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|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||Agatha Christie|
X. The Arrest
|Page 6 of 10||
She waited a long time, a little frown had gathered on her forehead. She seemed to be looking back earnestly into those past days.
"I think--I am sure--he cared for me at first. But I suppose we were not well matched. Almost at once, we drifted apart. He--it is not a pleasing thing for my pride, but it is the truth--tired of me very soon." I must have made some murmur of dissent, for she went on quickly: "Oh, yes, he did! Not that it matters now--now that we've come to the parting of the ways."
"What do you mean?"
She answered quietly:
"I mean that I am not going to remain at Styles."
"You and John are not going to live here?"
"John may live here, but I shall not."
"You are going to leave him?"
She paused a long time, and said at last:
"Perhaps--because I want to be--free!"
And, as she spoke, I had a sudden vision of broad spaces, virgin tracts of forests, untrodden lands--and a realization of what freedom would mean to such a nature as Mary Cavendish. I seemed to see her for a moment as she was, a proud wild creature, as untamed by civilization as some shy bird of the hills. A little cry broke from her lips:
"You don't know, you don't know, how this hateful place has been prison to me!"
"I understand," I said, "but--but don't do anything rash."
"Oh, rash!" Her voice mocked at my prudence.
Then suddenly I said a thing I could have bitten out my tongue for:
"You know that Dr. Bauerstein has been arrested?"
An instant coldness passed like a mask over her face, blotting out all expression.
"John was so kind as to break that to me this morning."
"Well, what do you think?" I asked feebly.
"Of the arrest?"
"What should I think? Apparently he is a German spy; so the gardener had told John."
Her face and voice were absolutely cold and expressionless. Did she care, or did she not?
She moved away a step or two, and fingered one of the flower vases.
"These are quite dead. I must do them again. Would you mind moving--thank you, Mr. Hastings." And she walked quietly past me out of the window, with a cool little nod of dismissal.
No, surely she could not care for Bauerstein. No woman could act her part with that icy unconcern.
Poirot did not make his appearance the following morning, and there was no sign of the Scotland Yard men.
But, at lunch-time, there arrived a new piece of evidence-- or rather lack of evidence. We had vainly tried to trace the fourth letter, which Mrs. Inglethorp had written on the evening preceding her death. Our efforts having been in vain, we had abandoned the matter, hoping that it might turn up of itself one day. And this is just what did happen, in the shape of a communication, which arrived by the second post from a firm of French music publishers, acknowledging Mrs. Inglethorp's cheque, and regretting they had been unable to trace a certain series of Russian folksongs. So the last hope of solving the mystery, by means of Mrs. Inglethorp's correspondence on the fatal evening, had to be abandoned.
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