People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.

Thích Nhất Hạnh

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Ebook "A Caribbean Mystery"
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Sách Đọc Nhiều
Tác giả: Agatha Christie
Thể loại: Trinh Thám
Biên tập: Yen
Language: English
Số chương: 37
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Cập nhật: 2015-01-24 12:31:11 +0700
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Chapter 19 - USES OF A SHOE
anon Prescott came back from the water's edge slightly short of breath (playing with children is always exhausting).
Presently he and his sister went back to the hotel, finding the beach a little too hot.
“But,” said Seсora de Caspearo scornfully as they walked away, “How can a beach be too hot? It is nonsense that. And look what she wears-her arms and her neck are all covered up. Perhaps it is as well, that. Her skin it is hideous, like a plucked chicken.”
Miss Marple drew a deep breath. Now or never was the time for conversation with Seсora de Caspearo. Unfortunately she did not know what to say. There seemed to be no common ground on which they could meet.
“You have children, Seсora?” she inquired.
“I have three angels,” said Seсora de Caspearo, kissing her fingertips. Miss Marple was rather uncertain as to whether this meant that Seсora de Caspearo's offspring were in Heaven or whether it merely referred to their characters. One of the gentlemen in attendance made a remark in Spanish and Seсora de Caspearo flung back her head appreciatively and laughed loudly and melodiously.
“You understand what he said?” she inquired of Miss Marple.
“I'm afraid not,” said Miss Marple apologetically.
“It is just as well. He is a wicked man.”
A rapid and spirited interchange of Spanish followed.
“It is infamous-infamous,” said Seсora de Caspearo, reverting to English with sudden gravity, “that the police do not let us go from this island. I storm, I scream, I stamp my foot, but all they say is No. No. You know how it will end, we shall all be killed.”
Her bodyguard attempted to reassure her.
“But yes. I tell you it is unlucky here. I knew it from the first. That old Major, the ugly one, he had the Evil Eye. You remember? His eyes they crossed. It is bad, that! I make the Sign of the Horns every time when he looks my way.” She made it in illustration. “Though since he is cross-eyed I am not always sure when he does look my way-”
“He had a glass eye,” said Miss Marple in an explanatory voice. “An accident, I understand, when he was quite young. It was not his fault.”
“I tell you he brought bad luck. I say it is the evil eye he had.”
Her hand shot out again in the well-known Latin gesture: the first finger and the little finger sticking out, the two middle ones doubled in. “Anyway,” she said cheerfully, “he is dead. I do not have to look at him anymore. I do not like to look at things that are ugly.”
It was, Miss Marple thought, a somewhat cruel epitaph on Major Palgrave. Farther down the beach Gregory Dyson had come out of the sea. Lucky had turned herself over on the sand. Evelyn Hillingdon was looking at Lucky, and her expression, for some reason, made Miss Marple shiver.
“Surely I can't be cold-in this hot sun,” she thought.
What was the old phrase? “A goose walking over your grave-”
She got up and went slowly back to her bungalow.
On the way she passed Mr. Rafiel and Esther Walters coming down the beach. Mr. Rafiel winked at her. Miss Marple did not wink back. She looked at him disapprovingly. She went into her bungalow and lay down on her bed. She felt old and tired and worried.
She was quite certain that there was no time to be lost-no time to be lost... It was getting late... The sun was going to set. The sun, one must always look at the sun through smoked glass... Where was that piece of smoked glass that someone had given her?... No, she wouldn't need it after all. A shadow had come over the sun blotting it out. A shadow. Evelyn Hillingdon's shadow. No, not Evelyn Hillingdon-The Shadow (what were the words) the Shadow of the Valley of Death. That was it. She must-what was it? Make the Sign of the Horns-to avert the Evil Eye-Major Palgrave's Evil Eye. Her eyelids flickered open-she had been asleep. But there was a shadow-someone peering in at her window.
The shadow moved away and Miss Marple saw who it was. It was Jackson.
“Impertinence-peering in like that,” she thought-and added parenthetically “Just like Jonas Parry.”
The comparison reflected no credit on Jackson.
Then she wondered why Jackson had been peering into her bedroom. To see if she was there? Or to note that she was there, but was asleep. She got up, went into the bathroom and peered cautiously through the window. Arthur Jackson was standing by the door of the bungalow next door. Mr. Rafiel's bungalow. She saw him give a rapid glance round and then slip quickly inside.
Interesting, thought Miss Marple. Why did he have to look round in that furtive manner. Nothing in the world could have been more natural than his going into Mr. Rafiel's bungalow since he himself had a room at the back of it. He was always going in and out of it on some errand or other.
So why that quick, guilty glance round? “Only one reason,” said Miss Marple, “he wanted to be sure that nobody was observing him enter at this particular moment because of something he was going to do in there.”
Everybody, of course, was on the beach at this moment except those who had gone for expeditions. In about twenty minutes or so, Jackson himself would arrive on the beach in the course of his duties to aid Mr. Rafiel to take his sea dip. If he wanted to do anything in the bungalow unobserved, now was a very good time. He had satisfied himself that Miss Marple was asleep on her bed, he had satisfied himself that there was nobody near at hand to observe his movements. Well, she must do her best to do exactly that.
Sitting down on her bed. Miss Marple removed her neat sandal shoes and replaced them with a pair of plimsolls. Then she shook her head, removed the plimsolls, burrowed in her suitcase and took out a pair of shoes the heel on one of which she had recently caught on a hook by the door. It was now in a slightly precarious state and Miss Marple adroitly rendered it even more precarious by attention with a nail file. Then she emerged with due precaution from her door walking in stockinged feet.
With all the care of a Big Game Hunter approaching up-wind of a herd of antelope, Miss Marple gently circumnavigated Mr. Rafiel's bungalow.
Cautiously she manoeuvred her way around the corner of the house. She put on one of the shoes she was carrying, gave a final wrench to the heel of the other, sank gently to her knees and lay prone under the window. If Jackson heard anything, if he came to the window to look out, an old lady would have had a fall owing to the heel coming off her shoe. But evidently Jackson had heard nothing.
Very, very gently Miss Marple raised her head. The windows of the bungalow were low. Shielding herself slightly with a festoon of creeper she peered inside...
Jackson was on his knees before a suitcase.
The lid of the suitcase was up and Miss Marple could see that it was a specially fitted affair containing compartments filled with various kinds of papers.
Jackson was looking through the papers, occasionally drawing documents out of long envelopes. Miss Marple did not remain at her observation post for long. All she wanted was to know what Jackson was doing. She knew now. Jackson was snooping. Whether he was looking for something in particular, or whether he was just indulging his natural instincts, she had no means of judging. But it confirmed her in her belief that Arthur Jackson and Jonas Parry had strong affinities in other things than facial resemblance.
Her problem was now to withdraw. Very carefully she dropped down again and crept along the flowerbed until she was clear of the window. She returned to her bungalow and carefully put away the shoe and the heel that she had detached from it. She looked at them with affection. A good device which she could use on another day if necessary. She resumed her own sandal shoes, and went thoughtfully down to the beach again.
Choosing a moment when Esther Walters was in the water. Miss Marple moved into the chair Esther had vacated.
Greg and Lucky were laughing and talking with Seсora de Caspearo and making a good deal of noise.
Miss Marple spoke very quietly, almost under her breath, without looking at Mr. Rafiel.
“Do you know that Jackson snoops?”
“Doesn't surprise me,” said Mr. Rafiel. “Caught him at it, did you?”
“I managed to observe him through a window. He had one of your suitcases open and was looking through your papers.”
“Must have managed to get hold of a key to it. Resourceful fellow. He'll be disappointed though. Nothing he gets hold of in that way will do him a mite of good.”
“He's coming down now,” said Miss Marple, glancing up towards the hotel.
“Time for that idiotic sea dip of mine.” He spoke again-very quietly. “As for you-don't be too enterprising. We don't want to be attending your funeral next. Remember your age, and be careful. There's somebody about who isn't too scrupulous, remember?”
A Caribbean Mystery A Caribbean Mystery - Agatha Christie A Caribbean Mystery