Hercule Poirot’s early cases – Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie – Poirot’s Early Cases
CHAPTER I THE AFFAIR AT THE VICTORY BALL
Pure chance led my friend Hercule Poirot, formerly chief of the Belgian force, to be connected with the Styles Case. His success brought him notoriety, and he decided to devote himself to the solving of problems in crime. Having been wounded on the Somme and invalided out of the Army, I finally took up my quarters with him in London. Since I have a first-hand knowledge of most of his cases, it has been suggested to me that I select some of the most interesting and place them on record. In doing so, I feel that I cannot do better than begin with that strange tangle which aroused such widespread public interest at the time. I refer to the affair at the Victory Ball.
Although perhaps it is not so fully demonstrative of Poirot’s peculiar methods as some of the more obscure cases, its sensational features, the well-known people involved, and the tremendous publicity given it by the Press, make it stand out as a cause cdldbre and I have long felt that it is only fitting that Poirot’s connection with the solution should be given to the world.
It was a fine morning in spring, and we were sitting in Poirot’s rooms. My little friend, neat and dapper as ever, his egg-shaped head tilted slightly on one side, was delicately applying a new pomade to his moustache. A certain harmless vanity was a characteristic of Poirot’s and fell into line with his general love of order and method. The Daily Newsmonger, which I had been reading, had slipped to the floor, and I was deep in a brown study when Poirot’s voice recalled me.
‘Of what are you thinking so deeply, mon ami?’
‘To tell you the truth,’ I replied, ‘I was puzzling over this unaccountable affair at the Victory Ball. The papers are full of it.’ I tapped the sheet with my finger as I spoke.
‘Yes?’ ‘The more one reads of it, the more shrouded in mystery the whole thing becomesl’ I warmed to my subject. ‘Who killed Lord Cronshaw? Was Coco Courtenay’s death on the same night a mere coincidence? Was it an accident? Or did she deliberately take an overdose of cocaine?’ I stopped, and then added dramatically: ‘These are the questions I ask myself.’ Poirot, somewhat to my annoyance, did not play up. He was peering into the glass, and merely murmured: ‘Decidedly, this new pomade, it is a marvel for the moustaches!’ Catching my eye, however, he added hastily: ‘Quite so–and how do you reply to your questions?’ But before I could answer, the door opened, and our landlady announced Inspector Japp.
The Scotland Yard man was an old friend of ours and we greeted him warmly.
‘Ah, my good Japp,’ cried Poirot, ‘and what brings you to see us?’ ‘Well, Monsieur Poirot,’ said Japp, seating himself and nodding to me, ‘I’m on a case that strikes me as being very much in your line, and I came along to know whether you’d care to have a finger in the pie?’ Poirot had a good opinion of Japp’s abilities, though deploring his lamentable lack of method; but I, for my part, considered that the detective’s highest talent lay in the gentle art of seeking favours under the guise of conferring them!
‘It’s this Victory Ball,’ said Japp persuasively. ‘Come, now, you’d like to have a hand in that.’ Poirot smiled at me.
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