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Peril at End House Chapter-11: The Motive I was dumbfounded.

I turned on Poirot.

‘Is this what you meant?’

‘Yes, mon ami. This morning-I knew.’

‘How did you know? How did you guess? You said it stared you in the face at breakfast.’

‘So it did, my friend. From the front page of the newspaper. I remembered the conversation at dinner last night and I saw everything.’

He turned to Nick again.

‘You heard the news last night?’

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The Peril at End House chapter-11 NovelBy Agatha Christie

‘Yes. On the wireless. I made an excuse about the telephone. I wanted to hear the news alone-in case…’ She swallowed hard. ‘And I heard it…’

‘I know, I know.’ He took her hand in both of his.

‘It was pretty ghastly. And all the people arriving. I don’t know how I got through it. It all felt like a dream. I could see myself from outside behaving just as usual. It was queer somehow.’

‘Yes, yes, I understand.’

‘And then, when I went to fetch Freddie’s wrap-I broke down for a minute. I pulled myself together quite quickly. But Maggie kept calling up about her coat. And then at last she took my shawl and went, and I put on some powder and some rouge and followed her out. And there she was dead…’

‘Yes, yes, it must have been a terrible shock.’

‘You don’t understand.I was furious! I even wished that I had been the one to die instead! I felt like I had nothing to live for, yet there I was, alive and possibly condemned to years of existence And Michael was dead- drowned far away in the Pacific.’

‘Pauvre enfant.’

She cried out in rebellion, ‘I have no desire to be alive! I don’t want to live!’

‘I know-I know. To all of us, Mademoiselle, there comes a time when death is preferable to life. But it passes-sorrow passes and grief. You cannot believe that now, I know. It is useless for an old man like me to talk. Idle words-that is what you think-idle words.’

‘You think I’ll forget and marry someone else? Never!’

She looked lovely as she sat up in bed, her two hands clenched and her cheeks burning.

Poirot said gently: ‘No, no. I am not thinking anything of the kind. You are very lucky, Mademoiselle. You have been loved by a brave man-a hero. How did you come to meet him?’

‘It was at Le Touquet last September. Nearly a year ago.’

‘And you became engaged-when?’

‘Just after Christmas. But it had to be a secret.’

‘Why was that?’

‘Michael’s uncle-old Sir Matthew Seton. He loved birds and hated women.’

‘Ah! ce n’est pas raisonnable!’

‘Well-I don’t mean quite that. He was a complete crank. Thought women ruined a man’s life. And Michael was absolutely dependent on him. He was frightfully proud of Michael and it was he who financed the building of the Albatross and the expenses of the round-the-world flight. It was the dearest dream of his life as well as of Michael’s. If Michael had pulled it off well, then he could have asked 112his uncle anything. And even if old Sir Matthew had still cut up rough, well, it wouldn’t have really mattered. Michael would have been made-a kind of world hero. His uncle would have come round in the end.’

‘Yes, yes, I see.’

‘But Michael said it would be fatal if anything leaked out. We must keep it a dead secret. And I did. I never told anyone-not even Freddie.’ Poirot groaned. ‘If only you had told me, Mademoiselle.’ Nick stared at him. ‘But what difference would it have made? It couldn’t have anything to do with these mysterious attacks on me. No, I’d promised Michael-and I kept my word. But it was awful-the anxiety, wondering, and getting in a state the whole time. And everyone saying one was so nervy. And being unable to explain.’

‘Yes, I comprehend all that.’

‘He was missing once before, you know. Crossing the desert on the way to India. That was pretty awful, and then, after all, it was all right. His machine was damaged, but it was put right, and he went on. And I kept saying to myself that it would be the same this time. Everyone said he must be dead-and I kept telling myself that he must be all right, really. And then-last night…’

Her voice trailed away.

‘You had hoped up till then?’

‘I don’t know. I think it was more that I refused to believe. It was awful never being able to talk to anyone.’

‘Yes, I can imagine that. Were you never tempted to tell Madame Rice, for instance?’

‘Sometimes I wanted to frightfully.’

‘You do not think she-guessed?’

‘I don’t think so.’ Nick considered the idea carefully. ‘She never said anything. Of course, she used to hint at things sometimes. About our being great friends and all that.’

‘You never considered telling her when M. Seton’s uncle died? You know that he died about a week ago?’

‘I know. He had an operation or something. I suppose I might have told anybody then. But it wouldn’t have been a nice way of doing it, would it? I mean, it would have seemed rather boastful to do it just then-when all the papers were full of Michael. And reporters would have come and interviewed me. It would all have been rather cheap. And Michael would have hated it.’

‘I agree with you, Mademoiselle. You could not have announced it publicly.I simply intended to convey that it may have been more appropriate to discuss it privately with a friend.

‘I did sort of hint to one person,’ said Nick. ‘I thought it was only fair. But I don’t know how much he-the person took in.’

Poirot nodded.

‘Are you on good terms with your cousin M. Vyse?’ he asked, with a rather abrupt change of subject. ‘Charles? What put him into your head?’

‘I was just wondering-that was all.’

‘Charles means well,’ said Nick. ‘He’s a frightful stick, of course. Never moves out of this place. He disapproves of me, I think.’

‘Oh! Mademoiselle, Mademoiselle. And I hear that he has laid all his devotion at your feet!’ ‘Disapproving of a person doesn’t keep you from having a pash for them. Charles thinks my mode of life is reprehensible and he disapproves of my cocktails, my complexion, my friends, and my conversation. But he still feels my fatal fascination. He always hopes to reform me, I think.’

She paused and then said, with a ghost of a twinkle: ‘Who have you been pumping to get the local information?’

‘You must not give me away, Mademoiselle. I had a little conversation with the Australian lady, Madame Croft.’

‘She’s rather an old dear-when one has time for her. Terribly sentimental. Love and home and children-you know the sort of thing.’

‘I am old-fashioned and sentimental myself, Mademoiselle.’

‘Are you? I should have said that Captain Hastings was the sentimental one of you two.’

I blushed indignantly.

‘He is furious,’ said Poirot, eying my discomfiture with a good deal of pleasure. ‘But you are right, Mademoiselle. Yes, you are right.’

‘Not at all,’ I said, angrily. ‘Hastings has a singularly beautiful nature. It has been the greatest hindrance to me at times.’

‘Don’t be absurd, Poirot.’

‘He is, to begin with, reluctant to see evil anywhere, and when he does see it his righteous indignation is so great that he is incapable of dissembling. Altogether a rare and beautiful nature. No, mon ami, I will not permit you to contradict me. It is as I say.’

‘You’ve both been very kind to me,’ said Nick, gently.

‘Là, là, Mademoiselle. That is nothing. We have much more to do. To begin with, you will remain here. You will obey orders. You will do what I tell you. At this juncture, I must not be hampered.’

Nick sighed wearily.

‘I’ll do anything you like. I don’t care what I do.’

‘You will see no friends for the present.’

‘I don’t care. I don’t want to see anyone.’

‘For you the passive part-for us the active one. Now, Mademoiselle, I am going to leave you. I will not intrude longer upon your sorrow.’

He moved towards the door, pausing with his hand on the handle to say over his shoulder: ‘By the way, you once mentioned a will you made. Where is it, this will?’

‘Oh! it’s knocking round somewhere.’

‘At End House?’


‘In a safe? Locked up in your desk?’

‘Well, I really don’t know. It’s somewhere about.’ She frowned. ‘I’m frightfully untidy, you know. Papers and things like that would be mostly on the writing- table in the library. That’s where most of the bills are. The will is probably with them. Or it might be in my bedroom.’

‘You permit me to make the search-yes?’

‘If you want to-yes. Look at anything you like.’

‘Merci, Mademoiselle. I will avail myself of your permission.’

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