Labours Of Hercules By Agatha Christie

She had progressed beyond the nursery governess and

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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. 429 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.33 430 Poirot bowed to the second occupant of the table, a severe-looking girl in a check coat and skirt. She wore horned-rimmed glasses. "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 waltz." "This is a waltz," said Alice patiently. They got up and danced. They did not dance well. 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 431 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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