Elephants can remember – Agatha Christie
“Going to wear your lovely smart hat, are you?” said Maria.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Oliver. “I wanted to know whether you think it looks best this way or the other way round.” Maria stood back and took a look.
“Well, that’s back to front you’re wearing it now, isn’t it?” “Yes, I know,” said Mrs. Oliver. “I know that quite well.
But I thought somehow it looked better that way.” “Oh, why should it?” said Maria.
“Well, it’s meant, I suppose. But it’s got to be meant by me as well as the shop that sold it,” said Mrs. Oliver.
“Why do you think it’s better the wrong way round?” “Because you get that lovely shade of blue and the dark brown, and I think that looks better than the other way, which is green with the red and the chocolate color.” At this point Mrs. Oliver removed the hat, put it on again and tried it wrong way round, right way round and sideways, which both she and Maria disapproved of.
“You can’t have it the wide way. I mean, it’s wrong for your face, isn’t it? It’d be wrong for anyone’s face.” “No. That won’t do. I think I’ll have it the right way round, after all.” “Well, I think it’s safer always,” said Maria.
Mrs. Oliver took off the hat. Maria assisted her to put on a well-cut, thin woolen dress of a delicate puce color, and helped her to adjust the hat.
“You look ever so smart,” said Maria.
That was what Mrs. Oliver liked so much about Maria. If given the least excuse for saying so, she always approved and gave praise, “Going to make a speech at the luncheon, are you?” Maria asked.
“A speech!” Mrs. Oliver sounded horrified. “No, of course not. You know I never make speeches.” “Well, I thought they always did at these here literary luncheons. That’s what you’re going to, isn’t it? Famous writers of nineteen seventy-three–or wherever year it is we’ve got to now.” “I don’t need to make a speech,” said Mrs. Oliver. “Several other people who like doing it will be making speeches, and they are much better at it than I would be.” “I’m sure you’d make a lovely speech if you put your mind to it,” said Maria, adjusting herself to the role of a tempter.
“No, I shouldn’t,” said Mrs. Oliver. “I know what I can do and I know what I can’t. I can’t make speeches. I get all worried and nervy and I should probably stammer or say the same thing twice. I should not only feel silly, I should probabiy look silly. Now it’s all right with words. You can write words down or speak them into a machine or dictate them. I can do things with words so long as I know it’s not a speech I’m making.” “Oh, well. I hope everything’ll go all right. But I’m sure it will. Quite a grand luncheon, isn’t it?” “Yes,” said Mrs. Oliver in a deeply depressed voice. “Quite a grand luncheon.” And why, she thought, but did not say, why on earth am I going to it? She searched her mind for a bit because she always really liked knowing what she was doing instead of doing it first and wondering why she had done it afterwards.