Lord Edgware Dies人性记录10
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Chapter 10
 Jenny Driver
Our next proceeding was to call upon the doctor whose address the maid had given us.
He turned out to be a fussy elderly man somewhat vague in manner. He knew Poirot by repute and expressed a lively pleasure at meeting him in the flesh.
‘And what can I do for you, M. Poirot?’ he asked after this opening preamble.
‘You were called this morning, M. le docteur, to the bedside of a Miss Carlotta Adams.’
‘Ah! yes, poor girl. Clever actress too. I’ve been twice to her show. A thousand pities it’s ended this way. Why these girls must have drugs I can’t think.’
‘You think she was addicted to drugs, then?’
‘Well, professionally, I should hardly have said so. At all events she didn’t take them hypodermically. No marks of the needle. Evidently always took it by the mouth. Maid said she slept well naturally, but then maids never know. I don’t suppose she took veronal every night, but she’d evidently taken it for some time.’
‘What makes you think so?’
‘This, dash it – where did I put the thing?’
He was peering into a small case.
‘Ah! here it is.’
He drew out a small black morocco handbag.
‘There’s got to be an inquest, of course. I brought this away so that the maid shouldn’t meddle with it.’
Opening the pochette he took out a small gold box. On it were the initials C.A. in rubies. It was a valuable and expensive trinket. The doctor opened it. It was nearly full of a white powder.
‘Veronal,’ he explained briefly. ‘Now look what’s written inside.’
On the inside of the lid of the box was engraved:
C.A. from D. Paris, Nov. 10th. Sweet Dreams.
‘November 10th,’ said Poirot thoughtfully.
‘Exactly, and we’re now in June. That seems to show that she’s been in the habit of taking the stuff for at least six months, and as the year isn’t given, it might be eighteen months or two years and a half – or any time.’
‘Paris. D,’ said Poirot, frowning.
‘Yes. Convey anything to you? By the way, I haven’t asked you what your interest is in the case. I’m assuming you’ve got good grounds. I suppose you want to know if it’s suicide? Well, I can’t tell you. Nobody can. According to the maid’s account she was perfectly cheerful yesterday. That looks like accident, and in my opinion accident it is. Veronal’s very uncertain stuff. You can take a devil of a lot and it won’t kill you, and you can take very little and off you go. It’s a dangerous drug for that reason.
‘I’ve no doubt they’ll bring it in Accidental Death at the inquest. I’m afraid I can’t be of any more help to you.’
‘May I examine the little bag of Mademoiselle?’
‘Certainly. Certainly.’
Poirot turned out the contents of the pochette. There was a fine handkerchief with C.M.A. in the corner, a powder puff, a lipstick, a pound note and a little change, and a pair of pince-nez.
These last Poirot examined with interest. They were gold-rimmed and rather severe and academic in type.
‘Curious,’ said Poirot. ‘I did not know that Miss Adams wore glasses. But perhaps they are for reading?’
The doctor picked them up.
‘No, these are outdoor glasses,’ he affirmed. ‘Pretty powerful too. The person who wore these must have been very short-sighted.’
‘You do not know if Miss Adams –’
‘I never attended her before. I was called in once to see a poisoned finger of the maid’s. Otherwise I have never been in the flat. Miss Adams whom I saw for a moment on that occasion was certainly not wearing glasses then.’
Poirot thanked the doctor and we took our leave.
Poirot wore a puzzled expression.
‘It can be that I am mistaken,’ he admitted.
‘About the impersonation?’
‘No, no. That seems to me proved. No, I mean as to her death. Obviously she had veronal in her possession. It is possible that she was tired and strung up last night and determined to ensure herself a good night’s rest.’
Then he suddenly stopped dead – to the great surprise of the passers-by – and beat one hand emphatically on the other.
‘No, no, no, no!’ he declared emphatically. ‘Why should that accident happen so conveniently? It was no accident. It was not suicide. No, she played her part and in doing so she signed her death warrant. Veronal may have been chosen simply because it was known that she occasionally took it and that she had that box in her possession. But, if so, the murderer must have been someone who knew her well. Who is D, Hastings? I would give a good deal to know who D was.’
‘Poirot,’ I said, as he remained rapt in thought. ‘Hadn’t we better go on? Everyone is staring at us.’
‘Eh? Well, perhaps you are right. Though it does not incommode me that people should stare. It does not interfere in the least with my train of thought.’
‘People were beginning to laugh,’ I murmured.
‘That has no importance.’
I did not quite agree. I have a horror of doing anything conspicuous. The only thing that affects Poirot is the possibility of the damp or the heat affecting the set of his famous moustache.
‘We will take a taxi,’ said Poirot, waving his stick.
One drew up by us, and Poirot directed it to go Genevieve in Moffat Street.
Genevieve turned out to be one of those establishments where one nondescript hat and a scarf display themselves in a glass box downstairs and where the real centre of operations is one floor up a flight of musty-smelling stairs.
Having climbed the stairs we came to a door with ‘Genevieve. Please Walk In’ on it, and having obeyed this command we found ourselves in a small room full of hats while an imposing blonde creature came forward with a suspicious glance at Poirot.
‘Miss Driver?’ asked Poirot.
‘I do not know if Modom can see you. What is your business, please?’
‘Please tell Miss Driver that a friend of Miss Adams would like to see her.’
The blonde beauty had no need to go on this errand. A black velvet curtain was violently agitated and a small vivacious creature with flaming red hair emerged.
‘What’s that?’ she demanded.
‘Are you Miss Driver?’
‘Yes. What’s that about Carlotta?’
‘You have heard the sad news?’
‘What sad news?’
‘Miss Adams died in her sleep last night. An overdose of veronal.’
The girl’s eyes opened wide.
‘How awful!’ she exclaimed. ‘Poor Carlotta. I can hardly believe it. Why, she was full of life yesterday.’
‘Nevertheless it is true, Mademoiselle,’ said Poirot. ‘Now see – it is just on one o’clock. I want you to do me the honour of coming out to lunch with me and my friend. I want to ask you several questions.’
The girl looked him up and down. She was a pugilistic little creature. She reminded me in some ways of a fox terrier.
‘Who are you?’ she demanded bluntly.
‘My name is Hercule Poirot. This is my friend Captain Hastings.’
I bowed.
Her glance travelled from one to the other of us.
‘I’ve heard of you,’ she said abruptly. ‘I’ll come.’
She called to the blonde:
‘Yes, Jenny.’
‘Mrs Lester’s coming in about that Rose Descartes model we’re making for her. Try the different feathers. Bye-bye, shan’t be long, I expect.’
She picked up a small black hat, affixed it to one ear, powdered her nose furiously, and then looked at Poirot.
‘Ready,’ she said abruptly.
Five minutes afterwards we were sitting in a small restaurant in Dover Street. Poirot had given an order to the waiter and cocktails were in front of us.
‘Now,’ said Jenny Driver. ‘I want to know the meaning of all this. What has Carlotta been getting herself mixed up in?’
‘She had been getting herself mixed up in something, then, Mademoiselle?’
‘Now then, who is going to ask the questions, you or me?’
‘My idea was that I should,’ said Poirot, smiling. ‘I have been given to understand that you and Miss Adams were great friends.’
‘Eh bien, then I ask you, Mademoiselle, to accept my solemn assurance that what I do, I am doing in the interests of your dead friend. I assure you that that is so.’
There was a moment’s silence while Jenny Driver considered this question. Finally she gave a quick assenting nod of the head.
‘I believe you. Carry on. What do you want to know?’
‘I understand, Mademoiselle, that your friend lunched with you yesterday.’
‘She did.’
‘Did she tell you what her plans were for last night?’
‘She didn’t exactly mention last night.’
‘But she said something?’
‘Well, she mentioned something that maybe is what you’re driving at. Mind you, she spoke in confidence.’
‘That is understood.’
‘Well, let me see now. I think I’d better explain things in my own words.’
‘If you please, Mademoiselle.’
‘Well, then, Carlotta was excited. She isn’t often excited. She’s not that kind. She wouldn’t tell me anything definite, said she’d promised not to, but she’d got something on. Something I gathered, in the nature of a gigantic hoax.’
‘A hoax?’
‘That’s what she said. She didn’t say how or when or where. Only –’ She paused, frowning. ‘Well – you see – Carlotta’s not the kind of person who enjoys practical jokes or hoaxes or things of that kind. She’s one of those serious, nice-minded, hard-working girls. What I mean is, somebody had obviously put her up to this stunt. And I think – she didn’t say so, mind –’
‘No, no, I quite understand. What was it that you thought?’
‘I thought – I was sure – that in some way money was concerned. Nothing really ever excited Carlotta except money. She was made that way. She’d got one of the best heads for business I’ve ever met. She wouldn’t have been so excited and so pleased unless money – quite a lot of money – had been concerned. My impression was that she’d taken on something for a bet – and that she was pretty sure of winning. And yet that isn’t quite true. I mean, Carlotta didn’t bet. I’ve never known her make a bet. But anyway, somehow or other, I’m sure money was concerned.’
‘She did not actually say so?’
‘N-no-o. Just said that she’d be able to do this, that and the other in the near future. She was going to get her sister over from America to meet her in Paris. She was crazy about her little sister. Very delicate, I believe, and musical. Well that’s all I know. Is that what you want?’
Poirot nodded his head.
‘Yes. It confirms my theory. I had hoped, I admit, for more. I had anticipated that Miss Adams would have been bound to secrecy. But I hoped that, being a woman, she would not have counted revealing the secret to her best friend.’
‘I tried to make her tell me,’ admitted Jenny. ‘But she only laughed and said she’d tell me about it some day.’
Poirot was silent for a moment. Then he said:
‘You know the name of Lord Edgware?’
‘What? The man who was murdered? On a poster half an hour ago.’
‘Yes. Do you know if Miss Adams was acquainted with him?’
‘I don’t think so. I’m sure she wasn’t. Oh! wait a minute.’
‘Yes, Mademoiselle?’ said Poirot eagerly.
‘What was it now?’ She frowned, knitting her brow as she tried to remember.
‘Yes, I’ve got it now. She mentioned him once. Very bitterly.’
‘Yes. She said – what was it? – that men like that shouldn’t be allowed to ruin other people’s lives by their cruelty and lack of understanding. She said – why, so she did – that he was the kind of man whose death would probably be a good thing for everybody.’
‘When was it she said this, Mademoiselle?’
‘Oh! about a month ago, I think it was.’
‘How did the subject come up?’
Jenny Driver racked her brains for some minutes and finally shook her head.
‘I can’t remember,’ she confessed. ‘His name cropped up or something. It might have been in the newspaper. Anyway, I remember thinking it odd that Carlotta should be so vehement all of a sudden when she didn’t even know the man.’
‘Certainly it is odd,’ agreed Poirot thoughtfully. Then he asked:
‘Do you know if Miss Adams was in the habit of taking veronal?’
‘Not that I knew. I never saw her take it or mention taking it.’
‘Did you ever see in her bag a small gold box with the initials C.A. on it in rubies?’
‘A small gold box – no. I am sure I didn’t.’
‘Do you happen to know where Miss Adams was last November?’
‘Let me see. She went back to the States in November, I think – towards the end of the month. Before that she was in Paris.’
‘Alone, of course! Sorry – perhaps you didn’t mean that! I don’t know why any mention of Paris always suggests the worst. And it’s such a nice respectable place really. But Carlotta wasn’t the week-ending sort, if that’s what you’re driving at.’
‘Now, Mademoiselle, I am going to ask you a very important question. Was there any man Miss Adams was specially interested in?’
‘The answer to that is “No,” ’ said Jenny slowly. ‘Carlotta, since I’ve known her, has been wrapped up in her work and in her delicate sister. She’s had the “head of the family all depends on me” attitude very strongly. So the answer’s NO – strictly speaking.’
‘Ah! and not speaking so strictly?’
‘I shouldn’t wonder if – lately – Carlotta hadn’t been getting interested in some man.’
‘Mind you, that’s entirely guesswork on my part. I’ve gone simply by her manner. She’s been – different – not exactly dreamy, but abstracted. And she’s looked different, somehow. Oh! I can’t explain. It’s the sort of thing that another woman just feels – and, of course, may be quite wrong about.’
Poirot nodded.
‘Thank you, Mademoiselle. One thing more. Is there any friend of Miss Adams whose initial is D?’
‘D,’ said Jenny Driver thoughtfully. ‘D? No, I’m sorry. I can’t think of anyone.’