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Unformatted text preview: ty, is she not?
People feel it."
He excused himself as he went over to
speak to someone at another table. Poirot,
left alone with the severe Alice, felt slightly
embarrassed as he met the cold blue of her
eyes. He recognised that she was actually
quite good-looking, but he found her
"I do not yet know your last name,35
"Cunningham. Dr. Alice Cunningham.
You have known Vera in past days, I
"Twenty years ago it must be.35
"I find her a very interesting study,53 said
Dr. Alice Cunningham. ''Naturally I am
interested in her as the mother of the man
I am going to marry, but I am interested
in her from the professional standpoint as
"Indeed ?" "Yes. I am writing a book on criminal
psychology. I find the night life of this place
very illuminating. We have several criminal
types who come here regularly. I have
discussed their early life with some of them.
Of course you know all about Vera's
criminal tendencies -- I mean that she
"Why, yes -- I know that," said Poirot, slightly taken aback.
"I call it the Magpie complex myself.
She takes, you know, always glittering things. Never money. Always jewels. I find
that as a child she was petted and indulged
but very much shielded. Life was unendurably
dull for her -- dull and safe. Her
nature demanded drama--it craved for punishment. That is at the root of her
indulgence in theft. She wants the importance, the notoriety of being punished}"
Poirot objected, "Her life can surely not
have been safe and dull as a member of the ancien regime in Russia during the Revolution
A look of faint amusement showed in
Miss Cunningham^s pale blue eyes.
"Ah," she said. "A member of the
ancien regime^ She has told you that?"
"She is undeniably an aristocrat," said Poirot staunchly, fighting back certain
uneasy memories of the wildly varying
accounts of her early life told him by the
"One believes what one wishes to
believe," remarked Miss Cunningham, casting a professional eye on him.
Poirot felt alarmed. In a moment, he
felt, he would be told what was his complex.
He decided to carry the war into the
enemy's camp. He enjoyed the Countess
RossakofTs society partly because of her
aristocratic provenance, and he was not
going to have his enjoyment spoiled by
a spectacled little girl with boiled gooseberry
eyes and a degree in psychology!
"Do you know what I find astonishing ?"
Alice Cunningham did not admit in so
many words that she did not know. She
contented herself with looking bored but
Poirot went on:
"It amazes me that you--who are
young, and who could look pretty if you
took the trouble -- well, it amazes me that
437 you do not take the trouble! You wear
the heavy coat and skirt with the big
pockets as though you were going to play
the game of golf. But it is not here the golf
links, it is the u...
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