فصل 12

مجموعه: کارآگاه مارپل / کتاب: انگشت محرک / فصل 35

فصل 12

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CHAPTER TWELVE

I went along to the Symmingtons’ house at eleven o’clock the next morning, rang the bell, and asked to see Megan.

Rose put me in the little morning room and when the door opened Megan was in her old clothes again but she had managed to make them look completely different.

She grinned. ‘Hello!’

It’s wonderful what the knowledge of her own attractiveness can do for a girl. Megan, I knew suddenly, had grown up. I said, ‘You didn’t get into trouble about yesterday, I hope?’

‘Oh, no’ she said. ‘Well, yes, I think I did. I mean, they said a lot of things - but you know how excited people can get about nothing.’

‘I came round this morning,’ I said, ‘because I like you a lot, and I think you like me…’

‘Very much!’ said Megan.

‘And we get on very well together, so I think it would be a good idea if we got married.’

‘Oh,’ said Megan. ‘You mean, you’re in love with me?’

‘I’m in love with you.’

Her eyes were serious. She said, ‘I think you’re the nicest person in the world - but I’m not in love with you.’

‘I’ll make you love me.’

‘That wouldn’t work. I’m not the right wife for you. I’m better at hating than loving.’

I said, ‘Hate doesn’t last. Love does.’

‘Is that true?’

‘It’s what I believe.’ I paused. ‘So it’s “No,” is it?’

‘Yes, it’s no.’

II

I walked away from the house feeling confused. I had felt so certain that Megan was right for me that I had expected her to feel the same.

But I was not giving up. Oh no! Megan was my woman and I was going to have her.

When I got home Joanna was out and she did not return for lunch. It was half-past three when she walked into the sitting room. I had heard a car stop outside, but Joanna came in alone. She seemed upset.

‘What’s the matter?’ I asked.

She sat down. ‘I’ve had the most awful day. I’ve done the most unbelievable thing.’

‘But what -‘

‘I went out for a walk. I walked for miles, then in a small valley I saw a farmhouse. I was thirsty, so I wandered into the yard to ask for some water, but then the door opened and Owen came out.’

‘Yes?’

‘He thought I might be the nurse. There was a woman in there having a baby and things were going wrong. So he said to me. “Come on, you can help me - better than nobody.” I said I couldn’t, that I’d never done anything like that ‘He said what did that matter? He said, “You’re a woman, aren’t you? Don’t you want to help another woman?” And he reminded me that I’d mentioned I might be interested in becoming a doctor. “Just silly talk, I suppose! You didn’t mean anything real by it, but this is real and you’re going to behave like a decent human being and not like a useless half-brain!” Now I’ve done the most unbelievable things, Jerry. Held instruments and boiled them and handed things to him. I’m so tired I can hardly stand up. But he saved her - and the baby. It was born alive. Oh dear!’ Joanna covered her face with her hands.

I said, ‘There’s a letter for you in the hall. From your exboyfriend Paul, I think.’ I went out into the hall and brought Joanna her letter.

She opened it, looked at it then dropped it on the floor. ‘Owen was really rather wonderful. The way he fought to save the baby, the way he wouldn’t be beaten! He was rude and awful to me - but he was wonderful.’

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