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|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||Agatha Christie|
IV. Poirot Investigates
|Page 7 of 13||
Dorcas was standing in the boudoir, her hands folded in front of her, and her grey hair rose in stiff waves under her white cap. She was the very model and picture of a good old-fashioned servant.
In her attitude towards Poirot, she was inclined to be suspicious, but he soon broke down her defences. He drew forward a chair.
"Pray be seated, mademoiselle."
"Thank you, sir."
"You have been with your mistress many years, is it not so?"
"Ten years, sir."
"That is a long time, and very faithful service. You were much attached to her, were you not?"
"She was a very good mistress to me, sir."
"Then you will not object to answering a few questions. I put them to you with Mr. Cavendish's full approval."
"Oh, certainly, sir."
"Then I will begin by asking you about the events of yesterday afternoon. Your mistress had a quarrel?" 43>
"Yes, sir. But I don't know that I ought----" Dorcas hesitated. Poirot looked at her keenly.
"My good Dorcas, it is necessary that I should know every detail of that quarrel as fully as possible. Do not think that you are betraying your mistress's secrets. Your mistress lies dead, and it is necessary that we should know all--if we are to avenge her. Nothing can bring her back to life, but we do hope, if there has been foul play, to bring the murderer to justice."
"Amen to that," said Dorcas fiercely. "And, naming no names, there's *ONE in this house that none of us could ever abide! And an ill day it was when first *HE darkened the threshold."
Poirot waited for her indignation to subside, and then, resuming his business-like tone, he asked:
"Now, as to this quarrel? What is the first you heard of it?"
"Well, sir, I happened to be going along the hall outside yesterday----"
"What time was that?"
"I couldn't say exactly, sir, but it wasn't tea-time by a long way. Perhaps four o'clock--or it may have been a bit later. Well, sir, as I said, I happened to be passing along, when I heard voices very loud and angry in here. I didn't exactly mean to listen, but--well, there it is. I stopped. The door was shut, but the mistress was speaking very sharp and clear, and I heard what she said quite plainly. 'You have lied to me, and deceived me,' she said. I didn't hear what Mr. Inglethorp replied. He spoke a good bit lower than she did--but she answered: 'How dare you? I have kept you and clothed you and fed you! You owe everything to me! And this is how you repay me! By bringing disgrace upon our name!' Again I didn't hear what he said, but she went on: 'Nothing that you can say will make any difference. I see my duty clearly. My mind is made up. You need not think that any fear of publicity, or scandal between husband and wife will deter me.' Then I thought I heard them coming out, so I went off quickly."
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