Unformatted text preview: out about him. She was an
odious girl--inquisitive, always prying
into letters and locked drawers."
"Then that explains that."
He paused a minute, then he went on, still persistent:
"Juanita^s other name was Valetta and
she died of an operation for appendicitis in
Pisa. Is that correct ?"
He noted the hesitation, hardly perceptible
but nevertheless there, before the
dancer bowed her head.
"Yes, that is right. ..."
Poirot said meditatively:
"And yet -- there is still a little point -her people spoke of her, not as Juanita but
Katrina shrugged her thin shoulders.
She said: "Bianca -- Juanita, does it matter ?
I suppose her real name was Bianca but she
thought the name of Juanita was more
romantic and so chose to call herself by it."
"Ah, you think that?" He paused and then, his voice changing, he said: "For me,
there is another explanation."
"What is it ?"
Poirot leaned forward. He said:
"The girl that Ted Williamson saw had
hair that he described as being like wings
He leaned still a little further forward.
His finger just touched the two springing
waves of Katrina's hair.
"Wings of gold, horns of gold ? It is as
you look at it, it is whether one sees you as
devil or as angel! You might be either. Or are they perhaps only the golden horns of
the stricken deer ?"
"The stricken deer. ..." and her voice
was the voice of one without hope.
"All along Ted Williamson's description
has worried me -- it brought something to
my mind -- that something was you, dancing
on your twinkling bronze feet through
the forest. Shall I tell you what / think, Mademoiselle? I think there was a week
when you had no maid, when you went
down alone to Grasslawn, for Bianca Valetta had returned to Italy and you had
not yet engaged a new maid. Already you
were feeling the illness which has since
overtaken you, and you stayed in the house
one day when the others went on an all day
excursion on the river. There was a ring at
the door and you went to it and you saw -- shall I tell you what you saw ? You saw a
young man who was as simple as a child
and as handsome as a god! And you invented
for him a girl -- v^otJuanita -- but Incognita--and for a few hours you
walked with him in Arcady. . . .3'
There was a long pause. Then Katrina
said in a low hoarse voice:
"In one thing at least I have told you the
truth. I have given you the right end to the
story. Nita will die young."
"Ah non!" Hercule Poirot was transformed.
He struck his hand on the table.
He was suddenly prosaic, mundane, practical. He said:
"It is quite unnecessary! You need not
die. You can fight for your life, can you not, as well as another ?"
She shook her head--sadly, hopelessly -"What life is there for me ?"
"Not the life of the stage, bien entendu \ But think, there is another life. Co...
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