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Unformatted text preview: ng up at the baizecovered
letter rack when a rustle and a
strong smell of Devonshire violets proclaimed
the arrival of the Manageress. Mrs. Harte was full of graciousness. She
"So sorry I was not in my office. You
were requiring rooms ?"
Hercule Poirot murmured:
"Not precisely. I was wondering if a
friend of mine had been staying here
lately. A Captain Curtis."
"Curtis," exclaimed Mrs. Harte. "Captain
Curtis ? Now where have I heard that
Poirot did not help her. She shook her
"You have not, then, had a Captain
Curtis staying here ?"
"Well, not lately, certainly. And yet, you
know, the name is certainly familiar to me.
Can you describe your friend at all ?"
"That," said Hercule Poirot, "would be
difficult.39 He went on: "I suppose it
sometimes happens that letters arrive for
people when in actual fact no one of that
name is staying here ?"
"That does happen, of course." "What do you do with such letters ?"
"Well, we keep them for a time. You see,
it probably means that the person in
question will arrive shortly. Of course, if
letters or parcels are a long time here
unclaimed, they are returned to the post
Hercule Poirot nodded thoughtfully.
"I comprehend." He added: "It is like
this, you see. I wrote a letter to my friend
Mrs. Harte's face cleared.
"That explains it. I must have noticed
the name on an envelope. But really we
have so many ex-Army gentlemen staying
here or passing through— Let me see
She peered up at the board.
Hercule Poirot said:
"It is not there now.33
"It must have been returned to the
postman, I suppose. I am so sorry. Nothing important, I hope ?"
''No, no, it was of no importance." As he moved towards the door, Mrs.
Harte, enveloped in her pungent odour of
violets, pursued him.
"If your friend should come -- "
"It is most unlikely. I must.have made a
"Our terms," said Mrs. Harte, "are very
moderate. Coffee after dinner is included.
I would like you to see one or two of our
With difficulty Hercule Poirot escaped.
The drawing-room of Mrs. Samuelson was
larger, more lavishly furnished, and enjoyed
an even more stifling amount of
central heating than that of Lady Hoggin.
Hercule Poirot picked his way giddily
amongst gilded console tables and large
groups of statuary.
Mrs. Samuelson was taller than Lady
Hoggin and her hair was dyed with per34
oxide. Her Pekinese was called Nanki Poo.
His bulging eyes surveyed Hercule Poirot
with arrogance. Miss Keble, Mrs. Samuelson's
companion, was thin and scraggy
where Miss Camaby had been plump, but she also was voluble and slightly breathless.
She, too, had been blamed for Nanki
"But really, Mr. Poirot, it was the most
amazing thing. It all happened in a second.
Outside Harrods it was. A nurse there
asked me the time — w
Poirot interrupted her.
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