Lord Edgware Dies人性记录20
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Chapter 20
 The Taxi-Driver
We found Japp interrogating an old man with a ragged moustache and spectacles. He had a hoarse self-pitying voice.
‘Ah! there you are,’ said Japp. ‘Well, things are all plain sailing, I think. This man – his name’s Jobson – picked up two people in Long Acre on the night of June 29th.’
‘That’s right,’ assented Jobson hoarsely. ‘Lovely night it were. Moon and all. The young lady and gentleman were by the tube station and hailed me.’
‘They were in evening dress?’
‘Yes, gent in white waistcoat and the young lady all in white with birds embroidered on it. Come out of the Royal Opera, I guess.’
‘What time was this?’
‘Some time afore eleven.’
‘Well, what next?’
‘Told me to go to Regent Gate – they’d tell me which house when they got there. And told me to be quick, too. People always says that. As though you wanted to loiter. Sooner you get there and get another fare the better for you. You never think of that. And, mind you, if there’s an accident you’ll get the blame for dangerous driving!’
‘Cut it out,’ said Japp impatiently. ‘There wasn’t an accident this time, was there?’
‘N-no,’ agreed the man as though unwilling to abandon his claim to such an occurrence. ‘No, as a matter of fact there weren’t. Well, I got to Regent Gate – not above seven minutes it didn’t take me, and there the gentleman rapped on the glass, and I stopped. About at No. 8 that were. Well, the gentleman and lady got out. The gentleman stopped where he was and told me to do the same. The lady crossed the road, and began walking back along the houses the other side. The gentleman stayed by the cab – standing on the sidewalk with his back to me, looking after her. Had his hands in his pockets. It was about five minutes when I heard him say something – kind of exclamation under his breath and then off he goes too. I looks after him because I wasn’t going to be bilked. It’s been done afore to me, so I kept my eye on him. He went up the steps of one of the houses on the other side and went in.’
‘Did he push the door open?’
‘No, he had a latchkey.’
‘What number was the house?’
‘It would be 17 or 19, I fancy. Well, it seemed odd to me my being told to stay where I was. So I kept watching. About five minutes later him and the young lady came out together. They got back into the cab and told me to drive back to Covent Garden Opera House. They stopped me just before I got there and paid me. Paid me handsome, I will say. Though I expect I’ve got into trouble over it – seems there’s nothing but trouble.’
‘You’re all right,’ said Japp. ‘Just run your eye over these, will you, and tell me if the young lady is among them.’
There were half a dozen photographs all fairly alike as to type. I looked with some interest over his shoulder.
‘That were her,’ said Jobson. He pointed a decisive finger at one of Geraldine Marsh in evening dress.
‘Quite sure. Pale she was and dark.’
‘Now the man.’
Another sheaf of photographs was handed to him.
He looked at them attentively and then shook his head.
‘Well, I couldn’t say – not for sure. Either of these two might be him.’
The photographs included one of Ronald Marsh, but Jobson had not selected it. Instead he indicated two other men not unlike Marsh in type.
Jobson then departed and Japp flung the photographs on the table.
‘Good enough. Wish I could have got a clearer identification of his lordship. Of course it’s an old photograph, taken seven or eight years ago. The only one I could get hold of. Yes, I’d like a clearer identification, although the case is clear enough. Bang go a couple of alibis. Clever of you to think of it, M. Poirot.’
Poirot looked modest.
‘When I found that she and her cousin were both at the opera it seemed to me possible that they might have been together during one of the intervals. Naturally the parties they were with would assume that they had not left the Opera House. But a half-hour interval gives plenty of time to get to Regent Gate and back. The moment the new Lord Edgware laid such stress upon his alibi, I was sure something was wrong with it.’
‘You’re a nice suspicious sort of fellow, aren’t you?’ said Japp affectionately. ‘Well, you’re about right. Can’t be too suspicious in a world like this. His lordship is our man all right. Look at this.’
He produced a paper.
‘Cable from New York. They got in touch with Miss Lucie Adams. The letter was in the mail delivered to her this morning. She was not willing to give up the original unless absolutely necessary, but she willingly allowed the officer to take a copy of it and cable it to us. Here it is, and it’s as damning as you could hope for.’
Poirot took the cable with great interest. I read it over his shoulder.
Following is text to Lucie Adams, dated June 29th, 8 Rosedew Mansions, London, S.W.3. Begins, Dearest little Sister, I’m sorry I wrote such a scrappy bit last week but things were rather busy and there was a lot to see to. Well, darling, it’s been ever such a success! Notices splendid, box office good, and everybody most kind. I’ve got some real good friends over here and next year I’m thinking of taking a theatre for two months. The Russian dancer sketch went very well and the American woman in Paris too, but the Scenes at a Foreign Hotel are still the favourites, I think. I’m so excited that I hardly know what I’m writing, and you’ll see why in a minute, but first I must tell you what people have said. Mr Hergsheimer was ever so kind and he’s going to ask me to lunch to meet Sir Montagu Corner, who might do great things for me. The other night I met Jane Wilkinson and she was ever so sweet about my show and my take off of her, which brings me round to what I am going to tell you. I don’t really like her very much because I’ve been hearing a lot about her lately from someone I know and she’s behaved cruelly, I think, and in a very underhand way – but I won’t go into that now. You know that she really is Lady Edgware? I’ve heard a lot about him too lately, and he’s no beauty, I can tell you. He treated his nephew, the Captain Marsh I have mentioned to you, in the most shameful way – literally turned him out of the house and discontinued his allowance. He told me all about it and I felt awfully sorry for him. He enjoyed my show very much, he said. ‘I believe it would take in Lord Edgware himself. Look here, will you take something on for a bet?’ I laughed and said, ‘How much?’ Lucie darling, the answer fairly took my breath away. Ten thousand dollars. Ten thousand dollars, think of it – just to help someone win a silly bet. ‘Why,’ I said, ‘I’d play a joke on the King in Buckingham Palace and risk lèse majesté for that.’ Well, then, we laid our heads together and got down to details.
I’ll tell you all about it next week – whether I’m spotted or not. But anyway, Lucie darling, whether I succeed or fail, I’m to have the ten thousand dollars. Oh! Lucie, little sister, what that’s going to mean to us. No time for more – just going off to do my ‘hoax’. Lots and lots and lots of love, little sister mine.
Poirot laid down the letter. It had touched him, I could see.
Japp, however, reacted in quite a different way.
‘We’ve got him,’ said Japp exultantly.
‘Yes,’ said Poirot.
His voice sounded strangely flat.
Japp looked at him curiously.
‘What is it, M. Poirot?’
‘Nothing,’ said Poirot. ‘It is not, somehow, just as I thought. That is all.’
He looked acutely unhappy.
‘But still it must be so,’ he said as though to himself. ‘Yes, it must be so.’
‘Of course it is so. Why, you’ve said so all along!’
‘No, no. You misunderstand me.’
‘Didn’t you say there was someone back of all this who got the girl into doing it innocently?’
‘Yes, yes.’
‘Well, what more do you want?’
Poirot sighed and said nothing.
‘You are an odd sort of cove. Nothing ever satisfies you. I say, it was a piece of luck the girl wrote this letter.’
Poirot agreed with more vigour than he had yet shown.
‘Mais oui, that is what the murderer did not expect. When Miss Adams accepted that ten thousand dollars she signed her death warrant. The murderer thought he had taken all precautions – and yet in sheer innocence she outwitted him. The dead speak. Yes, sometimes the dead speak.’
‘I never thought she’d done it off her own bat,’ said Japp unblushingly.
‘No, no,’ said Poirot absently. ‘Well, I must get on with things.’
‘You are going to arrest Captain Marsh – Lord Edgware, I mean?’
‘Why not? The case against him seems proved up to the hilt.’
‘You seem very despondent about it, M. Poirot. The truth is, you like things to be difficult. Here’s your own theory proved and even that does not satisfy you. Can you see any flaw in the evidence we’ve got?’
Poirot shook his head.
‘Whether Miss Marsh was accessory or not, I don’t know,’ said Japp. ‘Seems as though she must have known about it, going there with him from the opera. If she wasn’t, why did he take her? Well, we’ll hear what they’ve both got to say.’
‘May I be present?’
Poirot spoke almost humbly.
‘Certainly you can. I owe the idea to you!’ He picked up the telegram on the table.
I drew Poirot aside.
‘What is the matter, Poirot?’
‘I am very unhappy, Hastings. This seems the plain sailing and the above board. But there is something wrong. Somewhere or other, Hastings, there is a fact that escapes us. It all fits together, it is as I imagined it, and yet, my friend, there is something wrong.’
He looked at me piteously.
I was at a loss what to say.