فصل 21

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فصل 21

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CHAPTER TWENTY ONE

‘I heard you were here, Monsieur Poirot,’ said Inspector Morton when they were alone. ‘I came over with Superintendent Parwell. Dr Larraby phoned him about Mrs Helen Abernethie and he’s come over to make inquiries. I wanted to ask a few questions - and the people I wanted to ask seemed, very conveniently, to be all here. Did you do that?’

‘Yes, I did.’

‘And as a result someone hit Mrs Helen Abernethie on the head.’

‘You must not blame me for that. If she had come to me… But she did not. Instead she called her lawyer in London. Now, I will ask you, my friend, to give me a few more hours, then I may be able to hand you a piece of solid evidence.’

‘We certainly need it,’ said Inspector Morton. ‘Though we have our found out that two nuns were out collecting money and went to Mrs Lansquenet’s cottage on the day before she was murdered. No one answered when they knocked and rang - Mrs Lansquenet was at the Abernethie funeral and Gilchrist had gone out for the day. The point is that they say they heard sighs and groans from inside the cottage. So was there someone there? And if so, who? All the Abernethie family were at the funeral.’

‘These nuns, did they return at a later date to try again?’

‘Actually, they did - on the day of the inquest.’

‘That fits,’ said Hercule Poirot. ‘You will have noticed, Inspector, that the visit of the nuns was the same day that poisoned wedding cake found its way into that cottage.’

‘That’s a ridiculous idea!’

‘My ideas are never ridiculous,’ said Hercule Poirot. ‘And now, mon cher, I must go in search of the late Richard Abernethie’s niece.’

‘Now be careful what you say to Mrs Banks.’

‘I do not mean Mrs Banks. I mean Richard Abernethie’s other niece.’

Poirot found Rosamund sitting on a bench by a little pool.

‘I thought you’d gone,’ she said. ‘It’s past twelve o’clock.’

‘I have missed my train,’ said Poirot. ‘Do you know, Madame, I have been sitting in the little summerhouse hoping that you would, perhaps, visit me there?’

‘Why should I? I had a lot to think about. I don’t often do much thinking - it seems a waste of time. But this is important. I think one ought to plan one’s life just as one wants it to be.’

‘And that is what you are doing?’

‘Well, yes… I was trying to make a decision about something.’

‘About your husband?’

‘In a way.’

Poirot waited a moment, then he said, ‘Inspector Morton has just arrived. He has come to get statements from you all about what you were doing on the day Cora Lansquenet was murdered.’

‘I see. Alibis’ said Rosamund cheerfully. ‘That will be hell for Michael. He thinks I don’t know he spent the day with that woman.’

‘How did you know?’

‘It was obvious from the way he said he was going to lunch with Oscar, and his face always does something strange when he tells lies.’

‘How thankful I am I am not married to you, Madame! He is not, I fear, a very faithful husband?’ Poirot suggested.

‘No.’

‘But you do not mind?’

‘Well, it’s fun having a husband that all the other women want to steal from you.’

Poirot was studying her. ‘And suppose someone did succeed - in stealing your husband away from you?’

‘They won’t,’ said Rosamund. ‘Not now that there’s Uncle Richard’s money. He can finance his own shows. And he really is good. Not like me. I love acting - but I’m terrible at it, though I do look nice. No, I’m not worried about Michael any more. Because it’s my money, you see.’

Her eyes met Poirot’s.

‘I think, Madame, that you must allow your cousin Susan to have the green marble table.’

Rosamund’s eyes opened very wide. ‘Why should I? I want it.’

‘I know. But you - you will keep your husband. And poor Susan, she will lose hers.’

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