Lord Edgware Dies人性记录16
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Chapter 16
 Mainly Discussion
When we got home we found Japp waiting for us.
‘Thought I’d just call round and have a chat with you before turning in, M. Poirot,’ he said cheerfully.
‘Eh bien, my good friend, how goes it?’
‘Well, it doesn’t go any too well. And that’s a fact.’
He looked distressed.
‘Got any help for me, M. Poirot?’
‘I have one or two little ideas that I should like to present to you,’ said Poirot.
‘You and your ideas! In some ways, you know, you’re a caution. Not that I don’t want to hear them. I do. There’s some good stuff in that funny-shaped head of yours.’
Poirot acknowledged the compliment somewhat coldly.
‘Have you any ideas about the double lady problem – that’s what I want to know? Eh, M. Poirot? What about it? Who was she?’
‘That is exactly what I wish to talk to you about.’
He asked Japp if he had ever heard of Carlotta Adams.
‘I’ve heard the name. For the moment I can’t just place it.’
Poirot explained.
‘Her! Does imitations does she? Now what made you fix on her? What have you got to go on?’
Poirot related the steps we had taken and the conclusion we had drawn.
‘By the Lord, it looks as though you were right. Clothes, hat, gloves, etc., and the fair wig. Yes, it must be. I will say – you’re the goods, M. Poirot. Smart work, that! Not that I think there’s anything to show she was put out of the way. That seems a bit far fetched. I don’t quite see eye to eye with you there. Your theory is a bit fantastical for me. I’ve more experience than you have. I don’t believe in this villain-behind-the-scenes motif. Carlotta Adams was the woman all right, but I should put it one of two ways. She went there for purposes of her own – blackmail, maybe, since she hinted she was going to get money. They had a bit of a dispute. He turned nasty, she turned nasty, and she finished him off. And I should say that when she got home she went all to pieces. She hadn’t meant murder. It’s my belief she took an overdose on purpose as the easiest way out.’
‘You think that covers all the facts?’
‘Well, naturally there are a lot of things we don’t know yet. It’s a good working hypothesis to go on with. The other explanation is that the hoax and the murder had nothing to do with each other. It’s just a damned queer coincidence.’
Poirot did not agree, I knew. But he merely said noncommittally:
‘Mais oui, c’est possible.’
‘Or, look here, how’s this? The hoax is innocent enough. Someone gets to hear of it and thinks it will suit their purpose jolly well. That’s not a bad idea?’ He paused and went on: ‘But personally I prefer idea No. 1. What the link was between his lordship and the girl we’ll find out somehow or other.’
Poirot told him of the letter to America posted by the maid, and Japp agreed that that might possibly be of great assistance.
‘I’ll get on to that at once,’ he said, making a note of it in his little book.
‘I’m the more in favour of the lady being the killer because I can’t find anyone else,’ he said, as he put the book away. ‘Captain Marsh, now, his lordship as now is. He’s got a motive sticking out a yard. A bad record too. Hard up and none too scrupulous over money. What’s more he had a row with his uncle yesterday morning. He told me that himself as a matter of fact – which rather takes the taste out of it. Yes, he’d be a likely customer. But he’s got an alibi for yesterday evening. He was at the opera with the Dortheimers. Rich Jews. Grosvenor Square. I’ve looked into that and it’s all right. He dined with them, went to the opera and they went on to supper at Sobranis. So that’s that.’
‘And Mademoiselle?’
‘The daughter, you mean? She was out of the house too. Dined with some people called Carthew West. They took her to the opera and saw her home afterwards. Quarter to twelve she got in. That disposes of her. The secretary woman seems all right – very efficient decent woman. Then there’s the butler. I can’t say I take to him much. It isn’t natural for a man to have good looks like that. There’s something fishy about him – and something odd about the way he came to enter Lord Edgware’s service. Yes, I’m checking up on him all right. I can’t see any motive for murder, though.’
‘No fresh facts have come to light?’
‘Yes, one or two. It’s hard to say whether they mean anything or not. For one thing, Lord Edgware’s key’s missing.’
‘The key to the front door?’
‘That is interesting, certainly.’
‘As I say, it may mean a good deal or nothing at all. Depends. What is a bit more significant to my mind is this. Lord Edgware cashed a cheque yesterday – not a particularly large one – a hundred pounds as a matter of fact. He took the money in French notes – that’s why he cashed the cheque, because of his journey to Paris today. Well, that money has disappeared.’
‘Who told you of this?’
‘Miss Carroll. She cashed the cheque and obtained the money. She mentioned it to me, and then I found that it had gone.’
‘Where was it yesterday evening?’
‘Miss Carroll doesn’t know. She gave it to Lord Edgware about half-past three. It was in a bank envelope. He was in the library at the time. He took it and laid it down beside him on a table.’
‘That certainly gives one to think. It is a complication.’
‘Or a simplification. By the way – the wound.’
‘The doctor says it wasn’t made by an ordinary penknife. Something of that kind but a different shaped blade. And it was amazingly sharp.’
‘Not a razor?’
‘No, no. Much smaller.’
Poirot frowned thoughtfully.
‘The new Lord Edgware seems to be fond of his joke,’ remarked Japp. ‘He seems to think it amusing to be suspected of murder. He made sure we did suspect him of murder, too. Looks a bit queer, that.’
‘It might be merely intelligence.’
‘More likely guilty conscience. His uncle’s death came very pat for him. He’s moved into the house, by the way.’
‘Where was he living before?’
‘Martin Street, St George’s Road. Not a very swell neighbourhood.’
‘You might make a note of that, Hastings.’
I did so, though I wondered a little. If Ronald had moved to Regent Gate, his former address was hardly likely to be needed.
‘I think the Adams girl did it,’ said Japp, rising. ‘A fine bit of work on your part, M. Poirot, to tumble to that. But there, of course, you go about to theatres and amusing yourself. Things strike you that don’t get the chance of striking me. Pity there’s no apparent motive, but a little spade work will soon bring it to light, I expect.’
‘There is one person with a motive to whom you have given no attention,’ remarked Poirot.
‘Who’s that, sir?’
‘The gentleman who is reputed to have wanted to marry Lord Edgware’s wife. I mean the Duke of Merton.’
‘Yes. I suppose there is a motive.’ Japp laughed. ‘But a gentleman in his position isn’t likely to do murder. And anyway, he’s over in Paris.’
‘You do not regard him as a serious suspect, then?’
‘Well, M. Poirot, do you?’
And laughing at the absurdity of the idea, Japp left us.