The House of Lurking Death: An Agatha Christie Short Story
‘No,’ admitted the girl. ‘I hate the fuss and the publicity that would ensue – and you see, I know our local Inspector. I can never imagine him finding out anything! I have often seen your advertisements, and I told Dr Burton that it would be much better to call in a private detective.’
‘You say a great deal about discretion in your advertisement. I take that to mean – that – that – well, that you would not make anything public without my consent?’
Tommy looked at her curiously, but it was Tuppence who spoke.
‘I think,’ she said quietly, ‘that it would be as well if Miss Hargreaves told us everything.’
She laid especial stress upon the last word, and Lois Hargreaves flushed nervously.
‘Yes,’ said Tommy quickly, ‘Miss Robinson is right. You must tell us everything.’
‘You will not –’ she hesitated.
‘Everything you say is understood to be strictly in confidence.’
‘Thank you. I know that I ought to have been quite frank with you. I have a reason for not going to the police. Mr Blunt, that box of chocolates was sent by someone in our house!’
‘How do you know that, mademoiselle?’
‘It’s very simple. I’ve got a habit of drawing a little silly thing – three fish intertwined – whenever I have a pencil in my hand. A parcel of silk stockings arrived from a certain shop in London not long ago. We were at the breakfast table. I’d just been marking something in the newspaper, and without thinking, I began to draw my silly little fish on the label of the parcel before cutting the string and opening it. I thought no more about the matter, but when I was examining the piece of brown paper in which the chocolates had been sent, I caught sight of the corner of the original label – most of which had been torn off. My silly little drawing was on it.’
Tommy drew his chair forward.
‘That is very serious. It creates, as you say, a very strong presumption that the sender of the chocolates is a member of your household. But you will forgive me if I say that I still do not see why that fact should render you indisposed to call in the police?’