Labours Of Hercules By Agatha Christie

Everyone realised at once what a strong resemblance

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Unformatted text preview: either. Not the way we've got it farmed out -- in this country and on the Continent and America." The other said: "They must be in a pretty good stew. Won't they do anything ?" "They'll send someone to talk pretty -- " A buzzer sounded. Percy Perry picked up a receiver. He said: "Who do you say ? Right, send him up." He put the receiver down -- grinned. "They've got that high-toned Belgian dick on to it. He's coming up now to do his stuff. Wants to know if we'll play ball." 188 Hercule Poirot came in. He was immaculately dressed -- a white camellia in his buttonhole. Percy Perry said: "Pleased to meet you, M. Poirot. On your way to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot ? No? My mistake." Hercule Poirot said: "I am flattered. One hopes to present a good appearance. It is even more important," his eyes roamed innocently over the editor's face and somewhat slovenly attire, "when one has few natural advantages." Perry said shortly: "What do you want to see me about ?" Poirot leaned forward, tapped him on the knee, and said with a beaming smile: "Blackmail." "What the devil do you mean, blackmail ?" "I have heard -- the little bird has told me -- that on occasions you have been on the point of publishing certain very damaging statements in your so spirituel paper --then, there has been a pleasant little increase in your bank balance -- and after all, those statements have not been published." 189 Poirot leaned back and nodded his head in a satisfied sort of way. "Do you realise that what you're suggesting amounts to slander ?" Poirot smiled confidently. "I am sure you will not take offence." "I do take offence! As to blackmail there is no evidence of my ever having blackmailed anybody." "No, no, I am quite sure of that. You misunderstand me. I was not threatening you. I was leading up to a simple question. How much ?" "I don't know what you're talking about," said Percy Perry. "A matter of National importance, M. Perry." They exchanged a significant glance. Percy Perry said: "I'm a reformer, M. Poirot. I want to see politics cleaned up. I'm opposed to corruption. Do you know what the state of politics is in this country? The Augean Stables, no more, no less." "Tiens!" said Hercule Poirot. "You, too, use that phrase." "And what is needed," went on the editor, "to cleanse those stables is the 190 great purifying flood of Public Opinion." Hercule Poirot got up. He said: "I applaud your sentiments." He added: "It is a pity that you do not feel in need of money." Percy Perry said hurriedly: "Here, wait a sec — I didn't say that exactly. ..." But Hercule Poirot had gone through the door. His excuse for later events is that he does not like blackmailers. IV Everitt Dashwood, the cheery young man on the staff of The...
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