Unformatted text preview: speaking to you at Aldermatt
as I might have been observed and you will
have a freer hand if you are thought to be a
mere tourist. Good hunting I Your old friend
Thoughtfully, Hercule Poirot caressed
his moustaches. Yes, indeed, impossible to
mistake the moustaches of Hercule Poirot.
Now what was all this ? He had read in the
papers the details of raffaire Salley -- the
cold-blooded murder of a well-known
Parisian bookmaker. The identity of the
murderer was known. Marrascaud was a
member of a well-known racecourse gang.
He had been suspected of many other killings
-- but this time his guilt was proved
up to the hilt. He had got away, out of
France it was thought, and the police in
every country in Europe were on the look
out for him. So Marrascaud was said to have a
rendezvous at Rochers Neiges. . . .
Hercule Poirot shook his head slowly.
He was puzzled. For Rochers Neiges was
above the snow line. There was a hotel
there, but it communicated with the world
only by the funicular, standing as it did on
a long narrow ledge overhanging the valley.
The hotel opened in June, but there was
seldom any one there until July and August.
It was a place ill-supplied with entrances
and exits -- if a man were tracked there, he
was caught in a trap. It seemed a fantastic
place to choose as the rendezvous of a gang
And yet, if Lementeuil said his information
was reliable, then Lementeuil was
probably right. Hercule Poirot respected
the Swiss Commissaire of Police. He knew
him as a sound and dependable man.
Some reason unknown was bringing
Marrascaud to this meeting-place far above
Hercule Poirot sighed. To hunt down a ruthless killer was not his idea of a pleasant
holiday. Brain work from an armchair, he
reflected, was more in his line. Not to
ensnare a wild boar upon a mountainside. A wild boar -- that was the term Lementeuil
had used. It was certainly an odd
coincidence. . . .
He murmured to himself: "The fourth
Labour of Hercules. The Erymanthian
Quietly, without ostentation, he took
careful stock of his fellow passengers.
On the seat opposite him was an American
tourist. The pattern of his clothes, of
his overcoat, the grip he carried, down to
his hopeful friendliness and his naive
absorption in the scenery, even the guide
book in his hand, all gave him away and
proclaimed him a small town American
seeing Europe for the first time. In another
minute or two, Poirot judged, he would
break into speech. His wistful dog-like
expression could not be mistaken.
On the other side of the carriage a tall, rather distinguished looking man with
greyish hair and a big curved nose was
reading a German book. He had the strong
mobile fingers of a musician or a surgeon.
Farther away still were three men all of
the same type. Men with bowed legs and
an indescribable suggestion of horsiness
about them. They were playing cards.
Presently, perhaps, they would suggest a
stranger cutting in on the game. At first
the stranger would win. Afterwards, the
luck would run the other way.
Nothing very unusual about the three...
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