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Unformatted text preview: at I am. My girls give me a wide berth
when I've got an attack of gout. Don't
know that I blame them. You've met one
of'em, I hear."
309 "I have had that pleasure, yes. You have
several daughters, have you not ?"
"Four," said the General gloomily. "Not
a boy amongst 'em. Four blinking girls.
Bit of a thought, these days."
"They are all four very charming,
I hear ?"
"Not too bad — not too bad. Mind you,
I never know what they're up to. You
can't control girls nowadays. Lax times —
too much laxity everywhere. What can
a man do ? Can't lock 'em up, can I ?"
"They are popular in the neighbourhood,
"Some of the old cats don't like 'em,"
said General Grant.
"A good deal of mutton dressed as lamb
round here. A man's got to be careful. One
of these blue-eyed widows nearly caught
me—used to come round here purring
like a kitten. 'Poor General Grant —you
must have had such an interesting life9 "
The General winked and placed one finger
against his nose. "A little bit too obvious,
Mr. Poirot. Oh well, take it all round,
I suppose it's not a bad part of the world. A bit go ahead and noisy for my taste.
I liked the country when it was the country
— not all this motoring and jazz and that
blasted, eternal radio. I won't have one
here and the girls know it. A man's
got a right to a little peace in his own
Gently Poirot led the conversation round
to Anthony Hawker.
"Hawker? Hawker? Don't know him.
Yes, I do, though. Nasty looking fellow
with his eyes too close together. Never
trust a man who can't look you in the face.53
"He is a friend, is he not, of your
daughter Sheila's ?"
"Sheila ? Wasn't aware of it. Girls never
tell me anything." The bushy eyebrows
came down over the nose — the piercing,
blue eyes looked out of the red face
straight into Hercule Poirot's. "Look here,
Mr. Poirot, what's all this about? Mind
telling me what you've come to see me
Poirot said slowly: "That would be difficult—perhaps I
hardly know myself. I would say only this:
your daughter Sheila—perhaps all your
daughters — have made some undesirable
"Got into a bad set, have they? I was
a bit afraid of that. One hears a word
dropped here and there.5' He looked
pathetically at Poirot. "But what am I to
do, Mr. Poirot ? What am I to do ?"
Poirot shook his head perplexedly.
General Grant went on:
"What's wrong with the bunch they're
running with ?"
Poirot replied by another question.
"Have you noticed. General Grant, that
any of your daughters have been moody, excited -- then depressed -- nervy -- uncertain
in their tempers ?"
"Damme, sir, you're talking like a patent
medicine. No, I haven't noticed anything
of the kind."
"That is fortunate," said Poirot gravely.
"What the devil is the meaning of all
this, sir ?"
The word came in a roar.
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