|Revelations and Remorse
Author: ancienteyes PM
During and following the final scene of the Hercule Poirot novel Five Little Pigs, this story describes the thoughts of the innocent former suspects and of Carla Lemarchant, the victims' daughter. Each segment of this story reveals a little more of the novel's plot.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Hurt/Comfort/Tragedy - Words: 1,783 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 2 - Published: 07-31-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8378176
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Meredith Blake quietly ushered his companions out of the room, and followed close on their footsteps, leaving the Belgian detective alone with the aristocratic lady who had captured his heart all those years ago. As he closed the door behind him, he briefly wondered what kind of sorceress she had been, to be capable of so much allure and so much evil at the same time - and what devillish impulses had drawn him to such a creature. In her he had seen not only a beautiful woman but also a lost child to whom he had longed to reach out with his love.
Meredith's thoughts turned briefly to the happier times of his youth, and the many pleasant days he had spent with his childhood companions: his hot-tempered younger brother Philip, the handsome and free-spirited painter Amyas Crale, the beautiful Caroline who was Amyas' future wife, and her incorrigable younger sister Angela. Meredith had always been the most reserved of the group, and would sometimes watch the others from a distance, in particular Caroline. He had been deeply disappointed when she had married, but had remained selflessly and perhaps excessively devoted to her.
He had been an amateur herbalist, and had built up a laboratory in which he could study and distil the powerful juices from his collection of plants, many of them medicinal in small doses but deadly in large ones. The memory of Caroline in the laboratory, smiling and complimenting him on his fascinating collection, was to haunt him again and again: why had he not seen that she had taken a small container off the shelf? How had she disguised so cleverly the fact that she was in desparate state of mind - and most importantly, how could his innocuous and fascinating hobby have been turned to such a tragic end?
For the very next day, Amyas Crale had died of coniine poisoning, and Meredith had unwittingly distilled the murder weapon himself.
Philip Blake was speechless with shock as his brother closed the door. All his preconceptions of the past sixteen years had been overturned - he had cruelly misjudged the woman who had been falsely accused for the murder of her husband.
He had been all too happy to believe her guilty - he had wanted to believe it, and had been delighted with the judgement of the court. Who could have committed such a crime but this violent and cold-hearted woman? He had offered her love, and she had rejected it so cruelly and scornfully. Instead she had attached herself to his best friend Amyas, and had tied him down with her jealousy and possessiveness, as a child ties down the wings of a butterfly. And on top of that, she had as a teenager thrown a paperweight at the baby Angela in a fit of jealous rage, disfiguring the younger girl for life.
What stung him the most was the memory of that last day, when she had stood over the body of her husband, and tried weakly to pass off his death as suicide. He had said venemously "Try telling that to the police," and that was what she had done - to no avail. It had never occurred to him that have she was telling a noble lie to protect not herself but her sister, whom she had loved and whose disfigured face had haunted her for so many years, or that she had gone to prison contented in the thought that she was redeeming herself. And how could he had known that she had taken that poison from his brother's laboratory to kill herself, not her husband, and that it had been stolen from her room while she was downstairs scolding him?
Caroline Crale had been cruelly framed, and Philip had hatefully accused her, never for one moment suspecting her younger lovestruck rival as the true murderess.
Cecilia Williams stood in a dignified silence, her face impassive. Inwardly she felt a deep sense of contentment at the vindication of the dead woman to whom she had been governess, and whom she had loved and supported the whole way - and in equal measure, contempt and hate for that young whore, Elsa Greer, who had caused more trouble even than Miss Williams had thought. She had admired Caroline's fortitude deeply, in enduring the philandering of her undeserving husband, and especially the appearence of his intention to leave her for the younger woman. The relevation that he had had no such intention, and that Elsa upon overhearing had poisoned him, framed his wife, and gone on to live a rich and priveleged life, only increased Miss Williams' righteous anger.
Moments after the uproar caused by the discovery of Amyas' corpse by the river, Miss Williams had witnessed Caroline alone, wiping the fatal beer bottle with a cloth, and touching her dead husband's fingers there instead to make it look like suicide. How had she interpreted the scene? It had first looked to her like proof that Caroline was guilty - though she did not blame her protegée, who had been driven to it by her husband's neglect. How could she have been missed the undebatable fact that the detective Mr Poirot had just pointed out - the bottle had not been poisoned, only the glass, and Caroline had evidently not known that - so she could not possibly be the culprit!
Out of love for her former charge, Miss Williams had withheld what she had thought was incriminating evidence, only to find out that this very evidence could have proved Caroline's innocence and saved her life.
Angela Warren looked at her tall and beautiful niece, pride shining in her one good eye. It had been very courageous of Carla to try to clear her mother's name, and Angela felt deeply grateful that she had succeeded. Certainly, the young woman had intherited her mother's fortitude.
But at the same time, it had been painful for Angela to dig up the past, and to learn of what had really gone through her older sister's mind all those years ago. Caroline had always supported Angela and taken her part - even during the younger girl's frequent arguments with Amyas. She had loved her younger sister, and had never forgiven herself for what she had done to her in a jealous rage. If only Angela hadn't quarrelled so fiercely with Amyas and stolen that valerian to put into his drink, being caught by Caroline before she could do so, then the older sister might never have formed her erroneous conclusion.
Despite her disfigurement and the tragedy that had shaken her world, Angela had gone on to live a full and successful life as a skilled public speaker. Caroline would have wanted that - in fact she had said it in her last letter to her little sister: "It's all alright, my darling - it's all alright." Angela had never thought that Caroline had imagined her poisoning her brother-in-law in a fit of adolescent rage: she had seen the letter simply as the wishes of a loving older sister. How selflessly Caroline had acted, wiping what she thought was Angela's fingerprints off the beer bottle, and sending her out of the country as fast as possible - and how tragic that her self-sacrifice had screened not her sister, but the malicious Elsa.
It was crushing for Angela to know that her older sister had gone uncomplainingly to prison on her account.
Carla Lemarchant surveyed the four innocent former suspects who had been so closely involved in the lives of her parents. She barely remembered the last time when she had seen them, as she had been a very little girl. All that remained were dim memories of happy days in the sun, her mother's loving embrace, her father working intently at an easel, her teenaged aunt Angela running with her on the sands. She had not witnessed the events that followed, her father's corpse and her mother's arrest - as she had been suddenly whisked off to America, where she had grown up in ignorance of what had happened.
Then the last letter from her mother had arrived, and Carla simply knew that Caroline had not done what everyone believed she had done. She just had to clear her mother's name, and it had taken Mr Poirot a great deal of work to do so. She had felt a wave of peace and fulfilment wash over her as the detective pronounced his final verdict, before leaving the room so that he could speak to the true culprit alone.
Before long, the door opened and Elsa Greer, who was now Lady Dittersham, emerged, her face down, meeting nobody's eyes as she moved toward the front door. This was the woman who had fallen in love with Carla's father and been painted by him, who had poisoned his beer after the revelation that he was keeping her around only so that he could finish his painting, and who had deliberately framed Caroline for the murder. Carla felt sick to the core as the the older woman went past her - yet, despite herself, she felt a twinge of pity mixed with the contempt and loathing. In Lady Dittersham she saw nothing more than a husk, who had murdered her own soul and was no longer capable of feeling joy or pleasure or love, condemned to a life of emptiness. As the murderess walked out of the door to her car, Carla shuddered as if she had seen a ghost, and turned around to face the Belgian detective who had just emerged from the inner hall. He nodded understandingly in answer to the look on her face - Lady Dittersham had just admitted to him that it was herself she had killed, not Amyas and Caroline, whom she felt had escaped to a place where she could no longer reach them.
Carla smiled gratefully at everyone who remained, and especially at Mr Poirot who had finally uncovered the truth to her satisfaction. She extended her hand to each of them in turn and embraced aunt Angela warmly, and they all smiled wistfully back at her. She knew that the four guilt-ridden friends had each played a part in her parents' lives and in their tragedy, and hoped that they would find solace in the part they had played in clearing her mother's name.
As her fiancé put his arm around her shoulders, she briefly pictured Amyas and Caroline Crale the last time she had seen them, happily embracing each other. She knew that they would be very proud of their daughter.