Death in the Clouds / Смерть в облаках (by Agatha Christie, 2012) - аудиокнига на английском

Death in the Clouds / Смерть в облаках (by Agatha Christie, 2012) - аудиокнига на английском

Death in the Clouds / Смерть в облаках (by Agatha Christie, 2012) - аудиокнига на английском

В самолете возникла суета из-за летающей пчелы. Вскоре кто-то обратил внимание, что сидящая в кресле пассажирка мертва. Одной из версий трагедии является укус насекомого. Но проницательный Пуаро зрительно находит множественные детали, указывающие на иную причину. Среди главных он отмечает наличие на столике покойной двух чайных ложек. Вероятно, убийца подходил к женщине на очень близкое расстояние. Им мог быть как служащий самолета, так и пассажир. В списке подозреваемых находятся абсолютно все летевшие данным рейсом люди, в том числе и сам сыщик. А все потому, что под его креслом найдет предмет, аналогичный дротику. Определенно, он привезен из африканских стран, а его острая часть измазана сильнодействующим ядовитым веществом. По прибытии в пункт назначения детектив выясняет род деятельности покойной, список наследников, посещавших ее лиц. Кроме того, его заинтересовали личностные отношения между пассажирами. Одному из них он даже предложил подыграть ему, чтобы скорее вычислить виновного. Вот только Пуаро уже давно определил убийцу.

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Death in the Clouds / Смерть в облаках (by Agatha Christie, 2012) - аудиокнига на английском
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Agatha Christie
Hugh Fraser
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Death in the Clouds Agatha Christie CHAPTER ONE Paris to Croydon The September sun shone on Le Bourget airport near Paris as the passengers entered the aeroplane Prometheus, for their flight to England. Jane Grey went to her seat in the rear cabin, at the back of the plane. A woman was standing nearby, talking very loudly. 'My dear Cicely! Where were you staying? Juan les Pins? Oh, yes. No, I've been in Le Pinet. Let's sit together. Oh, can't we? I see.' A foreign voice said politely, 'Please, Madame, take my seat,' and a small, elderly man with a large moustache and an egg shaped head got up from his seat. Jane looked at the two women for whom he had offered to move to a different seat. She had also been staying at Le Pinet, a popular holiday destination on the French coast, and she remembered one of the women standing nervously at a table in the casino. Her name was Lady Horbury. She was married to a Lord now, but she had once been a dancer in musical and comedy theatre. Unlike Lady Horbury, the other woman clearly looked like a real aristocrat. Jane turned to look out of the window. She would not look at the young man who was sitting opposite her. If their eyes met, he might recognize her from that night at the casino! She felt shy and embarrassed in front of him. At last, the plane took off, and there was Le Bourget spread out below them. The midday flight to London carried twenty-one passengers - ten in the front cabin, eleven in the rear, and there were two stewards on board to look after everyone. As the plane flew towards the English Channel. Jane thought about her adventure. It started when she had won a hundred pounds in a lottery and decided to spend the money on a week at Le Pinet. Jane worked at a hairdressing salon called Antoines, and her customers were always going down to Le Pinet. As Jane styled the hair of these rich and glamorous ladies, she thought, 'Why can't I go to Le Pinet?' Well, now she could. And so, she had. Every evening of her holiday, Jane had gone to the casinos with a small amount of money to spend at the gambling tables. On her fourth evening, she decided to play at the roulette wheel. She won a little money, but lost more. As she waited to place her last bet of the evening, she saw that there were two numbers left which nobody had chosen: five and six. Which one would she choose? The wheel began to spin, and Jane quickly placed her bet on number six. The ball clicked and settled. Le numero cinq, rouge,' said the croupier. 'Number five!' Jane could have cried with disappointment. Then the man next to her asked, 'Aren't you going to collect the money you have won?' 'What money? I bet on number six!' 'No, you bet on five.' Was it true? Perhaps she had. She picked up her money and looked doubtfully at the stranger. 'Well done,' he said, and with a friendly smile, he left. And now here was that same man, sitting opposite her on the plane to England. *** Across the cabin, Lady Horbury noticed that she had a broken fingernail, and asked the steward to fetch her maid, who was in the other cabin. Soon, a dark-haired French girl, dressed in black, appeared. 'Madeleine, fetch my little red case,' said Lady Horbury. The maid went to the pile of suitcases at the end of the cabin and returned with a red leather case. Cicely Horbury sent her away, and took a nail file from the case. Jane looked around the cabin. The little foreigner with the moustache was wrapped up in a blanket. His eyes were closed. Beside him sat a tall, grey-haired man. He looked like a lawyer or a doctor. Behind these men were two Frenchmen, talking excitedly. Opposite Jane, Norman Gale was thinking, 'She definitely remembers me. She looked so disappointed when she lost the money she had bet in the casino. It was worth losing to see her pleasure when she won. I did that rather well. She's very attractive when she smiles.' *** Now seated opposite Venetia Kerr, Lady Horbury thought to herself, 'Venetia Kerr always looks at me as if I was a piece of dirt. She wanted my husband Stephen for herself. Well, she didn't get him! But never mind about that - good heavens, what shall I do? That horrible old French woman meant what she said.' Sitting opposite her, the Honourable Venetia Kerr thought, 'Little tart. Poor Stephen. if he could only get rid of her.' *** Wrapped up in his blanket behind the ladies, Hercule Poirot looked at Jane and thought, 'That pretty little one. Why does she not look at the handsome young man opposite her.?' The plane dropped slightly. 'Mon estomac - my stomach!' He closed his eyes. Beside him, Dr Roger Bryant thought, 'I simply can't decide. This is the most important decision of my life. It could destroy my career.' Armand Dupont shouted excitedly at his son, Jean, 'They are wrong - the Germans, the Americans, the English!' He pulled open an ancient briefcase. 'The decoration on these Kurdish pipes is almost exactly the same as the decoration on the pottery of 5,000 BC.' He waved his arm and almost knocked over the plate that a steward was putting on the table in front of him. *** On the other side of the plane, Mr Clancy, writer of detective stories, got up from his seat behind Norman Gale, walked to the end of the cabin, and took a European railway timetable from his coat pocket, in order to work out a complicated alibi for one of his characters. Another passenger, Mr Ryder, was also deep in thought: 'I don't see how I can possibly raise the money for the next payment.' Norman Gale got up and went to the toilet. As soon as he had gone, Jane quickly took out a mirror and put on some more lipstick. Then she looked out of the window at the English Channel shining below, as a steward brought her a cup of coffee. *** A wasp buzzed round Mr Clancy's head, then flew off to investigate the Duponts' coffee cups. Eventually, Jean Dupont managed to kill it, and the cabin was peaceful again. Right at the back of the plane, in seat number two, Madame Giselle's head fell forward. It looked as if she were asleep. But she was not. Madame Giselle was dead. CHAPTER TWO Discovery Henry Mitchell, the senior steward, walked past the tables in the rear cabin, collecting payment for the food and drinks that had been served to the passengers. The old woman at the back was asleep, and he decided not to wake her up until five minutes before they reached London. When that time arrived, he went and stood beside her. 'Madam, your bill.' He shook her gently by the shoulder and her body slipped down in the seat. *** Mitchell walked along the rear cabin, asking quietly at each table, 'Excuse me, Sir, are you a doctor?' Dr Bryant said, 'Yes, I am. What's the matter?' 'It's the lady at the end, Sir.' Dr Bryant got up and went with the senior steward to seat number two. Hercule Poirot, the little man with the moustache, followed them. Bryant bent over the body of the woman. 'She's been dead for at least half an hour,' he said. 'When did you last see her alive?' 'When I brought her coffee, about three-quarters of an hour ago,' said Mitchell. Their discussion was beginning to cause interest. The other passengers were turning round to listen. 'There is a mark on her neck,' said Monsieur Poirot. The woman's head had fallen sideways. There was a tiny mark on the side of her neck. The two Duponts arrived beside them. 'Pardon. The lady is dead, you say, and there is a mark on her neck?' said Jean. 'There was a wasp flying about.' He showed them the dead insect in his saucer. 'Perhaps she has died of a wasp sting?' 'It is possible,' agreed Dr Bryant. 'Especially if she had a weak heart.' 'Is there anything I should do?' asked Mitchell. 'We'll be landing in London in a minute.' 'There's nothing that can be done. The body must not be moved.' 'Pardon. Something has been missed.' Monsieur Poirot pointed at a small yellow and black object lying on the floor. 'Another wasp?' asked the doctor, surprised. Poirot knelt down and carefully picked up the object. 'It is not a wasp!' He showed them a small dart. It was made from a long thorn, which was stained at its pointed end. Yellow and black silk thread was tied around the top. 'Good gracious me!' Mr Clancy was looking over the steward's shoulder. 'I don't believe it! Gentlemen, this is the type of thorn shot from a blowpipe, the kind that is used by various tribes in South America - and I suspect that on the tip.' 'Is the famous arrow poison of the South American Indians,' said Hercule Poirot. CHAPTER THREE Croydon Airport As the plane landed, Mitchell stood in the doorway of the rear cabin. 'I must ask you, Ladies and Gentlemen, to remain in your seats until the police arrive,' he announced. 'Nonsense.' cried Lady Horbury angrily. 'I insist on being allowed to leave at once.' 'I'm sorry, my lady.' Albert Davis, the second steward, had taken the passengers in the front cabin off the plane through the emergency exit. Then he had gone to call the police. It was not long before a tall police inspector and a uniformed policeman hurried onto the plane. The inspector talked to Mitchell and Dr Bryant, and looked at the dead woman. Then he turned to the passengers. 'Will you please follow me, Ladies and Gentlemen?' he said. *** Inspector Japp led the passengers to a private room inside the airport. 'If you will remain here, Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to speak to Doctor Bryant. Please come with me, Doctor.' 'May I help?' asked the little man with the moustache. 'Monsieur Poirot!' said the Inspector. 'I didn't recognize you under that blanket. Of course you may join us.' As the three men left the room, Norman Gale turned to Jane. 'I think I saw you at Le Pinet.' 'Did you?' said Jane. 'I recognized you in the plane. Do you think that woman was really murdered?' 'I suppose so.' Jane shivered. 'It's horrible.' *** 'You turn up in the most unexpected places, Monsieur Poirot,' said Inspector Japp, in a nearby room. 'And why are you here at Croydon airport yourself, my friend?' asked Poirot. 'I'm looking for an international criminal. It's lucky I was here. Now, Doctor, may I have your name and address?' 'Roger James Bryant. 329 Harley Street.' Constable Rogers, the uniformed policeman, wrote down the information. 'Can you give us any idea of the time of death?' 'The woman had been dead at least half an hour when I examined her. And the steward had spoken to her about an hour before.' 'Did you notice anything strange?' The doctor shook his head. 'And I was asleep,' said Poirot. He was angry with himself because he had not seen the murder happen. 'I suffer from travel sickness in the air and on the sea. So, I always try to sleep.' 'Any idea about the cause of death, Doctor?' 'I could not say at this stage.' 'Well, I'm afraid you will have to be searched; all the passengers will.' Dr Bryant smiled. 'In case I have a blowpipe hidden in my luggage, or my pocket?' Japp nodded to the constable. 'Rogers will do it. By the way, Doctor, do you have any idea what would be likely to be on this.?' Japp pointed to the dart which was lying on the table in front of him. 'Curare is the usual poison used by the people in the tribes, I believe. It is very quick.' 'Is it easy to find?' 'Not for an ordinary person.' 'Then we'll have to search you extra carefully. Rogers!' The doctor and the constable left the room together. Japp looked at Poirot. 'A couple of my men are searching the plane. We've got a fingerprint man and a photographer coming along. I think we'd better see the stewards next.' He walked to the door and gave an order. The two stewards came into the room. Davis looked excited. Mitchell was still white and frightened. 'Sit down, Gentlemen,' said Japp. 'Have you brought the passports? Good.' He sorted through them. 'Ah, here we are. Madame Giselle's real name was Marie Morisot. French passport. Do you know anything about her?' 'I've seen her before. She crossed to and from England quite often,' said Mitchell. 'I remember her, too,' said Davis. 'I sometimes saw her on the early service - the eight o'clock from Paris.' 'Which of you was the last to see her alive?' 'I was,' said Mitchell. 'I took her some coffee at about two o'clock.' 'When did you see her next?' 'When I took the bills round, about fifteen minutes later. I thought she was asleep. She must have been dead then!' 'You didn't see this?' Japp pointed to the little dart. 'No, Sir.' 'What about you, Davis?' 'The last time I saw her was when I was handing out the biscuits and cheese. She was all right then.' 'Did this woman speak to anyone on the plane? Did she recognize anyone? asked Japp. 'Not that I saw, Sir,' said Mitchell. 'Davis?' 'No, Sir.' 'Did she leave her seat at all during the journey?' 'I don't think so, Sir.' 'Well, then, that'll be all for now.' Poirot leaned forward. 'One little question. Did either of you notice a wasp flying about the plane?' Both men shook their heads. 'Eh, bien, it is of no importance,' said Poirot. As the two stewards left the room, Japp looked through the passports. 'Let's see Lady Horbury first,' he said. 'You will search all the hand luggage of the passengers in the rear cabin very carefully?' asked Poirot. 'Yes, Monsieur Poirot. We must find that blowpipe - if there is a blowpipe and we're not all dreaming! Everybody has got to be searched; and every bit of luggage has got to be searched, too.' 'A very exact list might be made, perhaps, of everything in these people's possession?' 'If you say so. I don't quite see why, though. We know what we're looking for.' 'I am not so sure. I look for something, but I do not know what it is.' 'You do like to make things difficult, don't you, Monsieur Poirot?' *** Lady Cicely Horbury told Japp that she was the wife of the Earl of Horbury and that she was returning to London from Le Pinet and Paris. She did not know the dead woman. She had noticed nothing strange during the flight. She was facing towards the front of the plane, and so she could not see anything going on behind her. She thought that two men had left the cabin to go to the toilets, but she was not sure. She had not seen anyone handling anything like a blowpipe. She had not noticed the wasp. Lady Horbury was followed by the Honourable Venetia Kerr, also returning from the South of France. She had never seen the dead woman before. She had noticed nothing suspicious during the journey. She had seen a wasp annoying some passengers farther down the cabin, soon after lunch was over. 'If you ask me,' said Japp, when Miss Kerr had gone, 'those Frenchmen are the guilty ones. They were just across the aisle from Morisot. Their suitcase is covered with foreign labels. I wouldn't be surprised if they'd been to Borneo or South America, or wherever it is. As for the motive, we can probably get that from Paris. We'll ask the French police - the Surete - to help us.' Poirot smiled. 'It is possible. But, my friend, those two men cannot possibly be murderers! They are famous archaeologists. Monsieur Armand Dupont and his son, Jean. They have just returned from some very interesting archaeological sites in Persia.' Japp grabbed a passport. 'You're right! Well, let's have a look at them.' *** Armand Dupont did not know the dead woman. He had noticed nothing on the journey, because he had been talking to his son about the ancient pottery of the Near East. He had not left his seat. Yes, he had seen the wasp towards the end of lunch. His son had killed it. Jean Dupont confirmed his father's story. Mr Clancy came next. Inspector Japp felt that Mr Clancy knew too much about blowpipes and poisoned darts. 'Have you ever owned a blowpipe yourself?' he asked. 'Well, yes, actually, I have. You see, I was writing a book in which the murder was committed that way, and I needed a drawing to show the position of fingerprints on the blowpipe. I had noticed one in a shop in the Charing Cross Road, in London, so I bought it, and an artist drew it for me - including the fingerprints.' 'Did you keep the blowpipe?' 'Yes.' 'Where is it now?' 'I don't know. I haven't seen it for six months.' 'Did you leave your seat at all in the plane?' 'Yes. I went to get a railway timetable out of my coat pocket. The coat was lying on my suitcase at the back of the cabin.' 'So you passed the dead woman's seat?' 'Yes, but long before anything could have happened. I'd only just drunk my soup.' Poirot asked about the wasp. Yes, Mr Clancy had noticed a wasp. It had attacked him, just after the steward had brought his coffee. When he tried to hit it, it flew away. Mr Clancy was allowed to leave. Norman Gale was a dentist. He was returning from a holiday at Le Pinet. He had never seen the dead woman, and had noticed nothing suspicious during the journey. He had left his seat once during the journey to go to the toilet. He had not noticed the wasp. *** James Ryder was returning from a business visit. He did not know the dead woman. Yes, he had the seat in front of her, but he had heard no cry or exclamation. No one had come down the cabin except the stewards. The young Frenchman sitting opposite him had killed a wasp. He had never seen a blowpipe. *** There was a knock on the door and a police constable came in. 'The sergeant's just found this, Sir.' He laid an object on the table. 'There are no fingerprints.' It was a native blowpipe. Japp gasped. 'My goodness! Where was it found?' 'Behind one of the seats, Sir. Number nine.' 'Very entertaining,' said Poirot. 'Number nine was my seat.' Japp smiled at him. 'So, did you do it, then, old friend?' 'My friend,' said Poirot seriously, 'when I commit a murder, it will not be with the arrow poison of the South American Indians.' 'Well, it was successful,' said Japp. 'Whoever did it. Only one girl left. Jane Grey. Let's call her in.' Jane Grey worked as a hairdresser in London, and was returning from a holiday in Le Pinet. She had not seen the blowpipe. She did not know the dead woman, but had noticed her at Le Bourget. 'Because she was so very ugly,' she said. As Jane left, Japp picked up the blowpipe again. 'Where does it come from? We'll have to ask an expert. It may be Malayan or South American or African.' 'Look carefully, my friend,' said Poirot, 'and you will notice the remains of a torn-off price ticket. I think that this pipe was bought in a shop.' CHAPTER FOUR The Inquest The inquest on Marie Morisot was held four days later. The first witness called was an elderly Frenchman - Maitre Alexandre Thibault. 'You have seen the body of the deceased.' asked the coroner. 'Do you recognize it?' 'I do. It is the body of my client. Marie Angelique Morisot.' 'That is the name on her passport. Was she also known by another name?' 'Madame Giselle. She was one of the most famous moneylenders in Paris.' 'Where was her business?' 'Number 3. Rue Joliette. 'She travelled to England quite often. Did she also work in this country?' 'Yes. Many of her clients were English.' 'Would she always keep the secret of a client's money problems?' 'Always.' 'Did you know much about her business?' 'No. I was just her lawyer. Madame Giselle ran the business by herself.' 'Was she a rich woman?' 'Very.' 'Did she have any enemies?' 'I don't think so.' *** 'Henry Charles Mitchell. You are the senior steward on the aeroplane Prometheus? 'Yes, Sir.' 'On Tuesday the eighteenth, you -were on duty on the 12 o'clock flight from Paris to Croydon. Had you ever seen the deceased before?' 'Yes, Sir. I used to work on the 8.45 a.m. service, and she travelled by that once or twice.' 'Have you ever heard of Madame Giselle?' 'No, Sir.' The blowpipe was handed to Mitchell. 'Have you ever seen that before?' 'No, Sir.' *** 'Albert Davis. You were working on the Prometheus as second steward last Tuesday?' 'Yes, Sir.' 'What was the first that you knew of the tragedy?' 'Mr Mitchell told me that something had happened to one of the passengers.' 'Have you ever seen this before?' The blowpipe was handed to Davis. 'No, Sir.' *** Dr Bryant gave his name and address and described himself as a specialist in ear and throat diseases. 'Will you tell us, Dr Bryant, exactly what happened on Tuesday the eighteenth?' 'Just before getting into Croydon the chief steward asked if I was a doctor, and told me that one of the passengers was ill. In fact, the woman had been dead for some time.' 'How long, in your opinion?' 'Between thirty minutes and an hour.' 'The cause of death?' 'Impossible to say without a detailed examination.' 'You noticed a small mark on the side of the neck?' 'Yes.' 'Thank you.' 'Dr James Whistler. You are a police surgeon?' 'I am.' 'Will you give your evidence?' 'Shortly after three o'clock on Tuesday, I was called to Croydon airport, to inspect the body of a middle-aged woman on the aeroplane Prometheus. Death had occurred about an hour before. I noticed a round mark on the side of the neck. This could have been caused by the sting of a wasp or by the dart which was shown to me. The body was taken to the mortuary, where I was able to make a detailed examination. I found that her death was caused by poison. It must have been almost instant.' 'Can you tell us what that poison was?' 'No.' 'Thank you.' The next person to give evidence was Mr Winterspoon. He was a scientist who worked for the Government, and he knew all about unusual poisons. The coroner held up the dart and asked if he recognized it. 'I do. It was sent to me for analysis. Originally the dart had been dipped in curare - a traditional arrow poison. But more recently it was dipped in the poison of Dispholidus typus, or the boomslang.' 'What is a boomslang?' 'A deadly South African tree snake. The poison causes bleeding under the skin and stops the heart.' *** Detective-Sergeant Wilson described finding the blowpipe behind one of the seats. There were no fingerprints on it. Experiments had also been made with the blowpipe. It was accurate, up to about ten yards. *** Hercule Poirot had noticed nothing unusual on the journey. He was the person who had found the tiny dart on the floor of the cabin. *** Neither Lady Horbury nor the Honourable Venetia Kerr had seen anything unusual. They had never seen the deceased before. *** 'You are James Bell Ryder?' 'Yes.' 'What is your profession?' 'I am in charge of the Ellis Vale Cement Company.' 'Please examine this blowpipe. Have you ever seen it before?' 'No.' 'You were sitting in seat number four, right in front of the deceased. From that seat you could see almost everyone in the compartment.' 'No. I couldn't see the people on my side. The seats have high backs.' 'But if one of those people had stepped out into the aisle to aim the blowpipe at the deceased, you would have seen them then?' 'Certainly.' 'You didn't see anybody do this?' 'No.' 'Did any of the people in front of you move from their seats?' 'The man two rows in front of me got up and went to the toilet.' 'Was he carrying anything?' 'Nothing.' 'Did anyone else move?' 'The man in front of me came past to the back of the cabin.' 'Did this gentleman have anything in his hands?' 'A pen. When he came back he also had an orange book.' 'Did you leave your seat?' 'Yes, I went to the toilet - and, no, I didn't have a blowpipe in my hand either.' Norman Gale, dentist, and Miss Jane Grey, hairdresser's assistant, we're also unable to assist the inquiry. Neither of them had seen anything unusual on the journey. *** When Mr Clancy was questioned by the coroner, he explained that he had been too busy working out the timetables of foreign train services to notice anything going on around him. The whole cabin might have been shooting poisoned darts out of blowpipes for all he knew. Monsieur Armand Dupont said that he was on his way to London, to give a public talk. He and his son had been having an important conversation, and had not noticed the deceased until her death was discovered. 'Did you know Madame Morisot, or Madame Giselle?' 'No, Monsieur.' 'You have recently returned from the East?' 'From Persia.' 'You and your son have travelled to many foreign parts of the world?' 'Yes.' 'Have you ever come across a tribe of people who use arrows with snake poison on the tips?' 'Never.' Jean Dupont's evidence was the same as his father's. He had thought it was possible that the deceased had been stung by a wasp, because he had been annoyed by one too, and had finally killed it. The Duponts were the last witnesses. It was an incredible case. A woman had been murdered in mid-air. In front of twelve witnesses, the murderer had placed a blowpipe to his lips and sent the fatal dart through the air and no one had seen the act. It seemed impossible, but the evidence showed that was what had happened. And the murderer must be one of the witnesses themselves. Because it was still unclear exactly who had committed the murder, the coroner advised the jury to give a verdict of 'murder by a person or persons unknown.' Everyone said they didn't know the dead woman, and there was no obvious motive for the crime. The police would have to find the connection later. The jury must now consider the verdict. One member of the jury leaned forward. 'Can I ask a question, Sir?' he asked. 'Certainly.' 'You say the blowpipe was found down a seat? Whose seat?' The coroner looked at his notes. 'The seat was number nine, occupied by Monsieur Hercule Poirot, a well-known private detective who has worked several times in the past with Scotland Yard.' 'And it was Mr Poirot who picked up the dart?' 'Yes.' The jury left the courtroom to discuss their verdict. They came back after five minutes, and handed a piece of paper to the coroner. The coroner frowned. 'Nonsense! I can't accept this verdict.' The jury examined the facts again, and then gave their final verdict. Marie Morisot's death was caused by poison. There is no evidence to prove who gave her the poison. CHAPTER FIVE After the Inquest As Jane left the court she found Norman Gale beside her. 'I wonder what was on that paper that the coroner wouldn't accept,' he said. 'I can tell you, I think.' They turned round, to find Monsieur Poirot smiling at them. 'The jury accused me - Hercule Poirot! - of being the murderer. Definitely, I must work to clear my name.' He bowed and walked away. 'Extraordinary little man,' said Gale. 'Now, how about having tea with me?' 'Thank you,' said Jane. 'I would like to.' They found a teashop and sat down at a table. 'It's strange, this murder business.' said Norman, as they waited for a waitress to bring them their tea. 'I know,' said Jane. 'I'm worried about my job. Antoines may not want to employ a girl who's been involved in a murder case. After all, I might actually be the person who murdered her! It wouldn't be very nice having your hair done by someone like that.' 'You're not a murderer! Anyone can see that, just by looking at you,' said Norman. 'I'm not sure,' said Jane. 'I'd like to murder some of my ladies sometimes, if I could be sure no one would find out!' 'Well, you didn't do this particular murder. I'm sure of it!' 'And I know you didn't do it. But that won't help if your patients think you did.' Norman looked thoughtful. 'I hadn't thought of that. A dentist who might be a dangerous killer. It's not a very comfortable idea. I say,' he added, 'you don't mind that I'm a dentist, do you?' Jane raised her eyebrows. 'Why would I mind?' 'Well, it's not a very romantic profession.' They both laughed, and then Norman said, 'I feel we're going to be friends. Do you?' 'Yes, I do.' 'Would you have dinner with me one night, and perhaps go to the theatre?' 'Thank you. Yes.' There was a pause. Then Norman said, 'Jane, who do you think really murdered this Giselle woman?' 'I have no idea. I didn't realise until today that one of the others must have done it.' 'Well, I know I didn't do it, and I know you didn't do it, because I was watching you most of the time.' 'I know you didn't do it, for the same reason. And I know I didn't do it! So it must have been one of the others; but I don't see how we can ever know who it was.' 'Let's think about them all now,' said Norman. 'The stewards?' 'No.' 'I agree. The women opposite us?' 'I don't believe Lady Horbury would go around killing people. And Miss Kerr is far too much of a lady, I'm sure.' 'It can't be Monsieur Poirot, and the doctor doesn't seem likely, either. What about Clancy, who actually confessed to owning a blowpipe?' 'He didn't need to mention it,' Jane pointed out, 'so it looks as though he's all right.' 'Ryder?' 'It might be him.' 'And the two Frenchmen?' 'They're the most likely. They've been to foreign countries, so they could have got the poison there. And they may have had some reason we know nothing about. I thought the younger one looked nice, though; and the father was a sweet man. I hope it isn't them.' 'We don't seem to be making much progress,' sighed Norman. 'I don't see how we can, without knowing a lot of things about the woman. Did she have any enemies, who's going to inherit her money, and all that.' 'There is a good a reason for trying to solve the mystery, you know. Murder doesn't just involve the victim and the killer. It affects other people, too. We're innocent, but this murder has touched us. We don't know how it may change our lives.' CHAPTER SIX Consultation Outside the courtroom, Hercule Poirot spoke to Inspector Japp. 'Hello, Poirot,' smiled the inspector. 'You had a lucky escape from being locked up in a police cell.' He introduced a tall, thin man with a sad, clever-looking face. 'This is Monsieur Fournier of the Surete. He has come over to England to work with us on this business.' Fournier bowed and they shook hands. 'I suggest,' said Poirot, 'that you both dine with me, at my apartment. I have also invited Maitre Thibault. You see, I wish to prove to you that I am not the murderer.' 'That jury certainly didn't like the look of you,' laughed Inspector Japp. *** The little Belgian detective provided an excellent meal for his friends. When they had finished eating, the four men began to discuss the mysterious murder. 'Well,' said Japp, 'Maitre Thibault must go on to another appointment later this evening, so I suggest, to save time, that we start by asking him to tell us all he can about this Giselle woman.' 'In truth,' said the lawyer, 'I know very little about her. Madame Giselle was what you call in this country ”a character”. She was a pretty young woman, I believe, but then she caught smallpox and lost her good looks. She was a woman who enjoyed power. She was a very clever businesswoman, who never allowed emotions to affect her work; She was known to be completely honest in her work.' Fournier nodded. 'Yes, she was honest, but according to her personal rules. The police could have caught her - if there had been any evidence of a crime, but.' he sighed, sadly, 'nobody would provide the necessary information. It's understandable, when such information would, no doubt, destroy their own reputation.' 'Blackmail?' said Japp. 'Yes. Madame Giselle had her own ways of getting people to pay back the money she lent them. Madame Giselle's clients came from the upper and professional classes. Those people care very much what society thinks of them. They must guard their reputations. It was Madame Giselle's habit before lending money to collect information about her clients, and her intelligence system was an extremely good one. As we said before, according to her own rules Madame Giselle was an honest woman. She protected those clients who kept their promises and paid their debts. I believe that she never used her secret knowledge to obtain money unless that money was owed to her.' 'You mean,' said Poirot, 'that this knowledge was her security?' 'Exactly, and, Gentlemen, her system worked! She very rarely lost her money. A man or woman in an important social position would do anything to get the money to pay her back and prevent a public scandal.' 'And supposing,' said Poirot, 'that there was occasionally a client who couldn't pay - what then?' 'In that case,' said Fournier, 'the information was either published, or was given directly to the person who would be most seriously affected by receiving it.' 'Financially, that did not benefit her?' 'Not directly,' said Fournier. 'But it made the others pay up, eh?' said Japp. 'Exactly.' Japp rubbed his nose thoughtfully. 'Well, that certainly suggests some possible motives for murder. Who is going to inherit her money?' he asked Thibault. 'She had a daughter,' said the lawyer. 'The girl did not live with her mother - in fact, her mother had not seen her since she was a tiny child; but she made a will many years ago, leaving everything to her daughter, Anne Morisot, except for a small legacy to her maid.' 'Is the fortune large?' asked Poirot. 'I would guess between eight and nine million francs.' Poirot whistled. 'Why, that must be well over a hundred thousand pounds!' said Japp. 'Mademoiselle Anne Morisot will be a very wealthy young woman,' said Poirot. 'She's lucky that she wasn't on that plane. She might have been suspected of murdering her mother for the money. How old is she now?' 'About twenty-four or five,' said the lawyer. 'Well, there's nothing to connect her with the crime. As for this blackmailing business, everyone on that plane denies knowing Madame Giselle. One of them is lying, and we must find out who it is. An examination of her private papers might help, eh, Fournier?' 'My friend,' said the Frenchman, 'as soon as the news came through from Scotland Yard, I went straight to her house. There was a safe there containing papers. All those papers had been burnt.' ”Who by? Why?' 'Madame Giselle's maid, Elise, had orders to open the safe and burn the contents if anything ever happened to her mistress.' 'What?' said Japp. 'You see, Madame Giselle promised her clients that she would deal honestly with them, and she was a woman who kept her promises.' Japp shook his head. Maitre Thibault rose to his feet. 'Gentlemen, I must go now. If there is any further information I can give you, you know my address.' He shook hands with them and left the apartment. CHAPTER SEVEN Probabilities 'Now,' said Japp, 'there were eleven passengers in the rear cabin of that plane, and two stewards. That's twelve people who could have murdered the old woman. Monsieur Fournier can investigate the French passengers. I'll take the English ones. There are also inquiries to be made in Paris, Fournier.' 'Not only in Paris,' said Fournier. 'In the summer, Giselle did a lot of business at resorts on the coast - Deauville, Le Pinet, Wimereux. She went south, too, to Antibes, Nice, and all those places.' 'Then we must investigate the murder itself, and prove who could possibly have used that blowpipe.' Japp unrolled a large plan of the cabin, and laid it out on the table. 'We can cross Monsieur Poirot off the list, which brings the number down to eleven. The stewards are unlikely suspects, but they moved around the cabin, and so they could have stood in a place where they could have used that blowpipe - although I don't think that a steward could shoot a poisoned dart out of a blowpipe in a cabin full of people without someone noticing. Of course, the same thing is true for every other person. Whoever did it was extremely lucky!' 'It is, perhaps, a person with a sense of humour,' said Fournier. 'And now we must think about the passengers. Let's start with seat number 16. Jane Grey - she won a lottery prize, and spent the money on a trip to Le Pinet. That means she's a gambler. It's unlikely that she borrowed money from Giselle. And I don't think a hairdresser's assistant could get hold of snake poison. They don't use it as a hair dye. In fact, the murderer made a mistake by using snake poison. Not many people could get hold of it.' 'Which makes one thing clear,' said Poirot. 'The murderer belongs to one of two categories. He might be a man who has travelled to foreign lands, and knows something about poisonous snakes and the native tribes who use the poison to kill their enemies. Or he is involved in scientific research. Winterspoon told me that snake poison is sometimes used in medicine. But neither of those categories fit Jane Grey. A motive seems unlikely. Look, actually using the blowpipe is almost impossible for her.' The three men studied the plan. 'Here's seat 16,' said Japp. 'And here's Giselle's seat, number two. If Grey didn't move from her seat - and everybody says she didn't - then she couldn't possibly have shot Giselle in the neck with the blowpipe from there. Number 12, opposite, is the dentist, Norman Gale. He'd have a better chance of getting hold of snake poison through his work, or from a scientist friend - but he only left his seat once - to go to the toilet, which is in the opposite direction. And to shoot a blowpipe on his way back that could hit the old lady in the neck, he'd need a magic dart that could turn round the corner. Very unlikely' 'I agree,' said Fournier. 'We'll cross the aisle now. Number 17.' 'That was my seat originally,' said Poirot. 'I gave it to one of the ladies, who wanted to sit beside her friend.' 'The Honourable Venetia Kerr is very well known in London. She might have borrowed money from Giselle. It doesn't look as though she had any guilty secrets, but maybe she interfered with the results of a horse race or something. If Giselle had turned her head to look out of the window, Venetia Kerr could have shot her diagonally across the cabin, but only if she stood up to do it. She's the sort of woman who goes shooting in the autumn. Shooting a native blowpipe must need similar kinds of skills and she's probably got friends who've been big-game hunting around the world, who could get hold of snake poison for her. What nonsense it all sounds, though!' 'I saw Mademoiselle Kerr at the inquest.' Fournier shook his head. 'It is not easy to connect her with murder.' 'Seat 13,' said Japp. 'Lady Horbury I wouldn't be surprised if she had a guilty secret or two.' 'She has been losing money at the baccarat table at Le Pinet.' 'Ah. And she's the type of person to be mixed up with Giselle. But how could she have done it? She'd have had to kneel up and lean over the top of her seat, with ten people looking at her!' 'Seats nine and ten,' said Fournier, moving his finger on the plan. 'Hercule Poirot and Dr Bryant,' said Japp. 'Dr Bryant is unlikely to go to a French woman moneylender; but you never know. And he will know medical research people. He could easily have stolen some snake poison while he was visiting a laboratory. But then, why did he mention poison? Why didn't he just say that the woman had died from heart failure?' 'I think that was his first thought,' said Poirot. 'It looked like a natural death, possibly as the result of a wasp sting; there was a wasp, remember?' 'We're not likely to forget. You're always talking about it.' 'However, when I found the poisoned dart on the ground, everything pointed to murder.' 'The dart would have been found anyway.' Poirot shook his head. 'The murderer could have picked it up secretly.' 'A bit of a risk.' 'You think so now,' said Fournier, 'because you know that it is murder. But when a lady dies suddenly of heart failure, who will notice if a man drops his handkerchief and then picks it up again?' 'True,' agreed Japp. 'Well, Bryant is definitely on the list. He could have leaned round the corner of his seat and blown in the pipe diagonally across the cabin. But nobody saw him!' 'I think there is a reason for that,' said Fournier. 'If you were travelling on a train, and you passed a burning house, everyone would look out of the window at it. At that moment, a man might take out a knife and stab someone, and nobody would see him do it.' 'That is true,' said Poirot. 'And if such a moment occurred during the journey of the Prometheus, it would have been created by the murderer.' 'Well, we'll add it to our list of questions,' said Japp. 'Now, seat number eight - Daniel Michael Clancy. A crime writer could easily pretend to have an interest in snake poison and persuade a chemist to show him some. And he was the only passenger to go past Giselle's seat. He could have used that blowpipe without needing the ”moment”. And he knows all about blowpipes. It looks suspicious to me. Seat number four was Ryder - right in front of Giselle. He went to the toilet, and could have taken a shot at her on the way back. But he'd have been right next to the archaeologists when he did so, and they would have noticed.' Poirot shook his head. 'You do not know many archaeologists, perhaps? If they were discussing a really important point - eh bien, my friend, they would be blind and deaf to whatever was happening around them. They would be living in 5,000 BC. At that moment AD 1935 would not exist for them.' Japp did not look impressed. 'What can you tell us about the Duponts, Fournier?' 'Armand Dupont is one of the most famous archaeologists in France.' 'That doesn't matter to us. Their position in the cabin is pretty good. And they've travelled to a lot of strange places; they might easily have got hold of snake poison.' Fournier shook his head. 'The Duponts are devoted to their profession. It is unlikely that they are mixed up in this business.' 'All right. I will find out if Clancy, Bryant and Ryder have ever needed money; if they have seemed worried lately; where they have been during the last year and so on. Wilson can check up on the others. And Monsieur Fournier will investigate the Duponts.' Fournier nodded. 'I shall return to Paris tonight. There may be more information to find out from Elise, Giselle's maid. And I will check where Giselle had been during the summer. I know she was at Le Pinet once or twice.' 'I would like to go with Monsieur Fournier to Paris,' said Poirot. Japp looked at Poirot curiously. 'Do you have some ideas?' 'One or two; but it is very difficult. One thing that worries me is the fact that the blowpipe was hidden behind a seat.' 'Whoever did it had to hide the thing somewhere,' said Japp. 'But, my friend, in each window of the plane there is a ventilator, a circle of holes which can be opened or closed by turning a wheel of glass. Those holes are wide enough to push the blowpipe through. What could be simpler than to get rid of it that way?' 'The murderer was afraid of being seen.' 'He was not afraid of someone seeing him put the blowpipe to his lips and sending the fatal dart, but he was afraid that they would see him trying to push it through the window?' 'It gives you an idea?' asked Fournier. 'Perhaps. Do you have that detailed list of the passengers' belongings that I asked you to get me?' CHAPTER EIGHT The List 'Here you are.' Japp took some pages out of his pocket. Poirot took them and began to read. James Ryder Pockets: handkerchief; wallet with seven one pound notes; three business cards; letter from partner George Ebermann hoping that the loan has been successfully negotiated.'; cigarette-case; book of matches; keys; French and English coins. Briefcase: documents about his cement business. Dr Bryant Pockets: two handkerchiefs; wallet with 20 pounds and 500 francs; French and English coins; diary; fountain-pen: keys. Norman Gale Pockets: handkerchief; wallet with 1 pound and 600 francs; coins; business cards; Bryant

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