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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."
Hercule Poirot came in. He was immaculately
dressed -- a white camellia in his
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:
"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
"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.
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
great purifying flood of Public Opinion."
Hercule Poirot got up. He said:
"I applaud your sentiments."
"It is a pity that you do not feel in need
Percy Perry said hurriedly:
"Here, wait a sec — I didn't say that
But Hercule Poirot had gone through
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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