Unformatted text preview: o stupid, James.' I was not really being stupid. Caroline does
not always understand what I am driving at.
'You haven't got confidence in Inspector Davis?' I went on.
'Of course she hasn't,' said Caroline. 'I haven't either.' Anyone would have thought it was Caroline's uncle
who had been murdered.
'And how do you know he would take up the case?' I asked. 'Remember he has retired from active
work.' 'That's just it,' said Flora simply. 'I've got to persuade him.' 'You are sure you are doing wisely?' I
'Of course she is,' said Caroline. 'I'll go with her myself if she likes.' 'I'd rather the doctor came with me, if
you don't mind, Miss Sheppard,' said Flora.
She knows the value of being direct on certain occasions.
Any hints would certainly have been wasted on Caroline.
'You see,' she explained, following directness with tact, 'Dr Sheppard being the doctor, and having found
the body, he would be able to give all the details to M. Poirot.' 'Yes,' said Caroline grudgingly, 'I see
that.' I took a turn or two up and down the room.
'Flora,' I said gravely, 'be guided by me. I advise you not to drag this detective into the case.' Flora
sprang to her feet. The colour rushed into her cheeks.
'I know why you say that,' she cried. 'But it's exactly for that reason I'm so anxious to go. You're afraid!
But I'm not.
I know Ralph better than you do.' 'Ralph!' said Caroline. 'What has Ralph got to do with it?' Neither of
us heeded her.
'Ralph may be weak,' continued Flora. 'He may have done foolish things in the past - wicked things even
- but he wouldn't murder anyone.' 'No, no,' I exclaimed. 'I never thought it of him.' 'Then why did you go
to the Three Boars last night?' demanded Flora, 'on your way home - after Uncle's body was found?' I
was momentarily silenced. I had hoped that that visit of mine would remain unnoticed.
'How did you know about that?' I countered.
'I went there this morning,' said Flora. 'I heard from the servants that Ralph was staying there ' I
'You had no idea that he was in King's Abbot?' 'No. I was astounded. I couldn't understand it. I went
there and asked for him. They told me, what I suppose they told you last night, that he went out at about
nine o'clock yesterday evening - and - and never came back.' Her eyes met mine defiantly, and as though answering something in my look, she burst out: 'Well, why shouldn't he? He might have gone anywhere.
He may even have gone back to London.' 'Leaving his luggage behind?' I asked gently.
Flora stamped her foot.
'I don't care. There must be a simple explanation.' 'And that's why you want to go to Hercule Poirot?
Isn't it better to leave things as they are? The police don't suspect Ralph in the least, remember. They're
working on quite another tack.' 'But that's just it,' cried the girl. They do suspect him. A man from
Cranchester turned up this morning - Inspector Raglan, a horrid, weaselly little man. I found he had been
to the Three Boars this morning before me....
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