Hubbard pressed her hands to her eyeballs. I am just coming in with message. What message? Go along in, sonny, and tell her.
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Hubbard pressed her hands to her eyeballs. I am just coming in with message. What message? Go along in, sonny, and tell her. Might as well know if little monkey-face had been telling the truth.
Hubbard sounded abstracted. But you were not formerly in this division? Remember that business down at Crays Hill? That is a long time ago now.
Active in certain ways, shall we say? Hubbard here is the sister of my much valued secretary, Miss Lemon. What was there in it for you? Happens all the time. Rather small beer for you, M. With a slight frown he dusted the knees of his trousers. Sharpe frowned. It is like seeing a trail of footprints and they are not all made by the same feet. Other things happened that were meant to fit in with the pattern of Celia Austin—but they did not fit in.
They were meaningless, apparently purposeless. There was evidence, too, of malice. And Celia was not malicious. I give it you as my opinion that all this pilfering of petty objects was done to attract the attention of a certain young man. She was desperately in love with Colin McNabb. Colin never noticed her. Instead of a nice, pretty, well-behaved young girl, she displayed herself as an interesting young criminal.
The result was successful. Colin McNabb immediately fell for her, as they say, in a big way. He is a keen psychologist. I understand now. Some ulterior motive?
One is in the dark. Hubbard came in. She looked flushed and triumphant. Her chin stuck out aggressively. It came to me quite suddenly. Why that suicide note looked wrong, I mean. Hubbard held up the nearly empty bottle. Then she explained, clearly and concisely, the scene at the breakfast table. Can you remember? Hubbard shook her head. She must, I think, have left it lying somewhere in here, and forgotten about it.
There was quite a pile of lecture notepaper in her room—much more natural to write a suicide note on one of them. This means that somebody saw the possibility of using the opening phrase of her letter to you—to suggest something very different. The resourceful George had on this occasion produced large cups, a pot of really strong Indian tea and, in addition to the hot and buttery square crumpets, bread and jam and a large square of rich plum cake. All this for the delectation of Inspector Sharpe, who was leaning back contentedly sipping his third cup of tea.
You met some of them the other night and I wondered if you could give me any useful dope—on the foreigners, anyway. But mon cher, there were no Belgians amongst them. I mean you probably know more about the Continental types than I do—though not the Indians and the West Africans and that lot. She has been there for some months in intimate association with these young people and she is quite a good judge of human nature.
I shall have to see the proprietress of the place, too. Owns several of these places, I understand, as well as some of the student clubs. The chief pharmacist was most helpful. He was much shocked and distressed by the news. He described her as rather slow, but very conscientious. That is interesting—and rather puzzling. Kept in the poison cupboard in the Dispensary. Upper shelf—amongst drugs that were not often used. The hypodermic tablets, of course, are what are in general use, and it appears that morphine hydrochloride is more often used than the tartrate.
There seems to be a kind of fashion in drugs like everything else. Doctors seem to follow one another in prescribing like a lot of sheep. It was my own thought. Stocktaking is only done at regular intervals.
Nobody remembers any prescription with morphine tartrate in it for a long time. The three dispensers all had keys of the poison cupboard and the dangerous drug cupboard. The cupboards are opened as needed, and as on a busy day which is practically every day someone is going to the cupboard every few minutes, the cupboard is unlocked and remains unlocked till the end of work.
One has been there for four years, the other only came a few weeks ago, was formerly at a hospital in Devon. Good record. Then there are the three senior pharmacists who have all been at St. Those are the people who have what you might call rightful and normal access to the cupboard.
The lab attendant comes through with stock bottles and he, too, could help himself to a bottle if he watched his opportunity—but none of these suggestions seem at all probable. Then, of course, friends come in occasionally to see one of the dispensers—not a usual thing, but it happens. Who came in recently to see Celia Austin? She wanted Celia to come to meet her at the pictures after the Dispensary closed.
They also remember a coloured girl coming—about two weeks ago—a very superior girl, they said. She was interested in the work and asked questions about it and made notes. Spoke perfect English. She was interested, was she? She was interested in the organisation of such things and also in what was prescribed for such ailments as infant diarrhoea and skin infections.
Officially and unofficially. Sometimes to ask about a particular formula, or to see what is kept in stock. Sometimes a physician just strolls in for a chat—slack moment. Human nature is always human nature. You see how it is. Pretty hopeless.
And Colin McNabb is doing a postgraduate course there. But why, M. Poirot, why? It was just that it seemed doubtful if she would have had the wits to think of it herself. Leonard Bateson would have had the requisite knowl edge. But I cannot really see him conniving at such a thing for month after month—unless, that is, he had an ulterior motive, or is a very different person from what he appears to be.
That is always a thing one must take into account. Nigel Chapman has a mischievous and slightly malicious turn of mind. If she were fond of Celia, she might think it legitimate fun to make a fool of Colin. What about the Indians? One of them is a medical student. But I consider myself personally interested—that is if you do not object, my friend? Why should I? For me, there is, I think, only one line of action.
Conversation and again conversation!
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For Miss Lemon, that hideous and efficient woman, never made mistakes. She was never ill, never tired, never upset, never inaccurate. For all practical purposes, that is to say, she was not a woman at all. She was a machine—the perfect secretary. She knew everything, she coped with everything.
She committed the lesser thefts to attract the attention of Colin McNabb, a psychology student who then becomes engaged to her. She makes restitution for the crimes and reconciles with her victims. The more important incidents remain unsolved. Celia is discovered dead the following morning from an overdose of morphine.
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