“Yes. I suppose I did. I mean of course I did. She was an invalid, you know and she had to go to nursing homes a good deal.”
“And your father?”
“Father had gone abroad a long time before that. He went to South America when I was about five or six. I think he wanted Mother to divorce him but she wouldn't. He went to South America and was mixed up with mines or something like that. Anyway, he used to write to me at Christmas, and send me a Christmas present or arrange for one to come to me. That was about all. So he didn't really seem very real to me. He came home about a year ago because he had to wind up my uncle's affairs and all that sort of financial thing. And when he came home he - he brought this new wife with him.”
“And you resented the fact?”
“Yes, I did.”
“But your mother was dead by then. It is not unusual, you know, for a man to marry again. Especially when he and his wife have been estranged for many years. This wife he brought, was she the same lady he had wished to marry previously, when he asked your mother for a divorce?”
“Oh, no, this one is quite young. And she's very good-looking and she acts as though she just owns my father!”
She went on after a pause - in a different rather childish voice. “I thought perhaps when he came home this time he would be fond of me and take notice of me and - but she won't let him. She's against me. She's crowded me out.”
“But that does not matter at all at the age you are. It is a good thing. You do not need anyone to look after you now. You can stand on your own feet, you can enjoy life, you can choose your own friends -”
“You wouldn't think so, the way they go on at home! Well, I mean to choose my own friends.”
“Most girls nowadays have to endure criticism about their friends,” said Poirot.
“It was all so different,” said Norma. “My father isn't at all like I remember him when I was five years old. He used to play with me, all the time, and be so gay. He's not gay now. He's worried and rather fierce and - oh quite different.”
“That must be nearly fifteen years ago, I presume. People change.”
“But ought people to change so much?”
“Has he changed in appearance?”
“Oh no, no, not that. Oh no! If you look at his picture just over his chair, although it's of him when he was much younger, it's exactly like him now. But it isn't at all the way I remembered him.”
“But you know, my dear,” said Poirot gently, “people are never like what you remember them. You make them as the years go by, more and more the way you wish them to be, and as you think you remember them. If you want to remember them as agreeable and gay and handsome, you make them far more so than they actually were.”
“Do you think so? Do you really think so?” She paused and then said abruptly, “But why do you think I want to kill people?” The question came out quite naturally. It was there between them. They had, Poirot felt, got at last to a crucial moment.
“That may be quite an interesting question,” said Poirot, “and there may be quite an interesting reason. The person who can probably tell you the answer to that will be a doctor. The kind of doctor who knows.”
She reacted quickly.
“I won't go to a doctor. I won't go near a doctor! They wanted to send me to a doctor, and then I'll be shut up in one of those loony places and they won't let me out again. I'm not going to do anything like that.” She was struggling now to rise to her feet.
“It is not I who can send you to one! You need not be alarmed. You could go to a doctor entirely on your own behalf if you liked. You can go and say to him the things you have been saying to me, and you may ask him why, and he will perhaps tell you the cause.”
“That's what David says. That's what David says I should do but I don't think - I don't think he understands. I'd have to tell a doctor that I - I might have tried to do things...”
“What makes you