Labours Of Hercules By Agatha Christie

She looked 298 like a frightened fillyshe shrank away

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Unformatted text preview: t way— for him, poor devil, if for nobody else.33 Diana had thrown herself sobbing on the bed. Admiral Chandler said, his voice coming unevenly: 282 "You're right, George -- you're right, I know. The boy's got guts. ..." Frobisher said, and his voice, too, was broken: "He's a man. ..." There was a moment's silence and then Chandler said: "Damn it, where's that cursed foreigner?" VII In the gun-room, Hugh Chandler had lifted his gun from the rack and was in the act of loading it when Hercule Poirot's hand fell on his shoulder. Hercule Poirot's voice said one word and said it with a strange authority. He said: "No /" Hugh Chandler stared at him. He said in a thick, angry voice: "Take your hands off me. Don't interfere. There's going to be an accident, I tell you. It's the only way out." Again Hercule Poirot repeated that one word: "No." "Don't you realise that if it hadn't 283 been for the accident of her door being locked, I would have cut Diana's throat— Diana's! — with that knife ?" cc! realise nothing of the kind. You would not have killed Miss Maberly." "I killed the cat, didn't I ?" "No, you did not kill the cat. You did not kill the parrot. You did not kill the sheep.39 Hugh stared at him. He demanded: "Are you mad, or am I ?" Hercule Poirot replied: "Neither of us is mad.^ It was at that moment that Admiral Chandler and Colonel Frobisher came in. Behind them came Diana. Hugh Chandler said in a weak, dazed voice: "This chap says I'm not mad. ..." Hercule Poirot said: "I am happy to tell you that you are entirely and completely sane." Hugh laughed. It was a laugh such as a lunatic might popularly be supposed to give. "That's damned funny! It's sane, is it, to cut the throats of sheep and other animals ? I was sane, was I, when I killed that parrot ? And the cat tonight ?" 284 "I tell you you did not kill the sheep — or the parrot — or the cat.3' "Then who did ?" "Someone who has had at heart the sole object of proving you insane. On each occasion you were given a heavy soporific and a blood-stained knife or razor was planted by you. It was someone else whose bloody hands were washed in your basin." "But why ?" "In order that you should do what you were just about to do when I stopped you." Hugh stared. Poirot turned to Colonel Frobisher. "Colonel Frobisher, you lived for many years in India. Did you never come across cases where persons were deliberately driven mad by the administration of drugs ?" Colonel Frobisher's face lit up. He said: "Never came across a case myself, but I've heard of them often enough. Datura poisoning. It ends by driving a person insane." "Exactly. Well, the active principle of the datura is very closely allied to, if it is not actually, the alkaloid atropine — which is 285 also obtained from belladonna or deadly nightshade. Belladonna preparations are fairly common and atropine sulp...
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