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Unformatted text preview: how often, I
ask you, does a man suggest to her that they
should go to Brighton for the weekend?
It is all long words and work, and the
welfare of the workers, and the future of
the world. It is very worthy, but I ask you,
is it gay ? And look, I ask you, how drab
these young people have made the world!
It is all regulations and prohibitions! Not
so when I was young."
"That reminds me, how is your son,
Madame ?" At the last moment he substituted
"son", for "little boy", remembering
that twenty years had passed.
The Countess's face lit up with enthusiastic
"The beloved angel! So big now, such
shoulders, so handsome! He is in America.
He builds there--bridges, banks, hotels, department stores, railways, anything the Americans want!35
Poirot looked slightly puzzled.
"He is then an engineer? Or an architect?" "What does it matter?" demanded the
Countess. "He is adorable! He is wrapped
up in iron girders, and machinery, and
things called stresses. The kind of things
that I have never understood in the least.
But we adore each other -- always we
adore each other! And so for his sake I
adore the little Alice. But yes, they are
engaged. They meet on a plane or a boat or
a train, and they fall in love, all in the
midst of talking about the welfare of the
workers. And when she comes to London
she comes to see me and I take her to my
heart." The Countess clasped her arms
across her vast bosom, "And I say -- 'You
and Niki love each other -- so I too love
you -- but if you love him why do you
leave him in America?' And she talks
about her 'job' and the book she is writing, and her career, and frankly I do not understand,
but I have always said: "One must be
tolerant'." She added all in one breath, "And what do you think, cher ami, of all this that I have imagined here ?"
"It is very well imagined," said Poirot, looking round him approvingly. "It is chief
The place was full and it had about it
that unmistakable air of success which
cannot be counterfeited. There were languid
couples in full evening dress,
Bohemians in corduroy trousers, stout
gentlemen in business suits. The band, dressed as devils, dispensed hot music.
No doubt about it. Hell had caught on.
"We have all kinds here," said the
Countess. "That is as it should be, is it not ?
The gates of Hell are open to all ?"
"Except, possibly, to the poor ?" Poirot
The Countess laughed. "Are we not
told that it is difficult for a rich man to
enter the Kingdom of Heaven ? Naturally,
then, he should have priority in Hell."
The Professor and Alice were returning
to the table. The Countess got up.
cc! must speak to Aristide."
She exchanged some words with the
head waiter, a lean Mephistopheles, then
went round from table to table, speaking to the guests.
The Professor, wiping his forehead and
sipping a glass of wine, remarked:
"She is a personali...
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