This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: le home
life, of his fondness for gardening. Corresponding
to Baldwin's pipe and Chamberlain^s
umbrella, there was John Hammett's
raincoat. He always carried it -- a weatherworn
garment. It stood as a symbol -- of
the English climate, of the prudent forethought
of the English race, of their
attachment to old possessions. Moreover, in his bluff British way, John Hammett
was an orator. His speeches, quietly and
earnestly delivered, contained those simple
sentimental cliches which are so deeply
rooted in the English heart. Foreigners
sometimes criticise them as being both
hypocritical and unbearably noble. John
Hammett did not in the least mind being
noble -- in a sporting, public school, deprecating
Moreover, he was a man of fine presence, tall, upstanding, with fair colouring and very bright blue eyes. His mother had
been a Dane and he himself had been for
many years First Lord of the Admiralty, which gave rise to his nickname of "the
Viking". When at last ill-health forced him
to give up the reins of office, deep uneasiness
was felt. Who would succeed him ?
The brilliant Lord Charles Delafield?
(Too brilliant--England didn't need
brilliance.) Evan Whittler ? (Clever -- but
perhaps a little unscrupulous.) John
Potter ? (The sort of man who might fancy
himself as Dictator -- and we didn't want
any dictators in this country, thank you
very much.) So a sigh of relief went up
when the quiet Edward Ferrier assumed
office. Ferrier was all right. He had been
trained by the Old Man, he had married
the Old Man's daughter. In the classic
British phrase, Ferrier would "carry on".
Hercule Poirot studied the quiet darkfaced
man with the low pleasant voice.
Lean and dark and tired-looking.
Edward Ferrier was saying:
"Perhaps, M. Poirot, you are acquainted
with a weekly periodical called the X-ray News ?"
"I have glanced at it," admitted Poirot,
The Prime Minister said:
"Then you know more or less of what it
consists. Semi-libellous matter. Snappy
paragraphs hinting at sensational secret
history. Some of them true, some of them
harmless -- but all served up in a spicy
manner. Occasionally -- "
He paused and then said, his voice
altering a little:
"Occasionally something more."
Hercule Poirot did not speak. Ferrier
'Tor two weeks now there have been
hints of impending disclosures of a firstclass
scandal in 'the highest political
circles'. 'Astonishing revelations of corruption
Hercule Poirot said, shrugging his
"A common trick. When the actual
revelations come they usually disappoint the cravers after sensation badly.35
Ferrier said dryly: "These will not
Hercule Poirot asked:
"You know then, what these revelations
are going to be ?"
"With a fair amount of accuracy."
Edward Ferrier paused a minute, then
he began speaking. Carefully, methodically, he outlined the story.
It was not an edifying...
View Full Document