Not that Hastings notices, but perhaps it will rub off on him.
With the home deemed suitable, that left Poirot himself.
Is not the most important castle oneself? The grooming of the mustaches which have come undone during sleep. The snipping of the hair juste un peux trop long. The applying of the wax and the twisting. The application of the cream to the scalp. The patting dry of the cheeks. Ah! Just right for the day.
For if you do not put your best foot forward both in the home and for the self, then what can you expect from the world, non?
"Oh it's going smashingly, Mr. Poirot. Just smashingly. I told you I was trying something new, that I read about in a lovely little mystery that takes place in Greece, and I think it's going to smooth out the rough bits quite nicely." Miss Lemon surveys her own kingdom, her office. There is a new teacup on it, with a small delicate kitten painted on the saucer. Hastings had given it to her. Poirot had shuddered, looked away, but had to admit it made her very pleased.
"Oui, bien sûr," he says. "I think today I would like to review an old case, for the little reasons. It was about a Mr. Cunningham. I am afraid Poirot is not used to your new system yet, can you bring it to me?"
Poirot holds his hands out wide and gives a sheepish smile, little mustaches rising with his lips.
"Of course! It's right... oh, oh dear," says Miss Lemon staring in dismay at the first cabinet she opens. "I need a moment."
"I will go wait in my office, hein?" says Poirot, beating a graceful retreat. A most commendable, sensible woman, Miss Lemon. But progress sometimes has its downsides. He was assured that when he returned, all would be well.
For lunch, Hastings and Mrs. Oliver both come. Poirot had only invited Mrs. Oliver, as his two chers amis got on in a way that was not conducive to the digestion.
"Oh dash it," says Hastings. "I was meant to come next Tuesday. I won't be a bother, I'll catch the train back--"
"Non! Non, Poirot insists you stay and eat your fill," says Poirot, because manners are an important part of the strengthening of the ties.
"Oh, I'm sure he will," says Mrs. Oliver in her dry tones. She rests her chin in her hand and gives Hastings a little smile, while the captain puffs himself up.
Hastings sits. They are arranged around Poirot's square table, in square chairs, in a square room. There are no curves to be found. Modern decorations abound.
Poirot has already arranged things jostled by his friends twice back into place.
"I say," begins Hastings, "just because I didn't like your last book--"
"You said it was unfair!" says Mrs. Oliver. "Unfair! I laid out every clue. Every single little clue."
"How was anyone supposed to know the significance of July 1st to Canadians? Why would all Canadians be celebrating that! It was a ridiculous clue to reveal his true identity as a Bostonian and furthermore--" Hastings holds up a finger to emphasize his point.
George walks in with a light lunch on a tray. The ever efficient valet has somehow managed to conjure up an equal amount of food for Hastings without needing to consult his master. Poirot is, as always, as grateful to George as he is to Miss Lemon. His staff is beyond reproach.
"Oh look, the lunch, it is served," says Poirot quickly.
As George lays down Poirot's lunch, Poirot cannot resist putting it all in proper alignment. Lunch discussion is diverted to talk of murder which is, somehow, more palatable. Mrs. Oliver is already talking with her fork waving everywhere.
"I trust that the situation est mieux maintenant?" he asks Miss Lemon.
"Oh yes, M. Poirot. All sorted. I do hope you won't think poorly of this," she says.
"Not at all! Not at all!" says Poirot with a smile. "These accidents, they happen? There was no harm. My case file?"
She hands it over and he flips it open.
"Hm, yes! Yes," he says to himself.
Miss Lemon has already returned to her typewriter and is typing rapidfire. As always, she has little interest in his business, only her own work.
A shame to Poirot who enjoys to show off his intelligence, but her work, it is unparalleled and he will survive.
He sits himself in his office, going over the case. Mr. Cunningham, a man who had tried to trick Poirot into becoming his alibi over the theft of a three thousand pounds, was one of the smaller cases. It had been bloodless, but interesting in its own way. It had sprung to Poirot's mind when he happened to be glancing over the paper at breakfast and saw a picture of a young lady in the society pages.
Her face reminded him of a box of hastily packed bills and so he rereads the case.
After some time thinking to himself and re-aligning his pens, he picks up the phone and calls Inspector Japp. After some polite conversation and advice, he fails once more to get the good Inspector to come over to try good, healthy Belgian cuisine. But he does manage to entice the good Inspector out to dinner despite this. It seemed Mrs. Japp was off seeing her aunt and, short of having to deal with Poirot's 'foreign foods,' Japp was up for anything.
"C'est bien. I will find us the place parfait and you will endure your wife's absence mostly bravely still," says Poirot. "Do be sure to check in on what I told you, yes?"
"Yes, Poirot," says Japp's gruff voice. "Might as well. Things are blessedly slow right now."
A task Poirot relishes. A warmap lived in his head of all the better restaurants scattered around London, from the large to the little bolt holes.
There is a fine restaurant he knows of, a tiny little thing off to the North end. It has the most exquisite escargot - which sadly was a meal that cher Inspect Japp would never knowingly approach, even with Poirot's most heartfelt recommendation.
In the end he settles for one that will please both of them. Food with a proper bouquet, flavour for Poirot, and boiled things for Japp.
Poirot shakes his head sadly. He tries so hard for his good friends. Not everyone eats whatever is placed in front of him like dear Hastings.
He hails a taxi and rides to meet Japp. Dinner is a success, with Japp tucking away his potatoes and his meat like an efficient machine.
Through the eating, Japp shares.
"You're right. It was her that was pulling those scams. Damned if I know how you figured it was her, but there you have it. Some sort of cheap thrill for the rich, I suppose," Japp says between - and sometimes during - chewing. "I was too busy earning a living at that age, myself."
Poirot nods, sipping his crème de menthe, having finished eating his much smaller plate earlier. "Her antics, they have been in the papers for weeks. I put them out of my mind until I saw her face and I thought, ‘Ah! Where have I seen a face like that before,’ and it comes to Poirot as the lightning bolt."
"Whatever you say, Poirot. How do you drink that stuff? I can smell it from here," says Japp, taking a sip of his beer.
"Oh, mon cher Japp," says Poirot and shakes his head sadly. He sets the cup down, then turns it slightly so the corners align with the table's.
Poirot sits in his chair. London is dark and his lamp shines, filling the room with light and bouncing off the chromium fixtures. He is going through the correspondence that arrived after he had left to go about his business. Requests for his time, his patronage, his presence. He makes notes for Miss Lemon to write responses.
One stands out, a small card asking for him to come and deal with a matter of inheritance on the behalf of the writer. The cardstock is fine, and the ink is of a high quality. The handwriting shows agitation.
In Dover, thinks Poirot. He likes Dover. He'll see if Hastings would like to come along. It is worth checking out.
There may have been no fee gained today, but Poirot prepares for bed feeling rather successful.
A little bit more of careful grooming of the mustache, carefully folding his clothing of the day, and into bed he goes.
He flicks off the lamp.
Poirot sleeps, a detective most effective.