فصل 10

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER TEN

Lewis Serrocold came into the study and sat down, not in the chair Miss Marple had just left, but in his own chair behind the desk.

He looked at the two police officers thoughtfully. He had the face of a man who was suffering badly in very difficult conditions, and it surprised Inspector Curry because, though Christian Gulbrandsen’s death must have been a shock, Gulbrandsen had not been a close friend or relation. He was only a rather distant connection by marriage.

Lewis Serrocold said with a sigh, ‘How difficult it is to know the right thing to do.’

‘I think we will be the judges of that, Mr Serrocold,’ said Inspector Curry. ‘Now, Mr Gulbrandsen arrived unexpectedly, I understand?’

‘He did.’

‘And you have no idea of why he came?’

Lewis Serrocold said quietly, ‘Oh yes, I know why he came. He told me.’

‘Business connected with the Gulbrandsen Institute, I suppose?’

‘Oh no, it was nothing to do with the Gulbrandsen Institute.’ Lewis Serrocold continued seriously. ‘I fully realize that with Gulbrandsen’s murder, I have got to put all the facts before you. But I am worried about my wife’s happiness and peace of mind. It is not for me to direct you, Inspector, but if you can find a way to keep certain things from her I would be grateful. You see, Inspector Curry, Christian Gulbrandsen came here to tell me that he believed my wife was being slowly and cold-bloodedly poisoned.’

‘What?’ Curry leaned forward, astonished.

Serrocold nodded. ‘Yes, it was, as you can imagine, a huge shock to me. I had no suspicion of such a thing myself, but as soon as Christian told me, I realized that the symptoms of arthritis that my wife had complained of lately - pain in the legs and sickness - were also the symptoms of arsenic poisoning.’

‘You definitely think, then, that Gulbrandsen’s suspicions were correct?’

‘Oh yes. He would not have come to me with such a suggestion unless he was sure of his facts. He was a careful man, and very thorough.’

‘What was his evidence?’

‘We had no time to discuss it. Our interview was hurried. It was only long enough to explain his visit, and to come to an agreement that nothing should be said to my wife.’

‘And who did he suspect?’

‘He did not say, and I don’t think he knew. But he must have suspected - otherwise why would he be killed?’

‘He mentioned no name to you?’

‘No. He suggested that we ask for the advice of Dr Galbraith, the Bishop of Cromer. Dr Galbraith is one of the trustees, a man of great wisdom and experience who would support my wife if- if it was necessary to tell her of our suspicions.’

‘How extraordinary,’ said Curry.

‘Gulbrandsen left us after dinner to write to Dr Galbraith. He was actually typing the letter when he was shot.’

‘How do you know?’

Lewis said calmly, ‘Because I have the letter here.’ He took out a folded typewritten sheet of paper and handed it to Curry.

The Inspector said sharply, ‘You shouldn’t have touched anything.’

‘I know I was wrong to move this, but I had a very strong reason. I felt certain that my wife would insist on coming into the room and I was afraid that she might read what is written here. And I would do anything - anything - to avoid my wife being unhappy.’

Inspector Curry said no more for the moment. He read the typewritten sheet.

Dear Dr Galbraith,

Please come to Stonygates as soon as you receive this. I am in the middle of an extraordinary crisis and I do not know how to deal with, it. I know how strong your affection is for our dear Carrie Louise, and how serious your concern will be for anything that affects her. How much does she have to know? How much can we keep from her? Those are the questions that I find difficult to answer.

I have reason to believe that this sweet and innocent lady is being poisoned. I first suspected this when

Here the letter stopped.

Curry said, ‘But why on earth was this letter in the typewriter and not taken by the murderer?’

‘I can only guess that the murderer may have heard someone coming and only had time to escape.’

‘How do you think this poison is being given?’

‘It seems to me that the most likely answer is the medicine that my wife is taking. We all share the same food, but anyone could add arsenic to the medicine bottle.’

‘We must have the medicine tested.’

Lewis said quietly, ‘I already have a sample. I took it this evening before dinner.’

From a drawer in the desk he took out a small bottle with a pink liquid in it.

Inspector Curry said with a curious look, ‘You think of everything, Mr Serrocold.’

‘I acted immediately. Tonight, I stopped my wife from taking her usual dose. It is still in a glass in the Hall - the bottle of medicine itself is in the dining room.’

Curry lowered his voice. ‘You’ll excuse me, Mr Serrocold, but just why are you so anxious to keep this from your wife? Surely, for her own sake, it would be best if she were warned.’

‘Yes - yes, that may well be so. But I don’t think you understand. My wife, Inspector Curry, is an idealist, a completely trustful person. She has no idea of evil. She simply could not believe that someone would want to kill her. But it is not just “someone”. It is a case - surely you see that - of someone very near and dear to her.’

‘So that’s what you think?’

‘We have got to face facts. Close by we have a couple of hundred young delinquents who have been violent. But none of them can be a suspect in this case. By the very nature of things, a slow poisoner is someone living in the family. Think of the people who are here in this house; her husband, her daughter, her granddaughter and her husband, her stepson whom she regards as her own son, Miss Believer her devoted friend. All very near and dear to her - and yet we must be suspicious that it is one of them.’

Curry said slowly, ‘There are outsiders.’

‘Yes, Dr Maverick and one or two of the staff are often with us, and the servants - but what possible motive could they have?’

Inspector Curry said, ‘And there’s young Edgar Lawson?’

‘Yes. But he has only been here a short time.’

‘But he’s unbalanced. What about this attack on you tonight?’ Serrocold waved it aside impatiently. ‘He had no intention of harming me. It was play-acting, no more.’

‘Rather dangerous play-acting, Mr Serrocold.’

‘You really must talk to our psychiatrist, Dr Maverick. He’ll give you the professional view. Edgar will probably be quite normal tomorrow morning.’

‘You don’t wish to bring a charge against him?’

‘That would be the worst thing possible. In any case, poor Edgar certainly did not shoot Gulbrandsen. He was in here threatening to shoot me.’

‘That’s the point I was coming to, Mr Serrocold. Anyone, it seems, could have come in from outside and shot Mr Gulbrandsen, as the terrace door was unlocked. But with what you have been telling me, the question is: who inside the house could have killed Mr Gulbrandsen?’

Lewis Serrocold said slowly, ‘I can only tell you that everyone except the servants was in the Great Hall when Christian left it, and whilst I was there, nobody left it.’

‘Nobody at all?’

‘I think,’ Lewis frowned, ‘oh yes. Some of the lights went out - Mr Walter Hudd went to see to it.’

‘That’s the young American gentleman?’

‘Yes - of course I don’t know what took place after Edgar and I came in here.’

And you can’t be clearer than that, Mr Serrocold?’

Lewis Serrocold shook his head. ‘No, I’m afraid I can’t help you. It’s - it’s just not believable.’

Inspector Curry sighed. ‘You can tell everyone that they can all go to bed. I’ll talk to them tomorrow.’

When Serrocold had left the room, Inspector Curry said to Lake, ‘Well - what do you think?’

‘He knows - or thinks he knows, who did it,’ said Lake.

‘Yes. I agree with you. And he doesn’t like it at all.’

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