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How Does Your Garden Grow?: A Hercule Poirot Short Story Agatha Christie A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Miss Lemon brings Hercule Poirot an intriguing letter from an old woman. When the lady dies suddenly five days later, Poirot suspects foul play… How Does Your Garden Grow? A Short Story by Agatha Christie Copyright (#ulink_4c53e4e1-a061-56d2-8047-c337f346abdb) Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF www.harpercollins.co.uk (http://www.harpercollins.co.uk) Copyright © 1999 Agatha Christie Ltd. Cover Layout Design © HarperCollinsPublishers 2014 All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books. HarperCollinsPublishers has made every reasonable effort to ensure that any picture content and written content in this ebook has been included or removed in accordance with the contractual and technological constraints in operation at the time of publication. Source ISBN: 9780007438969 Ebook Edition © MARCH 2014 ISBN: 9780007559978 Version: 2017-04-11 Contents Cover (#u6a475711-261a-5523-ad70-92fb57c42e79) Title Page (#ucbf061a5-d08c-56ab-969f-57b1d895dc84) Copyright How Does Your Garden Grow? Related Products (#litres_trial_promo) About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) How Does Your Garden Grow? (#ulink_34300d35-3ca3-5ccb-b0e1-b945100351ea) ‘How Does Your Garden Grow?’ was first published in the USA in Ladies’ Home Journal, June 1935, then in The Strand in August 1935. Hercule Poirot arranged his letters in a neat pile in front of him. He picked up the topmost letter, studied the address for a moment, then neatly slit the back of the envelope with a little paper-knife that he kept on the breakfast table for that express purpose and extracted the contents. Inside was yet another envelope, carefully sealed with purple wax and marked ‘Private and Confidential’. Hercule Poirot’s eyebrows rose a little on his egg-shaped head. He murmured, ‘Patience! Nous allons arriver!’ and once more brought the little paper-knife into play. This time the envelope yielded a letter – written in a rather shaky and spiky handwriting. Several words were heavily underlined. Hercule Poirot unfolded it and read. The letter was headed once again ‘Private and Confidential’. On the right-hand side was the address – Rosebank, Charman’s Green, Bucks – and the date – March twenty-first. Dear M. Poirot, I have been recommended to you by an old and valued friend of mine who knows the worry and distress I have been in lately. Not that this friend knows the actual circumstances – those I have kept entirely to myself – the matter being strictly private. My friend assures me that you are discretion itself – and that there will be no fear of my being involved in a police matter which, if my suspicions should prove correct, I should very much dislike. But it is of course possible that I am entirely mistaken. I do not feel myself clear-headed enough nowadays – suffering as I do from insomnia and the result of a severe illness last winter – to investigate things for myself. I have neither the means nor the ability. On the other hand, I must reiterate once more that this is a very delicate family matter and that for many reasons I may want the whole thing hushed up. If I am once assured of the facts, I can deal with the matter myself and should prefer to do so. I hope that I have made myself clear on this point. If you will undertake this investigation perhaps you will let me know to the above address? Yours very truly, AMELIA BARROWBY Poirot read the letter through twice. Again his eyebrows rose slightly. Then he placed it on one side and proceeded to the next envelope in the pile. At ten o’clock precisely he entered the room where Miss Lemon, his confidential secretary, sat awaiting her instructions for the day. Miss Lemon was forty-eight and of unprepossessing appearance. Her general effect was that of a lot of bones flung together at random. She had a passion for order almost equalling that of Poirot himself; and though capable of thinking, she never thought unless told to do so. Poirot handed her the morning correspondence. ‘Have the goodness, mademoiselle, to write refusals couched in correct terms to all of these.’ Miss Lemon ran an eye over the various letters, scribbling in turn a hieroglyphic on each of them. These marks were legible to her alone and were in a code of her own: ‘Soft soap’; ‘slap in the face’; ‘purr purr’; ‘curt’; and so on. Having done this, she nodded and looked up for further instructions. Poirot handed her Amelia Barrowby’s letter. She extracted it from its double envelope, read it through and looked up inquiringly. ‘Yes, M. Poirot?’ Her pencil hovered – ready – over her shorthand pad. ‘What is your opinion of that letter, Miss Lemon?’ With a slight frown Miss Lemon put down the pencil and read through the letter again. The contents of a letter meant nothing to Miss Lemon except from the point of view of composing an adequate reply. Very occasionally her employer appealed to her human, as opposed to her official, capacities. It slightly annoyed Miss Lemon when he did so – she was very nearly the perfect machine, completely and gloriously uninterested in all human affairs. Her real passion in life was the perfection of a filing system beside which all other filing systems should sink into oblivion. She dreamed of such a system at night. Nevertheless, Miss Lemon was perfectly capable of intelligence on purely human matters, as Hercule Poirot well knew. ‘Well?’ he demanded. ‘Old lady,’ said Miss Lemon. ‘Got the wind up pretty badly.’ ‘Ah! The wind rises in her, you think?’ Miss Lemon, who considered that Poirot had been long enough in Great Britain to understand its slang terms, did not reply. She took a brief look at the double envelope. ‘Very hush-hush,’ she said. ‘And tells you nothing at all.’ ‘Yes,’ said Hercule Poirot. ‘I observed that.’ Miss Lemon’s hand hung once more hopefully over the shorthand pad. This time Hercule Poirot responded. ‘Tell her I will do myself the honour to call upon her at any time she suggests, unless she prefers to consult me here. Do not type the letter – write it by hand.’ ‘Yes, M. Poirot.’ Poirot produced more correspondence. ‘These are bills.’ Miss Lemon’s efficient hands sorted them quickly. ‘I’ll pay all but these two.’ ‘Why those two? There is no error in them.’ ‘They are firms you’ve only just begun to deal with. It looks bad to pay too promptly when you’ve just opened an account – looks as though you were working up to get some credit later on.’ ‘Ah!’ murmured Poirot. ‘I bow to your superior knowledge of the British tradesman.’ ‘There’s nothing much I don’t know about them,’ said Miss Lemon grimly. The letter to Miss Amelia Barrowby was duly written and sent, but no reply was forthcoming. Perhaps, thought Hercule Poirot, the old lady had unravelled her mystery herself. Yet he felt a shade of surprise that in that case she should not have written a courteous word to say that his services were no longer required. It was five days later when Miss Lemon, after receiving her morning’s instructions, said, ‘That Miss Barrowby we wrote to – no wonder there’s been no answer. She’s dead.’ Hercule Poirot said very softly, ‘Ah – dead.’ It sounded not so much like a question as an answer. Opening her handbag, Miss Lemon produced a newspaper cutting. ‘I saw it in the tube and tore it out.’ Just registering in his mind approval of the fact that, though Miss Lemon used the word ‘tore’, she had neatly cut the entry with scissors, Poirot read the announcement taken from the Births, Deaths and Marriages in the Morning Post: ‘On March 26th – suddenly – at Rosebank, Charman’s Green, Amelia Jan Barrowby, in her seventy-third year. No flowers, by request.’ Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». 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