Labours Of Hercules By Agatha Christie

But really we have so many ex army gentlemen staying

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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 exclaimed: "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 name ?" Poirot did not help her. She shook her head vexedly. He said: "You have not, then, had a Captain Curtis staying here ?" 32 "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 office." Hercule Poirot nodded thoughtfully. He said: "I comprehend." He added: "It is like this, you see. I wrote a letter to my friend here." 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 now." She peered up at the board. . 33 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 mistake. ..." "Our terms," said Mrs. Harte, "are very moderate. Coffee after dinner is included. I would like you to see one or two of our bed-sitting-rooms. ..." With difficulty Hercule Poirot escaped. IV 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 Poo's disappearance. "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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