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Unformatted text preview: s exactly as Miss Lemon had
said. A city address -- a curt businesslike
unrefined demand. The subject -- the kidnapping
of a Pekinese dog. One of those
bulging-eyed, overpampered pets of a rich
woman. Hercule Poirot's lip curled as he
Nothing unusual about this. Nothing
out of the way or-- But yes, yes, in one
small detail. Miss Lemon was right. In one
small detail there was something unusual.
Hercule Poirot sat down. He read the letter slowly and carefully. It was not the
kind of case he wanted, it was not the kind
of case he had promised himself. It was not
in any sense an important case, it was
supremely unimportant. It was not — and
here was the crux of his objection—it
was not a proper Labour of Hercules.
But unfortunately he was curious. . . .
Yes, he was curious. . . .
He raised his voice so as to be heard by
Miss Lemon above the noise of her
"Ring up this Sir Joseph Hoggin," he
ordered, "and make an appointment for
me to see him at his office as he suggests."
As usual. Miss Lemon had been right.
"I'm a plain man, M. Poirot," said Sir
Hercule Poirot made a noncommittal
gesture with his right hand. It expressed
(if you chose to take it so) admiration for
the solid worth of Sir Joseph's career and an
appreciation of his modesty in so describing
himself. It could also have conveyed a 15
graceful deprecation of the statement. In
any case it gave no clue to the thought then
uppermost in Hercule Poirot's mind, which
was that Sir Joseph certainly was (using
the term in its more colloquial sense) a very
plain man indeed. Hercule Poirot's eyes
rested critically on the swelling jowl, the
small pig eyes, the bulbous nose and the
close-lipped mouth. The whole general
effect reminded him of someone or something
-- but for the moment he could not
recollect who or what it was. A memory
stirred dimly. A long time ago ... in
Belgium . . . something, surely, to do with soap. ...
Sir Joseph was continuing.
"No frills about me. I don't beat about
the bush. Most people, M. Poirot, would
let this business go. Write it off as a bad
debt and forget about it. But that's not
Joseph Hoggin's way. I'm a rich man-and in a manner of speaking two hundred
pounds is neither here nor there to me--'9
Poirot interpolated swiftly:
cc! congratulate you."
"Eh ?" Sir Joseph paused a minute. His small
eyes narrowed themselves still more. He
"That's not to say that I'm in the habit
of throwing my money about. What I want
I pay for. But I pay the market price — no
Hercule Poirot said:
"You realise that my fees are high ?"
"Yes, yes. But this," Sir Joseph looked
at him cunningly, "is a very small matter."
Hercule Poirot shrugged his shoulders.
"I do not bargain. I am an expert. For
the services of an expert you have to
Sir Joseph said frankly:
"I know you're a tip-top man at this sort
of thing. I made inq...
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