Lord Edgware Dies人性记录28
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Chapter 28
 Poirot Asks a Few Questions
We had a curious walk home.
Poirot was clearly following out some train of thought in his own mind. Occasionally he murmured a word under his breath. I heard one or two of them. Once he said, ‘Candles’, and another time he said something that sounded like ‘douzaine’. I suppose if I had been really bright I should have seen the line his thoughts were taking. It was really such a clear trail. However, at the time, it sounded to me mere gibberish.
No sooner were we at home than he flew to the telephone. He rang up the Savoy and asked to speak to Lady Edgware.
‘Not a hope, old boy,’ I said with some amusement.
Poirot, as I have often told him, is one of the worst-informed men in the world.
‘Don’t you know?’ I went on. ‘She’s in a new play. She’ll be at the theatre. It’s only half-past ten.’
Poirot paid no attention to me. He was speaking to the hotel clerk, who was evidently telling him exactly what I had just told him.
‘Ah! is that so? I should like then to speak to Lady Edgware’s maid.’
In a few minutes the connection was made.
‘Is that Lady Edgware’s maid? This is M. Poirot speaking. M. Hercule Poirot. You remember me, do you not?’
‘Três bien. Now, you understand, something of importance has arisen. I would like you to come and see me at once.’
‘But yes, very important. I will give you the address. Listen carefully.’
He repeated it twice, then hung up the receiver with a thoughtful face.
‘What is the idea?’ I asked curiously. ‘Have you really got a piece of information?’
‘No, Hastings, it is she who will give me the information.’
‘What information?’
‘Information about a certain person.’
‘Jane Wilkinson?’
‘Oh! as to her, I have all the information I need. I know her back side before, as you say.’
‘Who, then?’
Poirot gave me one of his supremely irritating smiles and told me to wait and see.
He then busied himself in tidying up the room in a fussy manner.
Ten minutes later the maid arrived. She seemed a little nervous and uncertain. A small neat figure dressed in black, she peered about her doubtfully.
Poirot bustled forward.
‘Ah! you have come. That is most kind. Sit here, will you now, Mademoiselle – Ellis, I think?’
‘Yes, sir. Ellis.’
She sat down on the chair Poirot had drawn forward for her.
She sat with her hands folded on her lap looking from one to the other of us. Her small bloodless face was quite composed and her thin lips were pinched together.
‘To begin with, Miss Ellis, you have been with Lady Edgware how long?’
‘Three years, sir.’
‘That is as I thought. You know her affairs well.’
Ellis did not reply. She looked disapproving.
‘What I mean is, you should have a good idea of who her enemies are likely to be.’
Ellis compressed her lips more tightly.
‘Most women have tried to do her a spiteful turn, sir. Yes, they’ve all been against her, nasty jealousy.’
‘Her own sex did not like her?’
‘No, sir. She’s too good looking. And she always gets what she wants. There’s a lot of nasty jealousy in the theatrical profession.’
‘What about men?’
Ellis allowed a sour smile to appear on her withered countenance.
‘She can do what she likes with the gentlemen, sir, and that’s a fact.’
‘I agree with you,’ said Poirot, smiling. ‘Yet, even allowing for that, I can imagine circumstances arising –’ He broke off.
Then he said in a different voice:
‘You know Mr Bryan Martin, the film actor?’
‘Oh! yes, sir.’
‘Very well?’
‘Very well, indeed.’
‘I believe I am not mistaken in saying that a little less than a year ago Mr Bryan Martin was very deeply in love with your mistress.’
‘Head over ears, sir. And it’s “is” not “was”, if you ask me.’
‘He believed at that time she would marry him – eh?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘Did she ever seriously consider marrying him?’
‘She thought of it, sir. If she could have got her freedom from his lordship, I believe she would have married him.’
‘And then, I suppose, the Duke of Merton appeared on the scene?’
‘Yes, sir. He was doing a tour through the States. Love at first sight it was with him.’
‘And so goodbye to Bryan Martin’s chances?’
Ellis nodded.
‘Of course Mr Martin made an enormous amount of money,’ she explained. ‘But the Duke of Merton had position as well. And her ladyship is very keen on position. Married to the Duke, she’d have been one of the first ladies in the land.’
The maid’s voice held a smug complacency. It amused me.
‘So Mr Bryan Martin was – how do you say – turned down? Did he take it badly?’
‘He carried on something awful, sir.’
‘He threatened her with a revolver once. And the scenes he made. It frightened me, it did. He was drinking a lot, too. He went all to pieces.’
‘But in the end he calmed down.’
‘So it seemed, sir. But he still hung about. And I didn’t like the look in his eye. I’ve warned her ladyship about it, but she only laughed. She’s one who enjoys feeling her power, if you know what I mean.’
‘Yes,’ said Poirot thoughtfully. ‘I think I know what you mean.’
‘We’ve not seen so much of him just lately, sir. A good thing in my opinion. He’s beginning to get over it, I hope.’
Something in Poirot’s utterance of the word seem to strike her. She asked anxiously:
‘You don’t think she’s in danger, sir?’
‘Yes,’ said Poirot gravely. ‘I think she is in great danger. But she has brought it on herself.’
His hand, running aimlessly along the mantelshelf, caught a vase of roses and it toppled over. The water fell on Ellis’s face and head. I had seldom known Poirot clumsy, and I could deduce from it that he was in a great state of mental perturbation. He was very upset – rushed for a towel – tenderly assisted the maid to dry her face and neck and was profuse in apologies.
Finally a treasury note changed hands and he escorted her towards the door, thanking her for her goodness in coming.
‘But it is still early,’ he said, glancing at the clock. ‘You will be back before your mistress returns.’
‘Oh! that is quite all right, sir. She is going out to supper, I think, and anyway, she never expects me to sit up for her unless she says so special.’
Suddenly Poirot flew off at a tangent. ‘Mademoiselle, pardon me, but you are limping.’
‘That’s nothing, sir. My feet are a little painful.’
‘The corns?’ murmured Poirot in the confidential voice of one sufferer to another.
Corns, apparently, it was. Poirot expatiated upon a certain remedy which, according to him, worked wonders.
Finally Ellis departed.
I was full of curiosity.
‘Well, Poirot?’ I said. ‘Well?’
He smiled at my eagerness.
‘Nothing more this evening, my friend. Tomorrow morning early, we will ring up Japp. We will ask him to come round. We will also ring up Mr Bryan Martin. I think he will be able to tell us something interesting. Also, I wish to pay him a debt that I owe him.’
I looked at Poirot sideways. He was smiling to himself in a curious way.
‘At any rate,’ I said, ‘you can’t suspect him of killing Lord Edgware. Especially after what we’ve heard of tonight. That would be playing Jane’s game with a vengeance. To kill off the husband so as to let the lady marry someone else is a little too disinterested for any man.’
‘What profound judgement!’
‘Now don’t be sarcastic,’ I said with some annoyance. ‘And what on earth are you fiddling with all the time?’
Poirot held the object in question up.
‘With the pince-nez of the good Ellis, my friend. She left them behind.’
‘Nonsense! She had them on her nose when she went out.’
He shook his head gently.
‘Wrong! Absolutely wrong! What she had on, my dear Hastings, were the pair of pince-nez we found in Carlotta Adams’ handbag.’
I gasped.