Unformatted text preview: to stare at her.
'This is very interesting. Miss Caroline,' said Colonel Carter. 'All your own idea, eh?' 'Well, not exactly.
I'll tell you about it. You know that big map of the county we have in the hall?' We all said Yes. 'As M. Poirot was going out the other day, he stopped and looked at it, and he made some remark - I
can't remember exactly what it was. Something about Cranchester being the only big town anywhere
near us which is true, of course. But after he had gone - it came to me suddenly.' 'What came to you?'
'His meaning. Of course Ralph is in Cranchester.' It was at that moment that I knocked down the rack
that held my pieces. My sister immediately reproved me for clumsiness, but half-heartedly. She was intent
on her theory.
'Cranchester, Miss Caroline?' said Colonel Carter. 'Surely not Cranchester! It's so near.' 'That's exactly
it,' cried Caroline triumphantly. 'It seems quite clear by now that he didn't get away from here by tram.
He must simply have walked into Cranchester. And I believe he's there still. No one would dream of his
being so near at hand.' I pointed out several objections to the theory, but when °nce Caroline has got
something firmly into her head, nothing dislodges it.
'And you think M. Poirot has the same idea,' said Miss Gannett thoughtfully. 'It's a curious coincidence,
but I was out for a walk this afternoon on the Cranchester road, and he passed me in a car coming from
that direction.' We all looked at each other.
'Why, dear me,' said Miss Gannett suddenly, 'I'm Mah Jong all the time, and I never noticed it.'
Caroline's attention was distracted from her own inventive exercises. She pointed out to Miss Gannett
that a hand consisting of mixed suits and too many Chows was hardly worth going Mah Jong on. Miss
Gannett listened imperturbably and collected her counters.
'Yes, dear, I know what you mean,' she said. 'But it rather depends on what kind of a hand you have to
start with, doesn't it?' 'You'll never get the big hands if you don't go for them,' urged Caroline.
'Well, we must all play our own way, mustn't we?' said Miss Gannett. She looked down at her counters.
'After all, I'm up, so far.' Caroline, who was considerably down, said nothing.
East Wind passed, and we set to once more. Annie brought in the tea things. Caroline and Miss Gannett
were both slightly ruffled as is often the case during one of these festive evenings.
'If you would only play a leetle quicker, dear,' said Caroline, as Miss Gannett hesitated over her discard.
'The Chinese put down the tiles so quickly it sounds like little birds pattering.' For some minutes we
played like the Chinese.
'You haven't contributed much to the sum of information, Sheppard,' said Colonel Carter genially.
'You're a sly dog. Hand in glove with the great detective, and nut a hint as to the way things are going.'
'James is an extraordinary creature,' said Caroline. 'He can not bring himself to part with information.'
She looked at me with some disfavour.
'I assure you,' I said, 'that I don't know an...
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