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Unformatted text preview: aid thoughtfully. 'Oh! no,' as I was about to speak. 'Inutile\
You would not tell me your real thought.' 'Everyone has something to hide,' I quoted, smiling.
'Exactly.' 'You still believe that?' 'More than ever, my friend. But it is not easy to hide things from Hercule
Poirot. He has a knack of finding out.' He descended the steps of the Dutch garden as he spoke.
'Let us walk a little,' he said over his shoulder. The air is pleasant today.' I followed him. He led me down
a path to the left enclosed in yew hedges. A walk led down the middle, bordered each side with formal
flower beds, and at the end was a round paved recess with a seat and a pond of goldfish.
Instead of pursuing the path to the end, Poirot took another which wound up the side of a wooded slope.
In one spot the trees had been cleared away, and a seat had been put.
Sitting there one had a splendid view over the countryside, and one looked right down on the paved
recess and the goldfish pond.
'England is very beautiful,' said Poirot, his eyes straying over the prospect. Then he smiled. 'And so are
English girls,' he said in a lower voice. 'Hush, my friend, and look at the pretty picture below us.' It was
then that I saw Flora. She was moving along the path we had just left and she was humming a little snatch
of song. Her step was more dancing than walking, and, in spite of her black dress, there was nothing but
joy in her whole attitude. She gave a sudden pirouette on her toes, and her black draperies swung out. At
the same time she flung her head back and laughed outright.
As she did so a man stepped out from the trees. It was Hector Blunt.
The girl started. Her expression changed a little.
'How you startled me - I didn't see you.' Blunt said nothing, but stood looking at her for a minute or two
'What I like about you,' said Flora, with a touch of malice, 'is your cheery conversation.' I fancy that at
that Blunt reddened under his tan. His voice, when he spoke, sounded different - it had a curious sort of
humility in it.
'Never was much of a fellow for talking. Not even when I was young.' 'That was a very long time ago, I
suppose,' said Flora gravely.
I caught the undercurrent of laughter in her voice, but I don't think Blunt did.
'Yes,' he said simply, 'it was.' 'How does it feel to be Methuselah?' asked Flora.
This time the laughter was more apparent, but Blunt was following out an idea of his own.
'Remember the johnny who sold his soul to the devil? In return for being made young again? There's an
opera about it.' 'Faust, you mean?' 'That's the beggar. Rum story. Some of us would do it if we could.'
'Anyone would think you were creaking at the joints to hear you talk,' cried Flora, half vexed, half
Blunt said nothing for a minute or two. Then he looked away from Flora into the middle distance and
observed to an adjacent tree trunk that it was about time he got back to Africa. 'Are you going on another expedition - shooting things?' 'Expect so. Usually do, you know - shoot things,
I mean.' 'You shot that head in the hall, didn't you?'...
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