Labours Of Hercules By Agatha Christie

The countess and poirot sat at a small table near the

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Unformatted text preview: ntess Vera Rossakoff. Weary, battered, and infinitely chagrined, Hercule Poirot once more ascended to ground level and stepped out into the hubbub of Piccadilly Circus. He reached home in a mood of pleasurable excitement. It is the misfortune of small precise men to hanker after large and flamboyant LOH28423 women. Poirot had never been able to rid himself of the fatal fascination the Countess held for him. Though it was something like twenty years since he had seen her last the magic still held. Granted that her makeup now resembled a scene-painter's sunset, with the woman under the make-up well hidden from sight, to Hercule Poirot she still represented the sumptuous and the alluring. The little bourgeois was still thrilled by the aristocrat. The memory of the adroit way she stole jewellery roused the old admiration. He remembered the magnificent aplomb with which she had admitted the fact when taxed with it. A woman in a thousand--in a million! And he had met her again -- and lost her! "In Hell," she had said. Surely his ears had not deceived him ? She had said that ? But what had she meant by it ? Had she meant London's Underground Railways? Or were her words to be taken in a religious sense ? Surely, even if her own way of life made Hell the most plausible destination for her after this life, surely -- surely her Russian courtesy would not suggest that Hercule Poirot was necessarily bound for the same place ? 424 No, she must have meant something quite different. She must have meant-- Hercule Poirot was brought up short against bewilderment. What an intriguing, what an unpredictable woman! A lesser woman might have shrieked "The Ritz" or "Claridgey. But Vera Rossakoff had cried poignantly and impossibly: "Hell!33 Poirot sighed. But he was not defeated. In his perplexity he took the simplest and most straightforward course on the following morning, he asked his secretary. Miss Lemon. Miss Lemon was unbelievably ugly and incredibly efficient. To her Poirot was nobody in particular -- he was merely her employer. She gave him excellent service. Her private thoughts and dreams were concentrated on a new filing system which she was slowly perfecting in the recesses of her mind. "Miss Lemon, may I ask you a question ?33 "Of course, M. Poirot." Miss Lemon took her fingers off the typewriter keys and waited attentively. "If a friend asked you to meet her -- or him -- in Hell, what would you do ?33 425 Miss Lemon, as usual, did not pause. She knew, as the saying goes, all the answers. "It would be advisable, I think, to ring up for a table," she said. Hercule Poirot stared at her in a stupefied fashion. He said, staccato^ "You -- would -- ring -- up -- for -- a table ?" Miss Lemon nodded and drew the telephone towards her. "Tonight ?" she asked, and taking assent for granted since he did not speak, she dialled briskly. "Temple Bar 14578 ? Is that Hell ? Will you please reserve a table for two. M. Hercule Poirot. Eleven o'clock." She replaced the receiver and her fingers hover...
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