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Unformatted text preview: st it. There's
nothing I can do--nothing! I came to
you as a last resort -- but I don't suppose
for a minute that there is anything you can
Hercule Poirot was silent for a minute
or two. Then he said:
(c! am not so sure. Your problem interests
me. Doctor Oldfield. I should like to try my hand at destroying the manyheaded
monster. First of all, tell me a little
more about the circumstances which gave
rise to this malicious gossip. Your wife
died, you say, just over a year ago. What
was the cause of death ?"
"Was there an autopsy ?"
"No. She had been suffering from gastric
trouble over a considerable period."
"And the symptoms of gastric inflammation
and of arsenical poisoning are
closely alike--a fact which everybody
knows nowadays. Within the last ten
years there have been at least four sensational
murder cases in each of which the
victim has been buried without suspicion
with a certificate of gastric disorder. Was
your wife older or younger than yourself?" "She was five years older."
"How long had you been married ?"
"Did she leave any property ?" "Yes. She was a fairly well-to-do woman.
She left, roughly, about thirty thousand
"A very useful sum. It was left to you ?"
"Were you and your wife on good terms ? "
"No quarrels ? No scenes ?"
"Well--" Charles Oldfield hesitated.
"My wife was what might be termed a
difficult woman. She was an invalid and
very concerned over her health and inclined, therefore, to be fretful and difficult
to please. There were days when nothing
I could do was right.9y
Poirot nodded. He said:
"Ah yes, I know the type. She would
complain, possibly, that she was neglected,
unappreciated — that her husband was
tired of her and would be glad when she
Oldfield's face registered the truth of
Poirot's surmise. He said with a wry smile:
"You've got it exactly P3
Poirot went on: "Did she have a hospital nurse to attend
on her? Or a companion? Or a devoted
"A nurse-companion. A very sensible
and competent woman. I really don't
think she would talk."
"Even the sensible and the competent
have been given tongues by Ie bon Dieu —
and they do not always employ their
tongues wisely. I have no doubt that the
nurse-companion talked, that the servants
talked, that everyone talked! You have all
the materials there for the starting of a
very enjoyable village scandal. Now I will
ask you one thing more. Who is the
(c! don't understand.55 Dr. Oldfield
Poirot said gently:
cc! think you do. I am asking you who
the lady is with whom your name has been
Dr. Oldfield rose to his feet. His face
was stiff and cold. He said:
"There is no 'lady in the case'. I'm sorry, M. Poirot, to have taken up so much of your time....
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