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|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||Agatha Christie|
V. "It Isn't Strychnine, Is It?"
|Page 7 of 17||
"Manning," said John, "this gentleman will put some questions to you which I want you to answer."
"Yessir," mumbled Manning.
Poirot stepped forward briskly. Manning's eye swept over him with a faint contempt.
"You were planting a bed of begonias round by the south side of the house yesterday afternoon, were you not, Manning?"
"Yes, sir, me and Willum."
"And Mrs. Inglethorp came to the window and called you, did she not?"
"Yes, sir, she did."
"Tell me in your own words exactly what happened after that."
"Well, sir, nothing much. She just told Willum to go on his bicycle down to the village, and bring back a form of will, or such-like--I don't know what exactly--she wrote it down for him."
"Well, he did, sir."
"And what happened next?"
"We went on with the begonias, sir."
"Did not Mrs. Inglethorp call you again?"
"Yes, sir, both me and Willum, she called."
"She made us come right in, and sign our names at the bottom of a long paper--under where she'd signed."
"Did you see anything of what was written above her signature?" asked Poirot sharply.
"No, sir, there was a bit of blotting paper over that part."
"And you signed where she told you?"
"Yes, sir, first me and then Willum."
"What did she do with it afterwards?"
"Well, sir, she slipped it into a long envelope, and put it inside a sort of purple box that was standing on the desk."
"What time was it when she first called you?"
"About four, I should say, sir."
"Not earlier? Couldn't it have been about half-past three?"
"No, I shouldn't say so, sir. It would be more likely to be a bit after four--not before it."
"Thank you, Manning, that will do," said Poirot pleasantly.
The gardener glanced at his master, who nodded, whereupon Manning lifted a finger to his forehead with a low mumble, and backed cautiously out of the window.
We all looked at each other.
"Good heavens!" murmured John. "What an extraordinary coincidence."
"That my mother should have made a will on the very day of her death!"
Mr. Wells cleared his throat and remarked drily:
"Are you so sure it is a coincidence, Cavendish?"
"What do you mean?"
"Your mother, you tell me, had a violent quarrel with-- some one yesterday afternoon----"
"What do you mean?" cried John again. There was a tremor in his voice, and he had gone very pale.
"In consequence of that quarrel, your mother very suddenly and hurriedly makes a new will. The contents of that will we shall never know. She told no one of its provisions. This morning, no doubt, she would have consulted me on the subject--but she had no chance. The will disappears, and she takes its secret with her to her grave. Cavendish, I much fear there is no coincidence there. Monsieur Poirot, I am sure you agree with me that the facts are very suggestive."
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