فصل 05

مجموعه: کارآگاه مارپل / کتاب: قتلی اعلام شد / فصل 5

فصل 05

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Miss Marple Arrives

Rydesdale, the Chief Constable, had contacted the police in Switzerland about Rudi Scherz. He showed their answer to Inspector Craddock.

‘He had a police record,’ Rydesdale said. ‘He stole jewellery and other things. He was definitely dishonest in a small way. But small things lead to large things.’

‘I’m worried, sir,’ said Craddock. ‘It just doesn’t make sense.’

‘Do you think that somebody is lying to you?’

‘I think the foreign girl knows more than she’s telling us. And Miss Bunner thinks that Scherz was trying to kill Miss Blacklock.’

‘Don’t worry, Craddock,’ said the Chief Constable. ‘I’m taking you to lunch at the Royal Spa Hotel with Sir Henry and myself.’ He stopped as Sir Henry entered the room. ‘Ah, Sir Henry. We’ve received a letter from a woman staying at the Royal Spa Hotel. She says there’s something we might like to know in connection with this Chipping Cleghorn business. Her name is Jane - Murple - no, Marple, Jane Marple.’

‘But I know Miss Marple,’ said Sir Henry. ‘She’s the old lady I mentioned before - the one who is so good at solving crimes.’

‘Well,’ said Rydesdale, ‘I’ll be glad to meet her. Let’s go! We’ll lunch at the Royal Spa and we’ll interview Miss Marple.’

Miss Jane Marple was older than Craddock had imagined. She had snow-white hair, a pink face and very soft, innocent eyes. She was delighted to see Sir Henry, and very pleased to meet Chief Constable Rydesdale and Detective-Inspector Craddock.

‘But really, Sir Henry, how fortunate… how very fortunate. So long since I’ve seen you.’

‘Now, Miss Marple, let’s hear what you have to tell us,’ said the Chief Constable.

‘It was a cheque,’ she said at once. ‘The young man at the desk changed it. The young man who, they say, is responsible for that hold-up and shot himself. I have it here.’ Miss Marple took a cheque out of her bag and laid it on the table. ‘It came this morning with my other cheques from the bank. You can see, it was for seven pounds and he changed it to seventeen. It’s very cleverly done. I think he’d often done it before, don’t you?’

‘And perhaps he reminded you of someone?’ asked Sir Henry with a smile. He knew that Miss Marple often compared the behaviour of criminals with - the ways of people in her village.

‘Yes, he did. Fred Tyler, at the fish shop. Fred always put an extra “1” before the figures in the money column on the bills. Lots of people never added up their bill, and so they never noticed. Then he put the extra money in his pocket.

Well, the first week I was staying here at the Royal Spa, there was a mistake in my bill. I showed the young man, and he apologised very nicely. But after that I didn’t trust him. He didn’t look honest.’

‘He had a police record in Switzerland,’ said Rydesdale.

‘He was very friendly with the little red-haired waitress from the dining-room,’ said Miss Marple. ‘Has she told you all she knows?’ she asked suddenly, turning to Craddock.

‘I’m not absolutely sure,’ said Craddock carefully.

‘She’s looking very worried,’ said Miss Marple. ‘She brought me the wrong food at breakfast, and forgot the milk jug. But I expect’ - her blue eyes looked into the handsome face of Detective-Inspector Craddock - ‘that you will be able to persuade her to tell you all she knows. Perhaps he told her who it was. I mean, who instructed him to do the hold-up.’

Rydesdale stared at her.

‘So you think someone instructed him?’

Miss Marple’s eyes widened in surprise.

‘Oh, but surely - I mean… Here’s an attractive young man who steals a little bit here and there. And then suddenly he goes off, with a gun, and holds up a room full of people, and shoots at someone. That wasn’t like him at all! He wasn’t that kind of person. It doesn’t make sense.’

Craddock breathed in sharply. That was what Mrs Harmon ha4 said. What he himself felt. It didn’t make sense.

‘What did happen, then, Miss Marple?’ he asked.

‘But how should I know what happened?’ said Miss Marple in surprise. ‘I have no accurate information.’

‘Can we allow Miss Marple to read the notes about the case?’ Sir Henry asked Rydesdale.

‘Yes,’ replied Rydesdale. He handed her some typewritten sheets of paper. ‘Read these. It won’t take you long.’

Miss Marple read the notes in silence.

‘It’s very interesting,’ she said. ‘All the different things that people say. The things they see - or think that they see.’

Craddock felt disappointed. Was that all that Sir Henry’s famous Miss Marple could say? He felt annoyed with her.

‘All these people saw the same thing,’ said Craddock. ‘They saw a masked man with a gun and a torch. They saw him.’

‘But surely,’ said Miss Marple gently, ‘they didn’t - actually - see anything at all…’ Her face shone pink, and her eyes were as bright and pleased as a child’s. ‘There wasn’t any light on in the hall, was there? So if a man stood in the doorway and flashed a powerful torch into the room, nobody could see anything except the torch, could they?’

Rydesdale stared at her in surprise. Her face became pinker.

‘I’m not very clever about American phrases,’ she said, ‘but I think that Rudi Scherz was what they call a “fall guy”. A “fall guy” is someone who will be blamed for someone else’s crime. Rudi Scherz seems to me exactly the right type for that. Rather stupid, and willing to believe anything.

‘I think he was told it was a joke. He was paid for doing it, of course. Paid to put an advertisement in the newspaper, to go to the house and look at it, and then to go there in a mask and a black coat, waving a torch and crying “Hands up!’”

‘And to fire a gun?’ asked Rydesdale.

‘No, no,’ said Miss Marple. ‘He never had a gun. I think that after he’d called “Hands up”, somebody came up quietly behind him in the darkness and fired those two shots over his shoulder. It frightened him and he turned around. The other person shot him and then let the gun drop beside him.’

‘It’s a possible theory,’ Sir Henry said softly.

‘But who is this mysterious Mr X?’ said Rydesdale.

‘You’ll have to find out from Miss Blacklock who wanted to kill her. But first, talk to that girl Myrna Harris. It’s possible that Rudi Scherz told her who suggested the plan to him.’

‘I’ll see her now,’ said Craddock, getting up. ‘Well, Miss

Marple, you’ve certainly given us something to think about.’

‘I’m sorry I didn’t tell you everything before,’ said Myrna Harris to Inspector Craddock. ‘I didn’t want to get myself in trouble. But I’ll tell you all about it now, Inspector. Rudi and I were going to the cinema that evening and then he said he wouldn’t be able to come. He said not to tell anyone, but there was going to be a party somewhere, and he had to act out a hold-up. Then he showed me the advertisement, and I had to laugh. When I read all about it in the paper, that Rudi had shot someone and then shot himself, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even know he had a gun.’

‘Who did he say arranged this party?’

‘He never said. I thought it was his own idea.’

Later, Rydesdale and Craddock were driving back to Medenham.

‘If Miss Marple’s theory is correct, there has to be a motive,’ said Craddock. ‘If it wasn’t an ordinary hold-up, it was a cold attempt at murder. But why did somebody try to murder Miss Blacklock? And if they did, the person might try again.’

‘That would certainly prove the truth of the theory,’ said the Chief Constable. ‘Look after Miss Marple, won’t you? She’s coming to stay at the vicarage at Chipping Cleghorn. It seems that. Mrs Harmon is the daughter of an old friend of hers.’

‘I’m sorry she’s coming,’ said Craddock.

‘Why? Is she going to get in your way?’

‘It’s not that, sir, but she’s a nice old thing. I wouldn’t like anything bad to happen to her…’

Detective-Inspector Craddock went to see Miss Blacklock again.

‘I’m sorry to trouble you again, Miss Blacklock, but I have something to tell you. Rudi Scherz was not the son of the owner of the Hotel des Alpes in Montreux. First, he worked in a hospital and then later in a hotel and a shop. He stole small amounts of money and jewellery everywhere.’

‘Then I was right when I thought I hadn’t seen him before?’ asked Miss Blacklock.

‘Yes… probably you were pointed out to him at the Royal Spa Hotel and he pretended to recognise you.’

‘But why did he want to come to Chipping Cleghorn?’ said Miss Blacklock. ‘There’s nothing of special value in the house.’

‘Then it seems, doesn’t it, that your friend Miss Bunner was right? He came here to attack you.’

‘I knew that advertisement wasn’t a joke, Letty,’ said Dora Bunner. ‘I said so. And look at Mitzi - she was frightened too!’

‘I’d like to know more about that young lady,’ said Craddock. ‘But why would anyone want to murder me?’ said Miss Blacklock. ‘I’ve got no enemies. I don’t know any guilty secrets about anyone. And if you think that Mitzi had something to do with it, that’s silly too. She was really frightened when she saw the advertisement in the Gazette. Mitzi may be a liar, but she’s not a cold-hearted murderer. Go and talk to her. Mrs Harmon is bringing an old lady who is staying with her to tea this afternoon, and I wanted Mitzi to make some little cakes. But I suppose you’ll upset her completely. Can’t you possibly go and suspect somebody else?’

Craddock went out to the kitchen. He asked Mitzi questions that he had asked her before and received the same answers.

Yes, she had locked the front door soon after four o’clock. No, she hadn’t locked the side door.

‘Mrs Haymes says she locked the side door when she came in.’

‘Ah, and you believe her - oh yes, you believe her.’

‘You think Mrs Haymes didn’t lock that door?’

‘I think she was very careful not to lock it. That young man, he does not work alone. No, he knows where to come, he knows that when he comes, a door will be left open for him - oh, very conveniently open!’

‘What are you trying to say?’ asked Craddock.

‘What is the use of what I say? You will not listen. You say I am a poor foreign girl who tells lies. If I say that I heard him talking with Mrs Haymes - yes, out there in the summerhouse - you will say that I make it up!’

‘You couldn’t hear what was said in the summerhouse.’

‘You are wrong,’ screamed Mitzi. ‘I go out to the garden to get vegetables. And I hear them talking in there. He says to her, “But where can I hide?” And she says, “I will show you” - and then she says, “At a quarter past six.’”

‘Why didn’t you tell me this the other day?’ asked Craddock.

‘Because I did not remember - I did not think . . . Only afterwards, I say to myself, it is planned then, planned with her. She is a thief, that Mrs Haymes. Oh, she is bad, that one! Now, how can I cook lunch if you are here, talking, talking, talking? Please leave my kitchen.’

Craddock went obediently, feeling confused. Mitzi told lies, but her story about Phillipa Haymes seemed to contain some truth. He decided to speak to Phillipa.

He crossed the hall and tried to open a door into the sitting- room, but it wouldn’t open. Miss Bunner came down the stairs.

‘Not that door,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t open. Try the next door to the left. It’s very confusing, isn’t it? I’ve often tried the wrong door by mistake. We used to have the hall table against it, but then we moved it along against the wall there.’

‘Moved?’ asked Craddock. ‘How long ago?’

‘Well - ten days or a fortnight ago.’

‘Is the door a false door?’ asked Craddock.

‘Oh no, it’s a real door. It’s the door of the small sitting-room, but when the two rooms were made into one room, two doors weren’t needed. So this one was locked.’

Craddock tried it again. ‘Do you know where the key is?’

‘There are a lot of keys in the hall drawer

Craddock followed her and found a number of keys pushed back in the drawer. He took one out and went back to the door. The key fitted and turned easily. The door slid open noiselessly.

‘This door’s been opened quite recently, Miss Bunner. The lock has been oiled.’

‘But who would do that?’ asked Dora Bunner, shocked.

‘That’s what I intend to find out,’ said Craddock. He thought to himself, ‘X - from outside? No - X was here - in this house. X was in the sitting-room that night…’

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