Labours Of Hercules By Agatha Christie

Then he said c am not so sure your problem interests

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Unformatted text preview: tly grey at the temples and blue eyes that held a worried expression. He stooped a little and his manner was a trifle hesitant. Moreover, he seemed to find difficulty in coming to the point. He said, stammering slightly: "I've come to you, M. Poirot, with rather an odd request. And now that I'm here, I'm inclined to funk the whole thing. Because, as I see very well now, it's the sort of thing that no one can possibly do anything about.53 Hercule Poirot murmured: "As to that, you must let me judge." 58 Oldfield muttered: "I don't know why I thought that perhaps — " He broke off. Hercule Poirot finished the sentence. "That perhaps I could help you? Eh bien, perhaps I can. Tell me your problem.35 Oldfield straightened himself. Poirot noted anew how haggard the man looked. Oldfield said, and his voice had a note of hopelessness in it: "You see, it isn't any good going to the police. . . . They can't do anything. And yet — every day it's getting worse and worse. I — I don't know what to do...." "What is getting worse ?" "The rumours.... Oh, it's quite simple, M. Poirot. Just a little over a year ago, my wife died. She had been an invalid for some years. They are saying, everyone is saying, that I killed her — that I poisoned her!" "Aha," said Poirot. "And did you poison her ?" "M. Poirot!" Dr. Oldfield sprang to his feet. "Calm yourself," said Hercule Poirot. "And sit down again. We will take it, then, 59 that you did not poison your wife. But your practice, I imagine, is situated in a country district — " "Yes. Market Loughborough — in Berkshire. I have always realised that it was the kind of place where people gossiped a good deal, but I never imagined that it could reach the lengths it has done." He drew his chair a little forward. "M. Poirot, you have no idea of what I have gone through. At first I had no inkling of what was going on. I did notice that people seemed less friendly, that there was a tendency to avoid me — but I put it down to — to the fact of my recent bereavement. Then it became more marked. In the street, even, people will cross the road to avoid speaking to me. My practice is falling off. Wherever I go I am conscious of lowered voices, of unfriendly eyes that watch me whilst malicious tongues whisper their deadly poison. I have had one or two letters — vile things." He paused — and then went on: "And — and / don't know what to do about it. I don't know how to fight this — this vile network of lies and suspicion. How can one refute what is never said 60 openly to your face ? I am powerless -trapped--and slowly and mercilessly being destroyed." Poirot nodded his head thoughtfully. He said: "Yes. Rumour is indeed the nineheaded Hydra of Lernea which cannot be exterminated because as fast as one head is cropped off two grow in its place." Dr. Oldfield said: "That's ju...
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