Unformatted text preview: o walk down the main
As Jean had said, there was no difficulty
about the procedure. Outside the post
office, Jean stopped and spoke to a tall,
thin middle-aged woman with a long nose
and sharp inquisitive eyes.
"Good-moming, Miss Leatheran."
"Good-moming, Jean. Such a lovely
day, is it not ?"
The sharp eyes ranged inquisitively
over Jean Moncrieffe's companion. Jean
"Let me introduce M. Poirot, who is
staying down here for a few days."
Nibbling delicately at a scone and balancing
a cup of tea on his knee, Hercule Poirot
allowed himself to become confidential with
his hostess. Miss Leatheran had been kind enough to ask him to tea and had thereupon
made it her business to find out exactly
what this exotic little foreigner was doing
in their midst.
For some time he parried her thrusts
with dexterity--thereby whetting her
appetite. Then, when he judged the moment
ripe, he leant forward:
"Ah, Miss Leatheran," he said. "I can
see that you are too clever for me! You
have guessed my secret. I am down here at
the request of the Home Office. But
please," he lowered his voice, ^keep this
information to yourself'."
"Of course -- of course -- " Miss
Leatheran was fluttered--thrilled to the
core. "The Home Office--you don't
mean -- not poor Mrs. Oldfield ?"
Poirot nodded his head slowly several
"We-ell!" Miss Leatheran breathed into
that one word a whole gamut of pleasurable
"It is a delicate matter, you understand. I have been ordered to report whether
there is or is not a sufficient case for exhumation.55 Miss Leatheran exclaimed:
"You are going to dig the poor thing up.
If she had said "how splendid" instead
of "how terrible" the words would have
suited her tone of voice better.
"What is your own opinion. Miss
'Well, of course, M. Poirot, there has
been a lot of talk. But I never listen to talk. There is always so much unreliable gossip
going about. There is no doubt that
Doctor Oldfield has been very odd in his
manner ever since it happened, but as I
have said repeatedly we surely need not
put that down to a guilty conscience. It
might be just grief. Not, of course, that
he and his wife were on really affectionate
terms. That I do know--on first hand
authority. Nurse Harrison, who was with
Mrs. Oldfield for three or four years up
to the time of her death, has admitted that much. And I have always felt, you know, that Nurse Harrison
had her suspicions -- not that she ever said anything, but one can tell, can't one, from a person's manner
Poirot said sadly:
"One has so little to go upon.33
"Yes, I know, but of course, M. Poirot, if the body is exhumed then you will know"
"Yes," said Poirot, "then we will know."
"There have been cases like it before,
of course," said Miss Leatheran, her nose
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