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He went towards the door.
Hercule Poirot said:
"I regret it also. Your case interests me.
I would like to have helped you. But I
cannot do anything unless I am told the
"I have told you the truth."
Dr. Oldfield stopped. He wheeled round.
"Why do you insist that there is a woman
concerned in this ?"
"Mon cher docteur I Do you not think
I know the female mentality ? The village
gossip, it is based always, always on the
relations of the sexes. If a man poisons
his wife in order to travel to the North
Pole or to enjoy the peace of a bachelor
existence — it would not interest his fellowvillagers
for a minute! It is because they
are convinced that the murder has been
committed in order that the man may marry
another woman that the talk grows and
spreads. That is elemental psychology.5' Oldfield said irritably:
"I'm not responsible for what a pack
of damned gossiping busybodies think!"
"Of course you are not."
"So you might as well come back and
sit down and give me the answer to the
question I asked you just now."
Slowly, almost reluctantly, Oldfield came
back and resumed his seat.
He said, colouring up to his eyebrows:
"I suppose it's possible that they've
been saying things about Miss Moncrieffe.
Jean Moncrieffe is my dispenser, a very
fine girl indeed."
"How long has she worked for you ?"
"For three years."
"Did your wife like her ?"
"Er — well, no, not exactly."
"She was jealous ?"
"It was absurd!"
"The jealousy of wives is proverbial.
But I will tell you something. In my experience jealousy, however far-fetched and
extravagant it may seem, is nearly always
based on reality. There is a saying, is there
not, that the customer is always right?
Well, the same is true of the jealous husband
or wife. However little concrete evidence
there may be, fundamentally they
are always right."
Dr. Oldfield said robustly:
"Nonsense. I've never said anything to
Jean Moncrieffe that my wife couldn't
"That, perhaps. But it does not alter
the truth of what I said." Hercule Poirot
leaned forward. His voice was urgent, compelling.
"Doctor Oldfield, I am going to
do my utmost in this case. But I must have
from you the most absolute frankness
without regard to conventional appearances
or to your own feelings. It is true, is it not, that you had ceased to care for your wife
for some time before she died ?"
Oldfield was silent for a minute or two.
Then he said:
"This business is killing me. I must
66 have hope. Somehow or other I feel that
you will be able to do something for me.
I will be honest with you, M. Poirot. I did
not care deeply for my wife. I made her, I
think, a good husband, but I was never
really in love with her."
"And this girl, Jean?"
The perspiration came out in a fine
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