en-es  The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Chapter III
La noche de la tragedia.

Para aclarar esta parte de mi historia, añado el siguiente plano del primer piso de Styles.

A las habitaciones de los sirvientes se llega a través de la puerta B.

No tienen comunicación con el ala derecha, donde estaban situados los cuartos de los Inglethorp.

Parecía ser la mitad de la noche cuando me despertó Lawrence Cavendish.

Tenía una vela en su mano y con su cara agitada me dijo inmediatamente que algo grave ocurría.

"¿Qué pasa?" pregunté, sentándome en la cama y tratando de ordenar mis pensamientos dispersos.

"Tememos que mi madre esté muy enferma. Ella parece estar teniendo alguna clase de ataque. Por desgracia se ha encerrado por dentro en su cuarto".

"Voy ahora mismo".

Salté de la cama y, poniéndome una bata, seguí a Lawrence a lo largo del pasillo y la galería hacia el ala derecha de la casa.

John Cavendish se unió a nosotros y algún criado de pie alrededor en un estado de asombro y excitación.

Lawrence se volvió hacia su hermano.

"¿Qué crees mejor que hagamos?".

Nunca, pensé, su indecisión de carácter había sido más evidente.

John sacudió con violencia la manija de la puerta de la Sra. Inglethorp, pero sin resultado.

Obviamente estaba cerrada con llave o echado el cerrojo por dentro.

Ahora toda la casa fue despertada.

Desde el interior del cuarto llegaban los ruidos más alarmantes.

Evidentemente algo debía hacerse.

"Trate de entrar por el cuarto del Sr. Inglethorp, señor", exclamó Dorcas. "¡Ay!, ¡la pobre señora!".

De repente me di cuenta de que Alfred Inglethorp no estaba con nosotros; que solo él no había dado ningún signo de su presencia.

John abrió la puerta de su cuarto.

Estaba completamente oscuro, pero Lawrence estaba siguiendo con una vela, y por su luz débil, vimos que nadie había dormido en la cama y que no había ningún signo de que la habitación hubiera sido ocupada.

Fuimos directamente a la puerta de conexión.

Esa, tambien estaba cerrada o con el cerrojo echado por dentro.

¿Qué teníamos que hacer?.

''Oh dios, señor'', lloró Dorcas, retorciéndose las manos, ''¿qué vamos hacer?''.

''Debemos tratar de romper la puerta, supongo.

Va a ser difícil, entonces. Bueno, una criada puede bajar y despertar a Baily y decirle que vaya a buscar al Dr Wilkins enseguida.

Y ahora, vamos a probar con la puerta. Un momento, ¿no hay una puerta en el cuarto de la Srta. Cynthia?

''Si, señor, pero siempre se queda cerrada.

Nunca se ha abierto''.

Bueno, vamos a ver''.

Corrió rápidamente por el pasillo hasta la habitación de Cynthia.

Mary Cavendish estaba allí, sacudiendo a la chica-- que debía tener un sueño inusualmente profundo- y tratando de despertarla.

En unos segundos volvió.

"Es inútil. También está cerrada. Tenemos que forzar la puerta.

Creo que esta es un poco menos sólida que la del pasillo".

Nos esforzamos y empujamos juntos.

El marco de la puerta era sólido, y durante mucho tiempo resistió nuestros esfuerzos, pero finalmente sentimos que cedía bajo nuestro peso, y finalmente, con un estruendo estrepitoso, se abrió de golpe.

Entramos juntos tropezando, Lawrence todavía sosteniendo su vela.

La señora Inglethorp estaba tendida en la cama, toda ella agitada por violentas convulsiones, en una de las cuales debía haber tirado la mesa de su lado.

Mientras entramos, sin embargo, sus miembros se relajaron y se cayó atrás en las almohadas.

John recorría a través del cuarto, y encendí el gas.

Volviéndose a Annie, una de las criadas, la envió abajo al comedor para el coñac.

Despues fue a ver a su madre mientras yo quitaba el cerrojo de la puerta que dio en el pasillo.

Me volví a Lawrence, para sugerirle que era mejor que les dejara ahora que no necesitaban mis servicios, pero las palabras se congelaron en mis labios.

Nunca ví una mirada tan espantosa en la cara de algún hombre.

Estaba blanco como la tiza, la vela que traía en su mano temblando estaba chisporroteando sobre la alfumbra y sus ojos, petrificados con terror, o alguna emoción similar, miraban fijamente encima de mi cabeza a un punto en la pared lejana.

Fue como si había visto una cosa que lo convirtió en piedra.

Instintivamente, seguí la dirección de sus ojos, pero no pude ver nada raro.

Las cenizas parpadeando débilmente en la chimenea, y la línea de adornos formales en su repisa, seguro era bastante inofensiva.

La violencia del ataque de la Sra Inglethorp, parecía pasar.

Ella podía hablar en pequeños suspiros.

''Mejor ahora-- muy repentino-- estupido de mi parte--de encerrarme''.

Una sombra pasó sobre la cama y, mirando hacia arriba, ví a Mary Cavendish parada cerca de la puerta, su brazo alrededor de Cynthia.

Parecía apoyar a la chica, que se veía totalmente aturdida y nada propio de ella.

Su cara estaba fuertemente ruborizada y bostezaba repetidamente.

''Pobre Cynthia parece muy asustada'', dijo la Sra. Cavendish con voz baja.

Ella misma, observé, estaba llevando su bata blanca de trabajo.

Entonces debía ser más tarde de lo que pensé. Ví que una pálida raya de luz se veía a través de las cortinas de las ventanas, y el reloj en la repisa de la chimenea mostraba casi las cinco.

Un grito estrangulado veniendo de la cama me sobresaltó.

Un nuevo accesso de dolor apresaba a la infortunada vieja dama.

Las convulsiones eran de una violencia terrible de ver.

Todo era confuso.

Nos acercamos de ella, sin poder ayudar o aliviar.

Una convulsión final la levantó de la cama, hasta parecía descansar con su cabeza y sus talones, con el cuerpo arqueado de manera extraordinaria.

En vano, Mary y John trataron de darle más coñac.

Los momentos volaron. Otra vez, el cuerpo se arqueó de esta manera extraña.

En aquel momento, el dr. Bauerstein entró en el cuarto con autoridad.

Por un momento, se paró, mirando a la persona en la cama y, en el mismo instante, la Sra. Inglethopr gritó con voz estrangulada, sus ojos fijos sobre el doctor: ''Alfred--Alfred---'' Después se cayó otra vez en las almohadas.

De un paso, el doctor alcanzó la cama, y tomando sus brazos, los movió energeticamente, dandala lo que sabía que era la respiración artificial.

Dió unas consignas cortas a las criadas.

Un gesto imperioso de su mano nos indicó de ir a la puerta.

Le miramos, fascinados, aunque creo que todos sabíamos en nuestros corazones que era demasiado tarde, y que no se podía hacer nada ahora.

Podía ver por la expresión en su cara que él mismo tenía poca esperanza.

Por fin, abandonó su labor, sacudiendo su cabeza con gravedad.

En ese momento, escuchamos pasos fuera , y el dr Wilkins, el propio medico de la Sra. Inglethorp, un puntilloso hombrecito corpulento, vino apresuradamente.

Con pocas palabras, el Dr. Bauertsein explicó como el pasaba las puertas de la casa cuando salió el coche, y había corrido hacia la casa tan rapido como pudo, mientras el coche fue a buscar al Dr. Wilkins.

Con un gesto débil de la mano, señaló a la persona de la cama.

''Mu-y triste. Mu-y triste'' , susurró el dr. Wilkins.

"Pobre dama querida. Siempre hizo demasiado-- demasiado--contra mi consejo.

Le advertí. Su corazón distaba mucho de ser fuerte.

'Tómeselo con calma', le dije: 'Tómeselo con calma'.

Pero no, su celo por las buenas obras era demasiado grande.

La naturaleza se rebeló. La na-turaleza se re-beló

Me di cuenta de que el doctor Bauerstein estaba mirando al médico de la familia atentamente.

Todavía mantuvo sus ojos fijos en él mientras hablaba.

"Las convulsiones eran de una violencia especial, Dr. Wilkins.

Lamento que no haya llegado a tiempo para presenciarlas. Eran de índole bastante tetánica".

"¡Ah!", dijo el Dr. Wilkins prudentemente.

"Me gustaría hablar con usted en privado", dijo el Dr. Bauerstein. Se volvió hacia John.
"¿No se opone?".

"Naturalmente que no".

Todos salimos en tropel al pasillo, dejando solos a los dos médicos, y oí que la llave giraba detrás de nosotros.

Bajamos lentamente las escaleras.

Estaba muy excitado.

Tengo un cierto talento para la deducción, y la actitud del Dr. Bauerstein había iniciado en mi mente un montón de conjeturas alocadas. Mary Cavendish puso su mano sobre mi brazo.

"¿Qué sucede? ¿Por qué el Dr. Bauerstein parece tan extraño?".

La miré.

"¿Sabe lo que pienso?"

"¿Qué?".

"¡Escuche!" Miré a mi alrededor, los demás estaban fuera del alcance del oído.

Bajé mi voz a un susurro. "¡Creo que ha sido envenenada! Estoy seguro de que el Dr. Bauerstein lo sospecha".

"¿Qué?". Se encogió contra la pared, las pupilas de sus ojos se dilataron extremadamente.

Luego, con un grito repentino que me sobresaltó, exclamó: "¡No, no!, ¡eso no, eso no!".
Y alejandose de mí, huyó escaleras arriba.

La seguí, tenía miedo que estuviera a punto de desmayarse.

La encontré apoyada en la barandilla, muy pálida.

Me despidió con impaciencia.

"no, no --dejame. Prefiero estar sola. Dejame ser tranquila por un rato.

Ve abajo con los otros''.

La obedecí con reticencia.

John y Lawrence estaban en el comedor. Me uní a ellos.

Todos estabamos silenciosos, pero creo que expressé los pensamientos de todos cuando, por fin, dije:''¿Dónde está el Sr. Inglethorp?''.

John movió su cabeza.

''No está en casa''.

Nuestros ojos se encontraron.

¿Dónde estaba Alfred Inglethorp?.

Su ausencia era extraña e inexplicable.

Me acordé de las últimas palabras de la Sra. Inglethorp.

¿Qué había tras ellas?

¿Qué más podría habernos dicho si hubiera tenido tiempo?

Al fin oímos a los doctores bajando las escaleras.

El Dr. Wilkins parecía importante y emocionado, y trataba de ocultar una exaltación interna bajo una forma de calma decorosa.

El doctor Bauerstein permanecía en el fondo, con su rostro barbudo y grave inalterable.

El Dr. Wilkins fue el portavoz de los dos.

Se dirigió a John: "Señor Cavendish, me gustaría su consentimiento para una autopsia".

"¿Es necesario?", preguntó John gravemente.

Un espasmo de dolor cruzó su rostro.

"Absolutamente", dijo el Dr. Bauerstein.

"¿Con eso quiere decir...?".

"Que ni el Dr. Wilkins ni yo podríamos dar un certificado de defunción dadas las circunstancias".

John inclinó la cabeza.

"En ese caso, no tengo otra alternativa más que estar de acuerdo".

"Gracias", dijo el Dr. Wilkins enérgicamente.

"Proponemos que tenga lugar mañana por la noche, o mejor, esta noche".

Y miró la luz del día. "Dadas las circunstancias, me temo que una investigación difícilmente puede evitarse; estas formalidades son necesarias, pero les ruego que no se angustien".

Hubo una pausa, y luego el Dr. Bauerstein sacó dos llaves de su bolsillo y se las dio a John.

"Estas son las llaves de las dos habitaciones.

Las he cerrado y, en mi opinión, sería mejor mantenerlas cerradas por ahora".

Luego los doctores se fueron.

Una idea me iba rondando por la cabeza y pensé que había llegado el momento de plantearla.

Sin embargo, era un poco receloso de hacerlo.

Sabía que John tenía pavor de cualquier tipo de atención pública y era un optimista tolerante, que prefería nunca encontrar problemas.

Podría ser difícil convencerle de la validez de mi plan.

Por otra parte, pensé que podría contar con Lawrence como aliado, ya que era menos convencional y tenía más imaginación,como aliado.

No había duda que era el momento de tomar la iniciativa.

''John'', dije, ''Voy a preguntarte una cosa''.

''¿Bueno?''.

''¿Te acuerdas que hablé de mi amigo Poirot? ¿El Belga que está aquí?'. Fue un detective muy famoso''.

''Sí''.

''Deseo que me dejes llamarle para venir a investigar este asunto''.

''¿Cómo--ahora? ¿Antes de la autopsia?''.

''Sí, el tiempo es una ventaja si--si-- ha sido un acto criminal''.

''¡Tonterías!''. gritó Lawrence, enfadado.

'¡En mi opinión, toda esta cosa es un lío de Bauerstein!

Wilkins no tenía idea de tal cosa hasta que Bauerstein la puso en su cabeza.

Pero como todos los especialistas, Bauerstein tiene una idea en la cabeza.

Los venenos son su pasatiempo, entonces naturalmente los ve por todas partes".

Admito que estaba sorprendido de la actitud de Lawrence.

Tan raramente era vehemente sobre cualquier cosa.

John vaciló

''No puedo pensar como tú'' dijo Lawrence, por fin.

''Me inclino a dar a Hastings carta blanca, aunque prefería esperar un poco''.

No deseamos un escándalo innecesario''.

''No, no, ''exclamé ansiosamente, ''no hay nada que temer. Poirot es la discreción personalizada''.

''Muy bien, entonces, como tu quieras.

Lo dejo en tus manos.

Pero, si es como sospechamos, parece un caso muy claro.

¡Dios me perdone por hacerle mal a él!''

Miré a mi reloj.

Eran las seis. Determiné no perder ningún tiempo.

Sin embargo me permití cinco minutos de retraso.

Las gasté saqueando la biblioteca hasta que encontré un libro de medicina que daba una descripción de envenenamiento por estricnina.
unit 1
The Night of the Tragedy.
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unit 3
The servants' rooms are reached through the door B.
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It seemed to be the middle of the night when I was awakened by Lawrence Cavendish.
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"What's the matter?"
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I asked, sitting up in bed, and trying to collect my scattered thoughts.
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"We are afraid my mother is very ill. She seems to be having some kind of fit.
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Unfortunately she has locked herself in.".
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"I'll come at once.".
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Lawrence turned to his brother.
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"What do you think we had better do?".
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Never, I thought, had his indecision of character been more apparent.
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John rattled the handle of Mrs. Inglethorp's door violently, but with no effect.
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It was obviously locked or bolted on the inside.
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The whole household was aroused by now.
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The most alarming sounds were audible from the interior of the room.
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Clearly something must be done.
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unit 22
"Try going through Mr. Inglethorp's room, sir," cried Dorcas.
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"Oh, the poor mistress!".
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John opened the door of his room.
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We went straight to the connecting door.
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That, too, was locked or bolted on the inside.
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What was to be done?.
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"Oh, dear, sir," cried Dorcas, wringing her hands, "what ever shall we do?".
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"We must try and break the door in, I suppose.
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It'll be a tough job, though.
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Now then, we'll have a try at the door.
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Half a moment, though, isn't there a door into Miss Cynthia's rooms?".
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"Yes, sir, but that's always bolted.
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It's never been undone.".
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"Well, we might just see.".
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He ran rapidly down the corridor to Cynthia's room.
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In a moment or two he was back.
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"No good.
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That's bolted too.
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We must break in the door.
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I think this one is a shade less solid than the one in the passage."
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We strained and heaved together.
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We stumbled in together, Lawrence still holding his candle.
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As we entered, however, her limbs relaxed, and she fell back upon the pillows.
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John strode across the room, and lit the gas.
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Turning to Annie, one of the housemaids, he sent her downstairs to the dining-room for brandy.
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Then he went across to his mother whilst I unbolted the door that gave on the corridor.
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Never have I seen such a ghastly look on any man's face.
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It was as though he had seen something that turned him to stone.
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I instinctively followed the direction of his eyes, but I could see nothing unusual.
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The violence of Mrs. Inglethorp's attack seemed to be passing.
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She was able to speak in short gasps.
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"Better now--very sudden--stupid of me--to lock myself in.".
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She seemed to be supporting the girl, who looked utterly dazed and unlike herself.
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Her face was heavily flushed, and she yawned repeatedly.
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"Poor Cynthia is quite frightened," said Mrs. Cavendish in a low clear voice.
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She herself, I noticed, was dressed in her white land smock.
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Then it must be later than I thought.
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A strangled cry from the bed startled me.
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A fresh access of pain seized the unfortunate old lady.
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The convulsions were of a violence terrible to behold.
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Everything was confusion.
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We thronged round her, powerless to help or alleviate.
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In vain Mary and John tried to administer more brandy.
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The moments flew.
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Again the body arched itself in that peculiar fashion.
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At that moment, Dr. Bauerstein pushed his way authoritatively into the room.
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He issued a few short sharp orders to the servants.
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An imperious wave of his hand drove us all to the door.
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I could see by the expression on his face that he himself had little hope.
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Finally he abandoned his task, shaking his head gravely.
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With a faint gesture of the hand, he indicated the figure on the bed.
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unit 90
"Ve--ry sad.
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Ve--ry sad," murmured Dr. Wilkins.
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"Poor dear lady.
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Always did far too much--far too much--against my advice.
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I warned her.
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Her heart was far from strong.
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'Take it easy,' I said to her, 'Take--it--easy'.
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But no--her zeal for good works was too great.
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Nature rebelled.
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unit 99
Na--ture-- re--belled."
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Dr. Bauerstein, I noticed, was watching the local doctor narrowly.
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He still kept his eyes fixed on him as he spoke.
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unit 102
"The convulsions were of a peculiar violence, Dr. Wilkins.
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I am sorry you were not here in time to witness them.
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They were quite--tetanic in character."
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"Ah!"
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said Dr. Wilkins wisely.
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"I should like to speak to you in private," said Dr. Bauerstein.
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He turned to John.
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"You do not object?".
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unit 110
"Certainly not.".
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We went slowly down the stairs.
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I was violently excited.
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Mary Cavendish laid her hand upon my arm.
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"What is it?
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Why did Dr. Bauerstein seem so--peculiar?".
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I looked at her.
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unit 119
"Do you know what I think?"
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unit 120
"What?".
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unit 121
"Listen!"
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unit 122
I looked round, the others were out of earshot.
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unit 123
I lowered my voice to a whisper.
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unit 124
"I believe she has been poisoned!
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unit 125
I'm certain Dr. Bauerstein suspects it.".
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unit 126
"What?"
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She shrank against the wall, the pupils of her eyes dilating wildly.
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And breaking from me, fled up the stairs.
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I followed her, afraid that she was going to faint.
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I found her leaning against the bannisters, deadly pale.
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She waved me away impatiently.
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"No, no--leave me.
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I'd rather be alone.
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Let me just be quiet for a minute or two.
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Go down to the others.".
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I obeyed her reluctantly.
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John and Lawrence were in the dining-room.
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I joined them.
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Inglethorp?".
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John shook his head.
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"He's not in the house."
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Our eyes met.
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Where was Alfred Inglethorp?.
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His absence was strange and inexplicable.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month ago
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I remembered Mrs. Inglethorp's dying words.
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What lay beneath them?.
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What more could she have told us, if she had had time?
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At last we heard the doctors descending the stairs.
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Dr. Bauerstein remained in the background, his grave bearded face unchanged.
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Dr. Wilkins was the spokesman for the two.
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"Is that necessary?"
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asked John gravely.
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A spasm of pain crossed his face.
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"Absolutely," said Dr. Bauerstein.
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unit 159
"You mean by that----?".
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John bent his head.
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"In that case, I have no alternative but to agree.".
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"Thank you," said Dr. Wilkins briskly.
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unit 164
"We propose that it should take place to-morrow night--or rather to-night.".
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month ago
unit 165
And he glanced at the daylight.
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unit 168
"These are the keys of the two rooms.
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unit 169
unit 170
The doctors then departed.
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unit 172
Yet I was a little chary of doing so.
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unit 174
It might be difficult to convince him of the soundness of my plan.
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There was no doubt that the moment had come for me to take the lead.
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"John," I said, "I am going to ask you something.".
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"Well?".
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"You remember my speaking of my friend Poirot?
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The Belgian who is here?.
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He has been a most famous detective.".
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"Yes."
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"I want you to let me call him in--to investigate this matter.".
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"What--now?
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Before the post-mortem?".
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"Yes, time is an advantage if--if--there has been foul play.".
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"Rubbish!"
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cried Lawrence angrily.
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"In my opinion the whole thing is a mare's nest of Bauerstein's!.
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Wilkins hadn't an idea of such a thing, until Bauerstein put it into his head.
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But, like all specialists, Bauerstein's got a bee in his bonnet.
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Poisons are his hobby, so of course he sees them everywhere.".
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I confess that I was surprised by Lawrence's attitude.
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He was so seldom vehement about anything.
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John hesitated.
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"I can't feel as you do, Lawrence," he said at last.
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"I'm inclined to give Hastings a free hand, though I should prefer to wait a bit.
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We don't want any unnecessary scandal.".
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"No, no," I cried eagerly, "you need have no fear of that.
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Poirot is discretion itself.".
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"Very well, then, have it your own way.
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I leave it in your hands.
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Though, if it is as we suspect, it seems a clear enough case.
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God forgive me if I am wronging him!".
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I looked at my watch.
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It was six o'clock.
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I determined to lose no time.
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Five minutes' delay, however, I allowed myself.
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Ernesto • 4460  commented on  unit 201  4 months, 1 week ago
Boot2 • 5550  translated  unit 182  4 months, 2 weeks ago
Boot2 • 5550  translated  unit 178  4 months, 2 weeks ago
carme2222 • 6336  translated  unit 118  4 months, 2 weeks ago
carme2222 • 6336  translated  unit 105  4 months, 2 weeks ago
Boot2 • 5550  translated  unit 94  4 months, 2 weeks ago
Boot2 • 5550  translated  unit 90  4 months, 2 weeks ago

The Night of the Tragedy.

To make this part of my story clear, I append the following plan of the first floor of Styles.

The servants' rooms are reached through the door B.

They have no communication with the right wing, where the Inglethorps' rooms were situated.

It seemed to be the middle of the night when I was awakened by Lawrence Cavendish.

He had a candle in his hand, and the agitation of his face told me at once that something was seriously wrong.

"What's the matter?" I asked, sitting up in bed, and trying to collect my scattered thoughts.

"We are afraid my mother is very ill.

She seems to be having some kind of fit. Unfortunately she has locked herself in.".

"I'll come at once.".

I sprang out of bed; and, pulling on a dressing-gown, followed Lawrence along the passage and the gallery to the right wing of the house.

John Cavendish joined us, and one or two of the servants were standing round in a state of awe-stricken excitement.

Lawrence turned to his brother.

"What do you think we had better do?".

Never, I thought, had his indecision of character been more apparent.

John rattled the handle of Mrs. Inglethorp's door violently, but with no effect.

It was obviously locked or bolted on the inside.

The whole household was aroused by now.

The most alarming sounds were audible from the interior of the room.

Clearly something must be done.

"Try going through Mr. Inglethorp's room, sir," cried Dorcas. "Oh, the poor mistress!".

Suddenly I realized that Alfred Inglethorp was not with us--that he alone had given no sign of his presence.

John opened the door of his room.

It was pitch dark, but Lawrence was following with the candle, and by its feeble light we saw that the bed had not been slept in, and that there was no sign of the room having been occupied.

We went straight to the connecting door.

That, too, was locked or bolted on the inside.

What was to be done?.

"Oh, dear, sir," cried Dorcas, wringing her hands, "what ever shall we do?".

"We must try and break the door in, I suppose.

It'll be a tough job, though. Here, let one of the maids go down and wake Baily and tell him to go for Dr. Wilkins at once.

Now then, we'll have a try at the door. Half a moment, though, isn't there a door into Miss Cynthia's rooms?".

"Yes, sir, but that's always bolted.

It's never been undone.".

"Well, we might just see.".

He ran rapidly down the corridor to Cynthia's room.

Mary Cavendish was there, shaking the girl--who must have been an unusually sound sleeper--and trying to wake her.

In a moment or two he was back.

"No good. That's bolted too. We must break in the door.

I think this one is a shade less solid than the one in the passage."

We strained and heaved together.

The framework of the door was solid, and for a long time it resisted our efforts, but at last we felt it give beneath our weight, and finally, with a resounding crash, it was burst open.

We stumbled in together, Lawrence still holding his candle.

Mrs. Inglethorp was lying on the bed, her whole form agitated by violent convulsions, in one of which she must have overturned the table beside her.

As we entered, however, her limbs relaxed, and she fell back upon the pillows.

John strode across the room, and lit the gas.

Turning to Annie, one of the housemaids, he sent her downstairs to the dining-room for brandy.

Then he went across to his mother whilst I unbolted the door that gave on the corridor.

I turned to Lawrence, to suggest that I had better leave them now that there was no further need of my services, but the words were frozen on my lips.

Never have I seen such a ghastly look on any man's face.

He was white as chalk, the candle he held in his shaking hand was sputtering onto the carpet, and his eyes, petrified with terror, or some such kindred emotion, stared fixedly over my head at a point on the further wall.

It was as though he had seen something that turned him to stone.

I instinctively followed the direction of his eyes, but I could see nothing unusual.

The still feebly flickering ashes in the grate, and the row of prim ornaments on the mantelpiece, were surely harmless enough.

The violence of Mrs. Inglethorp's attack seemed to be passing.

She was able to speak in short gasps.

"Better now--very sudden--stupid of me--to lock myself in.".

A shadow fell on the bed and, looking up, I saw Mary Cavendish standing near the door with her arm around Cynthia.

She seemed to be supporting the girl, who looked utterly dazed and unlike herself.

Her face was heavily flushed, and she yawned repeatedly.

"Poor Cynthia is quite frightened," said Mrs. Cavendish in a low clear voice.

She herself, I noticed, was dressed in her white land smock.

Then it must be later than I thought. I saw that a faint streak of daylight was showing through the curtains of the windows, and that the clock on the mantelpiece pointed to close upon five o'clock.

A strangled cry from the bed startled me.

A fresh access of pain seized the unfortunate old lady.

The convulsions were of a violence terrible to behold.

Everything was confusion.

We thronged round her, powerless to help or alleviate.

A final convulsion lifted her from the bed, until she appeared to rest upon her head and her heels, with her body arched in an extraordinary manner.

In vain Mary and John tried to administer more brandy.

The moments flew. Again the body arched itself in that peculiar fashion.

At that moment, Dr. Bauerstein pushed his way authoritatively into the room.

For one instant he stopped dead, staring at the figure on the bed, and, at the same instant, Mrs. Inglethorp cried out in a strangled voice, her eyes fixed on the doctor:

"Alfred--Alfred----" Then she fell back motionless on the pillows.

With a stride, the doctor reached the bed, and seizing her arms worked them energetically, applying what I knew to be artificial respiration.

He issued a few short sharp orders to the servants.

An imperious wave of his hand drove us all to the door.

We watched him, fascinated, though I think we all knew in our hearts that it was too late, and that nothing could be done now.

I could see by the expression on his face that he himself had little hope.

Finally he abandoned his task, shaking his head gravely.

At that moment, we heard footsteps outside, and Dr. Wilkins, Mrs. Inglethorp's own doctor, a portly, fussy little man, came bustling in.

In a few words Dr. Bauerstein explained how he had happened to be passing the lodge gates as the car came out, and had run up to the house as fast as he could, whilst the car went on to fetch Dr. Wilkins.

With a faint gesture of the hand, he indicated the figure on the bed.

"Ve--ry sad. Ve--ry sad," murmured Dr. Wilkins.

"Poor dear lady. Always did far too much--far too much--against my advice.

I warned her. Her heart was far from strong.

'Take it easy,' I said to her, 'Take--it--easy'.

But no--her zeal for good works was too great.

Nature rebelled. Na--ture-- re--belled."

Dr. Bauerstein, I noticed, was watching the local doctor narrowly.

He still kept his eyes fixed on him as he spoke.

"The convulsions were of a peculiar violence, Dr. Wilkins.

I am sorry you were not here in time to witness them. They were quite--tetanic in character."

"Ah!" said Dr. Wilkins wisely.

"I should like to speak to you in private," said Dr. Bauerstein. He turned to John.
"You do not object?".

"Certainly not.".

We all trooped out into the corridor, leaving the two doctors alone, and I heard the key turned in the lock behind us.

We went slowly down the stairs.

I was violently excited.

I have a certain talent for deduction, and Dr. Bauerstein's manner had started a flock of wild surmises in my mind. Mary Cavendish laid her hand upon my arm.

"What is it? Why did Dr. Bauerstein seem so--peculiar?".

I looked at her.

"Do you know what I think?"

"What?".

"Listen!" I looked round, the others were out of earshot.

I lowered my voice to a whisper. "I believe she has been poisoned! I'm certain Dr. Bauerstein suspects it.".

"What?" She shrank against the wall, the pupils of her eyes dilating wildly.

Then, with a sudden cry that startled me, she cried out: "No, no--not that--not that!".
And breaking from me, fled up the stairs.

I followed her, afraid that she was going to faint.

I found her leaning against the bannisters, deadly pale.

She waved me away impatiently.

"No, no--leave me. I'd rather be alone. Let me just be quiet for a minute or two.

Go down to the others.".

I obeyed her reluctantly.

John and Lawrence were in the dining-room. I joined them.

We were all silent, but I suppose I voiced the thoughts of us all when I at last broke it by saying:
"Where is Mr. Inglethorp?".

John shook his head.

"He's not in the house."

Our eyes met.

Where was Alfred Inglethorp?.

His absence was strange and inexplicable.

I remembered Mrs. Inglethorp's dying words.

What lay beneath them?.

What more could she have told us, if she had had time?

At last we heard the doctors descending the stairs.

Dr. Wilkins was looking important and excited, and trying to conceal an inward exultation under a manner of decorous calm.

Dr. Bauerstein remained in the background, his grave bearded face unchanged.

Dr. Wilkins was the spokesman for the two.

He addressed himself to John:
"Mr. Cavendish, I should like your consent to a postmortem.".

"Is that necessary?" asked John gravely.

A spasm of pain crossed his face.

"Absolutely," said Dr. Bauerstein.

"You mean by that----?".

"That neither Dr. Wilkins nor myself could give a death certificate under the circumstances.".

John bent his head.

"In that case, I have no alternative but to agree.".

"Thank you," said Dr. Wilkins briskly.

"We propose that it should take place to-morrow night--or rather to-night.".

And he glanced at the daylight. "Under the circumstances, I am afraid an inquest can hardly be avoided--these formalities are necessary, but I beg that you won't distress yourselves.".

There was a pause, and then Dr. Bauerstein drew two keys from his pocket, and handed them to John.

"These are the keys of the two rooms.

I have locked them and, in my opinion, they would be better kept locked for the present.".

The doctors then departed.

I had been turning over an idea in my head, and I felt that the moment had now come to broach it.

Yet I was a little chary of doing so.

John, I knew, had a horror of any kind of publicity, and was an easygoing optimist, who preferred never to meet trouble half-way.

It might be difficult to convince him of the soundness of my plan.

Lawrence, on the other hand, being less conventional, and having more imagination, I felt I might count upon as an ally.

There was no doubt that the moment had come for me to take the lead.

"John," I said, "I am going to ask you something.".

"Well?".

"You remember my speaking of my friend Poirot? The Belgian who is here?. He has been a most famous detective.".

"Yes."

"I want you to let me call him in--to investigate this matter.".

"What--now? Before the post-mortem?".

"Yes, time is an advantage if--if--there has been foul play.".

"Rubbish!" cried Lawrence angrily.

"In my opinion the whole thing is a mare's nest of Bauerstein's!.

Wilkins hadn't an idea of such a thing, until Bauerstein put it into his head.

But, like all specialists, Bauerstein's got a bee in his bonnet.

Poisons are his hobby, so of course he sees them everywhere.".

I confess that I was surprised by Lawrence's attitude.

He was so seldom vehement about anything.

John hesitated.

"I can't feel as you do, Lawrence," he said at last.

"I'm inclined to give Hastings a free hand, though I should prefer to wait a bit.

We don't want any unnecessary scandal.".

"No, no," I cried eagerly, "you need have no fear of that. Poirot is discretion itself.".

"Very well, then, have it your own way.

I leave it in your hands.

Though, if it is as we suspect, it seems a clear enough case.

God forgive me if I am wronging him!".

I looked at my watch.

It was six o'clock. I determined to lose no time.

Five minutes' delay, however, I allowed myself.

I spent it in ransacking the library until I discovered a medical book which gave a description of strychnine poisoning.