Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-19: Poirot Produces a Play It was a curious gathering that met that night at End House.
I had hardly seen Poirot all day. He had been out for dinner but had left me a message that I was to be at End House at nine o’clock. Evening dress, he had added, was not necessary.
The whole thing was like a rather ridiculous dream.
On arrival, I was ushered into the dining room and when I looked around I realized that every person on Poirot’s list from A. to I. (J. was necessarily excluded, being in the Mrs. Harris-like position of ‘there ain’t no such person) was present.
Even Mrs. Croft was there in a kind of invalid chair. She smiled and nodded at me.
‘This is a surprise, isn’t it?’ she said, cheerfully. ‘It makes a change for me, I must say. I think I shall try and get out now and again. All M. Poirot’s idea. Come and sit by me, Captain Hastings. Somehow I feel this is rather a gruesome business but Mr. Vyse made a point of it.’
‘Mr. Vyse?’ I said, rather surprised.
Charles Vyse was standing by the mantelpiece. Poirot was beside him talking earnestly to him in an under-tone.
I looked around the room. Yes, they were all there. After showing me in (I had been a minute or two late) Ellen had taken her place on a chair just beside the door. On another chair, sitting painfully straight and breathing hard, was her husband. The child, Alfred, squirmed uneasily between his father and mother.
The rest sat around the dining table. Frederica in her black dress, Lazarus beside her, George Challenger and Croft on the other side of the table. I sat a little away from it near Mrs. Croft. And now Charles Vyse, a final nod of the head, took his place at the head of the table, and Poirot slipped unobtrusively into a seat next to Lazarus.
Clearly, the producer, as Poirot had styled himself, did not propose to take a prominent part in the play. Charles Vyse was apparently in charge of the proceedings. I wondered what surprises Poirot had in store for him.
The young lawyer cleared his throat and stood up. He looked just the same as ever, impassive, formal, and unemotional.
‘This is rather an unconventional gathering we have here tonight,’ he said. ‘But the circumstances are very peculiar. I refer, of course, to the circumstances surrounding the death of my cousin, Miss Buckley. There will have, of course, to be an autopsy-there seems to be no doubt that she met her death by poison, and that that poison was administered with the intent to kill. This is police business and I need not go into it. The police would doubtless prefer me not to do so.’
‘In an ordinary case, the will of a deceased person is read after the funeral, but in deference to M. Poirot’s special wish, I am proposing to read it before the funeral takes place. In fact, I am proposing to read it here and now. That is why everyone has been asked to come here. As I said just now, the circumstances are unusual and justify a departure from precedent.’
‘The will itself came into my possession in a somewhat unusual manner. Although dated last February, it only reached me by post this morning. However, it is undoubtedly in the handwriting of my cousin-I have no doubt on that point, and though a most informal document, it is properly attested.’
He paused and cleared his throat once more.
Every eye was upon his face.
From a long envelope in his hand, he drew out an enclosure. It was, as we could see, an ordinary piece of End House notepaper with writing on it.
‘It is quite short,’ said Vyse. He made a suitable pause, then began to read:
‘This is the last Will and Testament of Magdala Buckley. I direct that all my funeral expenses should be paid and I appoint my cousin Charles Vyse as my executor. I leave everything of which I die possessed to Mildred Croft in grateful recognition of the services rendered by her to my father, Philip Buckley, which services nothing can ever repay.’
‘Witnesses-Ellen Wilson, William Wilson.’
I was dumbfounded! So I think was everyone else. Only Mrs. Croft nodded her head in quiet understanding.
‘It’s true,’ she said, quietly. ‘Not that I ever meant to let on about it. Philip Buckley was out in Australia, and if it hadn’t been for me-well, I’m not going into that. A secret it’s been and a secret it had better remain. She knew about it, though. Nick did, I mean. Her father must have told her. We came down here because we wanted to have a look at the place.
I’d always been curious about this End House Philip Buckley talked of. And that dear girl knew all about it, and couldn’t do enough for us. Wanted us to come and live with her, and she did. But we wouldn’t do that. And so she insisted on our having the lodge-and not a penny of rent would she take. We pretended to pay it, of course, so as not to cause talk, but she handed it back to us. And now-this! Well, if anyone says there is no gratitude in the world, I’ll tell them they’re wrong! This proves it.’
There was still an amazed silence. Poirot looked at Vyse.
‘Had you any idea of this?’
Vyse shook his head.
‘I knew Philip Buckley had been in Australia. But I never heard any rumors of a scandal there.’
He looked inquiringly at Mrs. Croft.
She shook her head.
‘No, you won’t get a word out of me. I never have said a word and I never shall. The secret goes to the grave with me.’
Vyse said nothing. He sat quietly tapping the table with a pencil.
‘I presume, M. Vyse’-Poirot leaned forward-‘that as next of kin you could contest that will? There is, I understand, a vast fortune at stake which was not the case when the will was made.’
Vyse looked at him coldly. ‘
The will is perfectly valid. I should not dream of contesting my cousin’s disposal of her property.’
‘You’re an honest fellow,’ said Mrs. Croft, approvingly. ‘And I’ll see you don’t lose by it.’
Charles sank a little from this well-meant but slightly embarrassing remark.
‘Well, Mother,’ said Mr. Croft, with an elation he could not quite keep out of his voice. ‘This is a surprise! Nick didn’t tell me what she was doing.’
‘The dear sweet girl,’ murmured Mrs. Croft, putting her handkerchief to her eyes. ‘I wish she could look down and see us now. Perhaps she does-who knows?’
‘Perhaps,’ agreed Poirot.
Suddenly an idea seemed to strike him. He looked around.
‘An idea! We are all here seated around a table. Let us hold a séance.’
‘A séance?’ said Mrs. Croft, somewhat shocked. ‘But surely-‘
‘Yes, yes, it will be most interesting. Hastings, here, has pronounced mediumistic powers.’ (Why to fix on me, I thought.) ‘To get through a message from the other world-the opportunity is unique! I feel the conditions are propitious. You feel the same, Hastings.’
‘Yes,’ I said resolutely, playing up.
‘Good. I knew it. Quick, the lights.’
In another minute he had risen and switched them off. The whole thing had been rushed on the company before they had had the energy to protest had they wanted to do so. As a matter of fact, they were, I think, still dazed with astonishment over the will.
The room was not quite dark. The curtains were drawn back and the window was open for it was a hot night, and through those windows came a faint light. After a minute or two, as we sat in silence, I began to be able to make out the faint outlines of the furniture. I wondered very much what I was supposed to do and cursed Poirot heartily for not having given me my instructions beforehand.
However, I closed my eyes and breathed in a rather stertorous manner.
Presently Poirot rose and tiptoed to my chair. Then returning to his own, he murmured.
‘Yes, he is already in a trance. Soon things will begin to happen.’
There is something about sitting in the dark, waiting, that fills one with unbearable apprehension. I know that I myself was prey to nerves and so, I was sure, was everyone else. And yet I had at least an idea of what was about to happen. I knew the one vital fact that no one else knew.
And yet, in spite of all that, my heart leaped into my mouth as I saw the dining room door slowly opening.
It did so quite soundlessly (it must have been oiled) and the effect was horribly grisly. It swung slowly open and for a minute or two that was all. With its opening, a cold blast of air seemed to enter the room. It was, I suppose, a common or garden draught owing to the open window, but it felt like the icy chill mentioned in all the ghost stories I have ever read.
And then we all saw it! Framed in the doorway was a white shadowy figure. Nick Buckley…
She advanced slowly and noiselessly with a kind of floating ethereal motion that certainly conveyed the impression of nothing human…
I realized then what an actress the world had missed. Nick had wanted to play a part at End House. Now she was playing it, and I felt convinced that she was enjoying herself to the core. She did it perfectly.
She floated forward into the room and the silence was broken.
There was a gasping cry from the invalid chair beside me. A kind of gurgle from Mr. Croft. A startled oath from Challenger. Charles Vyse drew back his chair, I think. Lazarus leaned forward. Frederica alone made no sound or movement.
And then a scream rent the room. Ellen sprang up from her chair.
‘It’s her!’ she shrieked. ‘She’s come back. She’s walking! They that’s murdered always walk. It’s her! It’s her!’
And then, with a click, the lights went on.
I saw Poirot standing by them, the smile of the ringmaster on his face. Nick stood in the middle of the room in her white draperies.
It was Frederica who spoke first. She stretched out an unbelieving hand-touched her friend.
‘Nick,’ she said. ‘You’re-you’s real!’
It was almost a whisper.
Nick laughed. She advanced.
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I’m real enough. Thank you so much for what you did for my father, Mrs. Croft. But I’m afraid you won’t be able to enjoy the benefit of that will just yet.’
‘Oh, my God,’ gasped Mrs. Croft. ‘Oh, my God.’ She twisted to and fro in her chair. ‘Take me away, Bert. Take me away. It was all a joke, my dear-all a joke, that’s all it was. Honest.’
‘A queer sort of joke,’ said Nick.
The door had opened again and a man had entered so quietly that I had not heard him. To my surprise, I saw that it was Japp. He exchanged a quick nod with Poirot as though satisfying him of something. Then his face suddenly lit up and he took a step forward towards the squirming figure in the invalid chair.
‘Hello-ello-ello,’ he said. ‘What’s this? An old friend! Milly Merton, I declare! And at your old tricks again, my dear.’
He turned around in an explanatory way to the company disregarding Mrs. Croft’s shrill protests.
‘Cleverest forget we’ve ever had, Milly Merton. We knew there had been an accident in the car they made their last getaway. But there! Even an injury to the spine wouldn’t keep Milly from her tricks. She’s an artist, she is!’
‘Was that will a forgery?’ said Vyse.
He spoke in tones of amazement.
‘Of course, it was a forgery,’ said Nick scornfully. ‘You don’t think I’d make a silly will like that, do you? I left you End House, Charles, and everything else to Frederica.’
She crossed as she spoke and stood by her friend, and just at that moment, it happened!
A spurt of flame from the window and the hiss of a bullet. Then another and the sound of a groan and a fall outside…
And Frederica was on her feet with a thin trickle of blood running down her arm…
Read Peril at End House Novel All Parts Free Online
- The Peril at End House By Agatha Christie Novel Complete Review
- 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