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The Adventure of the Clapham Cook: A Hercule Poirot Short Story

The Adventure of the Clapham Cook: A Hercule Poirot Short Story
The Adventure of the Clapham Cook: A Hercule Poirot Short Story Agatha Christie A classic Agatha Christie short story, available individually for the first time as an ebook.Hercule Poirot refuses to work on anything that isn’t a matter of national security. Instead he ends up on a case looking for a missing cook who left abruptly. As the mystery of the cook unravels, a clue for another crime catches Poirot’s attention… The Adventure of the Clapham Cook A Short Story by Agatha Christie Copyright (#ulink_9b77883b-1ffa-5073-901e-60da136352ca) 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 design © HarperCollinsPublishers 2013 All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, 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 Ebook Edition © OCTOBER 2013 ISBN 9780007526642 Version: 2017-04-13 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.. Contents Cover (#ua6951360-ed50-5ae2-aa22-cf1c24195c2f) Title Page (#ua5e3c387-0c05-5e4f-ab02-197552afe2f8) Copyright The Adventure of the Clapham Cook (#ue45a9c81-9b7d-5fbe-a6b4-a7b4df6c6396) Releated Products (#litres_trial_promo) About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) The Adventure of the Clapham Cook (#ulink_897e3e9e-7379-5b90-84d3-b3296e8cd57c) ‘The Adventure of the Clapham Cook’ was first published in The Sketch, 14 November 1923. At the time that I was sharing rooms with my friend Hercule Poirot, it was my custom to read aloud to him the headlines in the morning newspaper, the Daily Blare. The Daily Blare was a paper that made the most of any opportunity for sensationalism. Robberies and murders did not lurk obscurely in its back pages. Instead they hit you in the eye in large type on the front page. ABSCONDING BANK CLERK DISAPPEARS WITH FIFTY THOUSAND POUNDS’ WORTH OF NEGOTIABLE SECURITIES, I read. HUSBAND PUTS HIS HEAD IN GAS-OVEN. UNHAPPY HOME LIFE. MISSING TYPIST. PRETTY GIRL OF TWENTY-ONE. WHERE IS EDNA FIELD? ‘There you are, Poirot, plenty to choose from. An absconding bank clerk, a mysterious suicide, a missing typist – which will you have?’ My friend was in a placid mood. He quietly shook his head. ‘I am not greatly attracted to any of them, mon ami. Today I feel inclined for the life of ease. It would have to be a very interesting problem to tempt me from my chair. See you, I have affairs of importance of my own to attend to.’ ‘Such as?’ ‘My wardrobe, Hastings. If I mistake not, there is on my new grey suit the spot of grease – only the unique spot, but it is sufficient to trouble me. Then there is my winter overcoat – I must lay him aside in the powder of Keatings. And I think – yes, I think – the moment is ripe for the trimmings of my moustaches – and afterwards I must apply the pomade.’ ‘Well,’ I said, strolling to the window, ‘I doubt if you’ll be able to carry out this delirious programme. That was a ring at the bell. You have a client.’ ‘Unless the affair is one of national importance, I touch it not,’ declared Poirot with dignity. A moment later our privacy was invaded by a stout redfaced lady who panted audibly as a result of her rapid ascent of the stairs. ‘You’re M. Poirot?’ she demanded, as she sank into a chair. ‘I am Hercule Poirot, yes, madame.’ ‘You’re not a bit like what I thought you’d be,’ said the lady, eyeing him with some disfavour. ‘Did you pay for the bit in the paper saying what a clever detective you were, or did they put it in themselves?’ ‘Madame!’ said Poirot, drawing himself up. ‘I’m sorry, I’m sure, but you know what these papers are nowadays. You begin reading a nice article “What a bride said to her plain unmarried friend”, and it’s all about a simple thing you buy at the chemist’s and shampoo your hair with. Nothing but puff. But no offence taken, I hope? I’ll tell you what I want you to do for me. I want you to find my cook.’ Poirot stared at her; for once his ready tongue failed him. I turned aside to hide the broadening smile I could not control. ‘It’s all this wicked dole,’ continued the lady. ‘Putting ideas into servants’ heads, wanting to be typists and what nots. Stop the dole, that’s what I say. I’d like to know what my servants have to complain of – afternoon and evening off a week, alternate Sundays, washing put out, same food as we have – and never a bit of margarine in the house, nothing but the very best butter.’ She paused for want of breath and Poirot seized his opportunity. He spoke in his haughtiest manner, rising to his feet as he did so. ‘I fear you are making a mistake, madame. I am not holding an inquiry into the conditions of domestic service. I am a private detective.’ ‘I know that,’ said our visitor. ‘Didn’t I tell you I wanted you to find my cook for me? Walked out of the house on Wednesday, without so much as a word to me, and never came back.’ ‘I am sorry, madame, but I do not touch this particular kind of business. I wish you good morning.’ Our visitor snorted with indignation. ‘That’s it, is it, my fine fellow? Too proud, eh? Only deal with Government secrets and countesses’ jewels? Let me tell you a servant’s every bit as important as a tiara to a woman in my position. We can’t all be fine ladies going out in our motors with our diamonds and our pearls. A good cook’s a good cook – and when you lose her, it’s as much to you as her pearls are to some fine lady.’ For a moment or two it appeared to be a toss up between Poirot’s dignity and his sense of humour. Finally he laughed and sat down again. ‘Madame, you are in the right, and I am in the wrong. Your remarks are just and intelligent. This case will be a novelty. Never yet have I hunted a missing domestic. Truly here is the problem of national importance that I was demanding of fate just before your arrival. En avant! You say this jewel of a cook went out on Wednesday and did not return. That is the day before yesterday.’ ‘Yes, it was her day out.’ ‘But probably, madame, she has met with some accident. Have you inquired at any of the hospitals?’ ‘That’s exactly what I thought yesterday, but this morning, if you please, she sent for her box. And not so much as a line to me! If I’d been at home, I’d not have let it go – treating me like that! But I’d just stepped out to the butcher.’ ‘Will you describe her to me?’ ‘She was middle-aged, stout, black hair turning grey – most respectable. She’d been ten years in her last place. Eliza Dunn, her name was.’ Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». 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