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Unformatted text preview: yone was
slinking off as fast as they could leave.33
"And then,33 said Poirot, "you had time
to think over the situation.33
"Exactly,33 said Stoddart. "If it was an
ordinary drunken binge, well, that would
be the end of it. But dope's different.33 "You are quite sure of your facts ?33
"Oh, absolutely. No mistaking it. It's
cocaine all right. I found some in a lacquer
box — they snuff it up, you know. Question
is, where does it come from ? I remembered
that you'd been talking the other day
about a big, new wave of drug-taking and
the increase of drug addicts.33
Hercule Poirot nodded. He said:
"The police will be interested in this
Michael Stoddart said unhappily:
"That's just it....33
Poirot looked at him with suddenly
awakened interest. He said:
"But you — you are not very anxious
that the police should be interested ?"
Michael Stoddart mumbled:
"Innocent people get mixed up in
things ... hard lines on them."
"Is it Mrs. Patience Grace for whom
you are solicitous ?"
"Good Lord, no. She's as hard-boiled
as they make them!"
Hercule Poirot said gently: "It is, then, the other one — the girl ?"
Dr. Stoddart said:
"Of course, she's hard-boiled, too, in
a way. I mean, she'd describe herself as
hard-boiled. But she's really just very
young — a bit wild and all that — but it's
just kid foolishness. She gets mixed up in
a racket like this because she thinks it's
smart or modern or something like that.3'
A faint smile came to Poirot's lips. He
"This girl, you have met her before
Michael Stoddart nodded. He looked
very young and embarrassed.
"Ran across her in Mertonshire. At
the Hunt Ball. Her father's a retired
General--blood and thunder, shoot 'em
down--pukka Sahib--all that sort of
thing. There are four daughters and they
are all a bit wild--driven to it with a
father like that, I should say. And it's a
bad part of the county where they live -armaments works nearby and a lot of money--none of the old-fashioned
country feeling--a rich crowd and most
of them pretty vicious. The girls have got
in with a bad set.33
Hercule Poirot looked at him thoughtfully
for some minutes. Then he said:
"I perceive now why you desired my
presence. You want me to take the affair
in hand ?33
"Would you ? I feel I ought to do something
about it -- but I confess I'd like to
keep Sheila Grant out of the limelight if
"That can be managed I fancy. I should
like to see the young lady."
He led the way out of the room. A voice
called fretfully from the door opposite.
"Doctor--for God's sake, doctor, I'm
Stoddart went into the room. Poirot
followed. It was a bedroom in a complete
state of chaos -- powder spilled on the
floor -- pots and jars everywhere, clothes
flung about. On the bed was a woman with unnaturally blonde hair and a va...
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