فصل 05

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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There was no doubt that Poirot’s statement was unexpected. It caused a sudden and uncomfortable silence. Then Poirot was taken by Mrs Hubbard up to her sitting room. ‘You are probably right,’ she said. ‘Perhaps we should get the police in - especially after this cruel ink business. But I wish you hadn’t said so - right out like that.’

‘Ah,’ said Poirot. ‘You think I should have kept it a secret?’

‘Well, whoever has been doing these stupid things - well, that person is warned now.’

‘Perhaps, yes.’

‘Even if he’s someone who wasn’t here this evening, he will hear about it.’

‘That is true.’

‘And we can’t call in the police unless Mrs Nicoletis agrees - oh, who’s that now?’ There had been a sharp knock on the door. Mrs Hubbard called crossly, ‘Come in.’

Colin McNabb entered. ‘Excuse me, but I would like to speak to you with Monsieur Poirot here.’

‘With me?’ Poirot turned his head in innocent surprise.

‘Yes, with you.’ Colin spoke sharply. ‘I know you’re a man who’s had a lot of experience, but if you’ll excuse me for saying so, your methods and your ideas are both very old-fashioned.’

‘Really, Colin,’ said Mrs Hubbard. ‘You are extremely rude.’

‘Crime and punishment, Monsieur Poirot - that’s all you think about. But nowadays, even the Law has to understand that it is the causes that are important.’

‘But there,’ cried Poirot, ‘I could not agree with you more!’

‘Because there always is a reason, and it may be, to the person concerned, a very good reason. I am studying Psychology and what I’m saying is that you’ve got to understand the basic cause of the trouble if you’re ever to cure the young criminal.’

Poirot said, ‘I am willing to listen to you, Mr McNabb.’ Colin looked surprised. ‘Thank you. Well, I’ll start with the pair of shoes you returned to Sally Finch. Remember, one shoe was stolen. Only one.’

‘I remember noticing the fact,’ said Poirot.

Colin McNabb leaned forward. ‘Ah, but you didn’t see the importance of it. We have here, very definitely, a Cinderella complex. You know the Cinderella fairy story?’

‘A French story - yes.’

‘Cinderella, the servant, sits by the fire; her sisters go to the Prince’s party. A fairy godmother sends Cinderella too, to that party. At midnight, her beautiful clothes turn back to rags - she escapes, leaving behind her one shoe. So here we have a mind that compares itself to Cinderella - the girl who steals a shoe. Why?’

‘A girl?’

‘Of course, a girl. That should be clear to the lowest intelligence.’

‘Really, Colin!’ said Mrs Hubbard.

‘She wants to be the Princess, to be claimed by the Prince. Another important fact, the shoe is stolen from an attractive girl who is going to a party. So now let’s look at a few of the other things that were taken. A powder compact, lipsticks, earrings, a bracelet, a ring - all pretty things, and there are two important points here. The girl wants to be noticed. And she also wants to be punished. It is not the value of these things that is wanted.’

‘Yet a diamond ring was amongst the things stolen,’ said Poirot.

‘That was returned.’

‘And surely, Mr McNabb, you would not say that a stethoscope is a pretty thing?’

‘That had a deeper meaning. Women who feel they are not attractive can find confidence through professional work.’

‘And the cookery book?’

A symbol of home life, husband and family.’

And boracic powder?’

Colin said crossly, ‘Monsieur Poirot, nobody would steal boracic powder! Why would they?’

‘This is what I have asked myself. Mr McNabb, you seem to have an answer for everything. Explain to me, then, the importance of an old pair of grey trousers - your trousers, I understand.’

For the first time Colin appeared uncomfortable. ‘I could explain that - but it would be complicated, and perhaps - well, rather embarrassing.’

Ah. And the ink that is spilt over another student’s papers, the silk scarf that is cut. Do these things cause you no worry?’ Colin’s calmness suddenly disappeared. ‘They do. She ought to have treatment - at once. Medical treatment. She’s all confused. If I…’

Poirot interrupted him. ‘You know then who she is?’

‘I think perhaps that I do.’

Poirot said quietly, ‘A girl who is not very successful with men. A kind girl. A girl who is not very clever. A girl who feels lonely. A girl…’

There was a knock on the door.

‘Come in,’ said Mrs Hubbard.

The door opened.

‘Ah,’ said Poirot. ‘Exactly. Miss Celia Austin.’

Celia looked at Colin with pain in her eyes. ‘I didn’t know you were here. I came because -‘ She took a deep breath and rushed to Mrs Hubbard. ‘Please, please don’t send for the police. It’s me. I’ve been taking those things. I don’t know why. I just - something told me to.’ She turned to Colin. ‘So now you know what I’m like… and you’ll never speak to me again. I’m awful…’

‘No you’re not,’ said Colin. ‘If you’ll trust me, Celia, I’ll soon be able to put you right.’

‘Oh Colin - really?’

He took her hand. ‘Don’t worry.’ Then he looked at Mrs Hubbard. ‘I hope now, that you will not call in the police. Celia will return anything she has taken.’

‘I can’t return the bracelet and the powder compact,’ said Celia anxiously. ‘I put them in a rubbish bin. But I’ll buy new ones.’

‘And the stethoscope?’ said Poirot. ‘Where did you put that?’

‘I didn’t take the stethoscope. And it wasn’t me who spilt ink over Elizabeth’s papers. I would never do a thing like that.’

‘Yet you cut up Miss Hobhouse’s scarf, Mademoiselle?’

Celia looked uncomfortable. ‘That was different. I mean - Valerie didn’t mind.’

And the rucksack?’

‘Oh, I didn’t cut that up. That was done with anger.’

Poirot took out the list he had copied from Mrs Hubbard’s notebook. ‘Tell me, which of these things you did, or did not, take?’

Celia read the list. ‘I don’t know anything about the rucksack, or the electric light bulbs, or bath salts, and the ring was just a mistake. When I realised it was valuable I returned it.’

Colin said quickly. ‘I can promise you that there will be no more things taken. From now on I’ll be responsible for her.’

‘Oh, Colin, you are good to me.’

‘I would like you to tell me all about your early home life, Celia. Did your parents get on well together?’

‘Oh no, it was awful -‘

‘Exactly. And -‘

Mrs Hubbard interrupted. ‘That is enough. I’m glad, Celia, that you’ve told the truth. Now, please go.’ As the door closed behind them, she took a deep breath. ‘Well, what do you think of that?’

Hercule Poirot smiled. ‘I think - that we have helped at a love scene - modern style. In my young days love was all like a beautiful dream. Nowadays it is the difficulties which bring a boy and girl together.’

‘All such nonsense.’ said Mrs Hubbard. ‘Celia’s father died when she was young, but she had a very happy childhood.’

‘Ah, but she is wise enough not to say so to young McNabb!’

‘Do you believe all those ideas of his, Monsieur Poirot?’

‘I do not believe that Celia had a Cinderella complex. I think she stole unimportant articles in order to attract the attention of Colin McNabb - and she has been successful.’

‘I do apologize for wasting your time over such a silly business. Anyway, all’s well that ends well.’

‘No, no.’ Poirot shook his head. ‘I do not think we are at the end yet. There are things still that are not explained; and me, I think that we have here something serious - really serious. I wonder, Madame, if I could speak to Miss Patricia Lane. I would like to examine the ring that was stolen.’

‘Why, of course, Monsieur Poirot. I’ll go down and send her up to you.’

Patricia Lane came in shortly afterwards. ‘Mrs Hubbard said you wanted to see my ring.’ She slipped it off her finger and held it out to him. ‘It was my mother’s engagement ring.’

Poirot nodded. ‘She is alive still, your mother?’

‘No. Both my parents are dead.’

‘That is sad.’

‘Yes. They were both very nice people, but somehow I was never quite so close to them as I ought to have been. One feels sad about that afterwards. My mother wanted a daughter who was fond of clothes and parties. She was very disappointed that I preferred History.’

‘You have always had a serious mind?’

‘I think so. I feel that life is so short, I ought to be doing something important.’

Poirot looked at her thoughtfully. Apart from a little lipstick, Patricia Lane wore no make-up. Her mouse-coloured hair was combed back from her face and her blue eyes looked back at him through glasses.

Patricia was saying, ‘I’m really very shocked about what happened to Elizabeth. It seems to me that someone deliberately used the green ink to blame Nigel. But Nigel would never do a thing like that.’

‘Ah.’ Poirot looked at her with more interest.

‘Nigel’s not easy to understand. You see, he had a very difficult home life.’

‘My goodness, another of them!’

‘What did you say?’

‘Nothing. Please continue -‘

‘About Nigel. He’s very clever, but even if everybody in this place thinks he did that trick with the ink, he won’t say that he didn’t. He’ll just say, “Let them think it if they want to.” And that attitude is really so stupid.’

‘It can be misunderstood, certainly.’

‘It’s a kind of pride, I think. Because he has always been misunderstood. In some ways, in spite of his being so independent, he needs looking after like a child.’

Poirot felt, suddenly, very tired of love and was glad to be past all that. He stood up. ‘Will you permit me, Mademoiselle, to keep your ring? It will be returned to you tomorrow.’

‘Certainly,’ said Patricia.

‘And please, Mademoiselle, be careful.’

‘Careful? Careful of what?’

‘I wish I knew,’ said Hercule Poirot.

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