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Labours Of Hercules By Agatha Christie

Her nature demanded drama it craved for punishment

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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 request." "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. 414 "Send this back to the Convent." There was a pause. Then Emery Power said: "Are you quite mad ?" Hercule Poirot shook his head. "No, I am not mad. See, I will show you something." 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. Poirot said: "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 415 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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