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Показать все книги автора/авторов: Christie Agatha
 

«Appointment with Death», Agatha Christie

To Richard and Myra Mallock,

to remind them of their

journey to Petra.

 

Book One

1

"You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?"

The question floated out into the still night air, seemed to hang there a moment and then drift away down into the darkness towards the Dead Sea.

Hercule Poirot paused a minute with his hand on the window catch. Frowning, he shut it decisively, thereby excluding any injurious night air! Hercule Poirot had been brought up to believe that all outside air was best left outside, and that night air was especially dangerous to the health.

As he pulled the curtains neatly over the window and walked to his bed, he smiled tolerantly to himself. "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?" Curious words for one Hercule Poirot, detective, to overhear on his first night in Jerusalem.

"Decidedly, wherever I go, there is something to remind me of crime!" he murmured to himself. His smile continued as he remembered a story he had once heard concerning Anthony Trollope, the novelist.

Trollope was crossing the Atlantic at the time and had overheard two fellow passengers discussing the last published installment of one of his novels.

"Very good," one man had declared. "But he ought to kill off that tiresome old woman."

With a broad smile the novelist had addressed them: "Gentlemen, I am much obliged to you! I will go and kill her immediately!"

Hercule Poirot wondered what had occasioned the words he had just overheard. A collaboration, perhaps, over a play or a book. He thought, still smiling: "Those words might be remembered one day, and be given a more sinister meaning."

There had been, he now recollected, a curious nervous intensity in the voice-a tremor that spoke of some intense emotional strain. A man's voice-or a boy's…

Hercule Poirot thought to himself as he turned out the light by his bed: "I should know that voice again…"

Their elbows on the windowsill, their heads close together, Raymond and Carol Boynton gazed out into the blue depths of the night. Nervously, Raymond repeated his former words: "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?"

Carol Boynton stirred slightly. She said, her voice deep and hoarse: "It's horrible…"

"It's not more horrible than this!"

"I suppose not…"

Raymond said violently: "It can't go on like this-it can't… We must do something… And there isn't anything else we can do…" Carol said-but her voice was unconvincing and she knew it: "If we could get away somehow…?"

"We can't." His voice was empty and hopeless. "Carol, you know we can't…"

The girl shivered.

"I know Ray- I know."

He gave a sudden short bitter laugh. "People would say we were crazy-not to be able just to walk out-"

Carol said slowly: "Perhaps we are crazy!"

"I daresay. Yes, I daresay we are. Anyway we soon shall be… I suppose some people would say we are already. Here we are calmly planning, in cold blood, to kill our own mother!"

Carol said sharply: "She isn't our own mother!"

"No, that's true."

There was a pause and then Raymond said, his voice now quietly matter-of-fact: "You do agree, Carol?"

Carol answered steadily: "I think she ought to die-yes…" Then she broke out suddenly: "She's mad… I'm quite sure she's mad… She-she couldn't torture us like she does if she were sane. For years we've been saying: 'This can't go on!' And it has gone on! We've said, 'She'll die sometime'-but she hasn't died! I don't think she ever will die unless-"

Raymond said steadily: "Unless we kill her…"

"Yes."

She clenched her hands on the windowsill in front of her.

Her brother went on in a cool matter-of-fact tone, with just a slight tremor denoting his deep underlying excitement: "You see why it's got to be one of us, don't you? With Lennox, there's Nadine to consider. And we couldn't bring Jinny into it."

Carol shivered. "Poor Jinny… I'm so afraid…"

"I know. It's getting pretty bad, isn't it? That's why something's got to be done quickly-before she goes right over the edge."

Carol stood up suddenly, pushing back the tumbled chestnut hair from her forehead. "Ray," she said. "You don't think it's really wrong, do you?"


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