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invalids. I told the Canon that in my
opinion he would do well to take the child
home with him." Hercule Poirot asked bluntly:
^What in your opinion actually occurred, Miss Pope ?"
"I have not the slightest idea, M. Poirot.
The whole thing, as reported to me, sounds
quite incredible. I really cannot see that
the member of my staff who was in charge
of the girls was in any way to blame -except that she might, perhaps, have discovered
the girl's absence sooner."
"You have received a visit, perhaps,
from the police ?"
A faint shiver passed over Miss Pope's
aristocratic form. She said glacially:
"A Monsieur Lefarge of the Prefecture
called to see me, to see if I could throw
any light upon the situation. Naturally I
was unable to do so. He then demanded
to inspect Winnie's trunk which had, of
course, arrived here with those of the other
girls. I told him that that had already
been called for by another member of the
police. Their departments, I fancy, must
overlap. I got a telephone call, shortly
afterwards, insisting that I had not turned 344
over all Winnie's possessions to them. I
was extremely short with them over that.
One must not submit to being bullied by
Poirot drew a long breath. He said:
"You have a spirited nature. I admire
you for it. Mademoiselle. I presume that
Winnie's trunk had been unpacked on
Miss Pope looked a little put out of
"Routine," she said. "We live strictly
by routine. The girls' trunks are unpacked
on arrival and their things put away in the
way I expect them to be kept. Winnie's
things were unpacked with those of the
other girls. Naturally, they were afterwards
repacked, so that her trunk was
handed over exactly as it had arrived."
Poirot said: "Exactly?"
He strolled over to the wall.
"Surely this is a picture of the famous
Cranchester Bridge with the Cathedral
showing in the distance."
"You are quite right, M. Poirot. Winnie had evidently painted that to bring to me as
a surprise. It was in her trunk with a
wrapper round it and 'For Miss Pope from
Winnie9 written on it. Very charming of
"Ah!" said Poirot. "And what do you
think of it — as a painting ?"
He himself had seen many pictures of
Cranchester Bridge. It was a subject that
could always be found represented at the
Academy each year—sometimes as an
oil painting—sometimes in the watercolour
room. He had seen it painted well,
painted in a mediocre fashion, painted
boringly. But he had never seen it quite
as crudely represented as in the present
Miss Pope was smiling indulgently.
"One must not discourage one's girls,
M. Poirot. Winnie will be stimulated to do
better work, of course."
Poirot said thoughtfully:
"It would have been more natural, would it not, for her to do a watercolour
I did not know she was attempting
to paint in oils.'5
"Ah," said Hercule Poirot. "You...
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