I was standing at the window of Poirot’s rooms looking out idly on the street below.
“That’s queer,” I ejaculated suddenly beneath my breath.
“What is, mon ami?” asked Poirot placidly, from the depths of his comfortable chair.
“Deduce, Poirot, from the following facts! Here is a young lady, richly dressed — fashionable hat, magnificent furs. She is coming along slowly, looking up at the houses as she goes. Unknown to her, she is being shadowed by three men and a middle-aged woman. They have just been joined by an errand boy who points after the girl, gesticulating as he does so. What drama is this being played? Is the girl a crook, and are the shadowers detectives preparing to arrest her? Or are they the scoundrels, and are they plotting to attack an innocent victim? What does the great detective say?”
“The great detective, mon ami, chooses, as ever, the simplest course. He rises to see for himself.” And my friend joined me at the window.
In a minute he gave vent to an amused chuckle.
“As usual, your facts are tinged with your incurable romanticism. That is Miss Mary Marvell, the film star. She is being followed by a bevy of admirers who have recognized her. And, en passant, my dear Hastings, she is quite aware of the fact!”
“So all is explained! But you get no marks for that, Poirot. It was a mere matter of recognition.”
“En vérité! And how many times have you seen Mary Marvell on the screen, mon cher?”
“About a dozen times perhaps.”
“And I — once! Yet I recognize her, and you do not.”
“She looks so different,” I replied rather feebly.
“Ah! Sacré!” cried Poirot. “Is it that you expect her to promenade herself in the streets of London in a cowboy hat, or with bare feet, and a bunch of curls, as an Irish colleen? Always with you it is the non-essentials! Remember the case of the dancer, Valerie Saintclair.”