فصل 14

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Chapter fourteen

The Mystery of the Missing Will

We went straight back to the nursing home. Nick looked surprised to see us again.

‘Mademoiselle,’ said Poirot. ‘This will of yours, I did not find it. You did not put it in the secret hiding place, by any chance?’

‘The secret what?’

‘Your maid, Ellen, says that there is a secret hiding place in the living room or the library. It seems she was a kitchen maid at End House as a young girl. The cook showed it to her.’

‘It’s the first I’ve ever heard of it! Are you sure Ellen isn’t making it up?’

‘I am not at all sure! There is something - strange - about this Ellen of yours.’

‘Oh! I wouldn’t call her strange. William’s an imbecile, and the child is an unpleasant little boy, but Ellen’s all right.’

‘Mademoiselle, let’s return to our subject - the last will of Magdala Buckley.’

‘I wrote that,’ said Nick with some pride.

‘You did not use a standard form for the will, then?’

‘No. I was just going off to the nursing home for the appendix operation, and Mr Croft said it was better to make a simple will and not try to be too legal.’

‘Monsieur Croft was there?’

‘Yes. It was he who asked me if I’d made a will. He said if you died without one, the Government took everything and that would be a pity. He asked Ellen and her husband in to witness it. Oh! Of course! What an idiot I’ve been! Charles has got it! Mr Croft said a lawyer was the proper person to take care of it so we put it in an envelope and sent it off to Charles straight away.’ She lay back on her pillows, smiling. ‘Charles has got it, and if you really want to see it, of course he’ll show it to you.’

‘Not without a letter from you,’ said Poirot, smiling back. ‘How silly!’ She took a piece of paper from the table beside her bed. ‘What will I say?’

He dictated some words, and Nick wrote them down. ‘Thank you, Mademoiselle,’ said Poirot, as he took it. He looked round the room. ‘Your flowers are lovely.’

‘Aren’t they? And look here…’ She pulled the paper from a large basket of fruit. Poirot stepped forward quickly. ‘You have not eaten any?’

‘No. Not yet.’

‘Do not do so. You must eat nothing, Mademoiselle, that comes in from outside. Nothing. You understand?’

‘Oh!’ The color went slowly from her face. ‘You think it isn’t over yet. You think they’re still trying to kill me?’

He took her hand. ‘Do not think of it. You are safe here. But remember - eat nothing that comes in from outside.’

A short time later we were shown into Charles Vyse’s office, but the young lawyer denied getting any will from Nick.

‘Is he lying, do you think?’ I asked later.

‘Impossible to tell. His face shows nothing.’

‘Well, what do we do now?’

‘We go and see Monsieur Croft.’

But when we got there it was a little difficult to get to the point of our visit. Both Mr and Mrs Croft talked so much and wanted to know all about everything: Were the poor dead girl’s relations coming down? When was the funeral? What did the police think?

At last Poirot asked the question he had been waiting to ask. ‘Why, of course,’ said Mr Croft. ‘I just asked her if she’d made a will. More as a joke than anything else. And she wrote it out right then.’

‘Who witnessed it?’

‘Oh! Ellen and her husband.’

‘And afterwards?’

‘I posted it to Vyse. Right outside in the post box by the gate!’

‘So!’ said Poirot, when we were walking down to the hotel. ‘Who is lying? Monsieur Croft? Or Charles Vyse? I see no reason why Monsieur Croft should be lying. But all the same I am glad that he was cooking when we arrived. He left excellent fingerprints of his thumb and first finger on a corner of the newspaper that was on the kitchen table. I managed to tear it off and we will send it to our good friend Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard. For you know, Hastings, I cannot help feeling that our Monsieur Croft is a little too good to be genuine.’

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