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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER TWENTY

‘It was a clever idea of Miss Hobhouse’s,’ said Inspector Sharpe, moving the passports from one hand to the other like a pack of cards. ‘We’ve had a busy time racing round the banks. And we’ve got Monsieur Poirot here to thank for working it out. It was clever of her, too, to suggest that stealing trick to poor little Miss Austin. You saw it was a trick almost at once, didn’t you, Monsieur Poirot?’

Poirot smiled. ‘She could not let pass the chance of possessing that fine diamond in Patricia Lane’s ring.’

‘But murder!’ said Mrs Hubbard. ‘I can’t really believe it, even now.’

‘We aren’t able to charge her with the murder yet,’ said Sharpe. ‘She could certainly have poisoned Mrs Nicoletis - but she definitely did not kill Patricia Lane. The chemist at the corner of the road says she came in at five minutes past six and bought face powder and aspirin and used the telephone. She left his shop at quarter-past six.’

Poirot sat up in his chair. ‘But that is perfect! It is just what we want!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean that she telephoned from the chemist’s shop.’

Inspector Sharpe looked at him. ‘Now, Monsieur Poirot, let’s not forget the facts. At eight minutes past six, Patricia Lane is alive and telephoning to the police station from this room. You agree?’

‘I do not think she was telephoning from this room.’

Well then, from downstairs.’

‘Not from downstairs either.’

Inspector Sharpe shook his head. ‘You do agree that a call was received at the police station?’

‘Certainly. A call was received by you. A call that came from the public call-box at the chemist’s.’

Inspector Sharpe’s mouth dropped open. ‘You mean that Valerie Hobhouse made that call? That she pretended to speak as Patricia Lane, and that Patricia Lane was already dead.’

‘That is what I mean, yes.’

The Inspector was silent for a moment, then his hand came down with a crash on the table. ‘I don’t believe it. The voice - I heard it myself -‘

‘You heard it, yes. A girl’s voice. But you didn’t know Patricia Lane’s voice well enough to say that it was her voice.’

‘I didn’t, perhaps. But Nigel Chapman would have known if it wasn’t Pat’s voice.’

‘Yes,’ said Poirot. ‘Nigel Chapman would have known. Nigel Chapman knew very well that it wasn’t Patricia. Who would know better than he, as he had killed her only a short while before.’

It was a moment or two before the Inspector spoke. ‘Nigel Chapman? But when we found her dead he cried like a child.’

‘I expect he did,’ said Poirot. ‘I think he cared about that girl as much as he could care for anybody - but that wouldn’t save her - not if she was a threat to his interests. All along, Nigel Chapman has been the most likely murderer. Who had morphia in his possession? Nigel Chapman. Who had the sharp intelligence to plan and the nerve to commit murder? Nigel Chapman. Who cares nothing for anyone but himself? Nigel Chapman. He even wanted to draw attention to himself - using the green ink, and even by the silly deliberate mistake of putting Len Bateson’s hairs in Patricia’s fingers. He didn’t care that as Patricia was hit from behind, she could not possibly have pulled her attacker’s hair. They are like that, these murderers, excited by their love of their own cleverness and charm - for he has charm, this Nigel - all the charm of a spoiled child who has never grown up, who never will grow up - who sees only one thing, himself, and what he wants!’

‘But why, Monsieur Poirot? Why murder? Celia Austin, perhaps, but why Patricia Lane?’

‘That,’ said Poirot, ‘we have got to find out.’

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