Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-16: Interview with Mr. Whitfield The inquest was a dry proceeding-mere bare bone. There was evidence of identification, then I gave evidence of the finding of the body. Medical evidence followed.
The inquest was adjourned for a week.
The St Loo murder had jumped into prominence in the daily press. It had, in fact, succeeded ‘Seton Still Missing. Unknown Fate of Missing Airman.’
Now that Seton was dead and due tribute had been paid to his memory, a new sensation was due. St Loo Mystery was a godsend to papers at their wits’ end for news in the month of August.
After the inquest, having successfully dodged reporters, I met Poirot, and we had an interview with the Rev. Giles Buckley and his wife.
Maggie’s father and mother were a charming pair, completely unworldly and unsophisticated.
Mrs. Buckley was a woman of character, tall and fair and showing very plainly her northern ancestry. Her husband was a small man, grey-haired, with a diffident appealing manner.
Poor souls, they were completely dazed by the misfortune that had overtaken them and robbed them of a well-beloved daughter. ‘Our Maggie’, as they called her.
‘I can scarcely realize it even now,’ said Mr. Buckley. ‘Such a dear child, M. Poirot. So quiet and unselfish-always thinking of others. Who could wish to harm her?’
‘I could hardly understand the telegram,’ said Mrs. Buckley. ‘Why it was only the morning before that we had seen her off.’
‘In the midst of life we are in death,’ murmured her husband.
‘Colonel Weston has been very kind,’ said Mrs. Buckley. ‘He assures us that everything is being done to find the man who did this thing. He must be a madman. No other explanation is possible.’
‘Madame, I cannot tell you how I sympathize with you in your loss and how I admire your bravery!’
‘Breaking down would not bring Maggie back to us,’ said Mrs. Buckley, sadly.
‘My wife is wonderful,’ said the clergyman. ‘Her faith and courage are greater than mine. It is all so-so bewildering, M. Poirot.’
‘I know-I know, Monsieur.’
‘You are a great detective, M. Poirot?’ said Mrs. Buckley.
‘It has been said, Madame.’
‘Oh! I know. Even in our remote country village, we have heard of you. You are going to find out the truth, M. Poirot?’
‘I shall not rest until I do, Madame.’
‘It will be revealed to you, M. Poirot,’ quavered the clergyman. ‘Evil cannot go unpunished.’
‘Evil never goes unpunished, Monsieur. But the punishment is sometimes secret.’
‘What do you mean by that, M. Poirot?’
Poirot only shook his head.
‘Poor little Nick,’ said Mrs. Buckley. ‘I am really sorriest of all for her. I had a most pathetic letter. She says she feels she asked Maggie down here to her death.’
‘That is morbid,’ said Mr. Buckley.
‘Yes, but I know how she feels. I wish they would let me see her. It seems so extraordinary not to let her own family visit her.’
‘Doctors and nurses are very strict,’ said Poirot, evasively. ‘They make the rules- and nothing will change them. And doubtless, they fear for her the emotion the natural emotion she would experience on seeing you.’
‘Perhaps,’ said Mrs. Buckley, doubtfully. ‘But I don’t hold with nursing homes. Nick would do much better if they let her come back with me right away from this place.’
‘It is possible but I fear they will not agree. It is long since you have seen Mademoiselle Buckley?’
‘I haven’t seen her since last autumn. She was at Scarborough. Maggie went over and spent the day with her and then she came back and spent a night with us. She’s a pretty creature-though I can’t say I like her friends. And the life she lead swell, it’s hardly her fault, poor child. She’s had no upbringing of any kind.’
‘It is a strange house-End House,’ said Poirot thoughtfully.
‘I don’t like it,’ said Mrs. Buckley. ‘I never have. There’s something all wrong about that house. I disliked old Sir Nicholas intensely. He made me shiver.’
‘Not a good man, I’m afraid,’ said her husband. ‘But he had a curious charm.’
‘I never felt it,’ said Mrs. Buckley. ‘There’s an evil feeling about that house. I wish we’d never let our Maggie go there.’
‘Ah! wishing,’ said Mr. Buckley, and shook his head.
‘Well,’ said Poirot. ‘I must not intrude upon you any longer. I only wished to proffer to you my deep sympathy.’
‘You have been very kind, M. Poirot. And we are indeed grateful for all you are doing.’
‘You return to Yorkshire-when?’
‘Tomorrow. A sad journey. Goodbye, M. Poirot, and thank you again.’
‘Very simple delightful people,’ I said after we had left.
‘It makes the heartache, does it not, mon ami? A tragedy is so useless-so purposeless. Cette jeune fille -Ah! but I reproach myself bitterly. I, Hercule Poirot, was on the spot and I did not prevent the crime!’
‘Nobody could have prevented it.’
‘You speak without reflection, Hastings. No ordinary person could have prevented it-but of what good is it to be Hercule Poirot with grey cells of a finer quality than other people’s if you do not manage to do what ordinary people cannot?’
‘Well, of course,’ I said. ‘If you are going to put it like that-‘
‘Yes, indeed. I am abased, downhearted-completely abased.’
I reflected that Poirot’s abasement was strangely like other people’s conceit, but I prudently forbore from making any remark.
‘And now,’ he said, ‘en avant. To London.’
‘Mais oui. We shall catch the two o’clock train very comfortably. All is peaceful here. Mademoiselle is safe in the nursing home. No one can harm her. The watch-dogs, therefore, can take a leave of absence. There are one or two little pieces of information that I require.’
Our first proceeding on arriving in London was to call upon the late Captain Seton’s solicitors, Messrs Whitfield, Pargiter & Whitfield.
Poirot had arranged for an appointment beforehand, and although it was past six o’clock, we were soon closeted with Mr Whitfield, the head of the firm.
He was a very urbane and impressive person. He had in front of him a letter from the Chief Constable and another from some high official at Scotland Yard.
‘This is all very irregular and unusual, M.-ah-Poirot,’ he said, as he polished his eyeglasses.
‘Quite so, M. Whitfield. But then murder is also irregular-and, I am glad to say, sufficiently unusual.’
‘True. True. But rather far-fetched-to make a connection between this murder and my late client’s bequest-eh?’
‘I think not.’
‘Ah! you think not. Well under the circumstances-and I must admit that Sir Henry puts it very strongly in his letter-I shall be-er-happy to do anything that is in my power.’
‘You acted as legal adviser to the late Captain Seton?’
‘To all the Seton family, my dear sir. We have done so-our firm has done so, I mean-for the last hundred years.’
‘Parfaitement. The late Sir Matthew Seton made a will?’
‘We made it for him.’
‘And he left his fortune-how?’
‘There were several bequests-one to the Natural History Museum-but the bulk of his large-his, I may say, very large fortune -he left to Captain Michael Seton absolutely. He had no other near relations.’
‘A very large fortune, you say?’
‘The late Sir Matthew was the second richest man in England,’ replied Mr. Whitfield, composedly.
‘He had somewhat peculiar views, had he not?’ Mr. Whitfield looked at him severely.
‘A millionaire, M. Poirot, is allowed to be eccentric. It is almost expected of him.’
Poirot received his correction meekly and asked another question.
‘His death was unexpected, I understand?’
‘Most unexpected. Sir Matthew enjoyed remarkably good health. He had an internal growth, however, which no one had suspected. It reached a vital tissue and an immediate operation was necessary. The operation was, as always on these occasions, completely successful. But Sir Matthew died.’
‘And his fortune passed to Captain Seton.’
‘That is so.’
‘Captain Seton had, I understand, made a will before leaving England?’
‘If you can call it a will-yes,’ said Mr. Whitfield, with strong distaste.
‘It is legal?’
‘It is perfectly legal. The intention of the testator is plain and it is properly witnessed. Oh, yes, it is legal.’
‘But you do not approve of it?’
‘My dear sir, what are we for?’
I had often wondered. Having once had occasion to make a perfectly simple will myself. I had been appalled at the length and verbiage that resulted from my solicitor’s office.
‘The truth of the matter was,’ continued Mr. Whitfield, ‘that at the time Captain Seton had little or nothing to leave. He was dependent on the allowance he received from his uncle. He felt, I suppose, that anything would do.’
And had thought correctly, I whispered to myself.
‘And the terms of this will?’ asked Poirot.
‘He leaves everything of which he dies possessed to his affianced wife, Miss Magdala Buckley absolutely. He names me as his executor.
‘Then Miss Buckley inherits?’
‘Certainly, Miss Buckley inherits.’
‘And if Miss Buckley had happened to die last Monday?’
‘Captain Seton having predeceased her, the money would go to whomever she had named in her will as residuary legatee-or failing a will to her next of kin.’
‘I may say,’ added Mr Whitfield, with an air of enjoyment, ‘that death duties would have been enormous. Enormous! Three deaths, remember, in rapid succession.’ He shook his head. ‘Enormous!’
‘But there would have been something left?’ murmured Poirot, meekly.
‘My dear sir, as I told you, Sir Matthew was the second richest man in England.’
‘Thank you, Mr. Whitfield, very much for the information that you have given me.’
‘Not at all. Not at all. I may say that I shall be in communication with Miss Buckley-indeed, I believe the letter has already gone. I shall be happy to be of any service I can to her.’
‘She is a young lady,’ said Poirot, ‘who could do with some sound legal advice.’
‘There will be fortune hunters, I am afraid,’ said Mr. Whitfield, shaking his head.
‘It seems indicated,’ agreed Poirot. ‘Good day, Monsieur.’
‘Goodbye, M. Poirot. Glad to have been of service to you. Your name is-ah!- familiar to me.’
He said this kindly with an air of one making a valuable admission.
‘It is all exactly as you thought, Poirot,’ I said when we were outside.
‘Mon ami, it was bound to be. It could not be any other way. We will go now to the Cheshire Cheese where Japp meets us for an early dinner.’
We found Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard awaiting us at the chosen rendezvous. He greeted Poirot with every sign of warmth.
‘Years since I’ve seen you, Monsieur Poirot. Thought you were growing vegetable marrows in the country.’
‘I tried, Japp, I tried. But even when you grow vegetable marrows you cannot get away from murder.’
He sighed. I knew of what he was thinking-that strange affair at Fernley Park. How I regretted that I had been far away at that time.
‘And Captain Hastings too,’ said Japp. ‘How are you, sir?’
‘Very fit, thanks,’ I said.
‘And now there are more murders?’ continued Japp, facetiously.
‘As you say-more murders.’
‘Well, you mustn’t be depressed, old cock,’ said Japp. ‘Even if you can’t see your way clear-well-you can’t go about at your time of life and expect to have the success you used to do. All of us get stale as the years go by. Got to give the young ‘uns a chance, you know.’
‘And yet the old dog is the one who knows the tricks,’ murmured Poirot. ‘He is cunning. He does not leave the scent.’
‘Oh! well-we’re talking about human beings, not dogs.’
‘Is there so much difference?’
‘Well, it depends on how you look at things. But you’re a caution, isn’t he, Captain Hastings? Always was. Looks much the same hair a bit thinner on top but the face fungus fuller than ever.’
‘Eh?’ said Poirot. ‘What is that?’
‘He’s congratulating you on your mustaches,’ I said, soothingly.
‘They are luxuriant, yes,’ said Poirot, complacently caressing them.
Japp went off into a roar of laughter.
‘Well,’ he said, after a minute or two, ‘I’ve done your bit of business. Those finger-prints you sent me-‘
‘Yes?’ said Poirot, eagerly.
‘Nothing doing. Whoever the gentleman may be-he hasn’t passed through our hands. On the other hand, I wired to Melbourne and nobody of that description or name is known there.’
‘So there may be something fishy after all. But he’s not one of the lads.’
‘As to the other business,’ went on Japp.
‘Lazarus and Son have a good reputation. Quite straight and honorable in their dealings. Sharp, of course, but that’s another matter. You’ve got to be sharp in business. But they’re all right. They’re in a bad way, though-financially, I mean.’
‘Oh!-is that so?’
‘Yes-the slump in pictures has hit them badly. And antique furniture too. All this modern continental stuff coming into fashion. They built new premises last year and-well-as I say, they’re not far from Queer Street.’
‘I am much obliged to you.’
‘Not at all. That sort of thing isn’t my line, as you know. But I made a point of finding out as you wanted to know. We can always get information.’
‘My good Japp, what should I do without you?’
‘Oh! that’s all right. Always glad to oblige an old friend. I let you in on some pretty good cases in the old days, didn’t I?’
This, I realized, was Japp’s way of acknowledging indebtedness to Poirot, who had solved many a case that had baffled the inspector.
‘They were the good days-yes.’
‘I wouldn’t mind having a chat with you now and again even these days. Your methods may be old-fashioned but you’ve got your head screwed on the right way, M. Poirot.’
‘What about my other question? Dr. MacAllister?’
‘Oh, him! He’s a woman’s doctor. I don’t mean a gynecologist. I mean one of these nerve doctors-tell you to sleep in purple walls and orange ceiling-talk to you about your libido, whatever that is-tell you to let it rip. He’s a bit of a quack if you ask me but he gets the women all right. They flock to him. Goes abroad a good deal-does some kind of medical work in Paris, I believe.’
‘Why Dr. MacAllister?’ I asked, bewildered. I had never heard of the name. ‘Where does he come in?’
‘Dr. MacAllister is the uncle of Commander Challenger,’ explained Poirot. ‘You remember he referred to an uncle who was a doctor?’
‘How thorough you are,’ I said. ‘Did you think he had operated on Sir Matthew?’
‘He’s not a surgeon,’ said Japp.
‘Mon ami,’ said Poirot, ‘I like to inquire into everything. Hercule Poirot is a good dog. The good dog follows the scent, and if, regrettably, there is no scent to follow, he noses around-seeking always something that is not very nice. So also, does Hercule Poirot. And often-Oh! so often-does he finds it!’
‘It’s not a nice profession, ours,’ said Japp. ‘Stilton, did you say? I don’t mind if I do. No, it’s not a nice profession. And yours is worse than mine-not official, you see, and therefore a lot more worming yourself into places in underhand ways.’
‘I do not disguise myself, Japp. Never have I disguised me.’
‘You couldn’t,’ said Japp. ‘You’re unique. Once seen, never forgotten.’
Poirot looked at him rather doubtfully.
‘Only my fun,’ said Japp. ‘Don’t mind me. Glass of port? Well, if you say so.’
The evening became thoroughly harmonious. We were soon in the middle of reminiscences. This case, that case, and the other. I must say that I, too, enjoyed talking over the past. Those had been good days. How old and experienced I felt now!
Poor old Poirot. He was perplexed by this case-I could see that. His powers were not what they were. I had the feeling that he was going to fail-that the murderer of Maggie Buckley would never be brought to book.
‘Courage, my friend,’ said Poirot, slapping me on the shoulder. ‘All is not lost. Do not pull the long face, I beg of you.’
‘That’s all right. I’m all right.’
‘And so am I. And so is Japp.’
‘We’re all right,’ declared Japp, hilariously.
And on this pleasant note, we parted.
The following morning we journeyed back to St Loo. On arrival at the hotel, Poirot rang up the nursing home and asked to speak to Nick.
Suddenly I saw his face change-he almost dropped the instrument.
‘Comment? What is that? Say it again, I beg.’
He waited for a minute or two listening. Then he said: ‘Yes, yes, I will come at once.’
He turned a pale face to me.
‘Why did I go away, Hastings? Mon Dieu! Why did I go away?’
‘What has happened?’
‘Mademoiselle Nick is dangerously ill. Cocaine poisoning. They have got at her after all. Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu! Why did I go away?’
Read Peril at End House Novel All Parts Free Online
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- Peril at End House Chapter 1: The Majestic Hotel
- Peril at End House Chapter 2: End House
- Peril at End House Novel Chapter-3: Accidents?
- Peril at End House Chapter-4: There Must Be Something!?
- Peril at End House Chapter-5: Mr and Mrs Croft
- Peril at End House Chapter-6: A Call Upon Mr. Vyse
- Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-7: Tragedy
- Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-8: The Fatal Shawl
- Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-9: A. to J.
- Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-10: Nick’s Secret
- Peril at End House Chapter-11: The Motive
- Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-12: Ellen
- Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-13: Letters
- Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-14: The Mystery of the Missing Will
- Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-15: Strange Behaviour of Frederica