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Unformatted text preview: the train and as
soon as all the people were back from the
restaurant car, the doors between the
coaches were locked--actually so as to
prevent people crowding along to the
restaurant car and demanding tea before
they'd had time to clear up lunch and
get ready. Winnie King came back to the
coach with the others -- the school had three reserved compartments there."
"And in the other compartments of the
Hearn pulled out his notebook.
"Miss Jordan and Miss Butters -- two
middle-aged spinsters going to Switzerland.
Nothing wrong with them, highly
respectable, well known in Hampshire
where they come from. Two French
commercial travellers, one from Lyons,
one from Paris. Both respectable middleaged
men. A young man, James Elliot, and
his wife -- flashy piece of goods she was.
He's got a bad reputation, suspected by
the police of being mixed up in some
questionable transactions -- but has never
touched kidnapping. Anyway, his compartment
was searched and there was
nothing in his hand luggage to show that
he was mixed up in this. Don't see how he could have been. Only other person was an
American lady, Mrs. Van Suyder, travelling
to Paris. Nothing known about her.
Looks OK. That's the lot."
Hercule Poirot said: "And it is quite definite that the train
did not stop after it left Amiens ?55
"Absolutely. It slowed down once, but
not enough to let any one jump off -- not
without damaging themselves pretty
severely and risking being killed.55
Hercule Poirot murmured:
"That is what makes the problem so
peculiarly interesting. The schoolgirl vanishes
into thin air-just outside Amiens. She
reappears from thin air just outside Amiens. Where has she been in the meantime ?"
Inspector Hearn shook his head.
"It sounds mad, put like that. Oh! by
the way, they told me you were asking
something about shoes -- the girl's shoes.
She had her shoes on all right when she
was found, but there was a pair of shoes on
the line, a signalman found them. Took
'em home with him as they seemed in good
condition. Stout black walking shoes.53
"Ah," said Poirot. He looked gratified.
Inspector Hearn said curiously:
cc! don't get the meaning of the shoes,
sir ? Do they mean anything ?"
"They confirm a theory," said Hercule Poirot. "A theory of how the conjuring
trick was done."
Miss Pope's establishment was, like many
other establishments of the same kind,
situated in Neuilly. Hercule Poirot, staring
up at its respectable facade, was suddenly
submerged by a flow of girls emerging
from its portals.
He counted twenty-five of them, all
dressed alike in dark blue coats and skirts
with uncomfortable-looking British hats of
dark blue velour on their heads, round
which was tied the distinctive purple and
gold of Miss Pope's choice. They were
of ages varying from fourteen to eighteen,
thick and slim, fair and dark, awkward
and graceful. At the end, walking with one
of the younger girls, was a grey-haired, fussy looking woman whom Poirot judg...
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