Unformatted text preview: train stopped at a station, people
surged out, forcing Poirot back on to the
points of knitting pins, surged in, squeezing
him into even more sardine-like proximity
with his fellow passengers. The train
started off again with a jerk, Poirot was
thrown against a stout woman with knobbly
parcels, said ^Pardon/w bounced off again
into a long angular man whose attachecase
caught him in the small of the back. He
said c<Pardon.lw again. He felt his
moustaches becoming limp and uncurled. Quel enfer! Fortunately the next station
It was also the station of what seemed
to be about a hundred and fifty other
people, since it happened to be Piccadilly Circus. Like a great tidal wave they flowed
out on to the platform. Presently Poirot
was again jammed tightly on an escalator
being carried upwards towards the surface
of the earth.
Up, thought Poirot, from the Infernal
Regions.... How exquisitely painful was a
suit-case rammed into one's knees from
behind on an ascending escalator!
At that moment, a voice cried his name.
Startled, he raised his eyes. On the opposite
escalator, the one descending, his unbelieving
eyes saw a vision from the past.
A woman of full and flamboyant form; her
luxuriant henna red hair crowned with a
small plastron of straw to which was
attached a positive platoon of brilliantly
feathered little birds. Exotic-looking furs
dripped from her shoulders.
Her crimson mouth opened wide, her
rich, foreign voice echoed resoundingly.
She had good lungs.
"It is!" she screamed. "But it is! Mon
cher Hercule Poirot! We must meet again! I insist V
But Fate itself is not more inexorable
than the behaviour of two escalators moving
in an inverse direction. Steadily, remorselessly,
Hercule Poirot was borne upward, and the Countess Vera Rossakoff was
Twisting himself sideways, leaning over
the balustrade, Poirot cried despairingly:
"Chere Madame--where can I find
Her reply came to him faintly from the
depths. It was unexpected, yet seemed at
the moment strangely apposite.
Hercule Poirot blinked. He blinked
again. Suddenly he rocked on his feet.
Unawares he had reached the top--and
had neglected to step off properly. The
crowd spread out round him. A little to
one side a dense crowd was pressing on
to the downward escalator. Should he
join them? Had that been the Countess's
meaning ? No doubt that travelling in the
bowels of the earth at the rush hour was Hell. If that had been the Countess's
meaning, he could not agree with her more. . . .
Resolutely Poirot crossed over, sandwiched
himself into the descending crowd
and was borne back into the depths. At the
foot of the escalator no sign of the Countess.
Poirot was left with a choice of blue, amber, etc. lights to follow.
Was the Countess patronising the Bakerloo
or the Piccadilly line? Poirot visited
each platform in turn. He was swept
about amongst surging crowds boarding
or leaving trains, but nowhere did he espy
that flamboyant Russian figure, the Cou...
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