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Unformatted text preview: nderground cellar with the
temperature of 71 Fahrenheit, and your
nose it is hot and shines, but you do not
powder it, and the lipstick you put it on
your mouth without interest, without emphasising
the curve of the lips! You are
a woman, but you do not draw attention
to the fact of being a woman. And I say to
you ^Why not y It is a pity!"
For a moment he had the satisfaction
of seeing Alice Cunningham look human.
He even saw a spark of anger in her eyes.
Then she regained her attitude of smiling
"My dear M. Poirot," she said, "I'm
afraid you're out of touch with the modem
ideology. It is fundamentals that matter -not the trappings.55
She looked up as a dark and very
beautiful young man came towards them.
"This is a most interesting type," she murmured with zest. "Paul Varesco! Lives
on women and has strange depraved
cravings! I want him to tell me more
about a nursery governess who looked
after him when he was three years old."
A moment or two later she was dancing
with the young man. He danced divinely.
As they drifted near Poirot's table, Poirot
heard her say: "And after the summer at
Bognor she gave you a toy crane ? A crane
— yes, that's very suggestive."
For a moment Poirot allowed himself
to toy with the speculation that Miss
Cunningham's interest in criminal types
might lead one day to her mutilated body
being found in a lonely wood. He did not
like Alice Cunningham, but he was honest
enough to realise that the reason for his
dislike was the fact that she was so palpably
unimpressed by Hercule Poirot! His vanity
Then he saw something that momentarily
put Alice Cunningham out of his head.
At a table on the opposite side of the floor
sat a fair-haired young man. He wore evening dress, his whole demeanour was
that of one who lives a life of ease and
pleasure. Opposite him sat the right kind
of expensive girl. He was gazing at her in
a fatuous and foolish manner. Any one
seeing them might have murmured: "The
439 idle rich!" Nevertheless Poirot knew very
well that the young man was neither rich
nor idle. He was, in fact. Detective Inspector
Charles Stevens, and it seemed probable
to Poirot that Detective Inspector Stevens
was here on business. . . .
On the following morning Poirot paid a
visit to Scotland Yard to his old friend
Chief Inspector Japp.
Japp's reception of his tentative inquiries
"You old fox!" said Japp affectionately. "How you get on to these things beats
"But I assure you I know nothing-nothing at all! It is just idle curiosity."
Japp said that Poirot could tell that to the Marines! "You want to know all about this place Hell ? Well, on the surface it's just another
of these things. It's caught on! They must
be making a lot of money, though of course
the expenses are pretty high. There's a
Russian woman ostensibly running it, calls
herself the Countess Something or
other -- "
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