Peril at End House – Agatha Christie
I looked at him sideways. As a result of long habit, I distrust his compliments, but he appeared perfectly serious. And after all, why not? I have a very long experience of the methods he employs.
‘What I particularly missed was your vivid imagination, Hastings,’ he went on dreamily. ‘One needs a certain amount of light relief. My valet, Georges, an admirable man with whom I sometimes permitted myself to discuss a point, has no imagination whatever.’ This remark seemed to me quite irrelevant.
‘Tell me, Poirot,’ I said. ‘Are you never tempted to renew your activities? This passive life-‘
‘Suits me admirably, my friend. To sit in the sun-what could be more charming? To step from your pedestal at the zenith of your fame-what could be a grander gesture? They say of me: “That is Hercule Poirot!-The great-the unique!-There was never any one like him, there never will be!” Eh bien-I am satisfied. I ask no more. I am modest.’
I should not myself have used the word modest. It seemed to me that my little friend’s egotism had certainly not declined with his years. He leaned back in his chair, caressing his moustache and almost purring with self-satisfaction.
We were sitting on one of the terraces of the Majestic Hotel. It is the biggest hotel in St Loo and stands in its own grounds on a headland overlooking the sea. The gardens of the hotel lay below us freely interspersed with palm trees. The sea was of a deep and lovely blue, the sky clear and the sun shining with all the single-hearted fervour an August sun should (but in England so often does not) have. There was a vigorous humming of bees, a pleasant sound-and altogether nothing could have been more ideal.
We had only arrived last night, and this was the first morning of what we proposed should be a week’s stay. If only these weather conditions continued, we should indeed have a perfect holiday.
I picked up the morning paper which had fallen from my hand and resumed my perusal of the morning’s news. The political situation seemed unsatisfactory, but uninteresting, there was trouble in China, there was a long account of a rumoured City swindle, but on the whole there was no news of a very thrilling order.
‘Curious thing this parrot disease,’ I remarked, as I turned the sheet. ‘Very curious.’
‘Two more deaths at Leeds, I see.’ ‘Most regrettable.’ I turned a page.
‘Still no news of that flying fellow, Seton, in his round-the-world flight. Pretty plucky, these fellows. That amphibian machine of his, the Albatross, must be a great invention. Too bad if he’s gone west. Not that they’ve given up hope yet. He may have made one of the Pacific islands.’
‘The Solomon islanders are still cannibals, are they not?’ inquired Poirot pleasantly.