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Unformatted text preview: a nun. She was
about to take her final vows at the time of
her father's death. She was an ignorant
but a devout girl. The cup was hidden in
her father's house in Liverpool. She took
it to the Convent wanting, I think, to atone
for her father's sins. She gave it to be used
to the glory of God. I do not think that the
nuns themselves ever realised its value.
They took it, probably, for a family heirloom.
In their eyes it was a chalice and
they used it as such."
Emery Power said:
"An extraordinary story!" He added:
"What made you think of going there ?"
Poirot shrugged his shoulders.
413 "Perhaps—a process of elimination.
And then there was the extraordinary
fact that no one had ever tried to dispose
of the cup. That looked, you see, as though
it were in a place where ordinary material
values did not apply. I remembered that
Patrick Casey's daughter was a nun.31
Power said heartily:
"Well, as I said before, I congratulate
you. Let me know your fee and I'll write
you a cheque."
Hercule Poirot said:
"There is no fee."
The other stared at him.
"What do you mean ?"
"Did you ever read fairy stories when
you were a child ? The King in them would
say: 'Ask of me what you will" ?"
"So you are asking something ?"
"Yes, but not money. Merely a simple
"Well, what is it ? D'you want a tip for
the markets ?"
"That would be only money in another
form. My request is much simpler than that."
"What is it ?"
Hercule Poirot laid his hands on the cup.
"Send this back to the Convent."
There was a pause. Then Emery Power
"Are you quite mad ?"
Hercule Poirot shook his head.
"No, I am not mad. See, I will show you
He picked up the goblet. With his
finger-nail, he pressed hard into the open
jaws of the snake that was coiled round the
tree. Inside the cup a tiny portion of the
gold chased interior slid aside leaving an
aperture into the hollow handle.
"You see ? This was the drinking cup of
the Borgia Pope. Through this little hole
the poison passed into the drink. You have
said yourself that the history of this cup is
evil. Violence and blood and evil passions
have accompanied its possession. Evil will
perhaps come to you in turn."
"Superstition!" "Possibly. But why were you so anxious
to possess this thing? Not for its beauty.
Not for its value. You have a hundred —
a thousand perhaps — beautiful and rare
things. You wanted it to sustain your
pride. You were determined not to be
beaten. Eh bien, you are not beaten. You
win! The goblet is in your possession.
But now, why not make a great — a
supreme gesture ? Send it back to where it
has dwelt in peace for nearly ten years. Let
the evil of it be purified there. It belonged
to the Church once — let it return to the
Church. Let it stand once more on the
altar, purified and absolved as we hope
that the souls of men shall be also purified
and absolved from their sins."
He leaned forward.
"Let me describe fo...
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