A Caribbean Mystery – Agatha Christie
Long practice had made Miss Marple quite an adept at dealing with that one. ” I don’t really feel that I’ve got sufficient experience to judge. I’m afraid I’ve led rather a sheltered life.”
“And so you should, dear lady, so you should,” cried Major Palgrave gallantly. “You’ve had such a very varied life,” went on Miss Marple, determined to make amends for her former pleasurable inattention.
” Not bad,” said Major Palgrave, complacently. “Not bad at all.” He looked round him appreciatively. “Lovely place, this.”
“Yes, indeed,” said Miss Marple and was then unable to stop herself going on: “Does anything ever happen here, I wonder ?”
Major Palgrave stared. “Oh rather. Plenty of scandalseh what? Why, I could tell you” But it wasn’t really scandals Miss Marple wanted. Nothing to get your teeth into in scandals nowadays. Just men and women changing partners, and calling attention to it, instead of trying decently to hush it up and be properly ashamed of themselves.
“There was even a murder here a couple of years ago. Man called Harry Western. Made a big splash in the papers. Daresay you remember it.”
Miss Marple nodded without enthusiasm. It had not been her kind of murder. It had made a big splash because everyone concerned had been very rich. It had seemed likely enough that Harry Western had shot the Count de Ferrari, his wife’s lover, and equally likely that his well-arranged alibi had been bought and paid for. Everyone seemed to have been drunk, and there was a fine scattering of dope addicts. Not really interesting people, thought Miss Marplealthough no doubt very spectacular and attractive to look at. But definitely not her cup of tea. “And if you ask me, that wasn’t the only murder about that time.” He nodded and winked. “I had my suspicionswell” Miss Marple dropped her ball of wool, and the Major stooped and picked it up for her.
“Talking of murder,” he went on. “I once came across a very curious casenot exactly personally.”
Miss Marple smiled encouragingly.
“Lots of chaps talking at the club one day, you know, and a chap began telling a story. Medical man he was. One of his cases. Young fellow came and knocked him up in the middle of the night. His wife had hanged herself. They hadn’t got a telephone, so after the chap had cut her down and done what he could, he’d got out his car and hared off looking for a doctor. Well, she wasn’t dead but pretty far gone. Anyway, she pulled through. Young fellow seemed devoted to her. Cried like a child. He’d noticed that she’d been odd for some time, fits of depression and all that. Well, that was that. Everything seemed all right. But actually, about a month later, the wife took an overdose of sleeping stuff and passed out. Sad case.” Major Palgrave paused, and nodded his head several times. Since there was obviously more to come Miss Marple waited. “And that’s that, you might say. Nothing there. Neurotic woman, nothing out of the usual. But about a year later, this medical chap was swapping yarns with a fellow medico, and the other chap told him about a woman who’d tried to drown herself, husband got her out, got a doctor, they pulled her roundand then a few weeks later she gassed herself. Well, a bit of a coincidenceeh? Same sort of story. My chap said: ‘I had a case rather like that. Name of Jones(or whatever the name was)What was your man’s name?’ ‘Can’t remember. Robinson I think. Certainly not Jones.’ Well, the chaps looked at each other and said it was pretty odd. And then my chap pulled out a snapshot. He showed it to the second chap. ‘That’s the fellow,’ he said. ‘I’d gone along the next day to check up on the particulars, and I noticed a magnificent species of hibiscus just by the front door, a variety I’d never seen before in this country. My camera was in the car and I took a photo. Just as I snapped the shutter the husband came out of the front door so I got him as well. Don’t think he realised it. I asked him about the hibiscus but he couldn’t tell me its name.’ Second medico looked at the snap. He said: ‘It’s a bit out of focusbut I could swearat any rate I’m almost sure it’s the same man!’ Don’t know if they followed it up. But if so they didn’t get anywhere. Expect Mr. Jones or Robinson covered his tracks too well. But queer story, isn’t it? Wouldn’t think things like that could happen.”
“Oh yes, I would,” said Miss Marple placidly. “Practically every day.”
“Oh, come, come. That’s a bit fantastic.”