فصل 20

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Chapter twenty

J.

With a shout, Poirot ran to the window and Challenger was with him. A moment later they reappeared, carrying the body of a man. His face was white and thin which made him look as if he had been very ill. Down one side there was a stream of blood.

Frederica came slowly forward. Poirot went to her. ‘You are hurt, Madame?’

She shook her head. ‘The bullet brushed my shoulder - that is all.’

She moved his hand away gently and bent over the man. His eyes opened and he saw her looking down at him.

‘I’ve killed you this time, I hope,’ he said violently, and then, his voice changing suddenly till it sounded like a child’s, ‘Oh! Freddie, I didn’t mean it. I didn’t really want to do it. You’ve always been so good to me…’

‘It’s all right.’ She knelt down beside him.

‘I didn’t mean…’ His head dropped back onto the floor. The sentence was never finished. Frederica rose slowly from her knees and turned to the rest of us. ‘That was my husband,’ she said quietly.

‘J,’ I murmured.

Poirot nodded a quick agreement. ‘Yes,’ he said softly. ‘Always I felt that there was a J.’

‘He was my husband,’ said Frederica again. She sat down on a chair that Lazarus brought for her. ‘He was a terrible man. He taught me to take drugs and I have been trying to give them up ever since I left him. He used to turn up and demand money from me - with threats. If I did not give him money he would shoot himself, he said. Then he started saying he would shoot me. He was mad - crazy… I suppose he was the one who shot Maggie Buckley. He must have thought it was me.’

‘I should have said something, I suppose. But I wasn’t sure. And those strange accidents Nick had - they made me feel that perhaps it was someone else. And then I saw a bit of his handwriting on a torn piece of paper on Monsieur Poirot’s table. It was part of a letter he had sent me. Since then I have felt that it was only a matter of time… But I don’t understand about the chocolates. He wouldn’t have wanted to poison Nick. I don’t see how he could have had anything to do with that. I’ve thought and thought about it.’

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