"How did you discover they had been taken?"
"They were in her stockings this morning. I knew whose they were, of course.
I've often noticed them. I went along to put them back, hoping that Mrs. Doyle wasn't up yet and hadn't discovered her loss. But there was a steward standing there and he told me about the murder and that no one could go in. So then, you see, I was in a regular quandary. But I still hoped to slip them back in the cabin later before their absence had been noticed. I 111 страница can assure you I've passed a very unpleasant morning wondering what was the best thing to do. You see the Van Schuyler family is so vertj particular and exclusive. It would never do if this got into the newspapers. But that won't be necessary, will it?"
Miss Bowers really looked worried.
"That depends on circumstances," said Colonel Race cautiously. "But we shall do our best for you, of course. What does Miss Van Schuyler say to this?"
"Oh, she'll deny it, of course. She always does. Says some wicked person has put it there. She never 111 страница admits taking anything. That's why if you catch her in time she goes back to bed like a lamb. Says she just went out to look at the moon.
Something like that."
"Does Miss Robson know about this er-failing?"
"No, she doesn't. Her mother knows, but she's a very simple kind of girl and her mother thought it best she should know nothing about it. I was quite equal to dealing with Miss Van Schuyler," added the competent Miss Bowers.
"We have to thank you, Mademoiselle, for coming to us so promptly," said Poirot.
Miss 111 страница Bowers stood up.
"I'm sure I hope I've acted for the best."
"Be assured that you have,"
"You see what with there being a murder as well-"
Colonel Race interrupted her. His voice was grave.
"Miss Bowers. I am going to ak you a question and I want to impress upon you that it has got to be answered truthfully. Miss Van Schuyler is unhinged mentally to the extent of being a kleptomaniac. Has she also a tendency to homicidal mania?"
Miss Bower's answer came immediately.
"Oh, dear me, no! Nothing of the kind. You can 111 страница take my word for it absolutely.
The old lady wouldn't hurt a fly."
The reply came with such positive assurance that there seemed nothing more to be said. Nevertheless Poirot did interpolate one mild inquiry.
"Does Miss Van Schuyler suffer at all from deafness?"
"As a matter of fact she does, M. Poirot. Not so that you'd notice it anyway, not ffyou were speaking to her, I mean. But quite often she doesn't hear you come into a room. Things like that."
"Do you think she would have heard any one moving about in Mrs, Doyle's cabin 111 страница which is next door to her own?"
"Oh, I shouldn't think so-not for a minute. You see, the bunk is the other side of the cabin, not even against the partition wall. No, I don't think she would have heard anything." "Thank you, Miss Bowers." Race said: "Perhaps you will now go back to the dining-saloon and wait with the others?" He opened the door for her and watched her go down the staircase and enter the saloon. Then he shut the door and came back to the table. Poirot had picked 111 страница up the pearls.
"Well," said Race grimly. "That reaction came pretty quickly. That's a very cool-headed and astute young woman-perfecfiy capable of holding out on us still further if she thinks it suits her book. What about Miss Van Schuyler now? I don't think we can eliminate her from the possible suspects. You know, she might have committed murder to get hold of those jewels. We can't take the nurse's word for it. She's all out to do the best for the family." Poirot nodded in agreement. He was very busy with 111 страница the pearls running them through his fingers, holding them up to his eyes.
He said: "We may take it, I think, that part of the old lady's story to us was true. She did look out of her cabin and she did see Rosalie Otterbourne. But I don't think she heard anything or any one in Linnet Doyle's cabin. I think she was just peering out from her cabin preparatory to slipping along and purloining the pearls," "The Otterbourne girl was there, then?" "Yes. Throwing her mother's secret cache of drink overboard." Colonel Rhce shook 111 страница his head sympathetically. "So that's it! Tough on a young 'un." "Yes, her life has not been very gay, cette pauvre-petite Rosalie." "Well, I'm glad that's been cleared up. She didn't see or hear anything?" "I asked her that. She responded-after a lapse of quite twenty seconds-that she saw nobody." "Oh?" Race looked alert.
"Yes, it is suggestive, that." Race said slowly: "If Linnet Doyle was shot round about ten minutes past one or indeed any time after the boat had quieted down-it has seemed amazing to me that no one 111 страница heard the shot. I grant you that a little pistol like that wouldn't make much noise, but all the same the boat would be deadly quiet and any noise, even a gentle pop, should have been heard. But I begin to understand better now. The cabin on the forward side of hers was unoccupied-since her husband was in Dr. Bessner's cabin. The one aft was occupied by the Van Schuyler woman who was deaf. That leaves only-" He paused and looked expectantly at Poirot who nodded.
"The cabin next to hers on the other side of the boat. In 111 страница other words-Pennington.
We always seem to come back to Pennington." "We will come back to him presently with the kid gloves removed! Ah, yes, I am promising myself that pleasure." "In the meantime we'd better get on with our search of the boat. The pearls still make a convenient excuse even though they have been returned-but Miss Bowers is not likely to advertise that fact." "Ah, these pearls." Poirot held them up against the light once more. He stuck out his tongue and licked them-he even gingerly tried one of them between his teeth 111 страница. Then, with a sigh, he threw them down on the table.
"Here are more complications, my friend," he said. "I am 'not an expert on precious stones, but I have had a good deal to do with them in my time and I am fairly certain of what I say. These pearls are only a clever imitation."
Colonel Race swore lustily.
"This damned case gets more and more involved." He picked up the pearls. "I suppose you've not made a mistake? They look all right to me." "They are a very good imitation-yes." "Now where 111 страница does that lead us? I suppose Linnet Doyle didn't deliberately have an imitation made and bring it aboard with her for safety. Many women do." "I think, if that were so, her husband would know about it." "She may not have told him." Poirot shook his head in a dissatisfied manner.
"No, I do not think that is so. I was admiring Mrs. Doyle's pearls the first evening on the boat-their wonderful sheen and lustre. I am sure that she was wearing the genuine ones then." "That brings us up against two possibilities. First, that Miss 111 страница Van Schuyler only stole the imitation string after the real ones had been stolen by some one else.
Second, that the whole kleptomaniac story is a fabrication. Either Miss Bowers is a thief and quickly invented the story and allayed suspicion by handing over the false pearls, or else that whole party is in it together. That is to say, they are a gang of clever jewel thieves masquerading as an exclusive American family." "Yes," Poirot murmured. "It is difficult to say. But I will point out to you one thing-to make a perfect and exact copy of the 111 страница pearls, clasp and all, good enough to stand a chance of deceiving Mrs. Doyle is a highly skilled technical performance. It could not be done in a hurry. Whoever copied those pearls must have had a good opportunity of studying the original." Race rose to his feet.
"Useless to speculate about it any further now. Let's get on with the job.
We've got to find the real pearls. And at the same time we'll keep our eyes open." They disposed first of the cabins occupied on the lower deck.
That of Signor Richetti contained various 111 страница archaeological works in different languages, a varied assortment of clothing, hair lotions of a highly-scented kind and two personal letters-one from an archaeological expedition in Syria, and one from, apparently, a sister in Rome. His handkerchiefs were all of coloured silk.
They passed on to Ferguson's cabin.
There was a sprinkling of communistic literature, a good many snapshots, Samuel Butler's Erewhon and a cheap edition of Pepys' Diary. His personal possessions were not many-most of what outer clothing there was, was torn and dirty, the underclothing, on the other hand; was of really good quality 111 страница. The handkerchiefs were expensive linen ones.
"Some interesting discrepancies," murmured Poirot.
"Rather odd that there are absolutely no personal papers, letters, etc." "Yes, that gives one to think. An odd young man, M. Ferguson." He looked thoughtfully at a signet ring he held in his hand, before replacing it in the drawer where he had found it.
They went along to the cabin occupied by Louise Bourget. The maid had her meals after the other passengers, but Race had sent word that she was to be taken to join the others. A cabin steward met them.
"I 111 страница'm sorry, sir," he apologised. "But I've not been able to find the young woman anywhere. I can't think where she can have got to." Race glanced inside the cabin. It was empty.
They went up to the promenade deck and started on the starboard side. The first cabin was that occupied by James Fanthorp. Here, all was in meticulous ' order. Mr. Fanthorp travelled light, but all that he had was of good quality.
"No letters," said Poirot thoughtfully. "He is careful, our Mr. Fanthorp, to destroy his correspondence." They passed on to Tim Allerton's 111 страница cabin next door.
There were evidences here of an Anglo-Catholic turn of mind-an exquisite little triptych, and a big rosary, of intricately-carved wood. Besides personal clothing, there was a half-completed manuscript, a good deal annotated and scribbled over, and a good collection of books, most of them recently published.
There were also a quantity of letters thrown carelessly into a drawer. Poirot, never in the least scrupulous about reading other people's correspondence, glanced through them. He noted that amongst them there were no letters from Joanna Southwood. He picked up a tube of secotine, fingered 111 страница it absently for a minute or two, then said: "Let us pass on." "No Woolworth handkerchiefs," said Race, rapidly replacing the contents of a drawer.
Mrs. Allerton's cabin was the next. It was exquisitely neat and a faint, old-fashioned smell of lavender hung about it.
The two men's search was soon over. Race remarked as they left it: "Nice woman, that." The next cabin was that which had been used as a dressing-room by Simon Doyle. His immediate necessities-pyjamas, toilet things, etc., had been moved to Bessner's cabin, but the remainder of his 111 страница possessions were still there, two good-sized leather suitcases and a kitbag. There were also some clothes in the wardrobe.
"We will look carefully here, my friend,' said Poirot. "For it is very possible that the thief hid the pearls here." "You think it is likely?" "But, yes, indeed. Consider! The thief whoever he or she may be must know that sooner or later a search will be made and therefore a hiding-place in his or her own cabin would be injudicious in the extreme. The public rooms present other difficulties. But here is a cabin belonging 111 страница to a man who cannot possibly visit it himself. So that if the pearls are found here it tells us nothing at all." But the most meticulous search failed to reveal any trace of the missing necklace.
Poirot murmured "Zut!' to himself and they emerged once more on the deck.
Linnet Doyle's cabin had been locked after the body was removed but Race had the key with him. He unlocked the door and the two men stepped inside.
Except for the removal of the girl's body, the cabin was exactly as it had been that morning.
"Poirot 111 страница," said Race. "If there's anything to be found here, for God's sake go ahead and find it. You can if any one can-I know that." "This time you do not mean the pearls, mon ami?"
"No. The murder's the main thing. There may be something I overlooked this morning."
Quietly, deftly, Poirot went about his search. He went down on his knees and scrutinised the floor inch by inch. He examined the bed. He went rapidly through the wardrobe and chest of drawers. He went through the wardrobe trunk and the two costly suitcases. He looked 111 страница through the expensive gold-fitted dressing-case.
Finally he turned his attention to the washstand. There were various creams, powders, face lotions. But the only thing that seemed to interest Poirot were two little bottles labelled Nailex. He picked them up at last and brought them to the dressing-table. One, which bore the inscription Nailex Rose, was empty but for a drop or two of dark-red fluid at the bottom. The other, the same size, but labelled Nailex Cardinal, was nearly full. Poirot uncorked first the empty then the full one and sniffed them both delicately 111 страница.
An odour of peardrops billowed into the room. With a slight grimace he recorked them.
"Get anything?" asked Race.
Poirot replied by a French proverb.
"On ne prend pas les mouches avec la vinaigre."
Then he said with a sigh:
"My friend, we have not been fortunate. The murderer has not been obliging.
He has not dropped for us the cuff-link, the cigarette end, the cigar ashr in the case of a woman, the handkerchief, the lip-stick, or the hair-slide." "Only the bottle of nail polish?" Poirot shrugged his shoulders.
"I must ask the maid. There is 111 страница something-yes-a little curious there."
"I wonder where the devil the girl's got to?" said Race.
They left the cabin locking the door behind them and passed on to that of Miss Van Schuyler.
Here, again, were all the appurtenances of wealth, expensive toilet fittings, good luggage, a certain number of private letters and papers all perfectly in order.
Th$ next cabin was the double one occupied by Poirot and beyond it that of Race.
"Hardly likely to hide 'em in either of these," said the colonel
"It might be. Once, on the Orient Express, I 111 страница investigated a murder. There was a little matter of a scarlet kimono. It had disappeared-and yet it must be on the train. I found it-where do you think?-in my own locked suitcase! Ah! it was an impertinence, that."
"Well, let's see if anybody has been impertinent with you or me this time.'
But the thief of the pearls had not been impertinent with Hercule Poirot or with Colonel Race.
Rounding the stern they made a very careful search of Miss Bowers's cabin but could find nothing of a suspicious nature. Her handkerchiefs were 111 страница of plain linen with an initial..
The Otterbournes' cabin came next. Here again, Poirot made a very meticulous search but with no result.
The next cabin was Bessner's. Simon Doyle lay with an untasted tray of food beside him.
"Off my feed," he said apologetically.
He was looking feverish and very much worse than earlier in the day. Poirot appreciated Bessner's anxiety to get him as swiftly as possible to hospital and skilled appliances.
The little Belgian explained what the two of them were doing and Simon nodded approval. On learning that the pearls had been 111 страница restored by Miss Bowers but proved to be merely imitation, he expressed the most complete astonishment.
"You are quite sure, Mr. Doyle, that your wife did not have an imitation string which she brought aboard with her instead of the real ones?"
Simon shook his head decisively.
"Oh, no. I'm quite sure of that. Linnet loved those pearls and she wore 'em everywhere. They were insured against every possible risk, so I think that made her a bit careless."
"Then we must continue our search."
He started opening drawers. Race attacked a suitcase.
"Look here, you surely don 111 страница't suspect old Bessner pinched them?"
Poirot shrugged his shoulders.
"It might be so. After all, what do we know of Dr. Bessner? Only what he himself gives out."
"But he couldn't have hidden them in here without my seeing him."
"He could not have hidden anything to-day without your having seen him.
But we do not know when the substitution took place. He may have effected the exchange some days ago."
"I never thought of that."
But the search was unavailing.
The next cabin was Pennington's. The two men spent some time in their search. In 111 страница particular Poirot and Race examined carefully a case full of legal and business documents, most of them requiring Linnet's signature.
He shook his head gloomily.
"These seem all square and above board. You agree?"
"Absolutely. Still, the man isn't a born fool. If there had been a compromising document there-a power of attorney or something of that kind, he'd be pretty sure to have destroyed it first thing."
"That is so, yes."
Poirot lifted a heavy Colt revolver out of the top drawer of the chest of drawers, looked at it and put it back 111 страница.
"So it seems there are still some people who travel with revolvers," he murmured.
"Yes, a little suggestive, perhaps. Still, Linnet Doyle wasn't shot with a thing that size." He paused and then said, "You know, I've thought of a possible answer to your point about the pistol being thrown overboard. Supposing that the actual murderer did leave it in Linnet Doyle's cabin, and that some one else-some second person took it away and threw it into the river?"
"Yes, that is possible. I have thought of it. But it opens up a whole 111 страница string of questions. Who was that second person? What interest had they in endeavouring to shield Jacqueline de Bellefort by taking away the pistol? What was that second person doing there? The only other person we know of who went into the cabin was Miss Van Schuyler. Was it conceivably Miss Van Shuyler who removed it? Why should she wish to shield Jacqueline de Bellefort? And yet-what other reason can there be for the removal of the pistol?"
"She may have recognised the stole as hers, got the wind up, and thrown the whole bag 111 страница of tricks over on that account."
"The stole, perhaps, but would she have got rid of the pistol, too? Still, I agree, that is a possible solution. But it is clumsy-bon Dieu, it is clumsy. And you still have not appreciated one point about the stole"
As they emerged from Pennington's cabin Poirot suggested that Race should search the remaining cabins, those occupied by Jacqueline, Cornelia and two empty ones at the end, while he himself had a few words with Simon Doyle.
Accordingly he retraced his steps along the deck and re-entered Bessner's cabin.
Simon said 111 страница:
"Look here, I've been thinking. I'm perfectly sure that these pearls were all right yesterday."
"Why is that, Mr. Doyle?"
"BecauseLinnet" he winced as he uttered his wife's namer"was passing them through her hands just before dinner and talking about them. She knew something about pearls. I feel certain she'd have known if they were a fake."
"They were a very good imitation, though. Tell me, was Mrs. Doyle in the habit of letting those pearls out of her hands? Did she ever lend them to a friend, for instance?"
Simon flushed with slight 111 страница embarrassment.
"You see, M. Poirot, it's difficult for me to say… I-I-well, you see, I hadn't known Linnet very long."
"Ah, no, it was a quickromanceyours."
Simon went on: "And so-really-I shouldn't know a thing like that. But Linnet was awfully generous with her things. I should think she might have done."
"She never, for instance "Poirot's voice was very smooth," she never, for instance, lent them to Mademoiselle de Bellefort?"
"What d'you mean?" Simon flushed brick red-tried to sit up, and wincing, fell back. "What 111 страница are you getting at? That Jackie stole the pearls? She didn't. I'll swear she didn't. Jackie's as straight as a die. The mere idea of her being a thief is · ridiculous-absolutely ridiculous."
Poirot looked at him with gently twinkling eyes.
"Oh, la la la!" he said unexpectedly. "That suggestion of mine it has indeed stirred up the nest of hornets."
Simon repeated doggedly, unmoved by Poirot's lighter note.
Poirot remembered a girl's voice by the Nile in Assuan saying:
"I love Simon-and he loves me…"
He had wondered 111 страница which of the three statements he had heard that night was the true one. It seemed to him that it had turned out to be Jacqueline who had come closest to the truth.
The door opened and Race came in.
"Nothing," he said brusquely. "Well, we didn't expect it. I see the stewards coming along with their report as to the searching of the passengers."
A steward and stewardess appeared in the doorway. The former spoke first.
"Any of the gentlemen make any fuss?"
"Only the Italian gentleman, sir. He carried on a good deal. Said it was 111 страница a dishonour-something of that kind. He'd got a gun on him, too."
"What kind of a gun?"
"Mauser automatic.25, sir." "Italians are pretty hot tempered," said Simon. "Richetti got ina no enl of a stew at Wadi Halfa just because of a mistake over a telegram. He was. darned rude to Linnet over it." Race turned to the stewardess. She was a big handome-looking woman.
"Nothing on any of the ladies, sir. They made a good deal of fussexcelt for Mrs. Allerton who was as nice as nice could be. Not a sign of 111 страница the pearl. By th way the young lady, Miss Rosalie Otterbourne, had a little pistol in her h:andbag." "What kind?" "It was a very small one, sir, with a pearl handle. A kind of toy.'*' Race stared.
"Devil take this case," he muttered. "I thought we'd got hr cleared of suspicion and now-does every girl on this blinking boat carry around learl-handled toy pistols?" He shot a question at the stewardess.
"Did she show any feeling over your finding it?" The woman shook her head.
"I don't think she noticed. I had my back turned whilst 111 страница I was g00ing through the handbags." "Still-she must have known you'd come across it. Oh, well, it beats me.
What about the maid?" "We've looked all over the boat, sir. We can't find her anywhere." "What's this?" asked Simon.
"Mrs. Doyle's maid-Louise Bourget. She's disappeared." "Disappeared?" Race said thoughtfully: "She might have stolen the pearls. She is the one person whl0 had araple opportunity to get a replica made." "And then, when she found a search was being instituted, she hrew herself overboard?" suggested Simon.
"Nonsense," said Race 111 страница irritably. "A woman can't throw herself overboard in broad daylight from a boat like this without somebody realising thae fact. She's bound to be somewhere on board." He addressed the stewardess once more.
"When was she last seen?" "About half an hour before the bell went for lunch, Sir." "We'll have a look at her cabin, anyway," said Race. "That may tll us something." He led the way to the deck below. Poirot followed him. They unlocked the door of the cabin and passed inside.
Louise Bourget, whose trade it was to keep other people's 111 страница lbelongings in order, had taken a holiday where her own were concerned. Odds and. ends littered the top of the chest of drawers, a suitcase gaped open with clothes h.ianging ut of the side of it and preventing it shutting, underclothing hung limply oer the sides of the chairs.
As Poirot with swift neat fingers opened the drawers of the cressingchest Race examined the suitcase.
Lonise's shoes were lined along by the bed. One of them, a black latent leather, seemed to be resting at an extraordinary angle almost unsupported. The appearance of it was so odd that it attracted 111 страница Race's attention.
He closed the suitcase anq bent over the line of shoes.
Then he uttered a sharp exclamation.
Poirot whirled round.
"Qu'est ce qui'il y a?' Race said grimly: "She hasn't disappeared. he's here-under the bed…"
The body of a dead woman wh% in life had been Louise Bourget lay on the floor of her cabin. The two men bent O, ver it.
Race straightened himself '.first.
"Been dead close on an hokr, I should say. We'll get Bessner on to it. Stabbed to the heart. Death pretty well instantaneous 111 страница, I should imagine. She doesn't look pretty, does she?" "No." Poirot shook his head with a slight shudder.
The dark feline face was C%nvulsed as though with surprise and fury-the lips drawn back from the teeth.
Poirot bent again gently amd picked up the right hand. Something just showed within the fingers. He detacheCt it and held it out to Racea little sliver of flimsy paper coloured a pale mauvish 4'pink.
"You see what it is?" "Money," said Race.
"The corner of a thousand:franc note, I fancy." "Well, it's clear what happ,ened 111 страница," said Race. "She knew something-and she was blackmailing the murderer with her knowledge. We thought she wasn't being quite straight this morning." Poirot cried out: "We have been idiotsfo%ls! We should have known-then. What did she say? 'What could I have seen or heard. I was on the deck below. Naturally, if1 had been unable to sleep, if I had mounted the stairs, then perhaps I might have seen this assassin, this monster, ente or leave Madame's cabin, but as it is-' Of course, that is what did happen! She dicome up. She 111 страница did see some one going into Linnet Doyle's cabin-or coming but of it. And because of her greed, her insensate greed, she lies her" "And we are no nearer to klnowing who killed her," finished Race disgustedly. Poirot shook his head.
"No, no. We know much nh. ore now. We know-we know almost everything.
Only what we know seems inqcredible… Yet it must be so. Only I do not see… Pah! what a fool I was lthis morning. We felt both of us felt that she was keeping something back and yelt we never realised the 111 страница logical reason blackmail." "She must have demande,d hush money straight away," said Race. "De manded it with threats. The murderer was forced to accede to that request and paid her in French notes. Anything there?" Poirot shook his head thoughtfully.
"I hardly think so. Many people take a reserve of money with them when travelling-sometimes five-pound notes, sometimes dollars, but very often French notes as well. Possibly the murderer paid her all he had in a mixture of currencies.
Let us continue our reconstruction." "The murderer comes to her cabin, gives her the money and then-" "And 111 страница then," said Poirot, "she counts it. Oh, yes, I know that class. She would count the money and while she counted it she was completely off her guard. The murderer struck. Having done so successfully, he gathered up the money and fled--not noticing that the corner of one of the notes was torn." "We may get him that way," said Race doubtfully.
"I doubt it," said Poirot. "He will examine those notes, and will probably notice the tear. Of course, it he were of a parsimonious disposition he would not be able to bring himself to destroy a 111 страница mille notebut I fear-I very much fear-that his temperament is just the opposite." "How do you make that out?" "Both this crime and the murder of Mrs. Doyle demanded certain qualities-courage, audacity, bold execution, lightning action-those qualities do not accord with a saving, prudent disposition." Race shook his head sadly.
"I'd better get Bessner d0wn," he said.
The stout doctor's examination did not take long. Accompanied by a good many Achs and Sos, he went to work.