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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 25 - MISS MARPLE USES HER IMAGINATION
o that's what had been going on?” said Mr. Rafiel. He and Miss Marple were sitting together in a confidential manner. “She'd been having an affair with Tim Kendal had she?”
“Hardly an affair, I imagine,” said Miss Marple, primly. “It was, I think, a romantic attachment with the prospect of marriage in the future.”
“What-after his wife was dead?”
“I don't think poor Esther Walters knew that Molly was going to die,” said Miss Marple. “I just think she believed the story Tim Kendal told her about Molly having been in love with another man, and the man having followed her here, and I think she counted on Tim's getting a divorce. I think it was all quite proper and respectable. But she was very much in love with him.”
“Well, that's easily understood. He was an attractive chap. But what made him go for her, d'you know that too?”
“You know, don't you?” said Miss Marple.
“I dare say I've got a pretty fair idea, but I don't know how you should know about it. As far as that goes, I don't see how Tim Kendal could know about it.”
“Well, I really think I could explain all that with a little imagination, though it would be simpler if you told me.”
“I'm not going to tell you,” said Mr. Rafiel. “You tell me, since you're being so clever.”
“Well, it seems to me possible,” said Miss Marple, “that as I have already hinted to you, your man Jackson was in the habit of taking a good snoop through your various business papers from time to time.”
“Perfectly possible,” said Mr. Rafiel, “but I shouldn't have said there was anything there that could do him much good. I took care of that.”
“I imagine,” said Miss Marple, “he read your will.”
“Oh I see. Yes, yes, I did have a copy of my will along.”
“You told me,” said Miss Marple, “you told me-(as Humpty Dumpty said-very loud and clear) that you had not left anything to Esther Walters in your will. You had impressed that fact upon her, and also upon Jackson. It was true in Jackson's case, I should imagine. You have not left him anything, but you had left Esther Walters money, though you weren't going to let her have any inkling of the fact. Isn't that right?”
“Yes, it's quite right, but I don't know how you knew.”
“Well, it's the way you insisted on the point,” said Miss Marple. “I have a certain experience of the way people tell lies.”
“I give in,” said Mr. Rafiel. “All right. I left Esther 50,000 pounds. It would come as a nice surprise to her when I died. I suppose that, knowing this, Tim Kendal decided to exterminate his present wife with a nice dose of something or other and marry 50,000 pounds and Esther Walters. Possibly to dispose of her also in good time. But how did he know she was going to have 50,000 pounds?”
“Jackson told him, of course,” said Miss Marple. “They were very friendly, those two. Tim Kendal was nice to Jackson and, quite, I should imagine, without ulterior motive. But amongst the bits of gossip that Jackson let slip I think Jackson told him that unbeknown to herself, Esther Walters was going to inherit a fat lot of money, and he may have said that he himself hoped to induce Esther Walters to marry him though he hadn't had much success so far in taking her fancy. Yes, I think that's how it happened.”
“The things you imagine always seem perfectly plausible,” said Mr. Rafiel.
“But I was stupid,” said Miss Marple, “very stupid. Everything fitted in really, you see. Tim Kendal was a very clever man as well as being a very wicked one. He was particularly good at putting about rumours. Half the things I've been told here came from him originally, I imagine. There were stories going around about Molly wanting to marry an undesirable young man but I rather fancy that the undesirable young man was actually Tim Kendal himself, though that wasn't the name he was using then. Her people had heard something, perhaps that his background was rather fishy. So he put on a high indignation act, refused to be taken by Molly to be 'shown off' to her people and then he brewed up a little scheme with her which they both thought great fun. She pretended to sulk and pine for him. Then a Mr. Tim Kendal turned up, primed with the names of various old friends of Molly's people, and they welcomed him with open arms as being the sort of young man who would put the former delinquent one out of Molly's head. I am afraid Molly and he must have laughed over it a good deal. Anyway, he married her, and with her money he bought out the people who ran this place and they came out here. I should imagine that he ran through her money at a pretty fair rate. Then he came across Esther Walters and he saw a nice prospect of more money.”
“Why didn't he bump me off?” said Mr. Rafiel.
Miss Marple coughed. “I expect he wanted to be fairly sure of Mrs. Walters first. Besides, I mean...” She stopped, a little confused.
“Besides, he realised he wouldn't have to wait long,” said Mr. Rafiel, “and it would clearly be better for me to die a natural death. Being so rich. Deaths of millionaires are scrutinised rather carefully, aren't they, unlike mere wives?”
“Yes, you're quite right. Such a lot of lies as he told,” said Miss Marple. “Look at the lies he got Molly herself to believe, putting that book on mental disorders in her way. Giving her drugs which would give her dreams and hallucinations. You know, your Jackson was rather clever over that. I think he recognised certain of Molly's symptoms as being the result of drugs. And he came into the bungalow that day to potter about a bit in the bathroom. That face cream he examined. He might have got some idea from the old tales of witches rubbing themselves with ointments that had belladonna in them. Belladonna in face cream could have produced just that result. Molly would have blackouts. Times she couldn't account for, dreams of flying through the air. No wonder she got frightened about herself. She had all the signs of mental illness, Jackson was on the right track. Maybe he got the idea from Major Palgrave's stories about the use of datura by Indian women on their husbands.”
“Major Palgrave!” said Mr. Rafiel. “Really, that man!”
“He brought about his own murder,” said Miss Marple, “and that poor girl Victoria's murder, and he nearly brought about Molly's murder. But he recognised a murderer all right.”
“What made you suddenly remember about his glass eye?” asked Mr. Rafiel curiously.
“Something that Seсora de Caspearo said. She talked some nonsense about his being ugly, and having the Evil Eye; and I said it was only a glass eye, and he couldn't help that, poor man, and she said his eyes looked different ways, they were cross-eyes-which, of course, they were. And she said it brought bad luck. I knew-I knew that I had heard something that day that was important. Last night, just after Lucky's death, it came to me what it was! And then I realised there was no time to waste...”
“How did Tim Kendal come to kill the wrong woman?”
“Sheer chance. I think his plan was this: Having convinced everybody-and that included Molly herself-that she was mentally unbalanced, and after giving her a sizeable dose of the drug he was using, he told her that between them they were going to clear up all these murder puzzles. But she had got to help him. After everyone was asleep, they would go separately and meet at an agreed spot by the creek. He said he had a very good idea who the murderer was, and they would trap him. Molly went off obediently but she was confused and stupefied with the drug she had been given, and it slowed her up. Tim arrived there first and saw what he thought was Molly. Golden hair and pale green shawl. He came up behind her, put his hand over her mouth, and forced her down into the water and held her there.”
“Nice fellow! But wouldn't it have been easier just to give her an overdose of narcotic?”
“Much easier, of course. But that might have given rise to suspicion. All narcotics and sedatives had been carefully removed from Molly's reach, remember. And if she had got hold of a fresh supply, who more likely to have supplied it than her husband? But if, in a fit of despair, she went out and drowned herself whilst her innocent husband slept, the whole thing would be a romantic tragedy, and no one would be likely to suggest that she had been drowned deliberately. Besides,” added Miss Marple, “murderers always find it difficult to keep things simple. They can't keep themselves from elaborating.”
“You seem convinced you know all there is to be known about murderers! So you believe Tim didn't know he had killed the wrong woman?”
Miss Marple shook her head. “He didn't even look at her face, just hurried off as quickly as he could, let an hour elapse, then started to organise a search for her, playing the part of a distracted husband.”
“But what the devil was Lucky doing hanging about the creek in the middle of the night?”
Miss Marple gave an embarrassed little cough.
“It is possible, I think, that she was-er-waiting to meet someone.”
“Edward Hillingdon?”
“Oh no,” said Miss Marple. “That's all over. I wondered whether-just possibly-she might have been waiting for Jackson.”
“Waiting for Jackson?”
“I've noticed her look at him once or twice,” murmured Miss Marple, averting her eyes.
Mr. Rafiel whistled. “My tomcat Jackson! I wouldn't put it past him! Tim must have had a shock later when he found he'd killed the wrong woman.”
“Yes, indeed. He must have felt quite desperate. Here was Molly alive and wandering about. And the story he'd circulated so carefully about her mental condition wouldn't stand up for a moment once she got into the hands of competent mental specialists. And once she told her damning story of his having asked her to meet him at the creek, where would Tim Kendal be? He'd only one hope-to finish off Molly as quickly as possible. Then there was a very good chance that everyone would believe that Molly, in a fit of mania, had drowned Lucky, and had then, horrified by what she had done, taken her own life.”
“And it was then,” said Mr. Rafiel, “that you decided to play Nemesis, eh?” He leaned back suddenly and roared with laughter. “It's a damned good joke,” he said. “If you knew what you looked like that night with that fluffy pink wool all round your head, standing there and saying you were Nemesis! I'll never forget it!”
A Caribbean Mystery A Caribbean Mystery - Agatha Christie A Caribbean Mystery