“It is true enough. Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard will vouch for its accuracy, since it was through his kind offices that it came to my ears. Listen, Hastings. A little over six months ago some important Naval plans were stolen from an American Government department. They showed the position of some of the most important Harbour defences, and would be worth a considerable sum to any foreign Government—that of Japan, for example. Suspicion fell upon a young man named Luigi Valdarno, an Italian by birth, who was employed in a minor capacity in the Department and who was missing at the same time as the papers. Whether Luigi Valdarno was the thief or not, he was found two days later on the East Side in New York, shot dead. The papers were not on him. Now for some time past Luigi Valdarno had been going about with a Miss Elsa Hardt, a young concert singer who had recently appeared and who lived with a brother in an apartment in Washington. Nothing was known of the antecedents of Miss Elsa Hardt, and she disappeared suddenly about the time of Valdarno’s death. There are reasons for believing that she was in reality an accomplished international spy who has done much nefarious work under various aliases. The American Secret Service, whilst doing their best to trace her, also kept an eye upon certain insignificant Japanese gentlemen living in Washington. They felt pretty certain that, when Elsa Hardt had covered her tracks sufficiently, she would approach the gentlemen in question. One of them left suddenly for England a fortnight ago. On the face of it, therefore, it would seem that Elsa Hardt is in England.” Poirot paused, and then added softly: “The official description of Elsa Hardt is: Height 5 ft. 7, eyes blue, hair auburn, fair complexion, nose straight, no special distinguishing marks.”


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"Help!" cried Trixie.

Houghton and Brighouse were something (and, I gathered, something not very brilliant) in the city. Quite what that something was I do not know, though I remember seeking out Brighouse once in a dark warehouse smelling of damp cloth. Every afternoon Houghton and Brighouse would close their ledgers, or petty-cash books, or whatever it was they did close, and rush off home—Brighouse to catch, perhaps, his six-five P.M. train to Eccles, and Houghton to jump gymnastically (he played hockey, I believe) on to a passing tram bound for Alexandra Park. After a hurried meal, out with the MSS., the notebooks, the typescript and to work! And how hard they did work!

Dodge shook his head. “One thing’s quite certain. They’re determined at all costs to prevent his attending the Conference.”

Then her courage failed her. She was afraid of George, afraid of the look on his face that reminded

Coventry raised his hat, apologised for his intrusion, and explained.

pretty, common size, round features, handsome form, black hair, rather dark skin and a dark and sometimes bad, devilish eye. Her temper was bad at school—always pouting and angry—no one associating with her. Yet it is thought had Lovey Harpe, with her beautiful form and naturally pretty appearance, been properly brought up, under the circumstances she would not only have been a belle, but really a fine woman. But, soured from neglect and obloquy, it is no wonder she threw herself away. And both herself and her mother were finally driven from the neighborhood for their bad character—went to Christian County on the waters of Pond River, where Colonel Butler had a mill—there old Susan died, and poor Lovey, destitute and forsaken, went down the Mississippi to Pearl, where, by this time, Colonel Butler had removed—and with his family went to Texas....20

Peter was rather good at arithmetic, in spite of Miss Mills instruction. He got sums right. It was held to be a gift. Joan was less fortunate. Like most people who have been badly taught, Miss Mills had one or two foggy places in her own arithmetical equipment. She was not clear about seven sevens and eight eights; she had a confused, irregular tendency to think that they might amount in either case to fifty-six, and also she had a trick of adding seven to nine as fifteen, although she always got from nine to seven correctly as sixteen. Every learner of arithmetic has a tendency to start little local flaws of this sort, standing sources of error, and every good, trained teacher looks out for them, knows how to test for them and set them right. Once they have been faced in a clear-headed way, such flaws can be cured in an hour or so. But few teachers in upper and middle-class schools in England, in those days, knew even the elements of their business; and it was the custom to let the baffling influence of such flaws develop into the persuasion that the pupil had not the gift for mathematics. Very few women indeed of the English educated classes to this day can understand a fraction or do an ordinary multiplication sum. They think computation is a sort of fudgingin which some people are persistently lucky enough to guess rightthe gift for mathematicsor impudent enough to carry their points. That was Miss Mills secret and unformulated conviction, a conviction with which she was infecting a large proportion of the youngsters committed to her care. Joan became a mathematical gambler of the wildest description. But there was a guiding light in Peters little head that made him grip at last upon the conviction that seven sevens make always forty-nine, and eight eights always sixty-four, and that when this haunting fifty-six flapped about in the sums it was because Miss Mills, grown-up teacher though she was, was wrong.

A number of highway robbers and river pirates had been arrested during the time Mason was working in Mississippi, but Samuel Mason and Wiley Harpe, the most notorious of them all, had evaded arrest. Where were they likely to be found? As a matter of fact outlaws camped at any place they found convenient and well adapted for their work, but never remained long at any one spot. It was known that Samuel Mason had, at one time, lived about twenty miles northeast of Natchez, near what is now Fayette. [81] Shortly after the Baker highway robbery had taken place it was discovered that at the time of the robbery Mason’s headquarters was near Rocky Springs, a stopping place on

Georges took a thoughtful swallow of whiskey. "Not bad," he said. "But not quite good enough to cover the odor of goats."

1.Then what Jack had long been expecting came about. A white shaft of light suddenly shot out of the darkness and began to move along, swiftly covering considerable space, and revealing the choppy waves as though in broad daylight. It was the powerful searchlight on board some war-vessel, possibly a battleship of the Allied fleet.




“That would be hard to say,” his chum explained, “because most of them are built along similar models, and it would be easy to mistake one for another. You can see a dozen of the scout-boats right now inside the straits. But that particular one has for some reason been picked for this daring game of drawing the fangs of the enemy, by tempting the gunners in their hidden batteries to take a chance.”


“Talking of flats,” she said, “have you heard of our piece of luck, Mr. Parker? We’ve got a flat—at last! In Montagu Mansions.”


Had the world nothing she might live to care for?


. . .