Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-9 Read Online

Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-9: A. to J. I doubt if I shall ever forget the night that followed. Poirot was prey to such an agony of self-reproach that I was really alarmed. Ceaselessly he strode up and down the room heaping anathemas on his own head and deaf to my well-meant remonstrances.

‘What it is to have too good an opinion of oneself. I am being punished – indeed, I am being punished. Like Hercule Poirot, I was excessively confident and now I am facing the consequences.

‘No, no,’ I interpolated.

‘But who would imagine-who could imagine-such unparalleled audacity? I had taken, as I thought, all possible precautions. I had warned the murderer-‘

‘Warned the murderer?’

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The Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-9 By Agatha Christie Novel

‘Mais oui. I had drawn attention to myself by revealing my suspicions about someone. This, in turn, allowed him to perceive my thoughts. I convinced myself that it would be too risky for him to attempt another murder. As a result, I believed I had erected a barrier around Mademoiselle. And he slips through it! Boldly under our very eyes almost, he slips through it! In spite of us all-of everyone being on the alert, he achieves his object.’

‘Only he doesn’t,’ I reminded him.

‘That is the chance only! From my point of view, it is the same. Human life has been taken, Hastings-whose life is non-essential.’

‘Of course,’ I said. ‘I didn’t mean that.’

‘But on the other hand, what you say is true. And that makes it worse-ten times worse. For the murderer is still as far as ever from achieving his object. Do you understand, my friend? The position is changed for the worse. It may mean that not one life but two will be sacrificed.’

‘Not while you’re about,’ I said stoutly.

He stopped and wrung my hand.

‘Merci, mon ami! Merci! You still have confidence in the old one-you still have the faith. You put new courage into me. Hercule Poirot will not fail again. No second life shall be taken. I will rectify my error-for, see you, there must have been an error! Somewhere there has been a lack of order and method in my usually so well-arranged ideas. I will start again. Yes, I will start at the beginning. And this time-I will not fail.’

‘You really think then,’ I said, ‘that Nick Buckley’s life is still in danger?’

‘My friend, for what other reason did I send her to this nursing home?’

‘Then it wasn’t the shock-‘

‘The shock! Pah! One can recover from shock as well in one’s own home as in a nursing home better, for that matter. It is not amusing there, the floors of green linoleum, the conversation of the nurses-the meals on trays, the ceaseless washing. No, no, it is for safety and safety only. I take the doctor into my confidence. He agrees. He will make all arrangements. No one, mon ami, not even her dearest friend, will be admitted to see Miss Buckley. You and I are the only ones permitted. Pour les autres-eh bien! “Doctor’s orders,” they will be told. A phrase very convenient and one not to be gainsaid.’

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Only-‘

‘Only what, Hastings?’

‘That can’t go on forever.’

‘A very true observation. But it gives us a little breathing space. And you realize, do you not, that the character of our operations has changed.’

‘In what way?’

‘Our original task was to ensure the safety of Mademoiselle. Our task now is a much simpler one-a task with which we are well acquainted. It is neither more nor less than the hunting down of a murderer.’

‘You call that simpler?’

‘Certainly, it is simpler. The murderer has, as I said the other day, signed his name to the crime. He has come out into the open.’

‘You don’t think-‘ I hesitated, then went on. ‘You don’t think that the police are right? That this is the work of a madman, some wandering lunatic with homicidal mania?’

‘I am more than ever convinced that such is not the case.’

‘You really think that-‘

I stopped. Poirot took up my sentence, speaking very gravely.

‘That the murderer is someone in Mademoiselle’s own circle? Yes, mon ami, I do.’

‘But surely last night must almost rule out that possibility. We were all together and-‘

He interrupted.

‘Could you swear, Hastings, that any particular person had never left our little company there on the edge of the cliff? Is there any one person there whom you could swear you had seen all the time?’

‘No,’ I said slowly, struck by his words. ‘I don’t think I could. It was dark. We all moved about, more or less. On different occasions, I noticed Mrs. Rice, Lazarus, you, Croft, Vyse-but all the time-no.’

Poirot nodded his head.

‘Exactly. It would be a matter of a very few minutes. The two girls go to the house. The murderer slips away unnoticed and hides behind that sycamore tree in the middle of the lawn. Nick Buckley, or so he thinks, comes out of the window, passes within a foot of him, he fires three shots in rapid succession-‘

 ‘Three?’ I interjected.

‘Yes. He was taking no chances this time. We found three bullets in the body.’

‘That was risky, wasn’t it?’

‘Less risky in all probability than one shot would have been. A Mauser pistol does not make a great deal of noise. It would resemble more or less the popping of the fireworks and blend in very well with the noise of them.’

‘Did you find the pistol?’ I asked.

‘No. And there, Hastings lies to my mind the indisputable proof that no stranger is responsible for this. We agree, do we not, that Miss Buckley’s own pistol was taken in the first place for one reason only to give her death the appearance of suicide.’


‘That is the only possible reason, is it not? But now, you observe, there is no pretense of suicide. The murderer knows that we should not any longer be deceived by it. He knows, in fact, what we know!’

I reflected, admitting to myself the logic of Poirot’s deduction.

‘What did he do with the pistol do you think?’

Poirot shrugged his shoulders.

‘For that, it is difficult to say. But the sea was exceedingly handy. A good toss of the arm and the pistol sink, never to be recovered. We cannot, of course, be absolutely sure-but that is what I should have done.’

His matter-of-fact tone made me shiver a little.

‘Do you think-do you think he realized that he’d killed the wrong person?’

‘I am quite sure he did not,’ said Poirot, grimly. ‘Yes, that must have been an unpleasant little surprise for him when he learned the truth. To keep his face and betray nothing-it cannot have been easy.’

At that moment I bethought of the strange attitude of the maid, Ellen. I gave Poirot an account of her peculiar demeanor. He seemed very interested.

‘She betrayed surprise, did she, that it was Maggie who was dead?’

‘Great surprise.’

‘That is curious. And yet, the fact of a tragedy was clearly not a surprise to her. Yes, there is something there that must be looked into. Who is she, this Ellen? So quiet, so respectable in the English manner? Could it be she who-?’ He broke off.

‘If you’re going to include the accidents,’ I said, ‘surely it would take a man to have rolled that heavy boulder down the cliff.’

‘Not necessarily. It is very largely a question of leverage. Oh, yes, it could be done.’

He continued his slow pacing up and down the room.

‘Anyone who was at End House last night comes under suspicion. But that guests-no, I do not think it was one of them. For the most part, I should say, they were mere acquaintances. There was no intimacy between them and the young mistress of the house.’

‘Charles Vyse was there,’ I remarked.

‘Yes, we must not forget him. He is, logically, our strongest suspect.’ He made a gesture of despair and threw himself into a chair opposite mine. ‘Voilà-it is always that we come back to! Motive! We must find the motive if we are to understand this crime. And it is there, Hastings, that I am continually baffled. Who can possibly have a motive for doing away with Mademoiselle Nick?

I have allowed my thoughts to wander to the most ludicrous assumptions. As Hercule Poirot, I have stooped to the lowest depths of fanciful imagination. I have taken on the mindset of a dime-store novel. The grandfather-the “Old Nick”-he who is supposed to have gambled his money away. Did he really do so, I have asked myself. Did he, on the contrary, hide it away? Is it hidden somewhere in End House? Buried somewhere in the grounds? With that end in view (I am ashamed to say it) I inquired of Mademoiselle Nick whether there had ever been any offers to buy the house.’

‘Do you know, Poirot,’ I said, ‘I call that rather a bright idea. There may be something in it.’

Poirot groaned.

‘You would say that! It would appeal, I knew, to your romantic but slightly mediocre mind. Buried treasure-yes, you would enjoy that idea.’

‘Well-I don’t see why not-‘

‘Because, my friend, the more prosaic explanation is nearly always more probable. Then Mademoiselle’s father-I played with even more degrading ideas concerning him. He was a traveler. Supposing, I say to myself, that he has stolen a jewel-the eye of a God. Jealous priests are on his tracks. Yes, I, Hercule Poirot, have descended to depths such as these.’

‘I have had other ideas concerning this father,’ he went on. ‘Ideas at once more dignified and more probable. Did he, in the course of his wanderings, contract a second marriage? Is there a nearer heir than M. Charles Vyse? But again, that leads nowhere, for we are up against the same difficulty-that there is really nothing of value to inherit.’

‘I have neglected no possibility. Even that chance reference of Mademoiselle Nick’s to the offer made her by M. Lazarus. Do you remember? The offer to purchase her grandfather’s portrait. I telegraphed on Saturday for an expert to come down and examine that picture. He was the man about whom I wrote to Mademoiselle this morning. Supposing, for instance, it was worth several thousand pounds?’

‘You surely don’t think a rich man like young Lazarus-?’

‘Is he rich? Appearances are not everything. Even an old-established firm with palatial showrooms and every appearance of prosperity may rest on a rotten basis. And what does one do then? Does one run about crying out that times are hard? No, one buys a new and luxurious car. One spends a little more money than usual. One lives a little more ostentatiously. For credit, see you, is everything! But sometimes a monumental business has crashed for no more than a few thousand pounds of ready money.’

‘Oh! I know,’ he continued, forestalling my protests. ‘It is far-fetched-but it is not so bad as revengeful priests or buried treasure. It bears, at any rate, some relationship to things as they happen. And we can neglect nothing-nothing that might bring us nearer the truth.’

He straightened the objects on the table in front of him with careful fingers. When he spoke, his voice was grave and, for the first time, calm.

‘Motive!’ he said. ‘Let us come back to that, and regard this problem calmly and methodically. To begin with, how many kinds of motives are there for murder? What are the motives which lead one human being to take another human being’s life?’

‘We exclude for the moment homicidal mania. Because I am absolutely convinced that the solution to our problem does not lie there. We also exclude killing done on the spur of the moment under the impulse of an ungovernable temper. This is cold-blooded deliberate murder. What are the motives that actuate such a murder as that?’

‘There is, first, Gain. Who stood to gain by Mademoiselle Buckley’s death? Directly or indirectly? Well, we can put down Charles Vyse. He inherits a property that, from the financial point of view, is probably not worth inheriting. He might, perhaps, pay off the mortgage, build small villas on the land and eventually make a small profit. It is possible. The place might be worth something to him if he had any deeply cherished love of it-if, it was, for instance, a family place. That is, undoubtedly, an instinct very deeply implanted in some human beings, and it has, in cases I have known, actually led to crime. But I cannot see any such motive in M. Vyse’s case.’

‘The only other person who would benefit at all from Mademoiselle Buckley’s death is her friend, Madame Rice. But the amount would clearly be a very small one. Nobody else, as far as I can see, gains by Mademoiselle Buckley’s death.’

‘What is another motive? Hate-or love that has turned to hate. The crime passionnel. Well, there again we have the word of the observant Madame Croft that both Charles Vyse and Commander Challenger are in love with the young lady.’

‘I think we can say that we have observed the latter phenomenon for ourselves,’ I remarked, with a smile.

‘Yes-he tends to wear his heart on his sleeve, the honest sailor. For the other, we rely on the word of Madame Croft. Now, if Charles Vyse felt that he was supplanted, would he be so powerfully affected that he would kill his cousin rather than let her become the wife of another man?’

‘It sounds very melodramatic,’ I said, doubtfully.

‘It sounds, you would say, un-English. I agree. But even the English have emotions. And a type such as Charles Vyse is the most likely to have them. He is a repressed young man. One who does not show his feelings easily. Such often have the most violent feelings. I would never suspect the Commander Challenger of murder for emotional reasons. No, no, he is not the type. But with Charles Vyse-yes, it is possible. But it does not entirely satisfy me.’

‘Another motive for crime-Jealousy. I separate it from the last, because jealousy may not, necessarily, be a sexual emotion. There is envy-envy of possession-of supremacy. Such jealousy as drove the Iago of your great Shakespeare to one of the cleverest crimes (speaking from the professional point of view) that has ever been committed.’

‘Why was it so clever?’ I asked, momentarily diverted.

‘Parbleu-because he got others to execute it. Imagine a criminal nowadays on whom one was unable to put the handcuffs because he had never done anything himself. But this is not the subject we were discussing. Can jealousy, of any kind, be responsible for this crime? Who has reason to envy Mademoiselle? Another woman? There is only Madame Rice, and as far as we can see, there was no rivalry between the two women. But again, that is only “as far as we can see”. There may be something there.’

‘Lastly-Fear. Does Mademoiselle Nick, by any chance, hold somebody’s secret in her power? Does she know something which, if it were known, might ruin another life? If so, I think we can say very definitely, that she herself is unaware of it. But that might be, you know. That might be. And if so, it makes it very difficult. Because, whilst she holds the clue in her hands, she holds it unconsciously and will be quite unable to tell us what it is.’

‘You really think that is possible?’

‘It is a hypothesis. I am driven to it by the difficulty of finding a reasonable theory elsewhere. When you have eliminated other possibilities you turn to the one that is left and say-since the other is not-this must be so…’

He was silent for a long time.

At last, rousing himself from his absorption, he drew a sheet of paper towards him and began to write.

 ‘What are you writing?’ I asked, curiously.

‘Mon ami, I am composing a list. It is a list of people surrounding Mademoiselle Buckley. Within that list, if my theory is correct, there must be the name of the murderer.’

He continued to write for perhaps twenty minutes-then shoved the sheets of paper across to me.

‘Voilà, mon ami. See what you make of it.’

The following is a reproduction of the paper:

A. Ellen.

B. Her gardener husband.

C. Their child.

D. Mr. Croft.

E. Mrs. Croft.

F. Mrs. Rice.

G. Mr. Lazarus.

H. Commander Challenger.

I. Mr. Charles Vyse.



Ellen.-Suspicious circumstances. Her attitude and words on hearing of the crime. The best opportunity for anyone to have staged accidents and to have known of a pistol, but unlikely to have tampered with the car, and the general mentality of crime seems above her level.

Motive.-None-unless hate arises out of some incident unknown.

Note.-Further inquiries as to her antecedents and general relations with N. B.

Her Husband.-Same as above. More likely to have tampered with the car.

Note.-Should be interviewed.

Child.-Can be ruled out.

Note.-Should be interviewed. Might give valuable information.

Mr. Croft.-Only suspicious circumstance was the fact that we met him mounting the stair to the bedroom floor. Had a ready explanation which may be true. But it may not!

Nothing is known of antecedents.


Mrs Croft.-Suspicious circumstances.-None.


Mrs. Rice.-Suspicious circumstances. Full opportunity. Asked N. B. to fetch the wrap. Has deliberately tried to create the impression that N. B. is a liar and that her account of ‘accidents’ is not to be relied on. I was not at Tavistock when the accidents occurred. Where was she?

Motive.-Gain? Very slight. Jealousy? Possible, but nothing is known. Fear? Also possible, but nothing is known.

Note.-Converse with N. B. on the subject. See if any light is thrown upon the matter. Possibly something to do with F. R.’s marriage.

Mr. Lazarus.-Suspicious circumstances. General opportunity. Offer to buy the picture. Said the brakes of the car were quite all right (according to F. R.). May have been in the neighborhood prior to Friday.

Motive.-None-unless profit on the picture. Fear?-unlikely.

Note.-Find out where J. L. was before arriving at St Loo. Find out the financial position of Aaron Lazarus & Son.

Commander Challenger.-Suspicious circumstances. None. Was in the neighborhood all last week, so the opportunity for ‘accidents’ is good. Arrived half an hour after the murder.


Mr. Vyse.-Suspicious circumstances. Was absent from the office at a time when a shot was fired in the garden of the hotel. An opportunity was good. Statement about the selling of End House open to doubt. Of a repressed temperament. Would probably know about pistols.

 Motive.-Gain? (slight) Love or Hate? Possible with one of his temperaments. Fear? Unlikely.

Note.-Find out who held the mortgage. Find out the position of Vyse’s firm.

?-There could be a J., e.g. an outsider. But with a link in the form of one of the foregoing. If so, probably connected with A. D. and E. or F. The existence of J. would explain (1) Ellen’s lack of surprise at crime and her pleasurable satisfaction. (But that might be due to the natural pleasurable excitement of her class over deaths.) (2) The reason for Croft and his wife coming to live in the lodge. (3) Might supply a motive for F. R.’s fear of the secret being revealed or for jealousy.

Poirot watched me as I read.

‘It is very English, is it not? he remarked, with pride. ‘I am more English when I write than when I speak.’

 ‘It’s an excellent piece of work,’ I said, warmly. ‘It sets all the possibilities out most clearly.’

‘Yes,’ he said, thoughtfully, as he took it back from me. ‘And one name leaps to the eye, my friend. Charles Vyse. He has the best opportunities. We have given him the choice of two motives. Ma foi -if that was a list of racehorses, he would start favorite, n’est-ce pas?’

‘He is certainly the most likely suspect.’

‘You have a tendency, Hastings, to prefer the least likely. That, no doubt, is from reading too many detective stories. In real life, nine times out of ten, it is the most likely and the most obvious person who commits the crime.’

‘But you don’t really think that is so this time?’

‘There is only one thing that is against it. The boldness of the crime! That has stood out from the first. Because of that, as I say, the motive cannot be obvious.’

‘Yes, that is what you said at first.’

‘And that is what I say again.’

With a sudden brusque gesture, he crumpled the sheets of paper and threw them on the floor.

‘No,’ he said, as I uttered an exclamation of protest. ‘That list has been in vain. Still, it has cleared my mind. Order and method! That is the first stage. To arrange the facts with neatness and precision. The next stage-‘


‘The next stage is that of psychology. The correct employment of the little grey cells! I advise you, Hastings, to go to bed.’

‘No,’ I said. ‘Not unless you do. I’m not going to leave you.’

‘Most faithful of dogs! But see you, Hastings, you cannot assist me to think. That is all I am going to do-think.’

I still shook my head.

‘You might want to discuss some point with me.’

‘Well-well-you are a loyal friend. Take at least, I beg of you, the easy chair.’

That proposal I did accept. Presently the room began to swim and dip. The last thing I remember was seeing Poirot carefully retrieving the crumpled sheets of paper from the floor and putting them away tidily in the waste-paper basket.

Then I must have fallen asleep.

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