- زمان مطالعه 17 دقیقه
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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
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Lady Westholme entered next, looking confident and important. She was followed by Miss Amabel Pierce, who sat down slightly behind Lady Westholme, in the background.
‘I am happy to help you, Monsieur Poirot,’ said Lady Westholme loudly. ‘It is my public duty.’ She talked about her public duty for some time before Poirot managed to ask her exactly what happened that afternoon.
‘After lunch I decided to rest,’ said Lady Westholme. ‘The morning had been quite tiring. Miss Pierce agreed with me.’
‘Oh, yes,’ sighed Miss Pierce. ‘I was very tired after the morning. It was such a dangerous and exhausting climb.’
‘So after lunch you both went to your tents?’ Poirot asked.
‘Yes,’ replied Lady Westholme.
‘Was Mrs Boynton then sitting at the mouth of her cave?’
‘Yes, she was,’ said Lady Westholme.
‘Could you both see Mrs Boynton?’
‘Oh, yes,’ said Miss Pierce. ‘She was opposite, you know - a little way along and up above.’
Lady Westholme explained. ‘The caves were up on a higher ridge of rock. Below the ridge were some tents. Then there was a small river - only a stream, really - and across that stream was the marquee and some other tents. Miss Pierce and I had tents near the marquee - she was on the right side of the marquee and I was on the left. The opening of our tents faced the ridge, but of course it was some distance away.’
‘Nearly two hundred yards. I believe,’ said Poirot. ‘I have a plan of the camp here. It says that Lennox Boynton and his wife Nadine were staying in the cave next to Mrs Boynton’s. Below but more to the right - almost opposite the marquee - were the tents of Raymond, Carol and Ginevra Boynton. On the right of Ginevra Boynton’s tent was Dr Gerard’s, and next to his tent was that of Miss King. On the other side of the stream - next to the marquee on the left - is your tent, Lady Westholme, and the tent of Mr Cope. Miss Pierce’s tent was on the right of the marquee. Is that correct?’
Lady Westholme agreed that it was.
‘Thank you. That is perfectly clear. Please continue, Lady Westholme.’
‘At about quarter to four I went to Miss Pierce’s tent to see if she wanted to go for a walk,’ said Lady Westholme. ‘Miss Pierce was sitting in the entrance of her tent, reading. We agreed to start in about half an hour when the sun was less hot. I went back to my tent and read for about twenty-five minutes. Then I joined Miss Pierce and we went for a walk. Everyone in the camp seemed asleep - there was no one about. When I saw Mrs Boynton sitting up there alone, I suggested to Miss Pierce that we should ask her if she wanted anything before we left.’
‘Yes, you did. It was very thoughtful of you,’ agreed Miss Pierce. ‘But she was so rude about it!’
‘As we walked under the ridge,’ explained Lady Westholme, ‘I asked if we could do anything for her. Do you know, Monsieur Poirot, the only answer she gave us was a grunt! A grunt! She just looked at us as though we were - as though we were nothing!’
‘It was really very rude!’ said Miss Pierce, turning red. ‘I think you were right to say what you did.’
‘I said to Miss Pierce that perhaps Mrs Boynton was drunk!’ said Lady Westholme. ‘Her behaviour was very strange.’
‘Had Mrs Boynton’s behaviour been strange earlier that day - at lunchtime, perhaps?’ asked Poirot.
‘N-No,’ said Lady Westholme, thinking. ‘No, her behaviour then had been fairly normal.’
‘She was very angry with that servant,’ said Miss Pierce, ‘just before we left the camp.’
‘Oh! Yes, I remember, she did seem very annoyed with him! Of course,’ continued Lady Westholme, ‘it is difficult when servants don’t speak English, but when you are travelling you must be patient with foreigners.’
‘What servant was this?’ asked Poirot.
‘One of the Bedouin servants in the camp,’ said Lady Westholme. ‘He went up to Mrs Boynton and she was very angry - I don’t know why. The poor man went away as fast as he could, and she shook her stick at him and called out.’
‘What did she say?’
‘We were too far away to hear. At least I didn’t hear anything - did you, Miss Pierce?’
‘No, I didn’t. I think Mrs Boynton had asked him to get something from her daughter Ginevra’s tent - or perhaps she was angry because he went into her daughter’s tent - I don’t know exactly.’
‘What did he look like?’ Poirot asked Miss Pierce.
She shook her head. ‘Really, I don’t know - he was too far away.’
‘He was a man of more than average height,’ said Lady Westholme, ‘and wore the usual Bedouin cheffiyah round his head. His breeches were very torn and had been much repaired - shocking! - and his puttees were very untidy. These men need to be managed better!’
‘Could you tell me which servant it was?’
‘I don’t think so,’ said Lady Westholme. ‘We didn’t see his face - it was too far away.’
‘I wonder,’ said Poirot thoughtfully, ‘what he did to make Mrs Boynton so angry? We will have to find out. Please continue, Lady Westholme.’
‘We walked along slowly,’ said Lady Westholme. ‘And then we met Dr Gerard. He looked very ill.’
‘He was shaking,’ added Miss Pierce. ‘Shaking all over.’
‘I saw at once that he had malaria,’ said Lady Westholme. ‘I offered to go back to the camp with him and get him some quinine, but he said he had some with him.’
‘Poor man,’ said Miss Pierce. ‘It seems wrong for a doctor to be ill.’
‘We walked on,’ continued Lady Westholme. ‘And then we sat down on a rock, with a very good view of all the scenery - though we could still see the camp.’
‘So romantic,’ murmured Miss Pierce. ‘A camp in the middle of the rose-red rocks.’
‘Did you see anyone else?’ Poirot inquired.
‘Yes,’ said Lady Westholme. ‘Lennox Boynton and his wife passed us on their way back to the camp.’
‘Were they together?’
‘No, Lennox Boynton came first. He looked as if he had too much sun - he was walking as though he was dizzy.’
‘What did Lennox Boynton do when he returned to the camp?’ asked Poirot.
This time Miss Pierce managed to speak first. ‘He went to see his mother, but he stayed only a minute or two,’ she said.
‘Then he went into his cave and after that he went down to the marquee,’ said Lady Westholme.
‘What did his wife Nadine do?’ asked Poirot.
‘She passed us a few minutes later,’ said Lady Westholme. ‘She stopped and spoke to us - quite politely.’
‘I think she’s very nice,’ said Miss Pierce. ‘Very nice indeed.’
‘Did you watch Nadine Boynton return to the camp?’
‘Yes. She went up and spoke to Mrs Boynton for about ten minutes,’ said Lady Westholme. After that she went down to the marquee where her husband was.’
What happened next?’ inquired Poirot.
‘That strange American, Mr Cope, came along,’ said Lady Westholme. ‘He told us there were some interesting ruins nearby, and took us to see them. Then we walked back to the camp at about twenty minutes to six.’
‘Was Mrs Boynton still sitting where you had left her?’ asked Poirot.
‘Yes,’ Lady Westholme replied, ‘but I didn’t speak to her. I went to my tent, changed my shoes and got out my own packet of China tea. I then went to the marquee and told Mahmoud to make some tea - and to make sure the water was boiled properly! ‘ ‘Was there anyone in the marquee?’ Poirot asked.
‘Oh, yes. Lennox and Nadine Boynton were sitting at one end reading, and Carol Boynton was there too.’
‘And Mr Cope?’
‘He had some tea with us,’ said Miss Pierce, ‘though he said tea-drinking wasn’t an American habit.’
And then what happened?’ said Poirot.
‘Raymond and Ginevra Boynton came in shortly afterwards,’ said Lady Westholme. ‘Miss King arrived last. When dinner was ready, one of the servants was sent to tell Mrs Boynton. The man came running back with his colleague and spoke to Mahmoud, who went out with Miss King. When she came back Miss King told Mrs Boynton’s family that she was dead.’
And what did Mrs Boynton’s family do when they heard the news?’ asked Poirot.
For the first time Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce didn’t know what to say. ‘Well,’ said Lady Westholme uncertainly, ‘they - they were very quiet. They all went out with Miss King. Miss Pierce and I very sensibly stayed where we were.’ Miss Pierce looked regretful - she had obviously wanted to go and see what was happening!
‘Later,’ finished Lady Westholme, ‘we had dinner before the Boynton family so they could eat alone. After dinner I, Miss
Pierce and Miss King went back to our tents, while Mr Cope - as a friend of the family - stayed with the Boyntons. That’s all I know, Monsieur Poirot.’
‘When Miss King told them of the death of their mother, did all the Boynton family leave the marquee?’ Poirot asked Lady Westholme.
‘Yes - no. I think that the youngest girl, Ginevra, stayed behind. Do you remember, Miss Pierce?’
‘Yes, I think - I am quite sure she did.’
‘What did Ginevra Boynton do?’ asked Poirot. ‘Did she say anything?’
‘No,’ Lady Westholme frowned. ‘She - er - she just sat there.’
‘She twisted her fingers together,’ said Miss Pierce suddenly. ‘She didn’t show anything on her face, but her hands were twisting and turning.’
‘Is there anything else, Monsieur Poirot?’ asked Lady Westholme.
Poirot had been thinking. ‘No, nothing,’ he said. ‘You have been very clear - and certain.’
‘I have an excellent memory,’ said Lady Westholme with satisfaction.
‘One last thing, Lady Westholme,’ said Poirot. ‘Please do not look round. Can you describe what Miss Pierce is wearing today?’
Lady Westholme looked annoyed, but said, ‘Miss Pierce is wearing a striped brown and white cotton dress, and a belt of red, blue and beige leather. She is wearing beige silk stockings and brown leather shoes. There is a hole in her left stocking. She is wearing a bright blue necklace and a silver butterfly ring on the third finger of her right hand.’ Lady Westholme paused. ‘Is there anything else?’ she asked coldly.
‘Excellent, madame!’ said Poirot, ‘You see everything!’ Lady Westholme stood up and left the room. Miss Pierce, looking down sadly at her left stocking, started to follow.
‘One moment, please, mademoiselle,’ said Poirot.
‘Yes?’ Miss Pierce looked up nervously.
Poirot leaned forward. ‘Do you see these wild flowers on the table?’
‘Yes,’ said Miss Pierce - staring.
‘And you noticed that when you first came into the room I sneezed once or twice?’
‘Did you notice if I had just been smelling these flowers?’
‘Well - really - I don’t know.’
‘But you remember that I sneezed?’
‘Oh yes, I remember that!’
‘Ah, well, it is of no importance. I just wondered if these flowers gave me hay fever.’
‘Hay fever?’ said Miss Pierce. ‘I remember a cousin of mine had it very badly.’
With some difficulty Poirot finally got rid of Miss Pierce. ‘But I did not sneeze,’ he said quietly, when he had shut the door. ‘No, I did not sneeze.’
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