Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.

Jessamyn West

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Ebook "A Caribbean Mystery"
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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 22 - A MAN IN HER LIFE
etting a little chat in a natural manner with Dr. Graham was not so easy as Miss Marple had hoped. She was particularly anxious not to approach him directly since she did not want to lend undue importance to the questions she was going to ask him.
Tim was back, looking after Molly and Miss Marple had arranged that she should relieve him there during the time that dinner was served and he was needed in the dining room. He had assured her that Mrs. Dyson was quite willing to take that on, or even Mrs. Hillingdon, but Miss Marple said firmly that they were both young women who liked enjoying themselves and that she herself preferred a light meal early and so that would suit everybody. Tim once again thanked her warmly. Hovering rather uncertainly round the hotel and on the pathway which connected with various bungalows, among them Dr. Graham's, Miss Marple tried to plan what she was going to do next.
She had a lot of confused and contradictory ideas in her head and if there was one thing that Miss Marple did not like, it was to have confused and contradictory ideas. This whole business had started out clearly enough. Major Palgrave with his regrettable capacity for telling stories, his indiscretion that had obviously been overheard and the corollary, his death within twenty-four hours. Nothing difficult about that, thought Miss Marple. But afterwards, she was forced to admit, there was nothing but difficulty.
Everything pointed in too many different directions at once. Once admit that you didn't believe a word that anybody had said to you, that nobody could be trusted, and that many of the persons with whom she had conversed here had had regrettable resemblances to certain persons at St. Mary Mead, and where did that lead you? Her mind was increasingly focused on the victim. Someone was going to be killed and she had the increasing feeling that she ought to know quite well who that someone was.
There had been something. Something she had heard? Noticed? Seen?
Something someone had told her that had a bearing on the case. Joan Prescott? Joan Prescott had said a lot of things about a lot of people. Scandal? Gossip? What exactly had Joan Prescott said?
Gregory Dyson, Lucky-Miss Marple's mind hovered over Lucky. Lucky, she was convinced with a certainty born of her natural suspicions, had been actively concerned in the death of Gregory Dyson's first wife. Everything pointed to it. Could it be that the predestined victim over whom she was worrying was Gregory Dyson? That Lucky intended to try her luck again with another husband, and for that reason wanted not only freedom but the handsome inheritance that she would get as Gregory Dyson's widow?
“But really,” said Miss Marple to herself, “this is all pure conjecture. I'm being stupid. I know I'm being stupid. The truth must be quite plain, if one could just clear away the litter. Too much litter, that's what's the matter.”
“Talking to yourself?” said Mr. Rafiel.
Miss Marple jumped. She had not noticed his approach. Esther Walters was supporting him and he was coming slowly down from his bungalow to the terrace.
“I really didn't notice you, Mr. Rafiel.”
“Your lips were moving. What's become of all this urgency of yours?”
“It's still urgent,” said Miss Marple, “only I can't just see what must be perfectly plain-”
“I'm glad it's as simple as that. Well, if you want any help, count on me.”
He turned his head as Jackson approached them along the path.
“So there you are, Jackson. Where the devil have you been? Never about when I want you.”
“Sorry, Mr. Rafiel.”
Dexterously he slipped his shoulder under Mr. Rafiel's. “Down to the terrace, sir?”
“You can take me to the bar,” said Mr. Rafiel. “All right, Esther, you can go now and change into your evening togs. Meet me on the terrace in half an hour.”
He and Jackson went off together. Mrs. Walters dropped into the chair by Miss Marple. She rubbed her arm gently. “He seems a very lightweight,” she observed, “but at the moment my arm feels quite numb. I haven't seen you this afternoon at all, Miss Marple.”
“No, I've been sitting with Molly Kendal,” Miss Marple explained. “She seems really very much better.”
“If you ask me there was never very much wrong with her,” said Esther Walters.
Miss Marple raised her eyebrows.
Esther Walters's tone had been decidedly dry.
“You mean-you think her suicide attempt...”
“I don't think there was any suicide attempt,” said Esther Walters. “I don't believe for a moment she took a real overdose and I think Dr. Graham knows that perfectly well.”
“Now you interest me very much,” said Miss Marple. “I wonder why you say that?”
“Because I'm almost certain that it's the case. Oh, it's a thing that happens very often. It's a way, I suppose, of calling attention to oneself,” went on Esther Walters.
“'You'll be sorry when I'm dead'?” quoted Miss Marple.
“That sort of thing,” agreed Esther Walters, “though I don't think that was the motive in this particular instance. That's the sort of thing you feel like when your husband's playing you up and yet you're still terribly fond of him.”
“You don't think Molly Kendal is fond of her husband?”
“Well,” said Esther Walters, “do you?”
Miss Marple considered. “I have,” she said, “more or less assumed it.” She paused a moment before adding, “perhaps wrongly.”
Esther was smiling her rather wry smile.
“I've heard a little about her, you know. About the whole business.”
“From Miss Prescott?”
“Oh,” said Esther, “from one or two people. There's a man in the case. Someone she was keen on. Her people were dead against him.”
“Yes,” said Miss Marple, “I did hear that.”
“And then she married Tim. Perhaps she was fond of him in a way. But the other man didn't give up. I've wondered once or twice if he didn't actually follow her out here.”
“Indeed. But-who?”
“I've no idea who,” said Esther, “and I should imagine that they've been very careful.”
“You think she cares for this other man?”
Esther shrugged her shoulders. “I dare say he's a bad lot,” she said, “but that's very often the kind who knows how to get under a woman's skin and stay there.”
“You never heard what kind of a man-what he did-anything like that?”
Esther shook her head. “No. People hazard guesses, but you can't go by that type of thing. He may have been a married man. That may have been why her people disliked it, or he may have been a real bad lot. Perhaps he drank. Perhaps he tangled with the law. I don't know. But she cares for him still. That I know positively.”
“You've seen something, heard something?” Miss Marple hazarded.
“I know what I'm talking about,” said Esther. Her voice was harsh and unfriendly.
“These murders-” began Miss Marple.
“Can't you forget murders?” said Esther. “You've got Mr. Rafiel now all tangled up in them. Can't you just-let them be? You'll never find out any more, I'm sure of that.”
Miss Marple looked at her.
“You think you know, don't you?” she said.
“I think I do, yes. I'm fairly sure.”
“Then oughtn't you to tell what you know-do something about it?”
“Why should I? What good would it do? I couldn't prove anything. What would happen anyway? People get let off nowadays so easily. They call it diminished responsibility and things like that. A few years in prison and you're out again, as right as rain.”
“Supposing, because you don't tell what you know, somebody else gets killed-another victim?”
Esther shook her head with confidence.
“That won't happen,” she said.
“You can't be sure of it.”
“I am sure. And in any case I don't see who-” She frowned. “Anyway,” she added, almost inconsequently, “perhaps it is-diminished responsibility. Perhaps you can't help it-not if you are really mentally unbalanced. Oh, I don't know. By far the best thing would be if she went off with whoever it is, then we could all forget about things.”
She glanced at her watch, gave an exclamation of dismay and got up. “I must go and change.”
Miss Marple sat looking after her. Pronouns, she thought, were always puzzling and women like Esther Walters were particularly prone to strew them about haphazard.
Was Esther Walters for some reason convinced that a woman had been responsible for the deaths of Major Palgrave and Victoria? It sounded like it.
Miss Marple considered.
“Ah, Miss Marple, sitting here all alone-and not even knitting?”
It was Dr. Graham for whom she had sought so long and so unsuccessfully.
And here he was prepared of his own accord to sit down for a few minutes' chat. He wouldn't stay long. Miss Marple thought, because he too was bent on changing for dinner, and he usually dined fairly early. She explained that she had been sitting by Molly Kendal's bedside that afternoon.
“One can hardly believe she has made such a good recovery so quickly,” she said.
“Oh well,” said Dr. Graham, “it's not very surprising. She didn't take a very heavy overdose, you know.”
“Oh, I understood she'd taken quite a half-bottle full of tablets.”
Dr. Graham was smiling indulgently.
“No,” he said, “I don't think she took that amount. I dare say she meant to take them, then probably at the last moment she threw half of them away. People, even when they think they want to commit suicide, often don't really want to do it. They manage not to take a full overdose. It's not always deliberate deceit, it's just the subconscious looking after itself.”
“Or, I suppose it might be deliberate. I mean, wanting it to appear that...” Miss Marple paused.
“It's possible,” said Dr. Graham.
“If she and Tim had had a row, for instance?”
“They don't have rows, you know. They seem very fond of each other. Still, I suppose it can always happen once. No, I don't think there's very much wrong with her now. She could really get up and go about as usual. Still, it's safer to keep her where she is for a day or two-” He got up, nodded cheerfully and went off towards the hotel. Miss Marple sat where she was a little while longer.
Various thoughts passed through her mind. The book under Molly's mattress. The way Molly had feigned sleep. Things Joan Prescott and, later Esther Walters, had said... And then she went back to the beginning of it all-to Major Palgrave.
Something struggled in her mind. Something about Major Palgrave...
Something that if she could only remember...
A Caribbean Mystery A Caribbean Mystery - Agatha Christie A Caribbean Mystery