Unformatted text preview: story. Accusations
of shameless chicanery, of share juggling, of a gross misuse of Party Funds. The
charges were levelled against the late
Prime Minister, John Hammett. They
showed him to be a dishonest rascal, a
gigantic confidence trickster, who had
used his position to amass for himself a
vast private fortune.
The Prime Minister's quiet voice
stopped at last. The Home Secretary
groaned. He spluttered out:
"It's monstrous -- monstrous! This fellow, Perry, who edits the rag, ought to be
Hercule Poirot said:
"These so-called revelations are to appear
in the X-ray News ?" "Yes."
"What steps do you propose to take
about them ?"
Ferrier said slowly:
"They constitute a private attack on
John Hammett. It is open to him to sue the
paper for libel."
"Will he do that ?"
"Why not ?"
"It is probable that there is nothing the X-ray News would like better. The publicity
given them would be enormous. Their
defence would be fair comment and that
the statements complained of were true.
The whole business would be exhaustively
held up to view in a blaze of limelight.35 "Still, if the case went against them, the
damages would be extremely heavy.39
Ferrier said slowly: "It might not go
Sir George said primly, "I really think that -- "
But Edward Ferrier was already speaking. "Because what they intend to print is -the truth.39
A groan burst from Sir George Conway,
outraged at such un-Parliamentary frankness.
He cried out:
"Edward, my dear fellow. We don't
admit, surely -- "
The ghost of a smile passed over Edward
Ferrier's tired face. He said:
"Unfortunately, George, there are times
when the stark truth has got to be told.
This is one of them.3'
Sir George exclaimed:
"You understand, M. Poirot, all this is
strictly in confidence. Not one word -- "
Ferrier interrupted him. He said:
"M. Poirot understands that." He went
on slowly, "What he may not understand is
this: the whole future of the People's
Party is at stake. John Hammett, M.
Poirot, was the People's Party. He stood
for what it represents to the people of England--he stood for Decency and
Honesty. No one has ever thought us
brilliant. We have muddled and blundered.
But we have stood for the tradition of
doing one's best -- and we have stood, too, for fundamental honesty. Our disaster is
this -- that the man who was our figurehead, the Honest Man of the People, par
excellence -- turns out to have been one of
the worst crooks of this generation.35
Another groan burst from Sir George.
"You knew nothing of all this ?"
Again the smile flashed across the weary
face. Ferrier said:
"You may not believe me, M. Poirot,
but like everyone else, I was completely
deceived. I never understood my wife's
curious attitude of reserve towards her
father. I understand it now. She knew his
He paused and then said:
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