Unformatted text preview: oms, closed and shuttered where no one
was likely to enter....
He came round the corner of the hotel
and nearly ran into one of the three cardplaying
men. It was the one with the pasty face and pale eyes. The eyes looked at
Poirot without expression. Only the lips
curled back a little showing the teeth like
a vicious horse.
Poirot passed him and went on. There
was a figure ahead of him--the tall
graceful figure ofMadame Grandier.
He hastened his pace a little and caught
her up. He said:
"This accident to the funicular, it is
distressing. I hope, Madame, that it has
not inconvenienced you ?"
"It is a matter of indifference to me."
Her voice was very deep -- a full contralto.
She did not look at Poirot. She
swerved aside and went into the hotel by a
small side door.
V Hercule Poirot went to bed early. He was
awakened some time after midnight.
Someone was fumbling with the lock
of the door.
He sat up, putting on the light. At the
same moment the lock yielded to manipulation
and the door swung open. Three
men stood there, the three card-playing
men. They were, Poirot thought, slightly
drunk. Their faces were foolish and yet
malevolent. He saw the gleam of a razor
The big thickset man advanced. He
spoke in a growling voice.
"Sacred pig of a detective! Bah p?
He burst into a torrent of profanity.
The three of them advanced purposefully
on the defenceless man in the bed.
"We'll carve him up, boys. Eh, little
horses? We'll slash Monsieur Detective's
face open for him. He won't be the first
They came on, steady, purposeful-the razor blades flashed....
And then, startling in its crisp transatlantic tones, a voice said:
They swerved round. Schwartz, dressed
in a peculiarly vivid set of striped pyjamas
stood in the doorway. In his hand he held
"Stick 'em up, guys. I'm pretty good at
He pressed the trigger--and a bullet
sang past the big man's ear and buried
itself in the woodwork of the window.
Three pairs of hands were raised rapidly.
Schwartz said: "Can I trouble you, M.
Hercule Poirot was out of bed in a flash.
He collected the gleaming weapons and
passed his hands over the three men's
bodies to make sure they were not armed.
"Now then, march! There's a big cupboard
just along the corridor. No window in
it. Just the thing.3a
He marched them into it and turned
the key on them. He swung round to
Poirot, his voice breaking with pleasurable emotion.
"If that doesn't just show ? Do you know,
M. Poirier, there were folks in Fountain
Springs who laughed at me because I said
I was going to take a gun abroad with me. 'Where do you think you're going ?' they
asked. 'Into the jungle?' Well, sir. I'd
say the laugh is with me. Did you ever see
such an ugly bunch of toughs ?"
"My dear Mr. Schwartz, you appeared
in the nick of time. It might have been a
drama on the stage! I am very much in
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