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Unformatted text preview: t foolish remark has revealed the truth to me! And then, too, it was his practice to
keep a written record of the cases that proved interesting.' I gave a slightly embarrassed cough.
'As far as that goes,' I began, and then stopped.
Poirot sat upright in his chair. His eyes sparkled.
'But yes? What is it that you would say?' 'Well, as a matter of fact, I've read some of Captain Hastings's
narratives, and I thought, why not try my hand at something of the same kind. Seemed a pity not to
unique opportunity - probably the only time I'll be mixed up with anything of this kind.' I felt myself getting
hotter and hotter, and more and more incoherent, as I floundered through the above speech.
Poirot sprang from his chair. I had a moment's terror that he was going to embrace me French fashion,
but mercifully he refrained.
'But this is magnificent - you have then written down your impressions of the case as you went along?' I nodded.
'Epatant!' cried Poirot. 'Let me see them - this instant.' I was not quite prepared for such a sudden
demand. I racked my brains to remember certain details.
'I hope you won't mind,' I stammered. 'I may have been a little - er - personal now and then.' 'Oh! I
comprehend perfectly; you have referred to me as comic - as, perhaps, ridiculous now and then? It
matters not at all. Hastings, he also was not always polite. Me, I have the mind above such trivialities.'
Still somewhat doubtful, I rummaged in the drawers of my desk and produced an untidy pile of
manuscript which I handed over to him. With an eye on possible publication in the future, I had divided
the work into chapters, and the night before I had brought it up to date with an account of Miss Russell's
visit. Poirot had therefore twenty chapters.
I left him with them.
I was obliged to go out to a case at some distance away and it was past eight o'clock when I got back,
to be greeted with a plate of hot dinner on a tray, and the announcement that Poirot and my sister had
supped together at half-past seven, and that the former had then gone to my workshop to finish his
reading of the manuscript.
'I hope, James,' said my sister, 'that you've been careful in what you say about me in it?' My jaw
dropped. I had not been careful at all.
'Not that it matters very much,' said Caroline, reading my expression correctly. 'M. Poirot will know
what to think. He understands me much better than you do.' I went into the workshop. Poirot was sitting
by the window. The manuscript lay neatly piled on a chair beside him. He laid his hand on it and spoke.
'Eh bien,' he said, 'I congratulate you - on your modesty!' 'Oh!' I said, rather taken aback.
'And on your reticence,' he added.
I said 'Oh!' again.
'Not so did Hastings write,' continued my friend. 'On every page, many, many times was the word "I."
What he thought - what he did. But you - you have kept your personality in the background; only once
or twice does it obtrude - in scenes of home life, shall we say?' I blushed a little before the twinkle of his
'What do you really think of the stuff?' I asked nervously.
'You want my candid opinion?...
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