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CHAPTER TWENTY THREE

‘I do not understand.’ Mr Akibombo looked from one red head to the other.

‘Do you think,’ asked Sally Finch, ‘that Nigel meant me to be suspected, or you?’

‘Either, I expect,’ replied Len Bateson. ‘I believe he took the hairs from my brush.’

‘Was it then Mr Nigel who jumped the balcony?’ asked Mr Akibombo.

‘Nigel can jump like a cat,’ said Len. ‘I couldn’t have jumped across that space. I’m much too heavy.’

‘I want to apologize for my suspicions,’ said Akibombo.

‘That’s all right,’ said Len.

‘In fact, you helped a lot,’ said Sally. ‘All your thinking - about the boracic.’

He smiled. ‘If you meet my professor at the University party tonight will you tell him, please, that I have done some good thinking?’

‘I’ll tell him,’ said Sally.

Len Bateson was looking unhappy. ‘In a week’s time you’ll be back in America.’

‘I shall come back. Or you might come and study over there.’

‘What’s the use?’

‘Akibombo,’ said Sally, ‘would you like, one day, to be best man at a wedding?’

‘What do you mean, best man?’

‘The bridegroom, for example Len here, gives you a ring to keep for him, and he and you go to church very smartly dressed, and at the right moment, he asks you for the ring and you give it to him, and he puts it on my finger, and then the wedding march is played and everybody cries. And there we are.’

‘You mean that you and Mr Len are to be married?’

‘That’s the idea.’

‘Sally!’

‘Unless, of course, Len doesn’t like the idea.’

‘Sally! If you only knew how happy you’ve made me.’

‘I do have just a tiny suspicion.’

II

Hercule Poirot signed the last of the letters that Miss Lemon had laid before him.

‘Very good,’ he said. ‘Not a single mistake.’

‘I don’t often make mistakes, I hope,’ Miss Lemon said.

‘Not often. But it has happened. How is your sister, by the way?’

‘She is thinking of going on a cruise. Monsieur Poirot.’

‘Ah.’ Hercule Poirot wondered if - possibly - on a cruise -? Not that he himself would ever go on one - not for any reason… The clock behind him struck one.

‘The clock struck one,

The mouse ran down,

Hickory, di@kory, dock,’ said Hercule Poirot.

‘What was that, Monsieur Poirot?’

‘Nothing,’ said Hercule Poirot.

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