Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-7: Tragedy The first person we saw when we arrived at End House that evening was Nick. She was dancing about the hall wrapped in a marvelous kimono covered with dragons.
‘Oh! it’s only you!’
‘Mademoiselle-I am desolated!’
‘I know. It did sound rude. But you see, I’m waiting for my dress to arrive. They promised-the brutes-promised faithfully!’
‘Ah! if it is a matter of la toilette! There is a dance tonight, is there not?’
‘Yes. We are all going on to it after the fireworks. That is, I suppose we are.’
There was a sudden drop in her voice. But the next minute she was laughing.
‘Never give in! That’s my motto. Don’t think of trouble and trouble won’t come! I’ve got my nerve back tonight. I’m going to be gay and enjoy myself.’
There was a footfall on the stairs. Nick turned.
‘Oh! here’s Maggie. Maggie, here are the sleuths protecting me from the secret assassin. Take them into the drawing room and let them tell you about it.’
In turn, we shook hands with Maggie Buckley, and, as requested, she took us into the drawing room. I formed an immediate favorable opinion of her.
It was, I think, her appearance of calm good sense that so attracted me. A quiet girl pretty is in the old-fashioned sense-certainly not smart. Her face was innocent of makeup and she wore a simple, rather shabby, black evening dress. She had frank blue eyes and a pleasant slow voice.
‘Nick has been telling me the most amazing things,’ she said. ‘Surely she must be exaggerating? Whoever would want to harm Nick? She can’t have an enemy in the world.’
Incredulity showed strongly in her voice. She was looking at Poirot in a somewhat unflattering fashion. I realized that foreigners were always suspicious to a girl like Maggie Buckley.
‘Nevertheless, Miss Buckley, I assure you that it is the truth,’ said Poirot quietly.
She made no reply, but her face remained unbelieving.
‘Nick seems quite fey tonight,’ she remarked. ‘I don’t know what’s the matter with her. She seems in the wildest spirits.’
That word-fey! It sent a shiver through me. Also, something in the intonation of her voice had set me wondering.
‘Are you Scotch, Miss Buckley?’ I asked, abruptly.
‘My mother was Scottish,’ she explained.
She viewed me, I noticed, with more approval than she viewed Poirot. I felt that my statement of the case would carry more weight with her than Poirot’s would.
‘Your cousin is behaving with great bravery,’ I said. ‘She’s determined to carry on as usual.’
‘It’s the only way, isn’t it?’ said Maggie. ‘I mean whatever one’s inward feelings are-it is no good making a fuss about them. That’s only uncomfortable for everyone else.’ She paused and then added in a soft voice: ‘I’m very fond of Nick. She’s been good to me always.’
We could say nothing more for at that moment Frederica Rice drifted into the room. She was wearing a gown Madonna blue and looked very fragile and ethereal. Lazarus soon followed her and then Nick danced in. She was wearing a black frock, and around her was wrapped a marvelous old Chinese shawl of vivid lacquer red.
‘Hello, people,’ she said. ‘Cocktails?’
We all drank, and Lazarus raised his glass to her.
‘That’s a marvelous shawl, Nick,’ he said. ‘It’s an old one, isn’t it?’
‘Yes-brought back by Great-Great-Great-Uncle Timothy from his travels.’
‘It’s a beauty-a real beauty. You wouldn’t find another to match it if you tried.’
‘It’s warm,’ said Nick. ‘It’ll be nice when we’re watching the fireworks. And it’s gay. I-I hate black.’
‘Yes,’ said Frederica. ‘I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you in a black dress before, Nick. Why did you get it?’
‘Oh! I don’t know.’ The girl flung aside with a petulant gesture, but I had caught a curious curl of her lips as though of pain. ‘Why does one do anything?’
We went into dinner. A mysterious manservant had appeared-hired, I presume, for the occasion. The food was indifferent. The champagne, on the other hand, was good.
‘George hasn’t turned up,’ said Nick. ‘A nuisance his having to go back to Plymouth last night. He’ll get over this evening sometime or other, I expect. In time for the dance anyway. I’ve got a man for Maggie. Presentable, if not passionately interesting.’
A faint roaring sound drifted in through the window.
‘Oh! curse that speedboat,’ said Lazarus. ‘I get so tired of it.’ ‘
That’s not the speedboat,’ said Nick. ‘That’s a seaplane.’
‘I believe you’re right.’
‘Of course, I’m right. The sound’s quite different.’
‘When are you going to get your Moth, Nick?’
‘When I can raise the money,’ laughed Nick.
‘And then, I suppose you’ll be off to Australia like that girl what’s her name?’
‘I’d love to’
‘I admire her enormously,’ said Mrs. Rice, in her tired voice. ‘What marvelous nerve! All by herself too.’
‘I admire all these flying people,’ said Lazarus. ‘If Michael Seton had succeeded in his flight round the world he’d have been the hero of the day and rightly so. A thousand pities he’s come to grief. He’s the kind of man England can’t afford to lose.’
‘He may still be all right,’ said Nick.
‘Hardly. It’s a thousand to one against by now. Poor Mad Seton.’
‘They always called him Mad Seton, didn’t they?’ asked Frederica.
‘He comes of rather a mad family,’ he said. ‘His uncle, Sir Matthew Seton, who died about a week ago-he was as mad as a hatter.’
‘He was the mad millionaire who ran bird sanctuaries, wasn’t he?’ asked Frederica.
‘Yes. Used to buy up islands. He was a great woman-hater. Some girl chucked him once, I believe, and he took to Natural History by way of consoling himself.’
‘Why do you say Michael Seton is dead?’ persisted Nick. ‘I don’t see any reason for giving up hope yet.’
‘Of course, you knew him, didn’t you?’ said, Lazarus. ‘I forgot.’
‘Freddie and I met him at Le Touquet last year,’ said Nick. ‘He was too marvelous, wasn’t he, Freddie?’
‘Don’t ask me, darling. He was your conquest, not mine. He took you up once, didn’t he?’
‘Yes-at Scarborough. It was simply too wonderful.’
‘Have you done any flying, Captain Hastings?’ Maggie asked of me in polite conversational tones.
I had to confess that a trip to Paris and back was the extent of my acquaintance with air travel.
Suddenly, with an exclamation, Nick sprang up.
‘There’s the telephone. Don’t wait for me. It’s getting late. And I’ve asked lots of people.’
She left the room. I glanced at my watch. It was just nine o’clock. Dessert was brought, and port. Poirot and Lazarus were talking about Art. Pictures, Lazarus was saying, were a great drug in the market just now. They went on to discuss new ideas in furniture and decoration.
I endeavored to do my duty by talking to Maggie Buckley, but I had to admit that the girl was heavy in hand. She answered pleasantly, but without throwing the ball back. It was uphill work.
Frederica Rice sat dreamily silent, her elbows on the table and the smoke from her cigarette curling around her fair head. She looked like a meditative angel.
It was just twenty past nine when Nick put her head around the door.
‘Come out of it, all of you! The animals are coming in two by two.’
We rose obediently. Nick was busy greeting arrivals. About a dozen people had been asked. Most of them were rather uninteresting. Nick, I noticed, made a good hostess. She sank her modernisms and made everyone welcome in an old-fashioned way. Among the guests, I noticed Charles Vyse.
Presently we all moved out into the garden to a place overlooking the sea and the harbor. A few chairs had been placed there for the elderly people, but most of us stood. The first rocket flamed to Heaven.
At that moment I heard a loud familiar voice and turned my head to see Nick greeting Mr. Croft.
‘It’s too bad,’ she was saying, ‘that Mrs. Croft can’t be here too. We ought to have carried her on a stretcher or something.’
‘It’s bad luck on poor mother altogether. But she never complains-that woman’s got the sweetest nature-Ha! that’s a good one.’ This was as a shower of golden rain showed up in the sky.
The night was a dark one-there was no moon-the new moon being due in three days’ time. It was also, like most summer evenings, cold. Maggie Buckley, who was next to me, shivered.
‘I’ll just run in and get a coat,’ she murmured.
‘No, you wouldn’t know where to find it.’
She turned towards the house. At that moment Frederica Rice’s voice called:
‘Oh, Maggie, get mine too. It’s in my room.’
‘She didn’t hear,’ said Nick. ‘I’ll get it, Freddie. I want my fur one-this shawl isn’t nearly hot enough. It’s this wind.’
There was, indeed, a sharp breeze blowing off the sea.
Some set pieces started down on the quay. I fell into conversation with an elderly lady standing next to me who put me through a rigorous catechism as to life, career, tastes and probable length of stay.
Bang! A shower of green stars filled the sky. They changed to blue, then red, then silver.
Another and yet another.
‘”Oh!” and then “Ah!” that is what one says,’ observed Poirot suddenly close to my ear. ‘At the end it becomes monotonous, do you not find? Brrr! The grass, it is damp to the feet! I shall suffer for this-a chill. And no possibility of obtaining a proper tisane!’
‘A chill? On a lovely night like this?’
‘A lovely night! A lovely night! You say that because the rain does not pour down in sheets! Always when the rain does not fall, it is a lovely night. But I tell you, my friend if there were a little thermometer to consult you would see.’
‘Well,’ I admitted, ‘I wouldn’t mind putting on a coat myself.’
‘You are very sensible. You have come from a hot climate.’
‘I’ll bring yours.’
Poirot lifted first one, then the other foot from the ground with a cat-like motion.
‘It is the dampness of the feet I fear. Would it, think you, be possible to lay hands on a pair of galoshes?’
I repressed a smile.
‘Not a hope,’ I said. ‘You understand, Poirot, that it is no longer done.’
‘Then I shall sit in the house,’ he declared. ‘Just for the Guy Fawkes show, shall I want only perfumer myself? And catch, perhaps, a fluxion de poitrine?’
Poirot still murmuring indignantly, we bent our footsteps towards the house. Loud clapping drifted up to us from the quay below where another set piece was being shown-a ship, I believe, with Welcome to Our Visitors displayed across it.
‘We are all children at heart,’ said Poirot, thoughtfully. ‘Les Feux D’Artifices, the party, the games with balls-yes, and even the conjurer, the man who deceives the eye, however carefully it watches-mais qu’est-ce que vous avez?’
I had caught him by the arm and was clutching him with one hand, while with the other I pointed.
We were within a hundred yards of the house, and just in front of us, between us and the open French window, there lay a huddled figure wrapped in a scarlet Chinese shawl…
‘Mon Dieu!’ whispered Poirot. ‘Mon Dieu…’
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