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Unformatted text preview: ss he was fully conscious now
that twenty years is twenty years. Countess
Rossakoff might not uncharitably have
been described as a ruin. But she was at
least a spectacular ruin. The exuberance,
the full-blooded enjoyment of life was still
there, and she knew, none better, how to
flatter a man.
She drew Poirot with her to a table at
which two other people were sitting.
myw"My friend, my celebrated friend, M.
Hercule Poirot,33 she announced. "He
who is the terror of evildoers! I was once
afraid of him myself, but now I lead a life
of the extreme, the most virtuous dullness.
Is it not so ?33
The tall thin elderly man to whom she
spoke said, "Never say dull. Countess."
"The Professor Liskeard,33 the Countess
announced. "He who knows everything
about the past and who gave me the
valuable hints for the decorations here.53
The Archaeologist shuddered slightly.
"If I'd known what you meant to do!33 he murmured. "The result is so appalling.33
Poirot observed the frescoes more
closely. On the wall facing him Orpheus
and his jazz band played, while Eurydice
looked hopefully towards the grill. On the
opposite wall Osiris and Isis seemed to be
throwing an Egyptian underworld boating
party. On the third wall some bright young
people were enjoying mixed bathing in a
state of Nature.
"The Country of the Young,33 explained
the Countess and added in the same breath,
completing her introductions: "And this
is my little Alice.33
Poirot bowed to the second occupant of
the table, a severe-looking girl in a check
coat and skirt. She wore horned-rimmed
"She is very, very clever," said Countess
Rossakoff. "She has a degree and she is a
psychologist and she knows all the reasons
why lunatics are lunatics! It is not, as you
might think, because they are mad! No, there are all sorts of other reasons! I find
that very peculiar." The girl called Alice smiled kindly but
a little disdainfully. She asked the Professor
in a firm voice if he would like
to dance. He appeared flattered but dubious. "My dear young lady, I fear I only
"This is a waltz," said Alice patiently.
They got up and danced. They did not
The Countess Rossakoff sighed. Following
out a train of thought of her own, she
murmured, "And yet she is not really bad-looking. ..."
"She does not make the most of herself,"
said Poirot judicially.
"Frankly," cried the Countess, "I cannot
understand the young people of nowadays.
They do not try any more to please -always, in my youth, I tried -- the colours
that suited me--a little padding in the
frocks -- the corset laced tight round the
waist -- the hair, perhaps, a more interesting
shade -- "
She pushed back the heavy Titian
tresses from her forehead--it was undeniable that she, at least, was still trying
and trying hard!
"To be content with what Nature has
given you, that -- that is stupid I It is also
arrogant! The little Alice she writes pages
of long words about Sex, but...
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