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"I am right, am I not?" asked Poirot.
"Yes, yes; you must be a wizard to have guessed. But it can't be so--it's too monstrous, too impossible. It must be Alfred Inglethorp."
Poirot shook his head gravely.
"Don't ask me about it," continued Miss Howard, "because I shan't tell you. I won't admit it, even to myself. I must be mad to think of such a thing."
Poirot nodded, as if satisfied.
"I will ask you nothing. It is enough for me that it is as I thought. And I--I, too, have an instinct. We are working together towards a common end."
"Don't ask me to help you, because I won't. I wouldn't lift a finger to--to----" She faltered.
"You will help me in spite of yourself. I ask you nothing-- but you will be my ally. You will not be able to help yourself. You will do the only thing that I want of you."
"And that is?"
"You will watch!"
Evelyn Howard bowed her head.
"Yes, I can't help doing that. I am always watching--always hoping I shall be proved wrong."
"If we are wrong, well and good," said Poirot. "No one will be more pleased than I shall. But, if we are right? If we are right, Miss Howard, on whose side are you then?"
"I don't know, I don't know----"
"It could be hushed up."
"There must be no hushing up."
"But Emily herself----" She broke off.
"Miss Howard," said Poirot gravely, "this is unworthy of you."
Suddenly she took her face from her hands.
"Yes," she said quietly, "that was not Evelyn Howard who spoke!" She flung her head up proudly. "This is Evelyn Howard! And she is on the side of Justice! Let the cost be what it may." And with these words, she walked firmly out of the room.
"There," said Poirot, looking after her, "goes a very valuable ally. That woman, Hastings, has got brains as well as a heart."
I did not reply.
"Instinct is a marvellous thing," mused Poirot. "It can neither be explained nor ignored."
"You and Miss Howard seem to know what you are talking about," I observed coldly. "Perhaps you don't realize that I am still in the dark."
"Really? Is that so, mon ami?"
"Yes. Enlighten me, will you?"
Poirot studied me attentively for a moment or two. Then, to my intense surprise, he shook his head decidedly.
"No, my friend."
"Oh, look here, why not?"
"Two is enough for a secret."
"Well, I think it is very unfair to keep back facts from me."
"I am not keeping back facts. Every fact that I know is in your possession. You can draw your own deductions from them. This time it is a question of ideas."
"Still, it would be interesting to know."
Poirot looked at me very earnestly, and again shook his head.
"You see," he said sadly, "You have no instincts."
"It was intelligence you were requiring just now," I pointed out.
"The two often go together," said Poirot enigmatically.
The remark seemed so utterly irrelevant that I did not even take the trouble to answer it. But I decided that if I made any interesting and important discoveries--as no doubt I should--I would keep them to myself, and surprise Poirot with the ultimate result.
There are times when it is one's duty to assert oneself.
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The Mysterious Affair at Styles -- by ChristieBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.