Oh, yes, this will be a fun one!
‘That was Mrs Oliver,’ he said. ‘Ariadne Oliver, the detective novelist. You may have read…’
But he stopped, remembering that Miss Lemon only read improving books and regarded such frivolities as fictional crime with contempt.
‘She wants me to go down to Devonshire today, at once, in’ – he glanced at the clock – ‘thirty-five minutes.’
Miss Lemon raised disapproving eyebrows. ‘That will be running it rather fine,’ she said. ‘For what reason?’
‘You may well ask! She did not tell me.’
‘How very peculiar. Why not?’
‘Because,’ said Hercule Poirot thoughtfully, ‘she was afraid of being overheard. Yes, she made that quite clear.’
‘Well, really,’ said Miss Lemon, bristling in her employer’s defence.
‘The things people expect! Fancy thinking that you’d go rushing off on some wild goose chase like that! An important man like you! I have always noticed that these artists and writers are very unbalanced – no sense of proportion. Shall I telephone through a telegram: Regret unable leave London?’
Ariadne Oliver and Miss Lemon in the same book! Delightful!
Surely Christie must have had fun with the concept of suspending Poirot between the two formidable ladies of such opposite qualities.
Poirot was directed to a winding path that led along the wood with glimpses of the river below. The path descended gradually until it came out at last on an open space, round in shape, with a low battlemented parapet. On the parapet Mrs Oliver was sitting.
She rose to meet him and several apples fell from her lap and rolled in all directions. Apples seemed to be an inescapable motif of meeting Mrs Oliver.
‘I can’t think why I always drop things,’ said Mrs Oliver somewhat indistinctly, since her mouth was full of apple. ‘How are you, M. Poirot?’
‘Tre`s bien, che`re Madame,’ replied Poirot politely. ‘And you?’
Mrs Oliver was looking somewhat different from when Poirot had last seen her, and the reason lay, as she had already hinted over the telephone, in the fact that she had once more experimented with her coiffure. The last time Poirot had seen her, she had been adopting a windswept effect. Today, her hair, richly blued, was piled upward in a multiplicity of rather artificial little curls in a pseudo Marquise style. The Marquise effect ended at her neck; the rest of her could have been definitely labelled ‘country practical,’ consisting of a violent yolk-of-egg rough tweed coat and skirt and a rather bilious-looking mustard-coloured jumper.