This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: uiries and I was told
that you were the best man available. I
mean to get to the bottom of this business
and I don't grudge the expense. That's
why I got you to come here."
"You were fortunate," said Hercule Poirot.
Sir Joseph said "Eh ?" again.
"Exceedingly fortunate," said Hercule
Poirot firmly. "I am, I may say so without
undue modesty, at the apex of my career.
Very shortly I intend to retire -- to live in
the country, to travel occasionally to see the
world--also, it may be, to cultivate my
garden--with particular attention to improving
the strain of vegetable marrows.
Magnificent vegetables--but they lack
flavour. That, however, is not the point. I
wished merely to explain that before
retiring I had imposed upon myself a
certain task. I have decided to accept twelve
cases -- no more, no less. A self-imposed labours of Hercules1 if I may so describe
it. Your case. Sir Joseph, is the first of the
twelve. I was attracted to it,33 he sighed, "by its striking unimportance."
"Importance ?" said Sir Joseph.
"C/wimportance was what I said. I have
been called in for varying causes -- to
investigate murders, unexplained deaths, robberies, thefts of jewellery. This is the
first time that I have been asked to turn my
talents to elucidate the kidnapping of a
Pekinese dog." Sir Joseph grunted. He said:
"You surprise me! I should have said
you'd have had no end of women pestering
you about their pet dogs."
"That, certainly. But it is the first time
that I am summoned by the husband in the
Sir Joseph's little eyes narrowed appreciatively. He said:
"I begin to see why they recommended
you to me. You're a shrewd fellow, Mr.
"If you will now tell me the facts of the
case. The dog disappeared, when ?"
"Exactly a week ago."
"And your wife is by now quite frantic, I presume ?"
Sir Joseph stared. He said:
"You don't understand. The dog has
"Returned? Then, permit me to ask, where do / enter the matter ?"
Sir Joseph went crimson in the face.
"Because I'm damned if I'll be swindled! Now then, Mr. Poirot, I'm going to tell you
the whole thing. The dog was stolen a week
ago -- nipped in Kensington Gardens
where he was out with my wife's companion.
The next day my wife got a demand
for two hundred pounds. I ask you -- two
hundred pounds! For a damned yapping
little brute that's always getting under your
"You did not approve of paying such a
sum, naturally ?"
"Of course I didn't — or wouldn't have
if I'd known anything about it! Milly (my
wife) knew that well enough. She didn't
say anything to me. Just sent off the money
—in one-pound notes as stipulated—to
the address given."
"And the dog was returned ?"
"Yes. That evening the bell rang and
there was the little brute sitting on the
View Full Document