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