Lord Edgware Dies人性记录17
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Chapter 17
 The Butler
The following day was one of inactivity for us, and activity for Japp. He came round to see us about teatime.
He was red and wrathful.
‘I’ve made a bloomer.’
‘Impossible, my friend,’ said Poirot soothingly.
‘Yes, I have. I’ve let that (here he gave way to profanity) – of a butler slip through my fingers.’
‘He has disappeared?’
‘Yes. Hooked it. What makes me kick myself for a double-dyed idiot is that I didn’t particularly suspect him.’
‘Calm yourself – but calm yourself then.’
‘All very well to talk. You wouldn’t be calm if you’d been hauled over the coals at headquarters. Oh! he’s a slippery customer. It isn’t the first time he’s given anyone the slip. He’s an old hand.’
Japp wiped his forehead and looked the picture of misery. Poirot made sympathetic noises – somewhat suggestive of a hen laying an egg. With more insight into the English character, I poured out a stiff whisky and soda and placed it in front of the gloomy inspector. He brightened a little.
‘Well,’ he said. ‘I don’t mind if I do.’
Presently he began to talk more cheerfully.
‘I’m not so sure even now that he’s the murderer! Of course it looks bad his bolting this way, but there might be other reasons for that. I’d begun to get on to him, you see. Seems he’s mixed up with a couple of disreputable night clubs. Not the usual thing. Something a great deal more recherché and nasty. In fact, he’s a real bad hat.’
‘Tout de même, that does not necessarily mean that he is a murderer.’
‘Exactly! He may have been up to some funny business or other, but not necessarily murder. No, I’m more than ever convinced it was the Adams girl. I’ve got nothing to prove it as yet, though. I’ve had men going all through her flat today, but we’ve found nothing that’s helpful. She was a canny one. Kept no letters except a few business ones about financial contracts. They’re all neatly docketed and labelled. Couple of letters from her sister in Washington. Quite straight and above-board. One or two pieces of good old-fashioned jewellery – nothing new or expensive. She didn’t keep a diary. Her pass-book and cheque-book don’t show anything helpful. Dash it all, the girl doesn’t seem to have had any private life at all!’
‘She was of a reserved character,’ said Poirot thoughtfully. ‘From our point of view that is a pity.’
‘I’ve talked to the woman who did for her. Nothing there. I’ve been and seen that girl who keeps a hat shop and who, it seems, was a friend of hers.’
‘Ah! and what do you think of Miss Driver?’
‘She seemed a smart wide-awake bit of goods. She couldn’t help me, though. Not that that surprises me. The amount of missing girls I’ve had to trace and their family and their friends always say the same things. “She was of a bright and affectionate disposition and had no men friends.” That’s never true. It’s unnatural. Girls ought to have men friends. If not there’s something wrong with them. It’s the muddle-headed loyalty of friends and relations that makes a detective’s life so difficult.’
He paused for want of breath, and I replenished his glass.
‘Thank you, Captain Hastings, I don’t mind if I do. Well, there you are. You’ve got to hunt and hunt about. There’s about a dozen young men she went out to supper and danced with, but nothing to show that one of them meant more than another. There’s the present Lord Edgware, there’s Mr Bryan Martin, the film star, there’s half a dozen others – but nothing special and particular. Your man behind idea is all wrong. I think you’ll find that she played a lone hand, M. Poirot. I’m looking now for the connection between her and the murdered man. That must exist. I think I’ll have to go over to Paris. There was Paris written in that little gold box, and the late Lord Edgware ran over to Paris several times last Autumn, so Miss Carroll tells me, attending sales and buying curios. Yes, I think I must go over to Paris. Inquest’s tomorrow. It’ll be adjourned, of course. After that I’ll take the afternoon boat.’
‘You have a furious energy, Japp. It amazes me.’
‘Yes, you’re getting lazy. You just sit here and think! What you call employing the little grey cells. No good, you’ve got to go out to things. They won’t come to you.’
The little maidservant opened the door.
‘Mr Bryan Martin, sir. Are you busy or will you see him?’
‘I’m off, M. Poirot.’ Japp hoisted himself up. ‘All the stars of the theatrical world seem to consult you.’
Poirot shrugged a modest shoulder, and Japp laughed.
‘You must be a millionaire by now, M. Poirot. What do you do with the money? Save it?’
‘Assuredly I practise the thrift. And talking of the disposal of money, how did Lord Edgware dispose of his?’
‘Such property as wasn’t entailed he left to his daughter. Five hundred to Miss Carroll. No other bequests. Very simple will.’
‘And it was made – when?’
‘After his wife left him – just over two years ago. He expressly excludes her from participation, by the way.’
‘A vindictive man,’ murmured Poirot to himself.
With a cheerful ‘So long,’ Japp departed.
Bryan Martin entered. He was faultlessly attired and looked extremely handsome. Yet I thought that he looked haggard and not too happy.
‘I am afraid I have been a long time coming, M. Poirot,’ he said apologetically. ‘And, after all, I have been guilty of taking up your time for nothing.’
‘En verité?’
‘Yes. I have seen the lady in question. I’ve argued with her, pleaded with her, but all to no purpose. She won’t hear of my interesting you in the matter. So I’m afraid we’ll have to let the thing drop. I’m very sorry – very sorry to have bothered you –’
‘Du tout – du tout,’ said Poirot genially. ‘I expected this.’
‘Eh?’ The young man seemed taken aback.
‘You expected this?’ he asked in a puzzled way.
‘Mais oui. When you spoke of consulting your friend – I could have predicted that all would have arrived as it has done.’
‘You have a theory, then?’
‘A detective, M. Martin, always has a theory. It is expected of him. I do not call it a theory myself. I say that I have a little idea. That is the first stage.’
‘And the second stage?’
‘If the little idea turns out to be right – then I know! It is quite simple, you see.’
‘I wish you’d tell me what your theory – or your little idea – is?’
Poirot shook his head gently.
‘That is another rule. The detective never tells.’
‘Can’t you suggest it even?’
‘No. I will only say that I formed my theory as soon as you mentioned a gold tooth.’
Bryan Martin stared at him.
‘I’m absolutely bewildered,’ he declared. ‘I can’t make out what you are driving at. If you’d just give me a hint.’
Poirot smiled and shook his head.
‘Let us change the subject.’
‘Yes, but first – your fee – you must let me.’
Poirot waved an imperious hand.
‘Pas un sou! I have done nothing to aid you.’
‘I took up your time –’
‘When a case interests me, I do not touch money. Your case interested me very much.’
‘I’m glad,’ said the actor uneasily.
He looked supremely unhappy.
‘Come,’ said Poirot kindly. ‘Let us talk of something else.’
‘Wasn’t that the Scotland Yard man whom I met on the stairs?’
‘Yes, Inspector Japp.’
‘The light was so dim, I wasn’t sure. By the way, he came round and asked me some questions about that poor girl, Carlotta Adams, who died of an overdose of veronal.’
‘You knew her well – Miss Adams?’
‘Not very well. I knew her as a child in America. I came across her here once or twice but I never saw very much of her. I was very sorry to hear of her death.’
‘You liked her?’
‘Yes. She was extraordinarily easy to talk to.’
‘A personality very sympathetic – yes, I found the same.’
‘I suppose they think it might be suicide? I knew nothing that could help the inspector. Carlotta was always very reserved about herself.’
‘I do not think it was suicide,’ said Poirot.
‘Far more likely to be an accident, I agree.’
There was a pause.
Then Poirot said with a smile:
‘The affair of Lord Edgware’s death becomes intriguing, does it not?’
‘Absolutely amazing. Do you know – have they any idea – who did it – now that Jane is definitely out of it?’
‘Mais oui – they have a very strong suspicion.’
Bryan Martin looked excited.
‘Really? Who?’
‘The butler has disappeared. You comprehend – flight is as good as a confession.’
‘The butler! Really, you surprise me.’
‘A singularly good-looking man. Il vous ressemble un peu.’ He bowed in a complimentary fashion.
Of course! I realized now why the butler’s face had struck me as being faintly familiar when I first saw it.
‘You flatter me,’ said Bryan Martin with a laugh.
‘No, no, no. Do not all the young girls, the servant girls, the flappers, the typists, the girls of society, do they not all adore M. Bryan Martin? Is there one who can resist you?’
‘A lot, I should think,’ said Martin. He got up abruptly.
‘Well, thank you very much, M. Poirot. Let me apologize again for having troubled you.’
He shook hands with us both. Suddenly, I noticed he looked much older. The haggard look was more apparent.
I was devoured with curiosity, and as soon as the door closed behind him, I burst out with what I wanted to know.
‘Poirot, did you really expect him to come back and relinquish all idea of investigating those queer things that happened to him in America?’
‘You heard me say so, Hastings.’
‘But then–’ I followed the thing out logically.
‘Then you must know who this mysterious girl is that he had to consult?’
He smiled.
‘I have a little idea, my friend. As I told you, it started from the mention of the gold tooth, and if my little idea is correct, I know who the girl is, I know why she will not let M. Martin consult me. I know the truth of the whole affair. And so could you know it if you would only use the brains the good God has given you. Sometimes I really am tempted to believe that by inadvertence He passed you by.’