Peril at End House Pdf Chapter-8: The Fatal Shawl I suppose it was not more than forty seconds that we stood there, frozen with horror, unable to move, but it seemed like an hour. Then Poirot moved forward, shaking off my hand. He moved stiffly like an automaton.
‘It has happened,’ he murmured, and I can hardly describe the anguished bitterness of his voice. ‘In spite of everything-in spite of my precautions, it has happened. Ah! miserable criminal, that I am, why did I not guard her better? I should have foreseen. Not for one instant should I have left her side.’
‘You mustn’t blame yourself,’ I said.
My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, and I could hardly articulate.
Poirot only responded with a sorrowful shake of his head. He knelt down by the body.
And at that moment we received a second shock.
For Nick’s voice rang out, clear and gay, and a moment later Nick appeared in the square of the window silhouetted against the lighted room behind.
‘Sorry I’ve been so long, Maggie,’ she said. ‘But-‘
Peril at End House Chapter-8 By Agatha Christie Novel
Then she broke off-staring at the scene before her.
With a sharp exclamation, Poirot turned over the body on the lawn and I pressed forward to see.
I looked down into the dead face of Maggie Buckley.
In another minute Nick was beside us. She gave a sharp cry.
‘Maggie-Oh! Maggie-it-it can’t-‘
Poirot was still examining the girl’s body. At last, very slowly he rose to his feet.
‘Is she-is-‘ Nick’s voice broke off.
‘Yes, Mademoiselle. She is dead.’
‘But why? But why? Who could have wanted to kill her?’
Poirot’s reply came quickly and firmly.
‘It was not her they meant to kill, Mademoiselle! It was you! They were misled by the shawl.’
A great cry broke from Nick.
‘Why couldn’t it have been me?’ she wailed. ‘Oh! why couldn’t it have been me? I’d so much rather. I don’t want to live now. I’d be glad-willing-happy-to die.’
She flung up her arms wildly and then staggered slightly. I passed an arm around her quickly to support her.
‘Take her into the house, Hastings,’ said Poirot. ‘Then ring up the police.’
‘Mais oui! Tell them someone has been shot. And afterward, stay with Mademoiselle Nick. On no account leave her.’
Having understood the instructions, I assisted the half-fainting girl and guided her through the drawing-room window. Once inside, I carefully placed her on the sofa with a cushion to support her head. Without delay, I rushed to the hall to search for a telephone.
I gave a slight start on almost running into Ellen. Standing there with a most peculiar expression on her meek, respectable face. Her eyes were glittering and she was passing her tongue repeatedly over her dry lips. Her hands were trembling, as though with excitement. As soon as she saw me, she spoke.
‘Has-has anything happened, sir?’
‘Yes,’ I said curtly. ‘Where’s the telephone?’
‘Nothing-nothing wrong, sir?’
‘There’s been an accident,’ I said evasively. ‘Somebody hurt. I must telephone.’
‘Who has been hurt, sir?’
There was a cheerful eagerness on her face.
‘Miss Maggie? Miss Maggie? Are you sure, sir-I mean are you sure that-that it’s Miss Maggie?’
‘I’m quite sure,’ I said. ‘Why?’
‘Oh!-nothing. I-I thought it might be one of the other ladies. I thought perhaps it might be-Mrs Rice.’
‘Look here,’ I said. ‘Where’s the telephone?’
‘It’s in the little room here, sir.’ She opened the door for me and indicated the instrument.
‘Thanks,’ I said. And, as she seemed disposed to linger, I added: ‘That’s all I want, thank you.’
‘If you want Dr. Graham-‘
‘No, no,’ I said. ‘That’s all. Go, please.’
She withdrew reluctantly, as slowly as she dared. In all probability, she would listen outside the door, but I could not help that. After all, she would soon know all there was to be known.
I got the police station and made my report. Then, on my own initiative, I rang up Dr. Graham, whom Ellen had mentioned. I found his number in the book. Nick, at any rate, should have medical attention, I felt-even though a doctor could do nothing for that poor girl lying out there. He promised to come at once and I hung up the receiver and came out into the hall again.
If Ellen had been listening outside the door she had managed to disappear very swiftly. There was no one in sight when I came out. I went back into the drawing room. Nick was trying to sit up.
‘Do you think-could you get me some brandy?’
I hurried into the dining room, found what I wanted, and came back. A few sips of the spirit revived the girl. The color began to come back into her cheeks. I rearranged the cushion for her head.
‘It’s all so awful.’ She shivered. ‘Everything-everywhere.’
‘I know, my dear, I know.’
‘No, you don’t! You can’t. And it’s all such a waste. If it were only me, it would be all over…’
‘You mustn’t,’ I said, “be morbid”.’
She only shook her head, reiterating: ‘You don’t know! You don’t know!’
Then, suddenly, she began to cry. A quiet, hopeless sobbing like a child. That, I thought, was probably the best thing for her, so I made no effort to stem her tears.
When their first violence had died down a little, I stole across to the window and looked out. I had heard an outcry of voices a few minutes before. They were all there by now, a semi-circle around the scene of the tragedy, with Poirot like a fantastical sentinel, keeping them back.
As I watched, two uniformed figures came striding across the grass. The police had arrived.
I went quietly back to my place by the sofa. Nick lifted her tear-stained face.
‘Oughtn’t I to be doing something?’
‘No, my dear. Poirot will see to it. Leave it to him.’ Nick was silent for a minute or two, then she said: ‘Poor Maggie. Poor dear old Maggie. Such a good sort who never harmed a soul in her life. That this should happen to her. I feel as though I’d killed her-bringing her down in the way that I did.’
I shook my head sadly. How little one can foresee the future? When Poirot insisted on Nick’s inviting a friend, how little did he think that he was signing an unknown girl’s death warrant?
We sat in silence. I longed to know what was happening outside, but I loyally fulfilled Poirot’s instructions and stuck to my post.
It seemed hours later when the door opened and Poirot and a police inspector entered the room. With them came a man who was evidently Dr. Graham. He came over at once to Nick.
‘And how are you feeling, Miss Buckley? This must have been a terrible shock.’
His fingers were on her pulse.
‘Not too bad.’
He turned to me.
‘Has she had anything?’
‘Some brandy,’ I said.
‘I’m all right,’ said Nick, bravely.
‘Able to answer a few questions, eh?’
The police inspector moved forward with a preliminary cough. Nick greeted him with the ghost of a smile.
‘Not impeding the traffic this time,’ she said.
I gathered they were not strangers to each other.
‘This is a terrible business, Miss Buckley,’ said the inspector. ‘I’m very sorry about it. Now Mr. Poirot here, whose name I’m very familiar with (and proud we are to have him with us, I’m sure), tells me that to the best of his belief, you were shot at in the grounds of the Majestic Hotel the other morning?’
‘I thought it was just a wasp,’ she explained. ‘But it wasn’t.’
‘And you’d had some rather peculiar accidents before that?’
‘Yes-at least it was odd they’re happening so close together.’
She gave a brief account of the various circumstances.
‘Just so. Now how came it that your cousin was wearing your shawl tonight?’
‘We came in to fetch her coat-it was rather cold watching the fireworks. I flung off the shawl on the sofa here. Then I went upstairs and put on the coat I’m wearing now-a light nutria one. I also got a wrap for my friend Mrs. Rice out of her room. There it is on the floor by the window.
Then Maggie called out that she couldn’t find her coat. I said it must be downstairs. She went down and called up she still couldn’t find it. I said it must have been left in the car it was a tweed coat she was looking for-she hasn’t got an evening furry one-and I said I’d bring her down something of mine. But she said it didn’t matter-she’d take my shawl if I didn’t want it. And I said of course but would that be enough? And she said Oh, yes, because she really didn’t feel it particularly cold after Yorkshire. She just wanted something. And I said all right, I’d be out in a minute. And when I did-did come out
She stopped, her voice breaking…
‘Now, don’t distress yourself, Miss Buckley. Just tell me this. Did you hear a shot or two shots?’
Nick shook her head.
‘No-only just the fireworks popping and the squibs going off.’
‘That’s just it,’ said the inspector. ‘You’d never notice a shot with all that going on. It’s no good asking you, I suppose, if you’ve any clue as to who it is making these attacks upon you?’
‘I haven’t the least idea,’ said Nick. ‘I can’t imagine.’
‘And you wouldn’t be likely to,’ said the inspector. ‘Some homicidal maniac-that’s what it looks like to me. Nasty business. Well, I won’t need to ask you any more questions tonight, miss. I’m more sorry about this than I can say.’
Dr. Graham stepped forward.
‘I will suggest, Miss Buckley, that you don’t stay here. I’ve been talking it over with M. Poirot. I know of an excellent nursing home. You’ve had a shock, you know. What you need is complete rest-‘
Nick was not looking at him. Her eyes had gone to Poirot.
‘Is it because of the shock?’ she asked.
He came forward.
‘I want you to feel safe, mon enfant. And I want to feel, too, that you are safe. There will be a nurse there-a nice practical unimaginative nurse. She will be near you all night. When you wake up and cry out-she will be there, close at hand. You understand?’
‘Yes,’ said Nick, ‘I understand. But you don’t. I’m not afraid any longer. I don’t care one way or another. If anyone wants to murder me, they can.’
‘Hush, hush,’ I said. ‘You’re over-strung.’
‘You don’t know. None of you know!’
‘I really think M. Poirot’s plan is a good one,’ the doctor broke in soothingly. ‘I will take you in my car. And we will give you a little something to ensure a good night’s rest. Now, what do you say?’
‘I don’t mind,’ said Nick. ‘Anything you like. It doesn’t matter.’
Poirot laid his hand on hers.
“I empathize with you, Mademoiselle. Your feelings are understandable, and I am deeply remorseful. Despite my promise of protection, I have failed you, and it fills me with shame and sorrow. I am utterly miserable. But believe me, Mademoiselle, my heart is in agony because of that failure. If you know what I am suffering you would forgive, I am sure.’
‘That’s all right,’ said Nick, still in the same dull voice. ‘You mustn’t blame yourself. I’m sure you did the best you could. Nobody could have helped it or done more, I’m sure. Please don’t be unhappy.’
‘You are very generous, Mademoiselle.’
There was an interruption. The door flew open and George Challenger rushed into the room.
‘What’s all this?’ he cried. ‘I’ve just arrived. To find a policeman at the gate and a rumor that somebody’s dead. What is it all about? For God’s sake, tell me. Is itis it-Nick?’
The anguish in his tone was dreadful to hear. I suddenly realized that Poirot and the doctor between them completely blotted out Nick from his sight.
Before anyone had time to answer, he repeated his question.
‘Tell me-it can’t be true-Nick isn’t dead?’
‘No, mon ami,’ said Poirot, gently. ‘She is alive.’
And he drew back so that Challenger could see the little figure on the sofa.
For a moment or two Challenger stared at her incredulously. Then, staggering a little, like a drunken man, he muttered: ‘Nick-Nick.’
And suddenly dropping to his knees beside the sofa and hiding his head in his hands, he cried in a muffled voice: ‘Nick-my darling-I thought that you were dead.’
Nick tried to sit up.
‘It’s all right, George. Don’t be an idiot. I’m quite safe.’
He raised his head and looked around wildly.
‘But somebody’s dead? The policeman said so.’
‘Yes,’ said Nick. ‘Maggie. Poor old Maggie. Oh!-‘
A spasm twisted her face. The doctor and Poirot came forward. Graham helped her to her feet. He and Poirot, one on each side, helped her from the room.
‘The sooner you get to your bed the better,’ remarked the doctor. ‘I’ll take you along at once in my car. I’ve asked Mrs. Rice to pack a few things ready for you to take.’
They disappeared through the door. Challenger caught my arm.
‘I don’t understand. Where are they taking her?’
‘Oh! I see. Now, then, Hastings, for God’s sake give me the hang of this thing. What a ghastly tragedy! That poor girl.’
‘Come and have a drink,’ I said. ‘You’re all to pieces.’
‘I don’t mind if I do.’
We adjourned to the dining room.
‘You see,’ he explained, as he put away a stiff whisky and soda, ‘I thought it was Nick.’
There was very little doubt as to the feelings of Commander George Challenger. A more transparent lover never lived.
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