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Diana murmured reluctantly:
"He said -- about a week ago -- that -that his father was right -- that it was the
only thing to be done."
"Did you ask him why ?" "Of course. But he wouldn't tell me."
Hercule Poirot reflected for a minute
or two. Then he said:
"Have there been any unusual occurrences
in your part of the world ? Starting, perhaps, about a year ago ? Something that
has given rise to a lot of local talk and
She flashed out: "I don't know what you
Poirot said quietly, but with authority
in his voice:
"You had better tell me."
"There wasn't anything--nothing of
the kind you mean."
"Of what kind then ?"
"I think you're simply odious! Queer
things often happen on farms. It's revenge
— or the village idiot or somebody."
She said reluctantly:
"There was a fuss about some sheep....
Their throats were cut. Oh! it was horrid!
But they all belonged to one farmer and
he's a very hard man. The police thought
it was some kind of spite against him." "But they didn't catch the person who
had done it?"
She added fiercely. "But if you think — "
Poirot held up his hand. He said:
"You do not know in the least what
I think. Tell me this, has your fiance
consulted a doctor ?"
"No, I'm sure he hasn't."
"Wouldn't that be the simplest thing
for him to do ?"
Diana said slowly:
"He won't. He — he hates doctors."
"And his father ?"
"I don't think the Admiral believes
much in doctors either. Says they're a lot
of humbug merchants."
"How does the Admiral seem himself?
Is he well ? Happy ?"
Diana said in a low voice:
"He's aged terribly in -- in -- "
"In the last year ?"
"Yes. He's a wreck -- a sort of shadow
of what he used to be.55 Poirot nodded thoughtfully. Then he
"Did he approve of his son's engagement
"Oh yes. You see, my people's land
adjoins his. We've been there for generations.
He was frightfully pleased when
Hugh and I fixed it up."
"And now? What does he say to your
engagement being broken off?"
The girl's voice shook a little. She
"I met him yesterday morning. He was
looking ghastly. He took my hand in both
of his. He said: ^Ifs hard on you, my girl.
But the boy's doing the right thing -- the
only thing he can do.9 "
"And so," said Hercule Poirot, "you
came to me ?"
She nodded. She asked: "Can you do
Hercule Poirot replied:
"I do not know. But I can at least come
down and see for myself.53
II It was Hugh Chandler's magnificent physique
that impressed Hercule Poirot more
than anything else. Tall, magnificently
proportioned, with a terrific chest and
shoulders, and a tawny head of hair. There
was a tremendous air of strength and
virility about him.
On their arrival at...
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