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s. If you don't derive profits, no royalty is due. Royalties are payable to "Pro ject Gutenberg Association/Carnegie-Mellon University" within the 60 days follow ing each date you prepare (or were legally required to prepare) your annual (or equivalent periodic) tax return. WHAT IF You *WANT* TO SEND MONEY EVEN IF You DO N'T HAVE TO? The Project gratefully accepts contributions in money, time, scanni ng machines, OCR software, public domain etexts, royalty free copyright licenses , and every other sort of contribution you can think of. Money should be paid to "Project Gutenberg Association / Carnegie-Mellon University". *END*The SMALL PR INT! FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN ETEXTS*Ver.04.29.93*END* This document was prepared for Arthur's Classic Novels from Gutenberg etext. Mar kup by Arthur Wendover. mailto:email@example.com, Sept 30, 2000 This document was prepared for Arthur's Classic Novels from Gutenberg etext scan ned and prepared by hundreds of volunteers. XML markup by Arthur Wendover. Sept 30, 2000. (See source file for details.) The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie Contents I. I Go To Styles Ii. The 16th And 17th Of July Iii. The Night Of The Tragedy Iv. Poirot Investigates V. "It Isn't Strychnine, Is It?" Vi. The Inquest Vii. Poirot Pays His Debts Viii. Fresh Suspicions Ix. Dr. Bauerstein X. The Arrest Xi. The Case For The Prosecution Xii. The Last Link Xiii. Poirot Explains Chapter I. I Go To Styles THE intense interest aroused in the public by what was known at the time as "The Styles Case" has now somewhat subsided. Nevertheless, in view of the world-wide notoriety which attended it, I have been asked, both by my friend Poirot and th e family themselves, to write an account of the whole story. This, we trust, wil l effectually silence the sensational rumours which still persist. I will therefore briefly set down the circumstances which led to my being connec ted with the affair. I had been invalided home from the Front; and, after spending some months in a r ather depressing Convalescent Home, was given a month's sick leave. Having no ne ar relations or friends, I was trying to make up my mind what to do, when I ran across John Cavendish. I had seen very little of him for some years. Indeed, I h ad never known him particularly well. He was a good fifteen years my senior, for one thing, though he hardly looked his forty-five years. As a boy, though, I ha d often stayed at Styles, his mother's place in Essex. We had a good yarn about old times, and it ended in his inviting me down to Styl es to spend my leave there. "The mater will be delighted to see you again--after all those years," he added. "Your mother keeps well?" I asked. "Oh, yes. I suppose you know that she has married again?" I am afraid I showed my surprise rather plainly. Mrs. Cavendish, who had married John's father when he was a widower with two sons, had been a handsome woman of
As one looked out over the flat Essex country.middle-age as I remembered her. had always been most generous to them. perch ed up in the midst of green fields and country lanes. and piloted me out to the car. took him on as secretary--you know how she' s always running a hundred societies?" I nodded. John practiced for some time as a barrister. you see. had been purchased by Mr. which would have en abled him to have a home of his own. on dying. As for Evie--you remember Evie?" "No. companion. somewhat inclin ed to charitable and social notoriety. "Well. "Mainly owing to the mater's activities." "You were going to say----?" "Oh. He had married two years ago." "Oh. the younger. had been a delicate youth. of course the war has turned the hundreds into thousands. he left the place to her for her lifetime. with a fondness for opening bazaars and p laying the Lady Bountiful. I suppose she was after your time." he remarked. indeed. but there you are--she is her own mistress. an arrangement that was distinctly unfair to his two son s. Their country-place. b ut as game as they make them. as well as the lar ger part of his income. so much so that. John noticed my surprise at the news of his mother's remarriage and smiled rathe r ruefully. th ey were so young at the time of their father's remarriage that they always thoug ht of her as their own mother. "Got a drop or two of petrol still. She's the mater's factotum. this fellow! He turned up from nowhere. He had qualified as a doctor b ut early relinquished the profession of medicine. autocratic personality. and expected other people to fall in with them. a great war was running its appointed course. was a lady who lik ed to make her own plans. Mary. "I can tell you." "Difficult! It's damnable!" Thus it came about that. John s aid: "I'm afraid you'll find it very quiet down here. The fellow is an absolute outsider. He had been completely under his wife's ascendancy. and she's married him." The village of Styles St. He's got a great black beard. Cavendish. lying so green and peaceful under the afternoon sun. not so very far away. I felt I had suddenly strayed into another world. however. and Styles Court lay a mile the other side of it. and had taken his wife to live at Styles. three months ago. She was a most generous woman. anyone can see that. She certainly could not be a day less than seve nty now. Styles Court. Their step-mother. on the pretext of being a second co usin or something of Evie's. but had finally settled down to the more congenial life of a country squire. No doubt the fe llow was very useful to her. Cavendish early in their married life. I descended from the train at Styles St. namely: the purse strings." "It must be a difficult situation for you all. Mrs. and lived at home while pursui ng literary ambitions. with no apparent reason for existence. warm day in early July. Mary was situated about two miles from the little stat ion. and possessed a consid erable fortune of her own. however. John Cavendish was waiting on the platform. Hastings. an absurd little station. Lawrence. Hastings. and wears patent leather boots in all weathers! Bu t the mater cottoned to him at once. I recalled her as an energetic. though I entertained a shrewd suspicion that h e would have preferred his mother to increase his allowance. and in this case she certainly had the whip hand. she suddenly announced that she and Alfred were engag ed! The fellow must be at least twenty years younger than she is! It's simply ba re-faced fortune hunting. though she didn't seem particularly keen to acknowl edge the relationship. "Rotten little bounder too!" he said savagely. J ack of all trades! A great sport--old Evie! Not precisely young and beautiful. it's m aking life jolly difficult for us. But you could have knocked us all down with a feath er when." . though his verses never had any marked success. As we turned in at the lodge gates. it seemed almost impossible to believe that. It was a still. three days later.
"Don't say it. Her tall. almost manly in its stentorian tones. the intense power of s tillness she possessed. "I wonder if we've time to pick up Cynthia. and her few quiet remarks heightened my first impression of her as a thoroughly fascinating woman. Hastings--Miss Howard. Inglethorp's rose in reply: . She greeted me with a few words of pleasant welcome in a low clear voice. An appreciative list ener is always stimulating. it's pleasant enough if you want to lead the idle life. of course. and had a large sensible square body. John." said Miss Howard. and Cynthia has been w ith us nearly two years now. I soon found." said John. I drill with the vo lunteers twice a week. Never does. Cr osbie the second. almost painful. and I sank into a basket chair feeling distinctly glad that I had accepted John's invi tation. grip. Evie. could hardly be called a b rilliant conversationalist. certain incid ents of my Convalescent Home. "I'm inclined to agr ee with you. we drew up in front of the fine old house. who married a rascally solicitor. Wish you hadn't later. Or shall we wait until we hear from the Princess ? In case of a refusal. Shall press you in. in a humorous manner. Cynthia is a protegee of my mother's. "Weeds grow like house afire. and lend a hand at the farms. laughing. Alfred? I'll write to Lady Tadmins ter for the second day. "Hullo. I shall never forget them. Hastings. in a way which. It's a jolly good life taking it all round--if it weren't for tha t fellow Alfred Inglethorp!" He checked the car suddenly. that's just what I want. Can't keep even with 'em. She was a pleasant-looking woman of about forty. good fellow though he is. My mother came to the rescue." "Oh. Cavendish gave me some tea. here's our wounded hero! Mr." "Well." There was the murmur of a man's voice. the daughter of an old schoolfellow o f hers. and keeps at it steadily un til lunchtime. myself. and the girl was le ft an orphan and penniless." "Cynthia! That's not your wife?" "No." She led the way round the house to where tea was spread under the shade of a lar ge sycamore." "I'm sure I shall be only too delighted to make myself useful. Evie. o utlined against the bright light. and then Mrs. Lady Tadminster might open it the first day. and Mrs. and came a few steps to meet us. She is up at five every morning to milk. greatly amused m y hostess. I flatter myself." As he spoke the last words. she'll have started from the hospital by now. He came a cropper. straightened herself at our approach." "Come on then. A figure rose from one of the basket chairs. and glanced at his wat ch. slender form. Her conversation. "My wife. No. I had an impression of very blue eyes in a sunburnt face. A lady in a stout tweed skirt. Mrs. who was bending over a flower bed." Miss Howard shook hands with a hearty. drawing off her gardening gloves." "You're a cynic. "Where's tea to-day--inside or out? " "Out. She works in the Red Cross Hospital at Tadminster. My wife works regularly 'on the land'. I shall never forget my first sight of Mary Cavendish. remarkable eyes. Too fine a day to be cooped up in the house. the vivid sense of slumbering fire that seemed to find expression only in those wonderful tawny eyes of hers." I responded. Come and be refreshed. with a deep voice. Bett er be careful. and I described. 'The labourer is worthy of his hire'. At that moment a well remembered voice floated through the open French window ne ar at hand: "Then you'll write to the Princess after tea. you know. was couched in the telegraphic style. you've done enough gardening for to-day. which nevertheless conveyed the impression of a wild unt amed spirit in an exquisitely civilised body--all these things are burnt into my memory." said John. different from any other woman's that I have ever known. seven miles away. with feet to match--these last encased in good thick boot s."My dear fellow. Then there's the Duchess--about the school fete.
After tea will do quite well. They'd know. Inglethorp turned to give some instructions about letters to Evel yn Howard. and she poured out a steady flood of conversation. Alfred dea r. I think that cushion is a little damp. Mrs. seemed to notice nothing un usual. He placed a wooden hand in mine and said: "This is a pleasure. but the people that are right in it. sa y a murder. Presently Mrs. "you think that if you were mixed up in a crime. Criminal discovered in last chapter. It was one of the lo ngest and blackest I have ever seen. He wore gold-rimmed pince-nez. The family." I looked with some curiosity at "Alfred darling". much amused. and he quite i nflamed me. He was a marvellous little fellow. Hastings." "There have been a great number of undiscovered crimes. Inglethorp." The French window swung open a little wider. You are so thoughtful. Every one dumbfounded. Inglethorp. in particular." I argued. "What would you really choose as a profession. but wonderfully clever. but was strangely out of place in real life. "Why. and her husband addressed me in his painstaking voice: "Is soldiering your regular profession." I said. Hastings--my husband. Mr. Either that or a fresh start altogether. "Don't mean the police. if it isn't too delightful to see you again. however. had lost nothing in the interv ening years. and had a cu rious impassivity of feature. though. His voice was rather deep and unc tuous. I came across a man in Belgium once. stepped out of it on to the lawn." "No secret hobby?" she asked. certainly." remarked Miss Howard. Inglethorp greeted me with effusion. Mr. I am awfully drawn to it. "Tell me--you're drawn to something? Every one is-usually something absurd. Hastings?" "No." "You'll laugh at me. a sense of constraint and veiled hostility seemed to settle down upon the company. Real crime--you'd know at once. "Perhaps. before the war I was in Lloyd's. I did not wonder at John objecting to his beard." "Then. It struck me that he might look natural on a stage . Mrs. a suggestion of deference in his manner. His watchful and attentive manner never varied."Yes. took no pain s to conceal her feelings." "And you will return there after it is over?" "Perhaps. Occasionally she referred to her husband over a question of days o r dates." She smiled. Hastings. You cou ldn't really hoodwink them." Then. From the very first I t ook a firm and rooted dislike to him. after all these years. He used to say that all good dete ctive work was a mere matter of method. with a somewhat masterful cast of features. "Lots of nonsense wr itten." "Well. My system is based on his--though of cou rse I have progressed rather further. Alfred. turning to his wife: "Emily dearest. But really. Mr. Her volubility." Mary Cavendish leant forward. a great dandy. and a handsome white-haired old lad y. mainly on the su bject of the forthcoming bazaar which she was organizing and which was to take p lace shortly. if you could just consult your in clination?" "Well." She beamed fondly on him. a very famous detective. He was a funny little man. Miss Howard. A man followed her. and I flatter myself that my first judgmen ts are usually fairly shrewd." "Like a good detective story myself. Sherlock Holmes by all means. you'd be able to spot the murderer right off?" . which I remembered of old. as he substituted another with every demonstration of the tenderest care. seriously. darling. Mr. I've always had a secret hankering to be a detective!" "The real thing--Scotland Yard? Or Sherlock Holmes?" "Oh. that depends. Strange infatuation of an otherwise sensible woman! With the presence of Mr. He certainly struck a rather a lien note.
and I dreamed that night of that enigmatic . Mr. uniform ran lightly across the lawn. He looked about forty. "I have got a cousin who is nursing. D. "John will show you your room. kind as she might be in the mai n. smiling. Miss Murdoch?" She nodded. "Why. there were probably countless cases of poisoning quite unsuspected." "Why. and I admired the great loose waves of her auburn hair. and a few minutes later I saw him from my window walking slowly ac ross the grass arm in arm with Cynthia Murdoch. We are quite a war household. "You work at Tadminster. and as I handed her a plate of sandwiches she smiled up at me. "It makes me f eel as if a goose were walking over my grave. But murder's a violent crime." "It might be a 'she. Some violent emotion seemed to be mastering him. We have given up la te dinner for some time now. do. Inglethorp call "Cy nthia" impatiently. Lady Tadminster. thank heaven. nothing is wasted here--e very scrap of waste paper. did not allow her to forget it. very dark with a melancholy clean-shaven fac e. "I should like to see them!" cried Cynthia with dignity. then?" I asked. and the smallness and whiteness of the hand she held out to claim h er tea. is saved and sent away in sacks. I wondered what it was that had brought that singular expression to his face. Mary. I'd feel it in my fingertips if he came near me. Aunt Emily. This is Mr. Inglethorp. A." "I don't wonder. Hastings. They simp-ly *Are! You've no idea! But I'm not a nurse. "For my sins. Supper is at half-past seven. Inglethorp. a man stepped out from the shadow of a tree and walked slowly in the sam e direction. and the girl started and ran back to the house. Associate it more with a man.' " I suggested. A. you are late to-day. Then I dismissed him from my mind. She agrees with me that one must se t an example of economy. Sisters *ARE." Cynthia Murdoch was a fresh-looking young creature. John left me. At the same moment. "Dr. She tossed off her little V. "Cynthia. don't you. She flung herself down on the ground beside John. Hastings-. owing to the general ignorance of the more un common poisons among the medical profession. and I recognized him. Lawrence Ca vendish. and returned to the contemplation of my own a ffairs. our Member's wife--she was the lat e Lord Abbotsbury's daughter--does the same. Bau erstein was saying yesterday that. I heard Mrs. "do you think you could write a few notes for me?" "Certainly. My hostess turned to me. Cavendish's clear voice startled me. "Might. and that Mrs. I work in the dispensary."Of course I should. "Sit down here on the grass. D. and looked out over the park. My room was in the left wing." Mrs. full of life and vigour. "Oh. "And she is terrified of 'Sist ers'. hundreds!" she said." She jumped up promptly." "Do they bully you. The evening passed pleasantly enough. It was John's younger brother. which forked right and left half-way to different wings of the building . even. With dark eyes and eyelashes she would have been a beauty. though he had changed much in the fifteen year s that had elapsed since we last met. But I'm certain I'd know. Inglethorp. Oh." I dropped down obediently." I remarked. It's ever so much nicer. cap. there's Cynthia!" A young girl in V. He looked up at my window as he passed.Miss Murdoch. and John took me into the house and up the broad st aircase." "How many people do you poison?" I asked. Cynthia. Cynthia smiled too. Mightn't be able to prove it to a pack of lawyers." "Not in a case of poisoning. smiling." called Mrs." I expressed my appreciation. and something in her manner reminded me that her positio n was a dependent one. what a gruesome conversation!" cried Mrs. you know.
she turned her head over her shoulder. Miss Howard was swallowed up in an eager chorus of p rotests and good-byes. They're a lot of sharks--all of th em. and he shut the door after us." "Of course. His wife followed him. You'll see what I mean. Don't mind if they've only sunk in a bit. returning to the house about five. "Young man." she burst out. whether you like it or not. Hastings. "True enough! Afraid I said some things to Emily she won't forget or forgive in a hurry. you see she went to the mater. trust me. I did not see Mrs. murmu ring something about persuading Mrs. watch that devil--her husband!" There was no time for more. Hastings. finding his persu asions of no avail. I've protected her as much as I could. Cavendish until lunch-time. and she carried a small suit-case. Cavendish. and moved across the drive to the lawn to meet a tall bearded man who had been . We followed him in. Probably water off a duck's b ack. "this can't be true!" Miss Howard nodded grimly. Miss Howard. "Look after her." "But not now?" "This minute!" For a moment we sat and stared at her. I can trust you?" I was a little startled. but I'm sure you're excited and overwrought." Miss Howard entered. don't let him have too much o f it. there's the deuce of a mess. "Yes. you're honest. With her hand on the handle. Money! Well. He's a bad lot. She laid her hand on my arm. He's a bad lot!' " "What did she say?" Miss Howard made an extremely expressive grimace. Inglethorp to think better of it. All I ask you is to keep your eyes open." The throb of the motor came through the open window. Emily. went off to look up the trains. Now I'm out of the way. Mr." I said. John's voice sounded outside.' She was very angry. I know what I'm talking about. "I've spoken my mind!" "My dear Evelyn. The Inglethorps did not appear. Miss Howard's face changed. Cavendish suddenly detached herself from the group . they'll impose upon her. Natural! I went on. Finally John Cavendish. "Above all.al woman. As we entered the large hall. 'I'm goi ng to warn you. The man's twenty years younger than you. As the motor drove away. I saw at once by his face that something disturbing had occurred. and don't you fool yo urself as to what he married you for. John beckoned us both into the smoking-room. and--Oh. That man would as soon murder you in your bed as look at you. "Look here. You can say what you like to me. here's Evie herself. As she left the room. There isn't one of them that's not hard u p and trying to get money out of her. My poor Emily. but r emember what I've told you. though. I've lived in the world rather longer than you have. The next morning dawned bright and sunny." She interrupted me by slowly shaking her forefinger. She leant towards me eagerly. Mary Cavendish. and sank her voice to a wh isper. Her lips were set grimly together. " 'Darling Alfred'--'dearest Alfred'--'wicked calumnies' --'wicked lies'--'wicke d woman'--to accuse her 'dear husband'! The sooner I left her house the better. I said right out: 'You're an old woman. Just ask your Alfred how m uch time he spends over there. Farmer Raikes has got a very pretty young wife. Evie's had a row with Alfred Ingl ethorp." cried Mrs. and Miss Howard rose and mo ved to the door. and I was full of the anticipation of a delightful visit. So I'm off. and we spent a charming afternoon roaming in the woods. "I'll do everything I can. She looked excited and determined. and there's no fool like an old fool. and beckoned to me. when she volunteered to take me f or a walk. Mrs. Hastings. and she's off. Mary. "Mr." "Evie? Off?" John nodded gloomily. Oh. Mr. "At any rate. and slightly on the defensive.
The sinister face of Dr. I come now to the events of the 16th and 17th of that month. Bauerst ein recurred to me unpleasantly. John Cavendish frowned and changed the subject. The only fly in the ointment of my peaceful days was Mrs. it's a fine property. unaccountable preference for the society of Dr. It was a day of turmoil. This has been a most rotten business. Just for a moment I had a premonition of approaching evil. frowning. I must confess tha t I was quite unable to see his attraction. and that vivid wicked l ittle face that had just smiled into ours. It'll be mine some day--should be mine now by rights . As we passed through one of the gates on our way home again. I believe. "That is Mrs. John's face hardened. The 16th of July fell on a Monday. I received a letter from Evelyn Howard a couple of days after her departure. "Who is that?" I asked sharply. Cavendish's extraordin ary." said John shortly. the irrepressible. are you?" "My dear Hastings. I don't mind telling you that I'm at my wit's end for money. He nodded rather gloomily. Bauerstein?" "He's staying in the village doing a rest cure. and often went off for long expeditions with him. My mother's always been awfully good to us. I must say. The colour rose in her cheeks as she held out h er hand to him. They were elicited subsequently at the trial by a process of long and tedious cross-examinations. A vague suspicion of every one and everything f illed my mind." I said to John. Bauerstein. a manufac turing town some fifteen miles away. The 16th And 17th Of July I HAD arrived at Styles on the 5th of July." said John." He took the path through the plantation. and. of course----" h e broke off. we're an impecunious lot. Raikes. if my father had only made a decent will. "That's Dr. I brushed it aside. after a bad nervous breakdown. I thought of the white-haired old lady in the big house. For the convenience of the reader I will recapitulate t he incidents of those days in as exact a manner as possible. but there is no stauncher friend in England than Evelyn Howar d." I remarked appreciatively." "And he's a great friend of Mary's. Hastings. a pretty young woma n of gipsy type coming in the opposite direction bowed and smiled. "And who is Dr. "Yes. And then I shouldn't be so damned ha rd up as I am now. Her presence had spelt security. and a vague chill of foreboding crept over me. She always h ad a rough tongue. Bauerstei n. but she was always asking him up to the house. "That's a pretty girl. and we walked down to the village throu gh the woods which bordered one side of the estate. Since her marriage. No. What she saw in the man I cannot imagine. for instinctively I distrusted the man. a very clever man--one of the greatest living experts o n poisons. Now that security was r emoved--and the air seemed rife with suspicion. for my part. Ingl ethorp should show any wish to be reconciled. and begging me to let her know if Mrs. "Come for a stroll. up to now." "Hard up. with rather unnecessary abruptness. H e's a London specialist. "Styles is really a glorious old place." "Couldn't your brother help you?" "Lawrence? He's gone through every penny he ever had.evidently making for the house. something indefinable had go ne from the atmosphere. publishing rotten verses i n fancy bindings. The famous bazaar ha . That is." "The one that Miss Howard----" "Exactly. Chapter II. tel ling me she was working as a nurse at the big hospital in Middlingham. with Evelyn Howard." put in Cynthia. For the first time I felt that.
"If you people only knew how fatally easy it is to poison some one by mistake. y ou wouldn't joke about it. A young and rather scared looking nurse appeared with a bottle which she proffer ed to Nibs. let's have tea. at which Mrs. in a sharp professional tone. in connection with the same cha rity. and assisted Cynthia to wash up afterwards. We were detained under suspicion by the hospital porter. and swept Law rence and myself off to a luncheon party." "Sister should read the rules outside the door. He seemed very excited and restless." I gathered from the little nurse's expression that there was not the least likel ihood of her having the hardihood to retail this message to the dreaded "Sister" . The countenances of Cynthia and Nibs were suddenly petrified into a stern and forbidding expression . and be fore the meal was over the motor was waiting at the door. Lady Tadminster's sister. was to be held that nig ht." said Cynthia graciously. Mrs. "Don't you think you could possibly let us have it to-night?" "Well. The Rollestons came over with the Conqueror--one of our oldest families." We had a very cheery tea. After tea. and we could come back with Cynthia in the pony-trap. Inglethorp was to recite a War poem. We are really thinking of bestowing a prize on the first individual who does *NOT say: 'What a lot of bottles!' And I know the next thing you're go ing to say is: 'How many people have you poisoned?' " I pleaded guilty with a laugh. but as she had several letters to write she would drop us there. and an entertainment. "we are very busy." finished Cynthia. Inglethorp's recitation receiving tr emendous applause. Bauerstein. Mrs. whom Cynthia cheerily addressed as "Nibs. and pay a visit to Cynthia in her dispensary. which was barely a mile out of our way. you k now. Inglethorp called us that we should be late as su pper was early that night. She forgot. Rolleston. who waved her towards Cynthia with the somewhat enigmatical remark: " I 'm not really here to-day. Come on. We had jus t put away the last tea-spoon when a knock came at the door." said Cynthia." Mary had excused herself on the plea of an engagement with Dr. a rather awe-i nspiring individual. I noticed that John's manner was somewhat unusual. We've got all sorts of secre t stories in that cupboard. and as we drove away Lawrence suggested that we shou ld return by Tadminster. Mrs. She took us up to her sanctum. "Such a charming invitation from Mrs. There were also some tableaux in which Cynthia took part. No. Inglethorp replied that this was an excellen t idea. and to remain the night with some friends who had been acting with her in the tableaux. About a quarter to seven." "Sister is very sorry. Mrs. The entertainment was a great success." "What a lot of bottles!" I exclaimed. The big cu pboard--that's right. until Cynthia appeared to vouch for us. looking very cool and sweet in her long white overall. "This should have been sent up this morning. and introduced us to her fellow dispenser. as my eye travelled round the small room. We had rather a scramble to get ready in time." . as she was ra ther overtired. The following morning. but if we have time it shall be done. Lawrence--that's the poison cupboard. but she appeared in her briskest mood about 12. "So now it can't be done until to-morrow. We had a late luncheon and spent the aftern oon resting in the garden. We were all busy during the morning arranging and decorating the Hall in the village where it was to take place. having been asked to a supper party. Inglethorp went to lie down to rest before her efforts in the ev ening and I challenged Mary Cavendish to a single at tennis. She did not return with us. "Every single person who comes up her e says that.30. Mrs.d taken place on Saturday." Cynthia took the bottle and examined it with the severity of a judge. We had a pleasant luncheon. "Do you really know what's in them all?" "Say something original." groaned Cynthia. Inglethorp stayed in bed to breakfast. "Come in.
" said Poirot seriously. Compared to John. You can see all the outside wards ther e. and I promised to go and see him at an early date. His head was exactly the shape of an egg." said Mrs. going into the dining-room. I had always fancied that his manner to C ynthia was rather constrained. refil led the bottle. . I remembered that I wanted some stamps. I turned to the pony-trap. for the rest of the way home. are refugees from their native land. Then he raised his hat with a flourish to Cynthia. Come out on our little balcony. as I looked at him inquiringly: "Yes. now limped badly. Inglethorp that I am here.The little nurse withdrew. As we entered the hall. And. "I'd no idea you knew him. "This is a very pleasant meeting for me. "Mon ami Hastings!" he cried. with a loud exclamation. I recited to them the various exploits and tr iumphs of Hercule Poirot. when suddenly. and placed it on the table outside the door. As I came out again. but after a few moments Cynthia called to him over h er shoulder to come and join us. and that she on her side was inclined to be shy o f him. This is my old friend. I drew aside and apologised. She looked flushed and upset. "It is indeed mon ami Hastings!" "Poirot!" I exclaimed. he clasped me in h is arms and kissed me warmly. she had kindly extended hospitality to seven of my countrypeople who." she said." I followed Cynthia and her friend and they pointed out the different wards to me . His moustache w as very stiff and military. I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound. alas. "Discipline must be maintained?" "Exactly. "But I had no idea he was a f riend of yours. it's you. Lawrence remained behind. "Oh. and he always perched it a little on one side." said Cynthia. Inglethorp came out of her boudoir. Then we can lock up and go." "You've been entertaining a celebrity unawares. and we drove away. and I fancied that. He was hardly more than five fee t. "Nothing more to do. we know Monsieur Poirot." "Oh. The neatness of his attire was almost incredible. so acco rdingly we pulled up at the post office. Yet he ha d a certain charm of manner." I had seen Lawrence in quite a different light that afternoon." I replied." "Yes. being unusually shy and reserved. "I know Mademoiselle Cynthia. four inches. she called to her to bring some stamps into the boudoir. "What should there be?" Then catc hing sight of Dorcas. my friend. He pointed out to me the little house inhabited by him and his fellow Belgians." Poirot was an extraordinary looking little man. As a detective." said Cynthia gaily. had been in his time one of the most celebrated members of the Belgian police." Then. "Certainly not." "All right. I laughed. "Is there anything the matter. But they were both gay enough this afternoon. Mo nsieur Poirot. I was sorry to see. He was the opposite of his brother in almost every respect. his flair had been extraordinary. I cannoned into a little man who was just entering. Nibs?" "No. and he had achieved triumphs by un ravelling some of the most baffling cases of the day. We arrived back in a very cheerful mood. whom I have not seen for years. Mrs. As we drove through the village. We Belgians will always remember her with gratitude. he was an astoundingly difficult person to get to know. the parlourmaid. "He's a dear little man. Aunt Emily?" asked Cynthia. Yet this quaint dandyfied little man who. and Cynthia promptly took a jar from the shelf. on e could have a deep affection for him. It is by the charity of that good Mrs. and chatted together like a couple of children. Miss Cynthia. but carried himself with great dignity. indeed. if one really knew him well. Then she looked at her watch. Inglethorp sharply.
Evidently some thing very momentous had occurred that afternoon. Inglethorp?" "In the boudoir. I do hope she's found him out at last!" "Was Dorcas there. I could not dismiss them altogether fro m my mind." To which Mary Cavendish replied. trying to appear as indifferent as I could." I thought of Mrs. His face was impassive as ever. I do wish I knew what it was all about. Inglethorp was in the drawing-room when I came down to supper. but." "Then show it to me. with a rising bitterness: "Of course. it has nothing to do with that matter. for without a word he turned on his heel and went out of the house. and Cynthia stared after her. Bauerstein?" I asked. you'd better get to bed? You're looking very tired. then she seemed to nerve herself for some encounter. It may have been my fancy. It does not concern you in the least. "Had a good walk with Dr. As I ran out to the tennis court a few moments later. Mary. and the strange unreality of the man struck me afresh. Inglethorp retired to her boudoir again. he surrounded his wife with little attentions." Cynthia and I went and sat by the open window in the drawing-room." Cynthia was waiting for me. I ran up stairs to fetch my racquet. I tried to forget the few word s I had overheard. or do you enjoy the twilight?" she asked. "Goodness gracious! I wonder what's up?" she said to Lawrence." "Then I'll go to bed directly after supper. but he was nowhere to be seen." "What kind of a row?" "Between Aunt Emily and *HIM." "I tell you it is not what you imagine. What was Mary Cavendish's concern in the matter? Mr. She seemed excited. Mrs. "Where is Mrs. Inglethorp was unusually quiet. was looking odd and disturbed. I've some letters I must finish by post-time." she replied abruptly. then added diffidently: "Don't you think. and will never speak to him again. Inglethorp came down last. and went rapidly past me down the stairs across the hall to the boudoir. m'm. and Evelyn Howard's warnings. Immediately after supp er." Her hand clenched itself on the banisters. I suggested a quick game of tennis before supper and. Inglethorp replied: "My dear Mary. m'm. t oo. "Send my coffee in here. "I've just five minutes to catch the post." she called. Mary Cavendis h brought our coffee to us. It was a real old bust-up." She went into the boudoir again. "Wil l you take Mrs. I might have known you would shield him." "Perhaps you're right. "Aunt Emily will send him away. the door of which she shut behind her. Have you lighted the fire in my room as I told you?" "Yes." . do what I would." I was anxious to get hold of John. whilst Cynthia exhausted every possible hypothesis. She 'happened to be near the door'. and altogether playing the part of the devoted husband. She still looked agitated. an d cheerfully hoped. and was unable to help overhearing the following scrap of dialogue. Inglethorp her coffee. but she. then?" "Of course not. "Do you young people want lights. Raikes's gipsy face. placing a cushion at her back . Cynthia agreeing. He did not seem to have heard her. Mary Cavendish was saying in the voice of a woman desperately controlling herse lf: "Then you won't show it to me?" To which Mrs. Dorcas--yes--no--not now. but wisely decided to hold my peace. and greeted me eagerly with: "I say! There's been the most awful row! I've got it all out of Dorcas. Mrs. and during the meal t here was a somewhat constrained silence. I had to pass the open bou doir window. m'm. Cynthia? I will pour it out. "I didn't go."Yes. As a ru le. Mrs. Cavendish was coming down the stairs." The old servant hesitated.
I had risen when Cynthia did. as yet untasted. and trying to collect my scatte red thoughts. "Have some coffee. "The sun soon dried me off. Lawrence turned to his brother. The servants' rooms are reached through the door B. U nfortunately she has locked herself in. voice in the hall. doctor?" cried Mrs. "No one need sit up. dear? I'm going to bed." he added. pulling on a dressing-gown. The most alarming sounds were audible from the interior of the room. but with no effect. Cavendish fanned herself gently with a palm leaf. It was a glorious night. I will. "What a funny time to come. We three sat for some time in silence. as he described how he had disc overed a very rare species of fern in an inaccessible place. and in his efforts to obtain it had lost his footing. It was obviously locked or bolted on the inside. Bauerstein!" exclaimed Cynthia. Mrs. being literally plastered with mud. "Dr. and the agitation of his face told me at once th at something was seriously wrong. He rose at last. "What do you think we had better do?" Never. and tell us what you have been up to. he presented a sorry spectacle. She seems to be having some kind of fit. They have no communication with the right wing. "I will take it to Emily. "I must see our a gent over those estate accounts. I append the following plan of the first fl oor of Styles. and one or two of the servants were standing round in a state of awe-stricken excitement. C . Inglethorp called to Cynthia from the hall. In a few moments. "What's the matter?" I asked. but she seemed quite undisturbed. Inglethorp insisted. Cavendish." she murmured. He had a candle in his hand." I sprang out of bed." At this juncture." "Well. that these harmonious moments can never endure! My paradise was rudely sha ttered by the sound of a well known. "We shall have a thunderstorm." said John. had his indecision of character been more apparent. It seemed to be the middle of the night when I was awakened by Lawrence Cavendis h. It seemed to me the man would never go. and. and the girl ran out. The whole household was arouse d by now. John was cl ose by me. John rattled the handle of Mrs. however. you are in a plight." "I'll come at once. and heartily disliked. where the Inglethorps' rooms were situated. "I did not really mean to come in. but Mr. hot and still. Bauerstein. and Mrs. "We are afraid my mother is very ill." He laughed rather ruefully. and protesting that he was in no fit state for a drawing-room." said Inglethorp. "Just carry up my despatch-case. There were therefore three witnesses who could swear that Mrs." "Thank you. My evening was utterly and entirely spoilt by the presence of Dr." He turned to John. followed Lawrence along th e passage and the gallery to the right wing of the house. and I breathed a sigh of relief. Mary. I thought." said the doctor. Cavendish sat down by us. Lawrence followed him."Do not trouble. and slipped ignominiously into a neighbouring pond. "It's almost too hot. Bauerstein. Inglet horp was carrying her coffee. "What have you been doing." Chapter III. The Night Of The Tragedy TO make this part of my story clear. Alfred Inglethorp had ushered the doctor in. "I'll walk down to the village with you. John Cavendish joined us." The door into the hall was a wide one. "but I'm afraid my appearance is very dis reputable." He poured it out. and went out of the room carrying it carefully. Inglethorp." I glanced jealously at Mary Cavendish. M rs. "I must make my apologies. Inglethorp's door violently. sitting up in bed. the del icate pallor of her cheeks did not vary. strolling in from the hall. the latter laughi ng. I will take the latch-key. In truth." said Mr. will you. in her hand." Alas.
Mrs. Her face was heavily flushed. Inglethorp's attack seemed to be passing. but at last we felt it give beneath our weigh t." said Mrs. A fresh access of pain seized the unfo rtunate old lady. Never hav e I seen such a ghastly look on any man's face. The violence of Mrs." We strained and heaved together. and his eyes. we might just see. I suppose. let one of the maids go down and wake Baily and tell him to go for Dr. her lim bs relaxed. petr ified with terror. Wilkin s at once. A fina l convulsion lifted her from the bed. As we entered. though. What was to be done? "Oh. was dressed in her white land smock. though. It was as though he had seen something that turned him to stone. Turning to Annie. who loo ked utterly dazed and unlike herself. "Oh. sir. We must break in the door. or some such kindred emotion. It was pitch dark . That. Now then. with her body arched in an extraordinary manner. She seemed to be supporting the girl. I instinctively followed the direction of his eyes. but I could se e nothing unusual. looking up. Then it must be later than I thought. dear. Sh e herself. the poor mist ress!" Suddenly I realized that Alfred Inglethorp was not with us--that he alone had gi ven no sign of his presence. Lawrence still holding his candle. She was able to s peak in short gasps. I turned to Lawrence. and that the clock on the mantelpiece pointed to close u pon five o'clock. We thronged round her. sir. We stumbled in together. I saw that a faint streak of daylight was showing through the c urtains of the windows. it was burst open. Cavendish in a low clear voice. her whole form agitated by violent convulsions. powerless to help or alleviate. Her e. John opened the door of his room." A shadow fell on the bed and. Again the body arched it . The convulsions were of a violence terrible to behold." "Well. 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. and she yawn ed repeatedly. to suggest that I had better leave them now that there was no further need of my services. we'll have a try at the door.learly something must be done. Inglethorp was lying on the bed. "No good. "Better now--very sudden--stupid of me--to lock myself in. In vain Mary and John tried to administer more brandy. but that's always bolted." cried Dorcas. Half a moment. stared fixedly over my head at a point on the further wall. was locked or bolted on the inside. and finally. Inglethorp's room. In a moment or two he was back. and that there was no sign of the room having b een occupied. until she appeared to rest upon her head a nd her heels. A strangled cry from the bed startled me. I think this one is a sh ade less solid than the one in the passage. and the row o f prim ornaments on the mantelpiece. too. but Lawrence was following with the candle. the candl e he held in his shaking hand was sputtering onto the carpet." He ran rapidly down the corridor to Cynthia's room. John strode across the room. We went straight to the connecting door. I noticed. The moments flew. Everyth ing was confusion. and for a long time it resisted our efforts. That's bolted too. sh aking the girl--who must have been an unusually sound sleeper--and trying to wak e her. "Try going through Mr. however. It'll be a tough job. sir. I saw Mary Cavendish standing near the door with her arm around Cynthia. one of the house maids. with a resounding crash. "what ever shall we do?" "We must try and break the door in. Mary Cavendish was there. and by its feeble light we saw tha t the bed had not been slept in. "Poor Cynthia is quite frightened. and lit the gas. He was white as chalk. It's never been undone. were surely harmless enough. but the words were frozen on my lips." cried Dorcas. The still feebly flickering ashes in the grate. in one of whic h she must have overturned the table beside her. isn't there a door into Miss Cynthia's rooms?" "Yes. and she fell back upon the pillows. wringing her hands. The framework of the door was solid.
fu ssy little man. Inglethorp's dying words. He still kept his eyes fixed on him as he spoke. and. I have a certain talent for deduction. 'Take--it--easy'. They were quite--tetanic in character. "I should like to speak to you in private. We were all silent. "What is it? Why did Dr. She waved me away impatiently. leaving the two doctors alone. Dr. and Dr. What lay beneath them? What mo re could she have told us. For one instant he stopped dead.self in that peculiar fashion. the pupils of her eyes dilating wildly. no--not that--not th at!" And breaking from me. "You do not object?" "Certainly not. and had run up to the house as fast as he could. "The convulsions were of a peculiar violence." "Ah!" said Dr. I'd rather be alone. But no--her zeal for go od works was too great." "*WHAT?" She shrank against the wall. deadly pale. with a sudden cry that startled me. whilst the car went on to fetch Dr. Wilkins. and seizing her arms worked them ener getically. Bauerstein pushed his way authoritatively into the room. she cried out: "No. I joined th em. Wilkins. Wilkins. Her heart was far from strong. I could see by the expr ession on his face that he himself had little hope. I followed her. Bauerstein. Dr. With a stride. Wilkins was looking impo ." Dr. John and Lawrence were in the dining-room. Ve--ry sad. At that moment. "I believe she has been poisoned! I'm certain Dr. I warned her. He issued a few sh ort sharp orders to the servants. Where *WAS Alfred Inglethorp? His absence was strange and inexplic able. Na--ture-. He turned to Jo hn. Bauerstein's manner had started a flock of wild surmises in my mind.' I said to her. Go down to the others." We all trooped out into the corridor. fled up the stairs. shaking his head gravely.re--belled. a portly. Inglethorp cried out in a strangled voice. We went slowly down the stairs. "No. "Do you know what I think?" "What?" "Listen!" I looked round. Inglethorp?" John shook his head. With a faint gesture of the hand. I found her leaning against the bannisters. applying what I knew to be artificial respiration. came bustling in. Nature rebelled. Mrs. but I suppose I voiced the thoughts of us all when I at last broke it by saying: "Where is Mr. and I heard the key turned in the lock behind us. staring at the figure on the bed. no--leave me. fascinated. the others were out of earshot. at the same instant. I was violently excited. her eyes fixed on the doctor: "Alfred--Alfred----" Then she fell back motionless on the pillows. Bauerstein explained how he had happened to be passing the lo dge gates as the car came out. h e indicated the figure on the bed." said Dr. I am sorry you were n ot here in time to witness them. if she had had time? At last we heard the doctors descending the stairs. "He's not in the house." Our eyes met. Wilkins. Th en. Always did far too much--far too much--against my advice. "Ve--ry sad. Bauerstein." murmured Dr. was watching the local doctor narrowly. An imperious wave of his hand drove us all to the door. and Dr. though I think we all knew in our hearts t hat it was too late. afraid that she w as going to faint. Bauerstein suspects it. Wilkins wisely. I remembered Mrs. Let me just be quiet for a minute or two . At that moment. Mary Cavendish laid her hand upon my arm. Inglethorp's own doctor. Finally he abandoned his task. In a few words Dr." I obeyed her reluctantly. Bauerstein seem so--peculiar?" I looked at her. Mrs. we hear d footsteps outside. and that nothing could be done now. We watched him. Dr. I noticed. "Poor dear lady. 'Take it easy. the doctor reached the bed. I lowered my voice to a whisper.
"I can't feel as you do." "What--now? Before the post-mortem?" "Yes. have it your own way. Poisons are his hobby. Yet I was a little chary of doing so. if it is as we suspect." "Well?" "You remember my speaking of my friend Poirot? The Belgian who is here? He has b een a most famous detective. "In that case. I allowed myself. his grave bearded face unchanged. the y would be better kept locked for the present. We don't want any unneces sary scandal. then. I have no alternative but to agree. "These are the keys of the two rooms. whic . He was so seldom vehement about anything. "You mean by that----?" "That neither Dr." I cried eagerly. "I'm inclined to give Hasti ngs a free hand. One could save time by taking a narrow path through the long grass. Poirot is discretion itself. "Under the ci rcumstances. who preferred never to meet trouble half-way. Wilkins nor myself could give a death certificate under the ci rcumstances." "I want you to let me call him in--to investigate this matter. A spasm of pain crossed his face. Though. "Absolutely." "Rubbish!" cried Lawrence angrily." he said at last." The doctors then departed." "No. I am afraid an inquest can hardly be avoided--these formalities are necessary." I confess that I was surprised by Lawrence's attitude. "John. Lawrence. "We propose that it should take place tomorrow night--or rather to-night." "Yes. and trying to conceal an inward exultation under a manner of decorous calm. Chapter IV. until Bauerstein put it into his head. had a horr or of any kind of publicity." John bent his head. It might be difficult to convince him of the soundness of my plan. being less conventional." said Dr. Lawrence. Dr. Bauerstein." "Very well. Five minutes' delay." And he glanced at the daylight. "I am going to ask you something. I knew. I have locked them and. But." said Dr. I had been turning over an idea in my head. and I felt that the moment had now c ome to broach it. John. and ha nded them to John. and was an easygoing optimist. however. though I should prefer to wait a bit. Poirot Investigates THE house which the Belgians occupied in the village was quite close to the park gates. God forgive me if I am wronging him!" I looked at my watch. Bauerstein drew two keys from his pocket. There was no doubt that th e moment had come for me to take the lead. like all specialists. "you need have no fear of that. I leave it in your hands. I felt I might count upon as an ally. Cavendish." There was a pause. Wilkins briskly. on the other hand." I said. I determined to lose no time. and then Dr. but I beg that you won't distress yourselves. Wilkins was the spokesman for the two. it seems a clear enough case." "Is that necessary?" asked John gravely. time is an advantage if--if--there has been foul play. "In my opinion the whole thing is a mare's ne st of Bauerstein's! Wilkins hadn't an idea of such a thing. It was six o'clock. Bauerstein's got a bee in his bonn et. John hesitated. in my opinion. I spent it in ransacking the lib rary until I discovered a medical book which gave a description of strychnine po isoning. I should like your consent to a postmortem.rtant and excited. Bauerstein remained in the background." "Thank you. Dr. no. and having mo re imagination. so of course he sees them everywhere. He addressed himself to J ohn: "Mr.
I didn't want to arouse the ho usehold." A wave of revulsion swept over me. pouf!"--he screwed up his cherub-like face. however insignificant. "Not so. What a consummate hypocrite the man was! "I must hurry on. Those of importance we will put on one side. We search. It was Mr. "B eware! Peril to the detective who says: 'It is so small--it does not matter. Inglethorp. of Mrs. Getting no answer. Inglethorp and Evelyn Howard. when my attention was arrested by the running figu re of a man approaching me. We will examine--and reject. "It is significant! It is tremendous!" "Y--es--" "Ah!" Poirot shook his forefinger so fiercely at me that I quailed before it. In a few minutes I was knocking at the door of Leastways Cottage. is deplorable! But I make allowances--you are upset. He gave an exclamation of surprise at seeing me. we will arrange th e facts. Of the order in which you present them. "Wilkins knocked Denby up to tell him. It will not agree. and you have given me the cts faithfully. those of no importance. and what isn't? That always seems the difficulty to me. mon ami.' That way lies confusion! Everything matters. Th ere he installed me in a chair. and that I wanted his help." "How did you hear the news?" I asked. thankful that he did not ask me whither I was bound. neatly. A window above me was caut iously opened. and you shall recount to me the affair whil st I dress. of the scrap of conversation between Mary and her mother-in-law that I had overheard. and omitting no circumstance. you a re excited--it is but natural." In a few moments he had unbarred the door. and of the latter's innuendoes. that possibly paltry litt le detail that will not tally. You are agitated. In a few brief words. of the former quarrel between Mrs." "I know. I explain ed the tragedy that had occurred. Where had he been? How did he intend to explain his absence? He accosted me eagerly. We examine. and Poirot himself looked out. "Denby kept me late last night. accordingly. Does the next fit in with that? A merveille! Good! We can proceed. I had nearly reached the lodge. I will let you in. "but how are you going to decide what is imp ortant. "The mind is confused? Is it not so? Take time." "What is that?" I asked." Poirot shook his head energetically. "My God! This is terrible! My poor wife! I have only just heard. Then I found that I'd forgotten the latch-key after all.h cut off the detours of the winding drive. She over-taxed her strength. Poirot smiled kindl y on me. Presently. and puffed comically enough--"blow them away!" "That's all very well. I was hardly as clear as I could wish. th at is curious! There is something missing--a link in the chain that is not there . You always told me that. keeping back noth ing. went that way. Inglethorp's dying words. I repeated my summons impatiently. It was one o'clock before we'd finished. To that I attribute the rcumstance that you have omitted one fact of paramount importance. You have a good memory. of fa it ci . of the quarrel the day before. we put it here!" He made an extravagant gesture w ith his hand. my friend. and I related the whole story." I said. "Wait." "And I am pleased with you. whilst he himself made a careful and deliberate toilet. I repeated myself several times. Voyons! One fact leads to another--so we continue. And that little curious fact. each in his proper place. So I. and occa sionally had to go back to some detail that I had forgotten. He was now arranging his moustache with exq uisite care." "Where have you been?" I asked." I objected. I say nothing--truly. so Denby gave me a bed. That's why I have gone into all the details this thing whether they seemed to me relevant or not. and I followed him up to his room. I will forget it. when we are calmer. I told him of my awakening. My poor Emily! She was so self-sacrificin g--such a noble character. of her husband's a bsence. This next little fact--no! Ah.
so beautiful. "And." I said. "it is not as though there was a blood tie. you dressed in haste."You have not told me if Mrs. Inglethorp's case. We will proceed to the chateau. and it had taken her appetite away. In the meantime." I said. It is a matter of precaution only. Well." "Precisely. "As far as I can remember. Its effects would be felt very s oon." "Therefore she drank it between then and half-past eight-." With a deft gesture. the poor family. and seemed wholly engro ssed in the task. might retard its effects. John came out and met us. and gazed sorrowfully over the beautiful expanse of park. Poirot seemed to follow my thoughts. it is a possibility to be taken into accou nt. Her death was a shock and a distress. plunged in sorrow. Was the family prostrated by grief? Was the sorrow at Mrs. then turned to me." I stared at him. "So beautiful. She ha s been kind and generous to these Cavendishes. "it was only natural. Inglethorp's death so great? I realized that there was an emotional lack in the atmosphere." "Yes. but finally he said: "I do not mind telling you--though. presumably administered in her coffee. Inglethorp ate well last night. but she was not their own mother. "I wish you would tell me why you wanted to know if Mrs. He nodded his head gravely. We have nothing to go upon. "Now I am ready. Inglethorp died of strychnine poisoning. and took out a small despatch-case. shall we start?" We hurried up the village. he rearranged it. "Ca y est! Now. "Hastings has expl ained to you that we are anxious for no publicity?" "I comprehend perfectly. That was only natural. Surely the war had affected the little man's brain." John turned to me. Monsieur Poirot. as you know. Excuse me. "This is a very dreadful business. Yet. you are right. though hardly to that extent. The dead woman had not the gift of commanding love. it is only suspicion so far. Still." He looked at me keenly as he spoke. my friend." said Poirot thoughtfully. taking out his cigarette-case. r emember it. The present contention is that Mrs. what time was the coffee served?" "About eight o'clock. in Mrs." he said. and turned in at the lodge gates. strychnine is a fairly rapid poison. Ingle thorp ate well last night? I have been turning it over in my mind. but she would not be passionately regretted." he said. and I was aware that I reddened under his pr olonged gaze. she ate very little for supper." As we neared the house. still glitte ring with morning dew. prostr ated with grief.certainly not much la ter. "No. His face looked weary and hagg ard. she didn't eat much. and yet the symptoms do not develop until early the next morning! Now that is a curious circumstance. mon ami. it is not my habit to explain u ntil the end is reached. according to you. anyway. Something may arise at the autopsy to explain it. Permit me ." "You see." "Yes?" "Well. but I can't s ee how it has anything to do with the matter?" He was silent for a minute or two as we walked along. the symptoms do not manifest themselves until five o'clock the next morning: nine hours! But a h eavy meal. probably in about an hour. "I don't remember. He was care fully engaged in brushing his coat before putting it on. Poirot stopped for a moment. rather nettled." "I can't see why. taken at about the same time as the poison." He opened a drawer. Blood tells--always remember that--blood tells." I said. and your tie is on one side. and study matters on the spot. She was obviously upset. But. I don't see----" "You do not see? But it is of the first importance. and yet. "You know that fellow Inglethorp is back?" . and lighting a cigarette as he did so." "Poirot.
yes." pronounced Poirot quietly. It was an ordinary key of t he Yale type. I saw nothing peculiar. I will put down my little case until I need it. and walked slowly across to the mantelpiece. He handed the two keys which Dr. my friend. "Dr. he resumed his search. this he did with the utmost precaution against making any noise. "that you remain there like--how do you sa y it?--ah. but it was an ill-advised proceedin g. "An. "Then he is very sure. "Some one stepped on it. however. and buried it neatly." John flung the match into an adjacent flower bed. "Ah. He examined it carefully. "Show Monsieur Poirot everything he wants to see. I met him. some books. he drew out some m inute particle which he carefully sealed up in a tiny envelope." "Well. and the n." After which piece of moralizing." He rose from his knees." "Exactly." "You do not? Observe the lamp--the chimney is broken in two places. He retrieved it. "Coco--with--I think--rum in it." said Poirot. enga ged his attention for some time. "It's jolly difficult to know how to treat him. he went t o the length of unbolting it. where he st ood abstractedly fingering the ornaments. and the crushed f ragments of a coffee-cup lay scattered about. did not seem grateful to me for my forbearance. a proceeding which was too muc h for Poirot's feelings. I remained by the door. That door was also bolted. and passed i t to me to inspect. He darted from one object to the other with the agility of a grasshopper . Suddenly something in the bolt itself seemed to rivet his attention. and an empty cup and saucer that had been drunk out of stood near it. On the chest of drawers there was a tray with a spirit lamp and a small saucepan on it. matches. Well." he cried. However. Bauerstein considered it advisable. a bunch of keys. however. I wondered how I could have been so unobservant as to overlook this. For convenience I append a plan of the room and the principal articles of furniture in it. and precipitated the despatch-c ase on the floor." Poirot nodded thoughtfully. this is curious. for." said Poirot. A reading-lamp. He took out the key from the lock. not quite understanding the portent of this cryptic saying. "What have you. as I had stated. he examined the framework of the door we had broken in. Poirot delicately dipped his finger into liquid. "Foot-marks? But what an idea! There has already been practically an army in the room! What foot-marks are we likely to find? No." He did so. and tasted i t gingerly. the coffee-cup is absolutely smashed to powder. and proceeded to a minute inspection of th e room. Here was a clue worth having. that simplifies matters for us. Bauerstein had given him to me." I said wearily."Yes. A small purple despatch-case. the stuck pig?" I explained that I was afraid of obliterating any foot-marks. with a key in the lock." We went up together to the room of the tragedy. on the writing-table. "I suppose some one must have stepped on it. fearing to obliterate any clues." "That difficulty will not exist long. it tilted up. with a bit of twisted wire through the handle. they lie the re as they fell. Poirot locked the door on the inside. on the round table by the window. assuring himself t hat the bolt had really been shot." He passed on to the debris on the floor. in an odd voice." "The rooms are locked?" asked Poirot. my friend. come here and aid me in my sea rch. Next. He made a grimace. and opening and shutting it several times. where the table by the bed had been ove rturned. and straightening them--a trick of his . "I must confess that I see nothing particularly curious about it. one may live in a big house and yet have no comfort. "Eh viola une table!" cried Poirot. John looked puzzled. the top of it being loose. Poirot. But see. nimbly whipping out a pair of small forceps from his case. A small quantity of a dark fluid remained in the saucepan. Then he went to the door opposite leading int o Cynthia's room.
Or perhaps Mrs. and slipped the bunch of keys. and quite unimportant. "Yes. a round stain. "It mu st have been done since yesterday. Four. Suddenly. "I suppose it is the sample of coco. "That was what you sealed up in the envelope. and twirling them round in hi s fingers finally selected one. sealing it up caref ully. for you perceive that this is white grease. and the reason they did so was either because it contained strychnine o r--which is far more serious--because it did not contain strychnine!" I made no reply. handling them with the greatest caution. Five. otherwise a good housemaid would have at once removed it with blotting-paper and a hot iron. But by chance--there might be--let us see!" Deftly. a stain on the floor." "Yes. Finally. His next proceeding was to take out a little notebook. unless"--he stared earnestly and long at the dead ashes in the grate." I interrupted. . "six points of interest. but I knew that it was no good asking him to explain. Hastings!" I quickly handed them to him. he gave a faint exclam ation. It may turn out to be a piece of one of Mrs. as we ll as the key that had originally stood in the lock." "That may have been done some time ago. No. We were very agitated. then. is pink. "somebody stepped on that cup. and with skill he extracted a small piece of half charred paper. "There is nothing more to be done here. for it is still perceptibly damp and smells of coffee. "what do you deduce?" To which my friend only made a rather irritating reply. a coffee-cup that has been ground into powder. I was bewildered." "Ah!" I cried. very bright and shining." he said. "I have no authority to go through these papers. On the other hand. grinding it to powder. he poured a few drops of the coco into a test tube. a des patch-case with a key in the lock. I thin k.when he was agitated. or will you?" "Oh. Crossi ng the room to the left-hand window. He picked up the bunch of keys from the floor. he began to sort the ashes from the grate into the f ender." "Then. turning to me. One. We shall see. Inglethorp's own dresses. Ingl ethorp herself dropped her candle. "We have found in this room. but recognizable. only a reading-lamp. a fragment of some dark green fabric--only a thread or two. He seemed to se e something over here"--I indicated the mantelpiece--"that absolutely paralysed him. "I might have included that in the six. writing busily. hardly visible on the dark b rown carpet. the sixth point I will keep to myself for the present. "Very well. on hands and knees." "It was very likely done last night. into his own pocket." he said. which he tried in the l ock of the purple despatch-case. *This!" With a dramatic gesture. he poin ted to a large splash of candle grease on the floor by the writing-table. but after a m oment's hesitation. "The forceps. urging me to use my own natural faculties. In a moment or two he roused himself. and he opened the box." said Poirot quickly." "No." I replied hastily. and went on with his investigatio ns. three. but I di d not. He went down on his knees. Lawrence Cavendish was carrying it. It fitted." "That is interesting. closed and relocked it."but it was not his candle that made this g reat patch. whereas Monsieur Lawrenc e's candle." said Poirot thoughtfully. "And the sixth point?" I asked. Mr s. Shall I enumerate them." He looked quickly round the room. But it should be done--at once! " He then made a very careful examination of the drawers of the wash-stand." I said. Inglethorp had no candlestick in the room. "No. it is suggestive"--his eye swe eping the whole length of the wall-. One of my best hats once--but th at is not to the point. you. "Mon ami. But he was very upset. exa mining it minutely--even going so far as to smell it." "You brought only one candle into the room?" "Yes. "The fi re burns--and it destroys. which is still on the dressing-table. two. seemed to interest him particularly.
she was inclined to be suspicious. and her gr ey hair rose in stiff waves under her white cap. "You do not agree? But such things have been." I looked up at him sharply. This is an exact reproduction of it:-I was puzzled. She was the very model and pict ure of a good old-fashioned servant. It has been recently done. and very faithful service. He drew forward a chair." said Poirot briskly. sir." "Oh. "You are not surprised?" "No. "What do you think of that?" I scrutinized the fragment. before the various shaped flower beds. but this affair is more important. sir. eh bien! Do not grudge me a moment's satisfaction of the eye. and went my self in search of Dorcas. is it not so?" "Ten years. sir. were you not?" "She was a very good mistress to me. apparently lost in a dmiration." "Eh bien. sir. "I expected it. is it not so?" "Yes. we will come in and intervie w the brave Dorcas. sir. is it not?" We passed through Alfred Inglethorp's room. "This is a fragment of a will!" "Exactly. and was standing. her hands folded in front of her." I cried. and those diamonds--their neatness rejoices the eye. is perfect." "Then you will not object to answering a few questions. "Poirot!" I cried. But I don't know that I ought----" Dorcas hesitated. Poirot looked at her keenly. I took him down to the boudoir which he had expressed a wish to see. my friend. but he soon b roke down her defences. locking both it and that of Mrs. In her attitude towards Poirot. But how had anyone gained admi ssion? All the doors had been bolted on the inside." "And how do you know that these fine begonias are not of equal importance?" I shrugged my shoulders. Do not think that you are betraying your mistress's secre ts. mademoiselle. We went out through that door. and it is necessary that we should know all--if we . Well." "Then I will begin by asking you about the events of yesterday afternoon. I should like to ask a few q uestions of the parlourmaid--Dorcas. mon ami!" he cried." "Yes. and watched him put it away in his case." He had stepped outside the French window. Suddenly an idea struck me. my friend. with the same methodical care that he bestowed on everything. however." I relinquished the piece of paper." Dorcas was standing in the boudoir. "Poirot. and Poirot delayed long enough to ma ke a brief but fairly comprehensive examination of it. Your mistress lies dead. My brain was in a whir l. Cavendish's full approval. The spacing of the plants. "Admirable!" he murmured. You were much attached to her. I put them to you with M r. also ."There. "My good Dorcas. "Now. certainly." "That is a long time." "You have been with your mistress many years. "we will go. the boudoir was empty. her name is. quite unlike ordinary notepaper. "Pray be seated. "Admirable! What symmetry! Observe that crescent. it is necessary that I should know every detail of that quarrel as fully as possible. But come in--Dorcas is here ." "Thank you." he said gravely. I believe they were at it yesterday afternoon. What was this complication of a will? Who had destroyed it? The person who ha d left the candle grease on the floor? Obviously. Your m istress had a quarrel?" 43> "Yes. When I returned with her. It was unusually thick. Inglethorp's room as before. There was really no arguing with him if he chose to tak e that line. "where are you?" "I am here.
m'm." "She still had the letter. sir." . Is this the key that was lost?" He drew from his pocket the key that he had found in the lock of the desp atch-case upstairs. sir. yes. in her hand?" "Yes. Mrs. almost as if she couldn't believe what was written there. My mind is made up. Do rcas. Cavendish came in just then. 'You have lied to me." Poirot waited for her indignation to subside. there it is. 'Scandal between husband and wife is a dreadful thing. and took it up every nigh t. 'I don't know what to do. but--well. if there has been foul play. so I went off quickly. At five o'clock.' 'I'm sorry for that. I stopped.' she says. and told me to look carefully for i t. I happened to b e passing along. 'You'll feel better after a nice hot cup of tea. Inglethorp's voice you heard?" "Oh. sir. when I heard voices very loud and angry in here. Ing lethorp rang the bell and told me to bring her a cup of tea--nothing to eat--to the boudoir." "What would she be likely to do with it afterwards?" "Well. but it had writing on it." "But she had a duplicate key?" "Oh. She was very much put out about it. and said she'd feel better when she'd drunk it. so was I. Well. but she went on: 'Nothing that you can say will make any difference. as I said. Dorcas ." said Dorcas fiercely. I happened to be going along the hall outside yesterday----" "What time was that?" "I couldn't say exactly. ' I've had a great shock. an d she thanked me. "Never mind. Nothing can bring her back to life. as though she had forgotten I was there: 'These few words --and everything's changed. resuming his business-li ke tone. sir.' I says. I don't know. But where did you find it? I looked everywhere fo r it. What was all this about a lost key? Poirot smiled. sir. to tell the truth. what happened next?" "Later. right enough. I didn't exact ly mean to listen. sir. Perhaps four o'clock--or it may have been a bit later. as to this quarrel? What is the first you heard of it?" "Well.' She had something in her hand. Dorcas's eyes looked as though they would pop out of her head. but we do hope. and deceived me.' And then she says to me: 'Never trust a man. yes. whose else's could it be?" "Well.' Mrs. I don't know i f it was a letter. sir. it is my business to know things. so sh e didn't say any more. they're not worth it!' I hurried off.' Then I thought I heard them coming out. She whispered to herself." "When did she lose the key of it?" "She missed it yesterday at lunch-time. but it was all quiet. He spoke a good bit lower than she did--but she answered: 'Ho w dare you? I have kept you and clothed you and fed you! You owe everything to m e! And this is how you repay me! By bringing disgrace upon our name!' Again I di dn't hear what he said. "And. I'd rather hush it up if I could." "Is that where she usually kept important papers?" "Yes. m'm. Dorcas.are to avenge her." "You are sure it was Mr. She brought it down with her every morning.' she says. I didn't hear what Mr. and she k ept staring at it. I see my duty clearly. sir." "Amen to that. or whatever it was. naming no names. sir. I nglethorp replied. there's *ONE in thi s house that none of us could ever abide! And an ill day it was when first *HE d arkened the threshold. I came back to the hall." Dorcas was looking very curiously at him and. She was looking dreadful--so white and upset. The door was shut. he asked: "Now.' she said. I expect she would lock it up in that purple case of h ers. to bring the murderer to justice. but it wasn't tea-time by a long way. but the mistress was speaking very sharp and clear. and got her a good strong cup of tea. "That's it. or scandal between husband and wife will deter me. and I heard what she said quite pla inly. You need not think that any fear of publicity. sir. 'Dorcas. or just a piece of paper. and then.
these are dreadful times!" "The good times will come again. Thank you." "What time did you go out last evening?" "About six o'clock. Inglethorp's bedroom. sir. I know she didn't. Never cleared the coffee-cups away last night . sir. leave them a little longer. a sort of chiffon. in livel y curiosity. I suppose you can give me no idea to whom these le tters were addressed?" "I'm afraid I couldn't. Now. She took the last one two days ago. sir. Lawrence came in yesterday evening. sir. I wish you could have seen it then." "Has anyone else in the house got a green dress?" Dorcas reflected." "When Mr. Dorcas." Poirot lifted his hand. Inglethorp took sleeping powders?" I asked. but do you notice anything that strikes you as peculiar about thi . "Miss Cynthia has a green evening dress. and young William. your mistress didn't ask you to sign any p aper yesterday?" "To sign a paper? No. I knew by this."Ah." "But I suppose. as the last powder was taken two days ago. I pray you. It was Number Six of my catalogue. "And about the lost key and the duplicate? " "One thing at a time." "Ah. that is not what I want. And nobody else has anything green?" "No. t o pass to another subject. As to the sleeping powders. sir--not that I know of. Hastings and Mr. I was out in the evening. they found your m istress busy writing letters." "You are quite sure of that?" "Positive." "How did you know that Mrs. "I have been admiring these flower beds. At least. I sh ould like to examine them. before the war. Dorcas. Now. sir. will you sen d Annie to me here?" "Yes. we had. sir. "Since they have been left. and a new-fashioned wo man gardener in breeches and such-like. sir." "Light or dark green?" "A light green. such as chemists use for powders. and she didn't h ave any more made up. sir. by the way?" "Only three now. sir." Poirot's face did not betray a trace of whether he was disappointed or otherwise . but you see it was not in the same place yesterday as it was to-day. A fair sight it was." "Then that is cleared up! By the way. sir. "No. How many gardeners are employed here. it is not of much imp ortance?" "Probably not." He rose and strolled to the window. as Dorcas left the room. we hope so. yes. had your mistress a dark green dress in her wardrobe? " Dorcas was rather startled by the unexpected question." "Are you quite sure?" "Oh. Five. Perhaps Annie could tell you. when it was kept as a gentle man's place should be. Dorcas. that is all I have to ask you." "Thank you." "Why do you know so positively?" "Because the box was empty." "Very well. That's what happens when I'm not here to look after things. though she's a careless girl. He merely remarked: "Good. But now there's only old Manning. Have you any reason to believe that your mistress was likely to take a sleeping powder last night?" "Not *Last night." He suddenly p roduced a small cardboard box. sir. we will leave that and pass on. sir. they call it. Ah. sir. "Where did you find it?" "In the wash-stand drawer in Mrs.
" "It does not matter." "At what time?" "When I went to draw the curtains." "Not the fact that there is no chemist's name?" "Ah!" I exclaimed. sir.s box?" I examined it closely." said Poirot. mingled with a certain ghoulish enjoyment of the tragedy. Inglethorp's room?" "When I went to shut up. my friend. The other one. Annie." "And when did you take it into Mrs. and take it into her room later. I can't say that I do. "I'm sorry. and was evidently labouring under intense exci tement. sir. it was put in her room every evening. the caterers in Tadminster. and put it on the table by the swing door." "Did you bring it straight up from the kitchen then?" "No. one was t o Ross's. Inglethorp. between 7. sir. because I thought you might be able to tell me something about the letters Mrs. not betraying any sign of disappointment." "The swing door is in the left wing." I read the label carefully: " 'One powder to be taken at bedtime. and she warmed it up in the nig ht--whenever she fancied it. sir. sir--oh. Annie racked her brains in vain. sir. and two teaspoonfuls of rum in it. sir. Annie was a fine. One was to Miss Howard. I see nothing unusual. I should say. M rs." "What time did you bring it up last night?" "About quarter-past seven. There is a saucepan in Mrs. So do not intrigue yourself. with a teaspoonful of sugar." "Think. Wells. the lawyer. Did she have that every night?" "Yes. I don't think I can have noticed it.' No. is it not?" "Yes." "Then." I was becoming quite excited. with a business-like briskness. sir." An audible creaking proclaimed the approach of Annie." "And the table. sir." "Look at the label." "What was it? Plain coco?" "Yes. I don't remember." Annie had been growing redder and redder in the face. without his printed name?" "No.15 and 8 o'clock. About eight o'clock. yes. I can't say that I have. How many were there? And ca n you tell me any of the names and addresses?" Annie considered. Inglethorp came up to be d before I'd finished. "There were four letters. you see there's not much room on the gas stove. sir. Then I used to bring it up . sir. the coco was standing on the table in the lef t wing?" "Yes. made with milk. and now she bl urted out unexpectedly: . so I had no time to reply. Inglethorp wrote last night." urged Poirot. and the other two I don't think I remember. strapping girl. so Cook used to make i t early. as a rule." "Always?" "Yes. "I sent for you. but it's clean gone. but Poirot damped my ardour by remarking: "Yet the explanation is quite simple. Mrs. sir. sir. "To be sure. "No. sir. Inglethorp 's room with some coco in it. before putting the vegetables on for supper." "Who took it to her room?" "I did. if required. or on the farther--servants' sid e?" "It's this side. that is odd!" "Have you ever known a chemist to send out a box like that. and one was to Mr. "No w I want to ask you about something else. Poirot came to the point at once. is it on this side of the door.
nor a cape. Thank you very much. Inglethorp bolt the door after you?" "No. The door into the passage. because Dorcas was out." "You are sure of that?" "Quite sure. if there had been a large patch of candle grease on the floor. sir. "When you went into Mrs. but when I came to take it into the mistress's room I saw it at once." "Did you notice any candle grease on the floor when you did the room yesterday?" "Candle grease? Oh."And if there *WAS salt in it. since the c oco was only drunk in the middle of the night." "Nor anyone else in the house?" Annie reflected." I cried. sir. She usually did lock it at night . did Mrs. but I expect she did later. That explains e verything! Of course it did not take effect until the early morning. Inglethorp's room? Did you notice if that was bolted too? " Annie hesitated. it wasn't me. not for the first time. and the salt had only gone on the tray. no. I never took the salt near it. An nie had provided us with an important piece of evidence. it always was. only a readin g-lamp. it was shut but I couldn't say whether it was bolt ed or not. My pent-up excitement burst forth. and I would have taken it out with a piece of blotting-paper and a ho t iron. If he was going to take the matter that way. and took it in. I shrugged my shoulders. His self-con trol was astonishing. one of the most deadly poisons known to mankind. Hastings." "When you finally left the room. "Poirot. sir. " "What makes you think there was salt in it?" asked Poirot. and I su ppose I ought to have taken it down again. How she would have gape d if she had realized that her "coarse kitchen salt" was strychnine. "Seeing it on the tray. was the door leading into Miss Cynth ia's room bolted?" "Oh! Yes. I marvelled at Poirot's calm. I awaited his next question with impatience. "I couldn't rightly say. "No. Mrs." "Then. the coco--contained strychnine?" "Of course! That salt on the tray. you think you would have been sure to have seen it?" "Yes." "Nor a mantle. and I thought maybe the coco itself was all right. that it was the coco and not the coffee that was poisoned." "You saw some salt on the tray?" "Yes. Annie took herself creakingly out of the room. it was no good arguing with him. "I congratulate you! This is a great discovery. sir. Coarse kitchen salt." "And the door into Mr." "Bien! That is all I want to know. So I dusted it off with m y apron. Inglethorp's room." Then Poirot repeated the question he had put to Dorcas: "Did your mistress ever have a green dress?" "No. sir. but it disapp ointed me." "What is a great discovery?" "Why. that is. The idea crossed my mind. nor a--how do you call it?--a sports coat?" "Not green. Inglethorp didn't have a candle. It had never been opened. sir." "So you think that the coco--mark well what I say. not then. what else could it have been?" "It might have been salt. sir." replied Poirot placidly. sir. it looked. I never noticed it when I took the tray up ." With a nervous giggle. and asked Cook to make some fresh. sir. Bu t I was in a hurry. Unknown to herself. sir. that po ." I had the utmost difficulty in controlling my excitement.
slipping his arms through mine. "as Mrs. just as I have to mine. Privately I thought it lucky that he had associat ed with him some one of a more receptive type of mind. "You are not pleased with me. eh. And the cup on the mantel-piece. "And. "Viola! It i s not the key. "Now I have finished with this room. but there might have been. where the coffee-cups and tray remained undisturbed as we had left them. now that we know about the c oco?" "Oh. was it not also possible that she might have taken her own life? I was about to expound these theories to Poirot." "A most admirable sentiment. "In the waste-paper basket. "Come. Here are the three c ups. Inglet horp's keys would open it. he is a man of method. Was it possible that Mrs. Yes. I felt that my friend was not what he had been as he rambled on disconnectedly: "There were no stamps in his desk. listening very carefu lly. Inglethorp's. "it is not for me to dictate to you. la la! That miserable coco!" cried Poirot flippantly. It did not yield much." He tried several.or old Poirot was growing old." He pulled a crumpled envelope out of his pocket." He slid back the roll top." he said. this Mr. "I cannot say--but it is suggestive. he did not examine them. half drunk. with increasing coldness. but it will open it at a pinch. "It Isn't Strychnine. whose is the smaller desk in the cor ner?" "Mr. in what I could not but consider the worst possible taste. my friend. when his own words distracted m e. if that were so. and verifying the position of the various cups." he said. twisting and turning them with a p racticed hand. that would be Mr. come. He laughed with apparent enjoyment. and I will respect your co co. apparently at random. and tossed it over to me. But perhaps one of Mrs. It wa s rather a curious document. But what does it mean?" Poirot shrugged his shoulders. unless you conside r it likely that we shall discover a packet of strychnine on the coffee tray!" Poirot was sobered at once. "So Mrs. Yes." "Ah!" He tried the roll top tentatively. To my surprise. Is It?" "WHERE did you find this?" I asked Poirot. There! Is it a bargain?" He was so quaintly humorous that I was forced to laugh. Chapter V. merely remarking approvingly as he relocked the desk: "Decidedly. "Come. rising briskly to his feet. dirty looking old envelope with a few word s scrawled across it. You recognise the handwriting?" "Yes. "now to examine the coffee-cups!" "My dear Poirot! What on earth is the good of that. in lively curiosity." A wild idea flashed across me. Cavendish stood by the tray--and poured out. in Poirot's estimation. the highest praise that could be bestowed on any individual. "Locked. A plain. Inglethorp's. it is Mrs. raising his arms to heaven in mock despair. The following is a facsimile of it. and we went together to the drawing-room. You have a right to your own opinion." I said. mon ami? There might have been? Yes"--his eyes wandered round the room--"this boudoir has noth ing more to tell us. mon ami?" "My dear Poirot." remarked Poirot. Inglethorp!" A "man of method" was. Then she came across to the window where you sat with Mademoiselle Cynthia. Poirot was surveying me with quietly twinkling eyes. Poirot made me recapitulate the scene of the night before. anyway. I do not see what you expect to find. "Ne vous fache z pas! Allow me to interest myself in my coffee-cups." I said coldly. and finally uttering an ejaculation of satisfaction. By the way. Inglethorp's mind was d eranged? Had she some fantastic idea of demoniacal possession? And. Only this. Lawrence Cav . and r an a rapid eye over the neatly filed papers. Inglethorp took her co ffee upstairs with her.
Is not that so?" "Yes. then." "Then all are accounted for. It is a very difficult situation for you. Already he was almost restored to his normal self. "Breakfast is ready. "Do your investigations point to my mother having died a natural death-. didn't I. Can you tell me the views of the other memb ers of the family?" "My brother Lawrence is convinced that we are making a fuss over nothing. Inglethor p?" "He does not take coffee. And the one on the tray?" "John Cavendish's. John broke the rather awk ward silence by saying with a slight effort: "I told you. An expression gathered there that I can only desc ribe as half puzzled. Monsieur Poirot?" Poirot acquiesced. We always keep it in the hall drawe r. "Bien!" he said at last. Inglethorp did take it. "You will br eakfast with us. Inglethorp's reason for not returning la st night was. After all." Poirot held up his hand with a faint smile. Mr. does he? That is very interesting--very interesting. and generally occupying himself with the melancholy duties that a death en tails. it would have been a valuable point in his favour. "that you would do well not to bu oy yourself up with any false hopes. but I restrained my t ongue. "May I ask how things are proceeding?" he said. I am certain that you would find it. sealing them up in separate test tubes. Inglethorp has returned?" Poirot bent his head. One moment. Cavendish." murmured Poirot softly. five--but where." "But do you think----" "I think nothing. Of course one has to treat him as usual --but. he has had ample time to replace it by now. "I have not the least idea what my wife's views on the subject are. The shock of the events of the last night had upset him temporarily. John had been hard at work. tasting each in turn as he did so. I never thought of looking. Poirot had been a great man in his day. with a characteristic shrug. I saw him put it down there. Cavendish?" A faint cloud passed over John's face. it is too late now. If anyone had chanced to look this morning before his return. He was a man of very little ima gination. "No. who had. three. One." "I suppose you are quite sure that the latch-key *WAS forgotten--that he did not take it after all?" "I have no idea. and seen it there. Ever since the early hours of the morning." said Poirot gravely. too much. Cavendish. Mr. one's gorge does rise at sitting down to eat with a possible murderer!" Poirot nodded sympathetically. "It is evident! I had an idea--but clearly I was mistak en." "Good. perhaps.or--or must we prepare ourselves for th e worst?" "I think. no. He say s that everything points to its being a simple case of heart failure. "It's an awkward position for all of us." The answer brought a momentary stiffness in its train." said John Cavendish. Cavendish. he dismissed whatever it was that was worrying him from his mind. But no matter!" And. two. I'll go and see if it's there now. hang it all. altogether I was mistaken. but his equable poise soon swung back to the normal." "He does. Mr.endish's. sending t elegrams--one of the first had gone to Evelyn Howard--writing notices for the pa pers. Mr. though he was old. I would like to ask you one question. is the cup of Mr. coming in from the hall. Yet it is strange. If Mr. "And Mrs. that Mr. Yes. I observed John. I could have told him from the beginning that this obsession of his over the coffee was bound to end in a blind alley. His physiogno my underwent a curious change. that he had forgotten the latch-key. four. my friend. he took a drop or two from the grounds in each cup. I believe. That is al . "I quite understand." With infinite care. and half relieved. in sharp contrast with his brother.
her face could be sphinx-like in its in scrutability. I am much worried. There were no red ey es. He seemed absorbed in thought. my friend. "My mother's lawyer. But did every one suspect him? What about Mrs. and yet in some quee r way I felt that the great strength of her personality was dominating us all. the door opened and Dorcas appeared. I thought. I never take it in coffee. The reaction after a shock is always trying." she said to John." said Cynthia. I asked her if she were feeling ill. Did he know that we suspected him. graceful. she looked very beautiful. who acted the bereaved widower in a manner that I felt to be disgusting in its hypocrisy. When she chose. no signs of secretly indulged grief." "Have another cup of coffee. Did he feel some secret stirring of fear. enigmatic. there is something there that I do not understand.l. sir." "What? You cannot be serious?" "But I am most serious. with white ruffles at the wrists falling over her slender hands." Then he turned to us. "It will r evive you." "Sacre!" murmured Poirot to himself. Since you are so kind. so much so that my curios ity was aroused." "What instinct?" . John strode on ahead and I took the opportunity of whispering to Poirot: "There will be an inquest then?" Poirot nodded absently. T he heaviness and languor of her manner were very marked. Surely he could not be unaware of the fact. composed. however. I felt that I was right in my opinion t hat Dorcas was the person most affected by the personal side of the tragedy. It is unparalleled for the mal de tete. hardly opening her lips. and she answered frankly: "Yes. we were nat urally not a cheerful party. Only I heard him. In her soft grey fro ck. Wells to see you. as he brought back the replenished cup. He had heard or seen something that had affected him strongly--but what was it? I do not usually label myself as dense. "Do not worry. Decorum and good breeding naturally enjoine d that our demeanour should be much as usual. "I assure you that you need not let it tro uble you. and glancing up curiously at the little man I saw that his fac e was working with suppressed excitement. eh?" "No. I wo ndered. watching him. M y instinct was right. but I must confess that nothing out of the ordinary had attracted *MY attention. I remembered the name as being that of the lawyer to whom Mrs. "Mr. "Show him into my study. I've got the most beastly headache." He jumped up and took her cu p. In another moment. Ah. and I think we were all suffering from it. as he picked up the sugar-tongs." he explain ed. Inglethorp had wr itten the night before." "Why?" "Because Mademoiselle Cynthia does not take sugar in her coffee. Cavendish? I watched her as she s at at the head of the table." Every one was assembled in the dining-room. Under the circumstances. "No sugar? You abandon it in the war-time. And little Cynthia? Did she suspect? She looked very tired and ill. yet I could not help wondering if this self-control were really a matter of great difficulty. John rose immediately. Perhaps you would like to come with me?" We acquiesced and followed him out of the room. and his eyes were as green as a cat's." said Poirot smoothly. "No sugar. or was he confident that his crime would g o unpunished? Surely the suspicion in the atmosphere must warn him that he was a lready a marked man. let us go and have some breakfast." John looked perplexed. mademoiselle?" said Poirot solicitously. conceal it as we would. She was very silent." "It is true. I pass over Alfred Inglethorp. "What is it? You are not attending to what I say. And in a lower voice: "He is also Coroner--you understand.
etc ." "She gave you no hint as to what that matter might be?" "Unfortunately. Wells soothingly. There was silence. Chut! no mor e now!" We followed John into his study. You see." interpolated John. Wells was a pleasant man of middle-age." "I see." "Then that arrangement will suit you?" "Perfectly. to my mind. Bauerstein. "If you know of nothing to the contrary. We a re still hoping that there will turn out to be no need for investigation of any kind. a mere matter of form. quite so. she gave her entire fortune to her stepson. Mr. Finally he turned to the lawyer again."The instinct that led me to insist on examining those coffee-cups. I believe?" "Yes. I believe. Mr. John Cavendish. of course--and ah--er--Mr. . at his stepmother's death. speaking f or the first time since we had entered the room. Poirot remained lost in thought for a few minutes. "that this is all strictly private." "Yes. "I?" "Yes. You should have rec eived the letter this morning. Lawrence Cavendish?" "No. and explained the reason of our presence. and then replied: "The knowledge will be public property very soon. and he closed the door behind us. no." he added. Mr." A slight pause ensued before the lawyer went on in his soothing manner: "Any other evidence will be simply confirmatory." "I need not tell you." A faint expression of relief swept over John's face. dated August of last year. It is merely a note asking me to call up on her this morning. Mr. for I saw no occasion for it. Lawrence. if it is not a gainst professional etiquette. Wells. Mrs." "Indeed. as she wanted my advice on a matter of great importance. and the typical lawy er's mouth. under the terms of their father's will. It was.. Inglethorp left her money to her elder stepso n. It puzzled me. monsieur?" interposed Poirot. Cavendish does not o bject----" "Not at all. a very fair and equitable distribution. but of course it's quite unavoidable in the absence of a doctor's certificate. That will give us plenty of time for the doctor's report. Cavendish--rather unfair to her other st epson. I do not think so. with keen eyes. but it contains no information. there is one thing I should like to ask you--that is. The post-mortem is to take place to-night." said Mr." "I did. Inglethorp's death. I suppose so. Wells." pursued Mr. "You will understand. who woul d inherit her money?" The lawyer hesitated a moment. Then he added rather hesitatingly: "Shall we have to appear as witnesses--all of us. In the event of Mrs. "Mr." "Clever man. so if Mr." said John. Inglethorp wrote to you last night. Wells." "Quite so." said John with a certain stiffness in his manner. how distressed I am at this most tragic affair. "I do not see any reason why I should not answer your question. I mean?" "You. would come into a considerable sum of money. "A great pity. my dear Cavendish. By her last will ." "Can you give us no help in solving it. "I wish we could have spared yo u the pain and publicity of an inquest." Poirot nodded thoughtfully. "I had thought of F riday.--er--Inglethorp." "Was not that--pardon the question. while J ohn inherited the property." "That is a pity." agreed Poirot gravely. after various unimportant legacies to servants. Great authority on toxicology. we heard that Mrs. John introduced us both. knowing that he would have to keep up Styles.
"I see. will you tell Manning to come round and speak to me here. and then asked: "Was Mrs." murmured the lawyer. "and go up to her bedroom afterwards." "Ah!" Poirot seemed to have exhausted his questions." "Then why did you ask?" "Hush!" John Cavendish had turned to Poirot. Afterwards you shall question as much as you please. Inglethorp's room. She kept her most important papers in a purple despa tch-case. "Do you think Mrs. In fact I am almost certain that it was made no earlier than yesterday afternoon. Inglethorp's papers. "But possibly this is an old will?" "I do not think so." explained John. See here. Poirot smiled. Mr. "that. and handed it to the lawyer with a brief explanation of w hen and where he had found it. Inglethorp made a will leaving all her money to Miss Howard?" I asked in a low voice." "Very well." "Which simplifies matters very much. I will prove it to you." "There *IS a later will. Mr. "If you will allow me to send for your gardener. of course--but I don't see----" Poirot raised his hand. "Will you come with us." . of c ourse. He reflected for a moment. in any sense of the word." "Oh. then. "What?" John and the lawyer looked at him startled. while John and the lawyer were debating the question of goi ng through Mrs. Dorcas answered it in due course. Poirot turned to John." He rang the bell. Inglethorp is quite willing to leave it entirely to Mr. Monsieur Poirot? We are going through my mother's papers . Inglet horp herself aware of that fact?" "I do not know. Inglethorp remarried?" Mr. now benefiting one. rather. a member of the family-we will say Miss Howard. am I not. with some curiosity. "Or. unknown to you." "Yes. "there *WAS one. she made a new will at least once a year." He took out the charred fragment we had found in the grate in M rs. "As I was about to proceed." said Mr. for instance--would you be surprised?" "Not in the least. that document is now null and void. he was entitled----" He did not finish the sentence. Wells. Wells impert urbably. "No. made several former wills?" "On an average. "She was given to changing her mind as to her testamentary dispositions . that by your English law that will w as automatically revoked when Mrs." "Ah! One more question. Wells bowed his head." "What?" "Impossible!" broke simultaneously from both men. Inglethorp. which we must look through carefully." It was Poirot who spoke. "As technically. You say 'her last will.' Had Mrs." said the lawyer. Wells and myself. now another member of her family. she had made a new will in f avour of some one who was not." pursued my friend imperturbably. She may have been. "We will look through the desk in the boudoir first." "She was. "Dorcas." "Suppose. "We were discussing the matter of wills being revoked by marriage only yesterday." said John unexpectedly. I drew close to him." suggested Poirot. But I am right in saying." "What do you mean--there was one? Where is it now?" "Burnt!" "Burnt?" "Yes. Monsieur Poirot. " "Hein!" said Poirot. "Do as I ask you. "it is quite possible that there may be a later will tha n the one in my possession.
The clumping of hobnailed boots on the gravel outside proclaimed the approach of Manning." mumbled Manning. and put it inside a sort of pur ple box that was standing on the desk. you tell me. sir. Poirot alone seemed perfectly at his ease. His back was much bent. there was a bit of blotting paper over that part. and dus ted a forgotten corner of the bookcase." "And Mrs." "Well. twisting it very carefully round and round. and backed cautiously out of the window. though he was probably not as old as he look ed." said John. but his eyes were sharp and intelligent. Wells cleared his throat and remarked drily: "Are you so sure it is a coincidence. The gardener glanced at his master. and sign our names at the bottom of a long paper--un der where she'd signed." "Yessir." "What time was it when she first called you?" "About four. or such-like--I don't know what exactly-she wrote it down for him."Yes. sir. sir. "Manning. "Good heavens!" murmured John. sir. and bring back a form of will. "You were planting a bed of begonias round by the south side of the house yester day afternoon. who nodded." "Tell me in your own words exactly what happened after that. sir. "What an extraordinary coincidence. We all looked at each other. I should say. and belied his slow and rather caut ious speech. me and Willum. did she not?" "Yes. Cavendish?" "What do you mean?" "Your mother. Manning. "this gentleman will put some questions to you which I wan t you to answer. John looked questioningly at Poirot. had a violent quarrel with-." said John. sir. sir. she did. "No. Poirot stepped forward briskly." "Did you see anything of what was written above her signature?" asked Poirot sha rply. he did." "How--a coincidence?" "That my mother should have made a will on the very day of her death!" Mr. She just told Willum to go on his bicycle down to the village." "And you signed where she told you?" "Yes." "What did she do with it afterwards?" "Well." "And what happened next?" "We went on with the begonias." "Well?" "Well. We waited in a tense silence. Manning. Manning's eye swept over him with a faint contem pt. whereupon Manning lifted a finge r to his forehead with a low mumble. sir. sir. Inglethorp call you again?" "Yes." Dorcas withdrew. that will do." "And then?" "She made us come right in. were you not. "I want to speak to you. sir." "Not earlier? Couldn't it have been about half-past three?" "No. It would be more likely to be a bit after four--no t before it. He held his cap in his hands. The latter nodded." Manning came slowly and hesitatingly through the French window. she called." "Did not Mrs. sir. nothing much. and stood as nea r it as he could. Manning?" "Yes. "Come inside.some one yesterday after noon----" . first me and then Willum. both me and Willum. she slipped it into a long envelope. Inglethorp came to the window and called you." "Thank you. I shouldn't say so." said Poirot pleasantly. sir.
Whatever we may think or suspect. or not. but not reproachful. I am glad she has come. and to whose warning I had. The inquest isn't until Friday. He's helping us. we should never have known of this wil l. Hired car." "Have you had anything to eat this morning. no doubt. "Started the moment I got the wire. I felt ashamed. I wondered whether. The contents of that will we shall never know. I may not ask you. Lawrence is of the opinion that my mother died fro m heart seizure. that she had been cry ing bitterly. but glanced suspiciously over her shoulder at John. "Evie!" cried John. "In consequence of that quarrel. "No." "More fool. and he ha d gone very pale. Quickes t way to get here. it is better to say as little as possible for the present. of course!" "My dear Evie." "I thought not. you know. "What do you mean--helping us?" "Helping us to investigate. This morning." "Suggestive. The will disappears. Poirot looked inquiringly at me." "Not until fiddlesticks!" The snort Miss Howard gave was truly magnificent. but her manner was unc hanged from its old gruffness." He turned to me." "My dear Evie. Evie?" asked John. Come along. There was a tremor in his voice. The eyes that met mine were sad. but at that moment the loud purr of a motor was audible. do be careful. and how contemptuously. and they'll make y ou some fresh tea. I much fear there is no coincidence there. I suppose. There is a woman with a head and a heart too. Cavendish. where Miss Howard was end eavouring to extricate herself from the voluminous mass of veils that enveloped her head. This w as the woman who had warned me so earnestly. and a freshly planted bed of begonias. "Miss Howard. and she takes its secret with her t o her grave. "Ah. a sudden pang of guilt shot through me. or would the man have feared her watchful eyes? I was relieved when she shook me by the hand. Monsieur Poir ot. She told no one of its provisions. Just come off night duty. The man will be out of the country by then. Though the good God gave her no beauty!" I followed John's example. I had dismissed it from my mind. I could tell by the redness of her eyelids. Wells. if she had rema ined at Styles. I think. the tragedy would have taken place. As her eyes fell on me. Sh e had known Alfred Inglethorp only too well."What do you mean?" cried John again. Oh. would have pressed his questions further." I explained. I am sure you agree with me that the facts are very suggestive. Hastings. Lawrence!" retorted Miss Howard. alas. "we are most grateful to Monsieur Poirot for elucidating the matter. don't shout so." He went hurriedly out into the hall. Now that she had been proved justified in so tragic a manner. she would have consulted me on the subject-but she had no chance." interrupted John. If he's any sense. with her well remembered painful g rip. p aid no heed! How soon. "Look after her." John Cavendish looked at her helplessly. he won't stay here tamely and wait to be hanged." John. will you? Wells is waiting for me. "Of course Alfred Inglethorp murder ed poor Emily--as I always told you he would. your mother very suddenly and hurriedly makes a new will. But for him. Evie. "You 're all off your heads. what first led you to suspect the fac t?" Poirot smiled and answered: "A scribbled over old envelope. . and went out into the hall. Hasti ngs. breakfast's not cleared away yet. Have they taken him to prison yet?" "Taken who to prison?" "Who? Alfred Inglethorp." Miss Howard shook hands with Poirot. "Excuse me. monsieur. and we all turned to the window as it swept pa st." "Nothing to investigate. here's Monsieur Poirot.
want to hang the criminal. She never let people forget what she had done for them--and. like in good old times. It wasn't that--but I couldn't explain . and left the room precipitately. Find out how he did it. "But I must ask you to trust me. Ought to be drawn and quartered. "for I. and keep the peace between them. "you've been listening to the doctors. I was the only one who could allow myself to be fond of her. John Cavendish. he sought refuge in retreat. nor a theatre ticket." "What do you want me to do?" asked John. Hope not. I always said he'd murder her in her bed." Miss Howard blinked. "if Mr. I ought to know--my own father was a doctor." "Well. Poirot came over from the win dow where he had been standing." "Alfred Inglethorp?" "Him. It is most natural. too. or felt the lack of it. I guarded her from the lot of them. a nyway."I know what it is. 'So many po unds a year I'm worth to you. I could see by the express ion of his face that he fully appreciated the difficulty of the position. and invited us both to come up to Mrs. that way she missed lov e. Wells had finished looking through the desk in the boudoir. and then a glib-tongued scoundrel comes along. Dar e say he soaked fly papers. She was very generous. Because. I took my stand from the first." she accused him. "I want to be able to count upon your help. unable to help a faint smile. That little Wilkins is about t he greatest fool that even I have ever seen.' She didn't understand--was very offend ed sometimes. For th e moment. John looked back to the dining-room door. and I did not envy John." It occurred to me very forcibly at that moment that to harbour Miss Howard and A lfred Inglethorp under the same roof. Alfred Inglethorp--a nd within two months--hey presto!" "Believe me. Now your help may be very valuable to me. But it was only her purse the y were after. and pooh! all my years of devotion go for nothing. as he and Mr. On my honour. out of the whole bunch. "If you mean that I was fond of her--yes." said Poirot very earnestly. Don't think she ever realized it." "We are at one then. Heart seizure! Sort of thing he wou ld say.not a pair of gloves. I was on a different footing. I d on't say she wasn't surrounded by sharks--she was. As we went up the stairs. it is no t so. And so. Dorcas brought in fresh tea." "I'll help you to hang Alfred with pleasure. Inglethorp's room. I was. poor soul. was likel y to prove a Herculean task. Ask Cook if she's missed any. "Dash it all. What do they know? Nothing at all--or just enough to make them danger ous. Anyway. As she left the room. But not a penny piece besides-." "Ask away. Poor Emily was never murdered until *HE came along. "Mademoiselle. and sat down facing Miss Howard. I watched over her. I will hang him as high as Haman!" "That's better. mademoiselle." John stuck his head in at this juncture. Emily was a selfish o ld woman in her way. You think that we are lukewarm--that we lack fire and energy--but trust me. and a new note crept into the gruffness of her voice. Well and good." she replied gruffly. but she always wanted a return." he said gravely. You know." said Miss Howard more enthusiastically. I wil l tell you why. And al l you can do is to murmur silly things about 'heart seizure' and 'inquest on Fri day. "Hanging's to o good for him. yours are the only eyes that have wept." "No question of another. Inglethorp is the man. "I want to ask you something. Her life was safe enough. Anyone with any sense could see at once that her husband had poisoned he r. I can't haul him down to the local police station by the scruff of hi s neck. you might do something. though. Now he's done it. But along comes Mr. he shall not escape me. Evie. and lowered his voice confidentially: . I understand all you feel. Nev er should. in all this house of mourning. I kept my self-respect." said the lady.' You ought to be ashamed of yourself. or another. Miss Howard. "I understand. He's a crafty beggar." said Poirot. Said I was foolishly proud." Poirot nodded sympathetically. eyeing him with some disfavour.
it is a very ordinary lock. I should have carried it away with me. he wa s obliged to force it." he said. Ah. he was out of sight. the great risk. dumfounded. As to the door being locked. and I followed him as soon as I had suffi ciently recovered my wits." "But it's not locked now. with a gesture of anger." We stared at one another blankly. he took the risk. by the time I had reached the top of the stairs. Mr. I really did not know ho w much Poirot would wish me to disclose. "Permit me. There's one thing. "That. John unlocked it." "Impossible!" "See." . Why? Ah. Poirot drew out the small bunch of keys." "He's rather upset about something. Mary Cavendish was standing where the staircase branched." "You've got the keys still. Taking the keys from Poirot. staring down into the hall in the direction in which he had disappeared. Poirot?" I asked. Probably any o ther of the doorkeys in this passage would fit it. The lawyer went straight to the desk." I remarked feebly."Look here." "Will she be able to do so?" "The Lord only knows. As I saw a faint smile gather on Mrs. were shaking v iolently. of coming in here. "See here." "But what was it?" "Ah!" cried Poirot. "And I--who have both the keys in my pocket!" He flung himself upon the case. It is destroyed--but is it destroyed? Is there not yet a chance-we must leave no stone unturned--" He rushed like a madman from the room. Inglethorp himself won't be too keen on meeting her. "But who forced it? Why should they? When? But the door was locked?" These excla mations burst from us disjointedly. have they?" "Who?" "Mr." "What?" Poirot laid down the case again. Poirot answered them categorically--almost mechanically. I locked it." he said at last. Therefore. And I--" his anger burst forth freely--"miserable animal that I am! I guessed nothing! I have behaved like an imbecile! I should never have l eft that case here. "My mother kept most of her important papers in this despatch-case. It was vital to him that it should be des troyed before it was discovered and its significance appreciated. as we reached the doo r of the locked room. Inglethorp and Miss Howard. But. which from long force of habit wer e mechanically straightening the spill vases on the mantel-piece. I do not know! A document of some kind. out of precaution. and we all passed in." And John lifted the lid as he spoke. "Milles tonnerres!" cried Poirot. Finding the case locked. triple pig! And n ow it is gone. without doubt. but still enough of a clue t o connect the murderer with the crime. Poirot had walked over to the mantel-piece. When? Since I was here an h our ago. and John followed him. "I've told Mary to keep them apart if she can. Hastings? He has jus t rushed past me like a mad bull. slight in itself perhaps. For him to take that risk. if I only knew. thus betraying his presence. "There was something in that case --some piece of evidence. "En voila une affaire! This lock has been forced. I endeavoured to try and turn the conversation by s aying: "They haven't met yet. possibly the scrap of paper Dorcas saw in her hand ye sterday afternoon. "Who? That is the question. Suddenly he stiffened. i t must have been something of great importance. it was like this. "What has happened to your extraordinary little friend. what's going to happen when these two meet?" I shook my head helplessly. C avendish's expressive mouth. I believe. this morning. He was outwardly calm. haven't you. but I noticed his hands.
Her face stiffened." He picked up his little suit-case. Although. and Poirot stood aside to le t her pass. and forget all about t hem the next." She was smiling in her quiet way. she tur ned and went swiftly up the stairs. You will walk back with me to the village?" "Willingly." "Aren't you my friend too?" "I am a very bad friend. one minute. and we went out through the open window in th e drawing-room. I was recalled to other matters by a frightful row going on below. and I said foolishly and not i n the best of taste: "Yet you seem to be invariably charming to Dr." "Why do you say that?" "Because it is true." "You have finished here?" "For the moment. "Well." "You think so. doubted the wisdom. as she answered rather constrainedly: "No. "I should like to see a good flare up. I will be guided by you. my friend. I was vexed to think that my diplomacy had been in vain." I don't know what impelled me. Inglethorp's medicines?" A slight flush rose in her face.She looked at me in rather a disconcerting manner. I drew him aside. Bauerstein!" Instantly I regretted my words. unfortunately." He looked so crestfallen and abashed that I felt quite sorry. I had the impression of a st eel curtain coming down and blotting out the real woman. I am charming to my friends one day. John!" Something in her tone fired me. a proceeding of which I. Once again I could not help regretting that my friend was so prone to lose his head in moments of excit ement. I could hear Poirot shouting and expounding. mademoiselle. I t would clear the air. and I blurted out: "Old John's an awfully good sort. "Excuse me. I like you for that. well. "He's anxious to keep them apart. and saying so lit tle." he said at last. "is this wise? Surely you don't want the whole house t o know of this occurrence? You are actually playing into the criminal's hands." "John doesn't think so." "Oh. yes. "Did you ever make up Mrs. for one. Hastings?" "I am sure of it. though I still tho ught my rebuke a just and wise one. The sight of me calmed Poirot almost i mmediately. and then said. She nodded. to my great surpris e: "You are loyal to your friend. yes. whilst I stood like an idiot gaping after he r." I said. Cynthia Murdoch was just coming in." I remarked. don't you?" I said. "let us go. "Can you tell me what they were? Sulphonal? Veronal?" . At present we are all thinking so much. Without a word. I stepped briskly down the stairs." "These?" Poirot produced the empty box which had contained powders." "Only her powders?" The flush deepened as Cynthia replied: "Oh. mon ami. rather taken aback. "My dear fellow." She studied me curiously for a minute or two. "Do you think it would be such a disaster if they did meet?" "Well. it is a little too late now." "Well." "Yes?" she turned inquiringly. The little man appeared to be taking the whole house into his confidenc e. I did make up some sleeping powders for her once." "Sure. "No. but I was nettled." "Good.
' Now." he broke out at last. "Mr. "They have made one more discovery. The mould in the beds was exactly similar to that on the floor of the b oudoir. and a bad master." He smiled. la-bas." I shrugged my shoulders. d ated before her marriage. in such a case. I suppose every one has. "So that is the explanation of the blank label on the box." he observed. often. surely. "All these w ills are very confusing. "My friend. Inglethorp's. I privately thought that Poirot was rather too much giv en to these fantastic ideas." "Ah! Thank you. In the general confusion. I was now sure that one. tried the word once or twice on the edge of the blotting-paper. and pr obably utterly impossible idea. In this case. to see if it looked right ? Well. the boudoir had not been swept that morning ." As we walked briskly away from the house. "I strolled to the window." "Exactly. They were shining like emeralds now. Inglethorp had been writing the word 'posses sed' that afternoon. mademoiselle. or a spare scrap of paper. Inglethorp did. "Very si mple." "Another point--how did you know that the key of the despatch-case had been lost ?" . and near the desk were several traces of brown mould and earth.for there were t wo sets of footprints in the bed--had entered the boudoir. they were bromide powders. when writing a letter. what did that tell me? It told me that Mrs." I remarked. I glanced at him more than once. I was now quite c onvinced that she had made a fresh will." I remarked sceptically.and to John Cavendish also. and they would not have come into the room at all. if anything excited him. thus: 'I am possessed. And have you not. for if Mrs. have you ever. It must have been made just at the time they were engaged. having the fragment of paper found in the grate fresh in my mind." I could not help admitting. To make sur e." "What was it?" "Locked up in the desk in the boudoir. It came quite as a surprise to We lls-. "I have a little idea. It was written on one of those printed will fo rms." "Did Mr. Wells told me as we were going up stairs. You will notice that the word 'possess ed' is spelt first with one's' end subsequently with two--correctly." "One might take that with a grain of salt. his eyes turned green like a cat's. "Mon ami. Imagination is a good servant. the truth was only too plain and apparent. and. and no ordinary boots would have left such a heavy deposit. leaving her fortune to Alfred Inglethorp. the possibility of a will--(a document almost certain to contain tha t word)--occurred to me at once. I really wonder that I did not think of it myself. "You gave too much rein to your imagination. good morning. how did those scribbled words on the envelope help you to discover that a will was made yesterday afternoon?" Poirot smiled. I had often before noticed that. been arrested by the fact that y ou did not know how to spell a certain word?" "Yes. Events proved that I was right in my supposition. Inglethorp know of it?" "He says not. she had further tried it in a sentence. as you said. Tell me. "I must confess that the conclusions I drew from those few scribbled words were quite erroneous."No." Poirot did not appear to be listening to me. that is what Mrs. or possibly both of the gardeners-. jerking his thumb over his shoulder in the direction of Styles. And yet-. and also I learnt from you that they had been planted yesterday afternoo n. and saw at once that the begonia beds had been newly planted. Inglethor p had merely wished to speak to them she would in all probability have stood at the window. they found a will of Mrs. The weather ha d been perfectly fine for some days. and witnessed by two of the servants--not Dorcas. a very strange.it fits in." "That was very ingenious. The simplest explanation is always the most likely. This possibility was confirmed by a further cir cumstance. and had called the two gardeners in to witness her signature.
What do you make of the fact that all the doors of the bedroom were bolted on the inside?" "Well----" I considered." "On the contrary. without doubt. Inglethorp herself. Inglethorp. Inglethorp he rself?" "There is another possibility. "We do not agree. without doubt." "Yes. he w ould certainly have arranged to be away from the house." "How is that?" "Because if Mr. You agree so far? " "Perfectly." "I should put it this way." "I see only one." "Well." Poirot shook his head." "And that reason?" I asked sceptically." "And that?" "That he was not in the house last night. wh at do you make of the scrap of conversation you overheard between Mrs. Put with admirable clearness. Inglethorp knew that his wife would be poisoned last night. "as the person who entered did not do so by the wind ow. You observed t hat it had a piece of twisted wire through the handle. nor by miraculous means. "there are several points in his favour. I should say." " 'Bad shot!' as you English say! You have chosen the one point that to my mind tells against him."I did not know it. and the destruction of th e will. Now. to turn to another feature." I said. come now!" "Yes. No. Time will show which of us is right. and bolted it then. It . That strengthens the conviction that the per son in question was her husband. She would naturally open the door to her own hu sband. naturally. but on her bunch I found what was obviously the duplicate key. let us leave it. if it had bee n lost and recovered." I shook my head. She may have forgotten to bolt the door into the passage when she went to bed. "You are very sure of his guilt?" "Well." "But you agree with me that the door must have been opened by Mrs. Now let us turn to other aspects of the case. Cavendish and her mother-in-law?" "I had forgotten that. prove that during the night some one entered the room. towards morning. unconvinced." said Poirot quietly. very new and b right. is somewhat of a scoundrel--but that does not of necessity make him a murde rer." "Poirot. His excuse was an obviou sly trumped up one. Every fresh circumstance seems to establish it more clearly. Mrs. It was a guess that turned out to be correct. "Well. encouraged. it follows that the door must have been opened from inside by Mrs. "How should I know? Discreditable. is that seriously your opinion?" "No. eh?" said Poirot. and have got up later." I said thoughtfully. The doors *WERE bolted--our own eyes have told us tha t--yet the presence of the candle grease on the floor." Poirot looked at me curiously. Now." I said. he was the last person she would admit." "True. Proceed. "One must look at it logically. " "Oh. but it might be. This Mr. Poirot shrugged his shoulders. which led me to the hypothesis that somebody else had inserted the origin al key in the lock of the despatch-case. "That is as enigmatical as ever. That leaves us two possibilities: either he knew what was go ing to happen or he had a reason of his own for his absence. "Alfred Inglethorp. Inglethorp would at once have replaced it on her bunc h. "Why should she? She had bolted the door leading into his room--a most unusual p roceeding on her part--she had had a most violent quarrel with him that very aft ernoon. I do not say it is so. That suggested to me at o nce that it had possibly been wrenched off a flimsy key-ring.
" he said. and sank his voice to a whisp er: "Just tell me this. It was an astonishing thing for a woman of her breeding to do. "A little minute. "Look. we have. "It's all over the village about old Mrs.seems incredible that a woman like Mrs. *ME. and as he closed the door Poirot's eyes met mine. The young man departed. ." "But it was a glorious day!" I interrupted. perfectly still. it is unimportant. Do not forget t hat. The fresh air blew in warm and pleasant. Poirot. "It is well. He leant forward. I was amused to notice that he stowed away the used matches most carefully in a little china pot. Mace began at once. "Yes." "It is certainly curious. Something evidently of a non-committal natur e. Suddenly my attention was arrested by a weedy looking young man rushing down the street at a great pace. They do say--" he lowered his voice cautiously-. Mr. my friend. except for severa l expressive motions of his eyebrows. he ran swiftly down the stairs and opened the doo r. For it is of the mos t complicated! It puzzles *ME." For about ten minutes he sat in dead silence. Now all is arranged and classified. I was opening my lips. One must never permit confusion. Cavendish. "Still. It is the key to the whole riddle!" "And the second point?" I asked. Poirot had placed our two chairs in front of the open window which commanded a v iew of the village street. It was the expression on his face that was extraordinar y--a curious mingling of terror and agitation." I agreed. you're pulling my leg!" "Not at all. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. "Not now. He offered me one of the tiny Russian cigarettes he himself occasionally smoke d. "He will have evidence to give at the inquest." A groan burst from Poirot. Mr." We had reached Leastways Cottage." cried Poirot from the window. mon ami." "Precisely." I said." "And what are they?" "The first is the state of the weather yesterday. is it?" I hardly heard what Poirot replied." The young man moistened his dry lips. Mace. and need not be taken into account. It was going to be a hot day. and. when Poirot stopped me wit h a gesture of his hand. from the chemist's shop. "I come. He is coming here. At last he heaved a deep sigh. I have need of reflection." We went slowly upstairs again. My mind is in some disord er--which is not well. That is very important." "Well. Poirot. we shall see. pounded vigorously at the door." The young man came to a halt before Leastways Cottage. His face was working curiously. nettled."that it's poison?" Poirot's face remained quite impassive. after hesitating a m oment. "What have I always told you? Everything must be taken into account. should interfere so violently in what was certainly not her affair. "Yes. it isn't--it isn't strychnine. He clutched Poirot by the arm. and all the time his eyes grew steadily gr eener. and Poirot ushered me upstairs to his own room . The case is not clear yet--no. My momentary annoyance vanished. Mace. "Oh. we shall see." Motioning to me to follow him. but I heard that you'd just co me back from the Hall?" "Yes. If the fact will not fit the theory--let the theory go. Poirot!" I said. proud and reticent to the la st degree. "Poirot. exactly--of course----" The young man hesitated. not now. "Only the doctors can tell us that. and then his agitation wa s too much for him. The bad moment has passed. "It is Mr. Mr. Inglethorp dying so suddenly. Hercule Poirot! There are two facts of signi ficance. "Tiens!" he said." "Yes. The thermometer registered 80 degrees in the shade. nodding gravely. Mr.
then?" "They would not be shaken because twelve stupid men had happened to make a mista ke! But that will not occur. and uses glasses. She would never forgive me if I let Alfred Ingl ethorp. As though he read my thoughts. He suggested to her repeatedly that it was 4. you gentlemen from the Hall-. I think of that poor Mrs. mon ami. Poirot was unfailing in his activity. I would do what I say. I met an age d rustic. yes. hoping to meet him. and Mr." I walked on sharply. Twice he was closeted with Mr. is he? Ah. and not 4 o'clock wh en she had heard the voices. "Yes. Naming no names. I cannot believe you are serious. "I should not allow it!" "*You would not allow it?" "No. Inglethorp stands practically in the posit ion of local squire. who leered at me cunningly. or was it the baser mainspring of money? Probably a judicious mixture of both. a country jury is not anxious to tak e responsibility upon itself." "I am absolutely serious. Evelyn Howard had been right then. "I n all this. The Inquest IN the interval before the inquest. and I experienced a shar p twinge of disgust. She was n ot extravagantly loved--no. do the gentlemen from the Hall come here often?" I asked. "You'm from the Hall. Friend of yours." "And supposing the Coroner's jury returns a verdict of Wilful Murder against Alf red Inglethorp. it is very momentous. Inglethorp who is dead. On one point. right enough." I looked at the extraordinary little man. I'm sure. It occurred to me that he might have been making inquiries at Raikes's farm. her husband. so. More'n once too. But she was very good to us Belgians--I owe her a de bt. I walk ed over there by the fields. His physiognomy underwent a complete change. but Poirot swept on. mind. has a black beard." I endeavoured to interrupt. a nd I hesitated to go right up to the farm itself. mister. What becomes of your theories. Had that piquant gipsy face been at the bottom of the crime. my friend. "He has been here. the more so as I could not in the least guess what he was driving at. "*One does.you'n a pretty lot!" And he leered more jocose ly than ever. be arrested now--when a word from me could save him!" Chapter VI. he's been here. sir. He was so tremendously sure of himself. He winked at me knowingly. I'm looking for a friend of mine whom I thought might have walked this way ." He got up and laid his hand on my sho ulder. . Poirot seemed to have a curious obsession. I rath er resented his not taking me into his confidence. For one thing." "Poirot. bain't you?" he asked." "But this is childish!" "No. divided between annoyance and amusemen t." "A little chap? As waves his hands when he talks? One of them Belgies from the v illage?" "Yes. you see. But there was no sign of him. finding him out when I called at Leastways Cottage on Wednesday evening. "Oh.30. then?" "Oh. as I thought of Alfred Inglethorp's liberality with another woman's money. "Let me tell you this. thank you. ay. And a very liberal gentleman too! Oh."The important fact that Monsieur Inglethorp wears very peculiar clothes." he added placidly. Wells." I said eagerly. Tears came into his eyes. As I walked away. as carelessly as I could. Hastings. he nod ded gently. He once or twice observ ed to me that he thought Dorcas must have made an error in fixing the time of th e quarrel. "Why. He also took long walks into the country. Also.
" "Why?" "Simply because strychnine has an unusually bitter taste. and I hurried there as fast as I could. or even more." "Does anything in your examination lead you to determine how the poison was admi nistered?" "No. Further questioned. The jury viewed the body. and gasped out: 'Alfred--Alfred----' " "Could the strychnine have been administered in Mrs. Dr. She was at that moment in a typical tetanic c onvulsion. The motor met me just outside the lodge gates. Coffee has a bitter taste of its own which would probably cover the taste o f strychnine. "I should consider it very unlikely." "Will you relate to us exactly what happened next?" "I entered Mrs. Wilkins corroborated it on all poi . when she had taken tea to her mi stress. as some poisons are. There was a breathless hush. he summed up the result of the post-mortem. he described his awakening in the early hours of the morning . not being required to give evidence." "I should say"--the doctor was continuing--"that I would have been considerably surprised at any other result. Bauerstein's evidence. which." One of the jury wanted to know if the same objection applied to coffee. and every eye was fixed on the famous London specialist. Could the strychnine have been administered in that?" "No. The medical evidence was next taken. Inglethorp took the coffee after dinner about eight o'clock." I heard Poirot chuckle softly beside me.000. Coco would be quite powerless to mask it." This concluded Dr. but that for some unknown reason its action was delayed. she must have taken not less than three-quarters of a grain of strychnine." "Then you consider it more likely that the drug was administered in the coffee. Strychnine is not used for domestic purpose s. there is no possibility of analyzin g its contents. The inquest was held on Friday at the Stylites Arms in the village. but probably one grain or slightly over. who was known to be one of the greate st authorities of the day on the subject of toxicology. Inglethorp's after-dinner c offee which was taken to her by her husband?" "Possibly. "Is it possible that she could have swallowed the poison by accident?" asked the Coroner. wh ereas the symptoms did not manifest themselves until the early hours of the morn ing. the cup being completely smashed. points to the drug having been taken much later i n the evening. and can only be disguised by some strongly flavoured substance. I myself took a sample of the coco remaining in the saucepan and had it ana lysed. "Listen." "Mrs. Wilkins. Judging from the qu antity recovered. appear to have been present in this case . and the circumstances of his mother's death.But Dorcas was unshaken. on the face of it. Shorn of its m edical phraseology and technicalities. but. had elapsed between the ti me when she had heard the voices and 5 o'clock." "Yes. It is retarded under cert ain conditions. and there are restrictions placed on its sale. Inglethorp was in the habit of drinking a cup of coco in the middle of the night. The preliminaries were gone through. Ingleth orp had met her death as the result of strychnine poisoning. There was no strychnine present. Quite an hour. I presume Mrs. but strychnine is a fairly rapid drug in its action. She turned towards me. Poirot and I sat together. none of which." "You arrived at Styles before Dr. however. Inglethorp's room. it amounted to the fact that Mrs. "How did you know?" I whispered. The symptoms app ear from one to two hours after it has been swallowed. "No. In a few brief words. It can be detected in a solution of 1 in 70. and John Cavendis h gave evidence of identification. I believe?" "That is so.
and for some time before it. as she dealt with Coot's. dispelled even that possibility. Cavendish. she was dressing. His evidence was quite unimportant. She would be one of the l ast people to take her own life. "What Mr. in a certain sense. but it would be qu ite impossible for it to result in sudden death in this way. clear. she t old how. The jury looked up. interested." "Ah!" said the Coroner. The next witness was Mary Cavendish. we are here to arrive at the truth of this matter. So the question of the tonic was finally abandoned. "I opened my door. he said. Cavendish?" "My mother. Inglethorp had take n the last dose on the day of her death. and we all went to my m . her alarm clock having aroused her at 4. In answer to the Coroner's question. suffered from a weak heart. and said rather hesitatingly: "I should like to make a suggestion if I may?" He glanced deprecatingly at the Coroner." replied the doctor." The same juryman who had interrupted before here suggested that the chemist who made up the medicine might have committed an error. Mr. Strychnine is. a cumulative poison. and perfectly composed voice. "and listened. administered for some time. But Dorcas. She would have had to take very nearly the whole bottle to account for the amount of strychnine found at the post-morte m. Mr. who replied briskly: "Certainly. being a mere repetition of that of his brother." "And the second suggestion? That Mrs.30 as usual. has ended by causing death. "I believe. who was the next witness called. he pa used. the Cash Chemists in Tadminster. so I will not repeat it here. at the time of her death. Lawrence Cavendish was next called. but otherwise enjoyed perfect health . Dorcas's evidence on this point was substantially what Poirot and I had already heard. Dorcas came running down and woke my husband." "Then you consider that we may dismiss the tonic as not being in any way instrum ental in causing her death?" "Certainly. of course. Mrs. The whole thing is absurd. is always possible. Also . is it not possible that she may have taken an overdose of her medicine by acci dent?" "This is the first we have heard of the deceased taking strychnine at the time o f her death. was taking a tonic containing strychnine." explained Lawrence. Just as he was about to step down. he repudiated it utterly. Any doctor would tell you the same.nts. and was of a cheerful and well-balanced disposition. "that there have been cases where the cumulativ e effect of a drug. Cavendish suggests is quite impossible. There would have to be a long period of chronic symptoms which would at once have attracted my atte ntion. or even four doses. Cavendish. In a few minutes a bell rang violently. Wilkins was recalled and ridiculed the idea. The dec eased. and spoke in a low." "How do you make that out. Inglethorp al ways had an extra large amount of medicine made up at a time. and had subsequently roused the household. Inglethorp may have inadvertently taken an overdose?" "Three." continued Lawrence. Sounded as to the possibility of suicide. would not have resulted in death. "That. and the Coroner proceeded wi th his task. She stood very upright. but it still seems to me that my mother's death might be accounted for by nat ural means. Having elicited from Dorcas how she had been awakened by the violen t ringing of her mistress's bell." continued Mary. "That would have been the table by the bed?" commented the Coroner. Mr. an d welcome anything that may lead to further elucidation. Mrs. We are much obliged to you. he passed to the subject of the quarrel on the preceding afternoon. On the contrary." Dr." "It is just an idea of mine. when she was startled by the sound of something heavy falling. The supposition is ridiculous. Th e medicine had not been newly made up. "Of course I may be quite wron g.
I was very comfortable where I was. Mrs. William was of the opinion that it was rat her earlier. "A good conscience makes a sound sleeper. But excuse me. is it not?" This was news to me and glancing sideways at Poirot." "And that is all you can tell us?" "That is all.other-in-law's room. although you realized it was a private conversa tion. shop assistant. I felt certai n that at that moment she would willingly have torn the little lawyer." "Possibly. I was fast asleep. "Yes. yes." The Coroner persisted. before she answer ed: "Yes. until awakened by Mrs. Manning fixed the time at about 4. "I really do not think we need trouble you further on that point. I remember. But I should be obliged if you wou ld tell us all you overheard of the quarrel the day before. I understand." continued the Coroner deliberately. and seemed to reflect. William Earl and Manning succeeded her." "Will you repeat to us what you overheard of the quarrel?" "I really do not remember hearing anything. I fancied that it was news to him as well." ." "Ah!" the Coroner leant back satisfied." "I?" There was a faint insolence in her voice. She had. She had known nothi ng of the tragedy. Mrs." "And the boudoir window was open. turning her head a little as she did so. That is so. the mere hesitation of a moment. There was the faintest pause." A faint spot o f colour came into her cheek. She raised her hand and adjusted the r uffle of lace at her neck. "that you were sitting reading on the bench just outside the long window of the boudoir. into pieces. Cynthia Murdoch came next. Inglethorp said something--I do not remember exactly what --about causing scandal between husband and wife. Mrs. "That corresponds with what Dorcas heard . We know all th at can be known of the subsequent happenings. "Thank you. but it was locked----" The Coroner interrupted her. I think he suspected that Mary Cavendish could tell more if she chose.30." "Then you cannot have failed to hear the voices inside. little to tell. under-gardener at Styles. "You did not hear the table fall?" "No. but she replied quietly enough: "No. "And you remember nothing at all? *NOTHING." The Coroner smiled. Cavendish. I heard the voices. In fact. Cavendish. was next called. they would be more audible where you were than in the hall. however. still outwardly as calm as ever. with his insinuations. especially as they were raised in anger. was it not?" Surely her face grew a little paler as she answered: "Yes. and deposed to having sold a will for m on the afternoon of the 17th to William Earl. that is all." he observed." "Do you mean to say you did not hear voices?" "Oh. Miss Murdoch . but I did not hear what they said. And quite sp ontaneously the thought flashed across my mind: "She is gaining time!" "Yes. you did not move away? You remained where you were?" I caught the momentary gleam of her tawny eyes as she raised them. "I am not in the habit of listening to private con versations. though I doubted if the Coroner was entirely satisfied with it. and testified to witnessing a document. Amy Hill. that is so." The examination was over. I fixed my mind on my book. Cavendish? Not one stray word o r phrase to make you realize that it *WAS a private conversation?" She paused.
of course already seen it. but had only recently com e to this particular shop. She wanted me back. "I fear it does not help us much." Inwardly I sympathized. In answer to the Coroner's quest ions." said Miss Howard shortly. "Mr. sir. Most people do. impassiv e and wooden." continued the lady. But I know her." Mr. It added nothing to o ur knowledge of the tragedy. But. "Quite sure. It was only human nature to endeavour to please "The Hal l"--especially when it might result in custom being transferred from Coot's to t he local establishment. I half thought he was going to rise from his chair. "There is no m ention of any of the events of that afternoon. Then came the sensation of the day." I fancy he breathed a sigh of relief when she complied. It was our agitated young man of the pale face. I noticed. -. although a remarkably well acted expression of astonishment rose on his face . the 16th. because Emily never could bear to put herself in the wrong. sir. Poirot and I had." "When was this?" "Last Monday night. chemist's as sistant. These preliminaries completed. Monday. but he remained seat ed. glan cing up and down the jury disparagingly. sir. Inglethorp on the evening of the 17th. Inglethorp. seeing it was Mr. The Coroner called Albert Mace. The following is a facsimile: STYLES COURT ESSEX hand written note: July 17th My dear Evelyn Can we not bury the hachet? I have found it hard to forgive the things you said against my dear husband but I am an old woman & very fond of you Yours affectionately. "Yes. "No. with a sigh. Mr. Miss Howard wa s obviously quite a public character. sir--of course not. I th ought there was no harm in it. "It shows clearly enough that my poor old friend had just found out she'd been made a fool of!" "It says nothing of the kind in the letter. "Anyway. "Talk--talk--talk! When all the time we know perfectly well----" The Coroner interrupted her in an agony of apprehension: "Thank you. So. He started slightly. It was to Mr.Emily Inglethorpe It was handed to the jury who scrutinized it attentively. Wells smiled faintly. He said it was to poison a dog. as the assistant formerly there had just been called up for the army. no." "Will you tell us to whom you sold it?" You could have heard a pin drop. that is all." "Monday? Not Tuesday?" "No. "Oh. But she wasn't going to own that I'd been right. Miss Howard. "Is it not customary for anyone purchasing poison to sign a book?" "Yes. as the damning words fell from the young man' s lips. the Coroner proceeded to business. he explained that he was a qualified pharmacist. Don't believe in it myself. sir. sir. have you lately sold strychnine to any unauthorized person?" "Yes. Inglethorp did so. did several of the jury. "You are sure of what you say?" asked the Coroner sternly. Mace." "Are you in the habit of selling strychnine indiscriminately over the counter?" The wretched young man wilted visibly under the Coroner's frown."Miss Howard. all this tomfoolery is a great waste of time." said the Coroner." "Plain as a pikestaff to me." the Coroner pointed out." "Have you got the book here?" ." Every eye turned simultaneously to where Alfred Inglethorp was sitting. Inglethorp of the Hall." Miss Howard produced the letter written to her by Mrs. She went r ound about.
" He took an old envelope out of his pocket. and. "Think again. "Sacre!" he murmured. "Then what is your explanation of Mr. I have an idea that I was out walking. Then." "That is a pity. "Were you in company with anyone?" "No. Inglethorp." I was puzzled. The Coroner did not trouble to reply. "Does this imbecile of a man *WANT to be arrested?" Inglethorp was indeed creating a bad impression. Was he at last convinced of Alfred Inglethorp's guilt? . I was absent f rom the house the entire afternoon. Mace. however." The Coroner hesitated for a moment. "I am to take it then that you decline to say where you were at the time that Mr. "you have been misinformed." The Coroner's face grew graver. Inglethorp. which is in perfect health. The man spoke with such quiet assurance that I was staggered. I wondered. except an outdoor sheepdog. did you purchase strychnine for the purpose of poisonin g a dog?" Inglethorp replied with perfect calmness: "No." It was produced. "You had a discussion with your wife on Tuesday afternoon?" "Pardon me. and then said: "Mr. Inglethorp. There is no dog at Styles. Mace must have been mistaken. The Coroner." "In what direction?" "I really can't remember. Mr." "Did you meet anyone on your walk?" "No."Yes." said Inglethorp haughtily." "Be careful." "Have you anyone who can testify to that?" "You have my word. The hand-writing is quite different from mine. Did he realize. There was an expression of exultation on his face which I could not understand. I had no quarrel with my dear wife. "Certainly I do. handing it to the jury." Inglethorp shook his head." Poirot was fidgeting nervously. It was certainly utterly dissimilar. as a mere matter of form." interrupted Alfred Inglethorp." said the Coroner dryly. yes. "There are two witnesses who will swear to having heard your disagreement with M rs." "That is absurd. Mace's statement?" Alfred Inglethorp replied imperturbably: "Mr. Mr. July 16th?" "Really--I can't remember. "I cannot tell you. how closely the halter was being drawn around his neck? The Coroner went straight to the point." "Those witnesses were mistaken. amidst a breathless silence. sir. the Coroner dismissed t he wretched Mr. I did not. Mace positively recognized you as en tering the shop to purchase strychnine?" "If you like to take it that way. Alfred Inglethorp was called. with a few words of stern censure. would you mind telling us where you w ere on the evening of Monday. "On Monday evening last. Inglethorp. and wrote his name on it. I l ooked at Poirot." said the Coroner sharply. His futile denials would not ha ve convinced a child. The whole story is absolutely untrue. passed briskly to the next point." "You deny absolutely having purchased strychnine from Albert Mace on Monday last ?" "I do." "Do you also deny *This?" The Coroner handed him the register in which his signature was inscribed. an d Poirot drew a deep breath of relief. I will show you.
my friend. and. then he said: "I believe. Inglethorp. In any case. In a few moments. who. "No. indicating two men who were sitting toge ther near the door. Superintendent Summerhaye." "You read my wife's last words as an accusation"--Inglethorp was continuing--"th ey were. Pretty clear case I should say. and Poirot at once stepped forward. At that point. "That is Detective Inspector James Japp of Scotland Yard-. or might not. He put his lips to my ear. moosier. yes. on the contrary. Inglethorp. introduced us both to h is companion. Inspector Japp. "I need hardly ask what you are doing here. Poirot here. and suffe ring as she was. There was certainly nothing of the policeman a bout them." "Why. but it did not seem to me to improv e matters much for Inglethorp. Poirot Pays His Debts AS we came out of the Stylites Arms." But Poirot answered gravely: "There I differ from you. In the dim light. in his turn. gentlemen. . thos e were great days. Japp closed one eye knowingly."Mr. Poirot!" cried the Inspector. dark. I questioned Poirot mutely. come!" said Summerhaye. they emerged. that you yourself poured out the coffee. Poirot? It was in 1904 he and I worked together--t he Abercrombie forgery case--you remember. "I fear you do not remember me. I understood his object. He turned to the other man. that!" "You think it is true?" I whispered. so I laid down the coffee on the hall table. I should never have suspected them of being official personages. "You've heard me speak of Mr. if it isn't Mr. do you remember 'Baron' Altara? There was a pr etty rogue for you! He eluded the clutches of half the police in Europe. and accosted the shorter of the two. I drew nearer." said the Coroner. it was gone. when I was startled and recalled by the verdict being given : "Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown. he was run down in Brussels." "Ah!" murmured Poirot to himself." I stared at the two men intently. ferret-faced man. "Surely the wh ole thing is clear as daylight. "you have heard your wife's dying words repe ated here. indeed. "Do you know who that little man is?" I shook my head. One was a little. The room was dimly lighted. He was waiting for the Scotland Yard men. But it is truly an ingenious supposition. I meant to do so. the other w as tall and fair." "Oh. be true." "You can?" "It seems to me very simple." As these friendly reminiscences were being indulged in." Chapter VII." The Coroner reflected a moment. sharp. my poor wife mistook him for me. Then. "I do not say that. wears a beard. but I was told that a friend was at the hall door. Poirot drew me aside by a gentle pressure o f the arm. like me. and took it to your wife that evening?" "I poured it out. opening his lips for the first time. he had had ample time to introduce t he poison. an appeal to me. Bauerstein is much of my height and build. When I came through the hall again a few minutes later. The other man is from Scotland Yard too. Dr. How he could be suc h a fool beats me!" But Japp was looking attentively at Poirot. Things are moving quickly. I was still staring.Jimmy Japp. Poirot nudged me gently." This statement might. But we nailed him in Antwerp--thanks to Mr. The man's caught red-handed. Ah. and was i ntroduced to Detective-Inspector Japp. But I did not take it to her." remarked Poirot. "But it is an idea. Mr. Can you explain them in any way?" "Certainly I can.
"Hold your fire, Summerhaye," he remarked jocularly. "Me and Moosier here have m et before--and there's no man's judgment I'd sooner take than his. If I'm not gr eatly mistaken, he's got something up his sleeve. Isn't that so, moosier?" Poirot smiled. "I have drawn certain conclusions--yes." Summerhaye was still looking rather sceptical, but Japp continued his scrutiny o f Poirot. "It's this way," he said, "so far, we've only seen the case from the outside. Th at's where the Yard's at a disadvantage in a case of this kind, where the murder 's only out, so to speak, after the inquest. A lot depends on being on the spot first thing, and that's where Mr. Poirot's had the start of us. We shouldn't hav e been here as soon as this even, if it hadn't been for the fact that there was a smart doctor on the spot, who gave us the tip through the Coroner. But you've been on the spot from the first, and you may have picked up some little hints. F rom the evidence at the inquest, Mr. Inglethorp murdered his wife as sure as I s tand here, and if anyone but you hinted the contrary I'd laugh in his face. I mu st say I was surprised the jury didn't bring it in Wilful Murder against him rig ht off. I think they would have, if it hadn't been for the Coroner--he seemed to be holding them back." "Perhaps, though, you have a warrant for his arrest in your pocket now," suggest ed Poirot. A kind of wooden shutter of officialdom came down from Japp's expressive counten ance. "Perhaps I have, and perhaps I haven't," he remarked dryly. Poirot looked at him thoughtfully. "I am very anxious, Messieurs, that he should not be arrested." "I dare say," observed Summerhaye sarcastically. Japp was regarding Poirot with comical perplexity. "Can't you go a little further, Mr. Poirot? A wink's as good as a nod--from you. You've been on the spot--and the Yard doesn't want to make any mistakes, you kn ow." Poirot nodded gravely. "That is exactly what I thought. Well, I will tell you this. Use your warrant: A rrest Mr. Inglethorp. But it will bring you no kudos--the case against him will be dismissed at once! Comme ca!" And he snapped his fingers expressively. Japp's face grew grave, though Summerhaye gave an incredulous snort. As for me, I was literally dumb with astonishment. I could only conclude that Po irot was mad. Japp had taken out a handkerchief, and was gently dabbing his brow. "I daren't do it, Mr. Poirot. I'd take your word, but there's others over me who 'll be asking what the devil I mean by it. Can't you give me a little more to go on?" Poirot reflected a moment. "It can be done," he said at last. "I admit I do not wish it. It forces my hand. I would have preferred to work in the dark just for the present, but what you s ay is very just--the word of a Belgian policeman, whose day is past, is not enou gh! And Alfred Inglethorp must not be arrested. That I have sworn, as my friend Hastings here knows. See, then, my good Japp, you go at once to Styles?" "Well, in about half an hour. We're seeing the Coroner and the doctor first." "Good. Call for me in passing--the last house in the village. I will go with you . At Styles, Mr. Inglethorp will give you, or if he refuses--as is probable--I w ill give you such proofs that shall satisfy you that the case against him could not possibly be sustained. Is that a bargain?" "That's a bargain," said Japp heartily. "And, on behalf of the Yard, I'm much ob liged to you, though I'm bound to confess I can't at present see the faintest po ssible loop-hole in the evidence, but you always were a marvel! So long, then, m oosier." The two detectives strode away, Summerhaye with an incredulous grin on his face. "Well, my friend," cried Poirot, before I could get in a word, "what do you thin
k? Mon Dieu! I had some warm moments in that court; I did not figure to myself t hat the man would be so pig-headed as to refuse to say anything at all. Decidedl y, it was the policy of an imbecile." "H'm! There are other explanations besides that of imbecility," I remarked. "For , if the case against him is true, how could he defend himself except by silence ?" "Why, in a thousand ingenious ways," cried Poirot. "See; say that it is I who ha ve committed this murder, I can think of seven most plausible stories! Far more convincing than Mr. Inglethorp's stony denials!" I could not help laughing. "My dear Poirot, I am sure you are capable of thinking of seventy! But, seriousl y, in spite of what I heard you say to the detectives, you surely cannot still b elieve in the possibility of Alfred Inglethorp's innocence?" "Why not now as much as before? Nothing has changed." "But the evidence is so conclusive." "Yes, too conclusive." We turned in at the gate of Leastways Cottage, and proceeded up the now familiar stairs. "Yes, yes, too conclusive," continued Poirot, almost to himself. "Real evidence is usually vague and unsatisfactory. It has to be examined--sifted. But here the whole thing is cut and dried. No, my friend, this evidence has been very clever ly manufactured--so cleverly that it has defeated its own ends." "How do you make that out?" "Because, so long as the evidence against him was vague and intangible, it was v ery hard to disprove. But, in his anxiety, the criminal has drawn the net so clo sely that one cut will set Inglethorp free." I was silent. And in a minute or two, Poirot continued: "Let us look at the matter like this. Here is a man, let us say, who sets out to poison his wife. He has lived by his wits as the saying goes. Presumably, there fore, he has some wits. He is not altogether a fool. Well, how does he set about it? He goes boldly to the village chemist's and purchases strychnine under his own name, with a trumped up story about a dog which is bound to be proved absurd . He does not employ the poison that night. No, he waits until he has had a viol ent quarrel with her, of which the whole household is cognisant, and which natur ally directs their suspicions upon him. He prepares no defence--no shadow of an alibi, yet he knows the chemist's assistant must necessarily come forward with t he facts. Bah! do not ask me to believe that any man could be so idiotic! Only a lunatic, who wished to commit suicide by causing himself to be hanged, would ac t so!" "Still--I do not see--" I began. "Neither do I see. I tell you, mon ami, it puzzles me. Me --Hercule Poirot!" "But if you believe him innocent, how do you explain his buying the strychnine?" "Very simply. He did *Not buy it." "But Mace recognized him!" "I beg your pardon, he saw a man with a black beard like Mr. Inglethorp's, and w earing glasses like Mr. Inglethorp, and dressed in Mr. Inglethorp's rather notic eable clothes. He could not recognize a man whom he had probably only seen in th e distance, since, you remember, he himself had only been in the village a fortn ight, and Mrs. Inglethorp dealt principally with Coot's in Tadminster." "Then you think----" "Mon ami, do you remember the two points I laid stress upon? Leave the first one for the moment, what was the second?" "The important fact that Alfred Inglethorp wears peculiar clothes, has a black b eard, and uses glasses," I quoted. "Exactly. Now suppose anyone wished to pass himself off as John or Lawrence Cave ndish. Would it be easy?" "No," I said thoughtfully. "Of course an actor----" But Poirot cut me short ruthlessly. "And why would it not be easy? I will tell you, my friend: Because they are both
clean-shaven men. To make up successfully as one of these two in broad daylight , it would need an actor of genius, and a certain initial facial resemblance. Bu t in the case of Alfred Inglethorp, all that is changed. His clothes, his beard, the glasses which hide his eyes--those are the salient points about his persona l appearance. Now, what is the first instinct of the criminal? To divert suspici on from himself, is it not so? And how can he best do that? By throwing it on so me one else. In this instance, there was a man ready to his hand. Everybody was predisposed to believe in Mr. Inglethorp's guilt. It was a foregone conclusion t hat he would be suspected; but, to make it a sure thing there must be tangible p roof--such as the actual buying of the poison, and that, with a man of the pecul iar appearance of Mr. Inglethorp, was not difficult. Remember, this young Mace h ad never actually spoken to Mr. Inglethorp. How should he doubt that the man in his clothes, with his beard and his glasses, was not Alfred Inglethorp?" "It may be so," I said, fascinated by Poirot's eloquence. "But, if that was the case, why does he not say where he was at six o'clock on Monday evening?" "Ah, why indeed?" said Poirot, calming down. "If he were arrested, he probably w ould speak, but I do not want it to come to that. I must make him see the gravit y of his position. There is, of course, something discreditable behind his silen ce. If he did not murder his wife, he is, nevertheless, a scoundrel, and has som ething of his own to conceal, quite apart from the murder." "What can it be?" I mused, won over to Poirot's views for the moment, although s till retaining a faint conviction that the obvious deduction was the correct one . "Can you not guess?" asked Poirot, smiling. "No, can you?" "Oh, yes, I had a little idea sometime ago--and it has turned out to be correct. " "You never told me," I said reproachfully. Poirot spread out his hands apologetically. "Pardon me, mon ami, you were not precisely sympathique." He turned to me earnes tly. "Tell me--you see now that he must not be arrested?" "Perhaps," I said doubtfully, for I was really quite indifferent to the fate of Alfred Inglethorp, and thought that a good fright would do him no harm. Poirot, who was watching me intently, gave a sigh. "Come, my friend," he said, changing the subject, "apart from Mr. Inglethorp, ho w did the evidence at the inquest strike you?" "Oh, pretty much what I expected." "Did nothing strike you as peculiar about it?" My thoughts flew to Mary Cavendish, and I hedged: "In what way?" "Well, Mr. Lawrence Cavendish's evidence for instance?" I was relieved. "Oh, Lawrence! No, I don't think so. He's always a nervous chap." "His suggestion that his mother might have been poisoned accidentally by means o f the tonic she was taking, that did not strike you as strange--hein?" "No, I can't say it did. The doctors ridiculed it of course. But it was quite a natural suggestion for a layman to make." "But Monsieur Lawrence is not a layman. You told me yourself that he had started by studying medicine, and that he had taken his degree." "Yes, that's true. I never thought of that." I was rather startled. "It *Is odd. " Poirot nodded. "From the first, his behaviour has been peculiar. Of all the household, he alone would be likely to recognize the symptoms of strychnine poisoning, and yet we f ind him the only member of the family to uphold strenuously the theory of death from natural causes. If it had been Monsieur John, I could have understood it. H e has no technical knowledge, and is by nature unimaginative. But Monsieur Lawre nce--no! And now, to-day, he puts forward a suggestion that he himself must have known was ridiculous. There is food for thought in this, mon ami!" "It's very confusing," I agreed.
or a very bad explanation." I looked at him curiously. The quarrel did take place earlier in the afternoon. I was not sanguine. in the other wing of the building. and it was the latte r functionary who requested that the household. Bauerstei n. wherea s Mrs."Then there is Mrs. she's young. motioned me to precede him d own the stairs. Cavendish. "Which is a very good. but a man of the type of Summerhaye would require tangible proofs. Cavendish. Poirot! I won't cite Lawrence. about four o'cloc k. Still. distinctly heard the table fall. I believe. One thing her evidence *HAS shown me." "Do you really think so?" I asked. had been given in such a downright straightforward manner that it had neve r occurred to me to doubt her sincerity. what was *HE doing up and dressed at that hour in the morning? It is astonishing to me that no one commented on the fact. two persons were speaking the truth without reservation or subte rfuge. the presence of the detectives brought the truth home to him more than anything else could have done. But there's Joh n--and Miss Howard. unimportant as it was." "Oh." I said doubtfully." Poirot gave me a curious look. I had a great respect for Poirot 's sagacity--except on the occasions when he was what I described to myself as " foolishly pig-headed. it is queer. but at that moment a smart knock rea ched our ears. and." remarked Poirot. "Dr. with the exception of the servan ts. and explains nothing. as she said. at the inquest to-day onl y one--at most. He seemed to spea k. Bau erstein. come now. and looking out of the window we perceived the two detectives wai ting for us below. a good deal that was peculiar came out to-day. I realized the significanc e of this." "Well. sleeping next door." "He has insomnia. It was up to Poirot to make his boast good. there we joined the detectives and set out for Styles. One thing is certain. but both----!" His words gave me an unpleasant shock. Poirot seized his hat. Still. "Miss Howard had always seemed to me so essen tially honest--almost uncomfortably so. I think the appearance of the two Scotland Yard men was rather a shock--especial ly to John. gave a ferocious twist to his moustache. which I could not quite fathom. carefully b rushing an imaginary speck of dust from his sleeve. indeed! She must be a famous sleeper. my friend? One. though of course after the verdict. I had never understood his insistence on that point. should be assembled together in the drawing-room. "Mon ami. unless I am much mistaken. yes." "Any more faults to find with the evidence?" I inquired satirically. Cavendish." continued Poirot." replied Poirot gravely. Dorcas was qui te right." "And yet she is the last person one would accuse of stooping to eavesdrop!" "Exactly." "Ah." continued Poirot. "Miss Murdoch too. he had realized that it was only a matter of time. she overheard a good deal more of that 'private conversation' than she was willing to admit. It seems inconceivable that she should be shie lding Alfred Inglethorp. But it was strange that she never heard a sound. now. and then checked himself. Miss Howard's evidence. Personally. "Yes." I continued. "Yes. I shall keep my eye on our clever Dr. Yet that is what it looks like. the door of which Jap ." Poirot nodded reflectively. that one!" I did not quite like the tone of his voice." "No. Poirot had conferred with Japp in a low tone on the way up. I grant you. "That's another who is not tel ling all she knows! What do you make of her attitude?" "I don't know what to make of it. "when you find that people are not telling yo u the truth--look out! Now. surely they were speaking the truth?" "Both of them. I made a mistake. And she sleeps soundly. and these I doubted if Poirot could supply. Before very long we had all trooped into the drawing-room. "It covers e verything. or Mrs. Poirot might have excellent reasons for his beli ef in Inglethorp's innocence. "there's nothing untruthful about *HER.
"Mr. Inglethorp raised his face from his hands. "Mesdames and messieurs! I speak! Listen! I. either at six or just after and. Hercule P oirot. the Abbey Farm. I think that for the first time we realized that the th ing was not a bad dream. ." And as Inglethorp did not appear to understand. Poirot politely set chairs for every one. slowly and deli berately. it concerns Mr." said Poirot pointedly. he added: "Mr. addressing him directly. he shook his head. I think every one was a little surprised that it should be he and not one of the official detectives who took the initiative. Alfred Inglethorp sank down again and buried his face in his hands . "I have asked you to come here all together. "Soit!" he said.p closed. Inglethorp. not to oneself. Raikes back to her home from a neighb ouring farm. would blazon out the news in staring headlines: "MYSTERIOUS TRAGEDY IN ESSEX" "WEALTHY LADY POISONED" There would be pictures of Styles. "that you are suspected of poisoning your wi fe. and purchased strychn ine at six o'clock on Monday last was not Mr. starting up. "Poor Emily! It is terrible. Inglethorp was escorting Mrs. Poirot approached and stood over him. do you still refuse to say where you were at six o'clock on Mo nday afternoon?" With a groan. "You? How can you speak? You do not know----" he broke off abruptly. as you may know. "Speak!" he cried menacingly." said Poirot deliberately. a murder had been committed. affirm that the man who entered the chemist's shop. And now. "a very dark shadow is r esting on this house--the shadow of murder. monsieur. Inglethorp." Inglethorp shook his head sadly. knowing what I h ave now told you. To-morrow the daily papers. "My poor wife." The two detectives fidgeted." "I do not think. every one ha d drawn his chair slightly away from him--and he gave a faint start as Poirot pr onounced his name. That object." Poirot nodded thoughtfully. In front of us were "the detectives in charge of the case." said Poirot." Alfred Inglethorp sprang up again." Inglethorp was sitting a little by himself--I think. monsieur?" "No. Alfred Inglethorp. Inglethorp. I saw the official caution "Anything you say will b e used in evidence against you." The well-known glib phraseology passed rapidly through my mind in the interval before Poirot opened the proceedings. I do not believe that anyone could be so monstrous as to accuse me of what you say. Mr. you are standing in very grave danger. for at six o'clock on that day Mr. Inglethorp." A little gasp ran round the circle at this plain speaking. I can produce no less than five witnesses to swear to having seen t hem together. bowing as though he were a celebrity abou t to deliver a lecture. like a man whose mind is made up. Then." actually hovering on Summerhaye's lips. "Mesdames and messieurs. Poirot went on. "Then I must speak for you." he murmured. for a certa in object. "Do you understand now. but a tangible reality. snap-shots of "The family leaving the Inquest "--the village photographer had not been idle! All the things that one had read a hundred times--things that happen to other people. "Good heavens!" cried Inglethorp. in this house. unconsciously. "that you quite realize how t errible it may be--for you. What do you mean?" "I mean. We had read of such things--now we ourselves were actors in the drama." said Poirot. The Scotland Yard men were t he cynosure of all eyes. With an effort. Poirot turned to face us. all over Eng land. "You will not speak?" "No. "What a monstrous idea! I --poiso n my dearest Emily!" "I do not think"--Poirot watched him narrowly--"that you quite realize the unfav ourable nature of your evidence at the inquest.
There must be more in this affai r of Inglethorp's with Mrs. to make him hold his tongue so persistently. "Never mind. Bauerstein. And. and wonder ing what on earth lay behind the request. Am I right?" "Quite right. "But. I can tell you. "My word. "Quick. An idea s truck me. how I have been persecuted and maligned. Poirot turned and made me a sign to follow him upstairs. "You have not stirred?" "No. Raikes's home. looking out of the window. Nothing happened. Mr. please. "With my poor Emily not yet buried. "Here's Dr. I made but a slight gesture"--I know Poirot's gestures--"with the left hand. Raikes than we thought." Japp lowered his voice. who was the least surprised of any of us. arrested you would hav e been. that was a surprise to us all. I suppose?" "Voila! I have prepared a list of them--names and addresses. why couldn't you say all this at the inquest?" "I will tell you why." Inglethorp nodded. Had that anything to do with it? Was I to report who came or went? I stood faithfully at my post. and over went the table by the bed!" He looked so childishly vexed and crest-fallen that I hastened to console him. It must have been quite twenty minutes before Poirot rejoined me." "But you have probably heard something? A big bump--eh. I am disap pointed in Japp. and after that I'll have a little chat with the servants. I followed his instructions. There he caught me by the arm. as sure as eggs is eggs!" "I was foolish. and drew me aside." murmured Inglethorp. every one's room was in this left wing. Inglethorp was anxious to have no scandal revived just at present." Then. He has no method!" "Hullo!" I said. The minutes passed. sir. Nothing's happened. here. "I'm much obliged to you. or disappointed? "You've seen nothing at all?" "No. "But you do not know. taking up my position by the baize door. Mr. if you 'll excuse me. "And Mr." "Ah!" Was he pleased. was the first to speak. but I am vexed with myself! I am not usually clumsy. turning briskly to John. Japp. Do not move till I come. inspector. "you're the goods! And no mistake." he cried." As they all went out of the room." interrupted Poirot. turning rapidly. Why was I to stand in this particular spot on guard? I looked thoughtfully down the corridor in front of me." said Japp." interrupted Alfred Inglethorp in an a gitated voice. What does it matter? Your triumph downstairs excited you. You must see them. Don' t you bother about anything. T here is absolutely no question as to the alibi!" Chapter VIII. "I should like to see the lady's bedroom. "There was a certain rumour----" "A most malicious and utterly untrue one. Fresh Suspicions THERE was a moment's stupefied silence. will show me the way. sir. no doubt. But you will find it all right. "Now." "I'm sure of that. Poirot! These witnes ses of yours are all right. A pretty m are's nest arresting him would have been. sir. Stand there--just this side of the baize door. Nobody came. "I'd sooner have any amount of rumours than be arrested for murder." "Is it possible? Ah. Poirot here. go to the other wing." He turned to Inglethorp. he rejoined the two detectives. I've stuck here like a rock. mon ami?" "No. And I venture to think your poor lady would have f elt the same. can you wo nder I was anxious that no more lying rumours should be started. Poirot.Mrs. is at least two and a half miles distant from the village. I believe yo . old chap." And he shot a baleful glance at Evely n Howard. if it hadn't been for Mr. With the exception of Cynthia Murdoch's. What are you going to do now? Where are the Scotland Yard fello ws?" "Gone down to interview the servants. of course. I showed them all our exhibits." "Between you and me." remarked Japp.
"In clearing Alfred Inglethorp. Poirot. Loosening his hold of me." "Yes. Poirot went straight to him. "Mr. Of course you realize th at. As long as I might be thought to be pursuing him . "Tell me. Cavendish." continued Poirot. who was playing tennis with you. May I take your motor?" "Why. and ordered round the car. In the same way. could have personated Mr. Bauerstein was here on Tuesda y night--the night of the murder. I have ascertained that anyone in the household. Now. In glethorp insisted. Cavendish?" John was in the smoking-room." "Come now. with the exc eption of Mrs. you yourself--have yo u no suspicions of anybody?" I hesitated. Cavendish. Where is Mr. an idea. "I never thought it would interest you. the criminal would be off his guard." urged Poirot encouragingly. n evertheless it persisted. there are only two people whom we can positively say did not go near the coffee--Mrs. had onc e or twice that morning flashed through my brain. wild and extravagant in itself. I have some important business in Tadminster." I expostulated. "Was Dr. You never saw such a spectacle!" And I described the doctor' s adventure. No one took much notice of that at the inques t--but now it has a very different significance. Do you mean at once?" "If you please." Suddenly he seemed to come to a decision. Poirot. do you not see? That alters everythi ng--everything!" I had never seen him so upset. "Do not fear. he will be doubly careful. "Oh. To tell the truth. Mary Cavendi sh could certainly not rest under suspicion. of course. A new clue. Speak your mind. now Mr. that is so. "It's so utterly foolish." "Well then." I felt an inexpressible lightening of the heart. "We must act at once. "I have been obliged to show my hand sooner than I intended. mon ami." "He is clever. we have his statement that h e put the coffee down in the hall." "Importance? It is of the first importance! So Dr." I murmured. still murmuring to himself: "Yes. Inglethorp is out of it. I didn 't know it was of any importance. We have cleared away the manufactured clues. In another ten minutes. "perhaps you will tell me what all this is about?" "Well." "You saw him. or who passed through the hall whilst it was standing there." observed Poirot meditatively. We know now that there is one pers on who did not buy the poison. Inglethorp on Monday evening. "Now. Bauerstein here on Tuesday evening? Here? And you never told me? Why did you not tell me? Why? Why ?" He appeared to be in an absolute frenzy. Cavendish. Now for the real ones.u're right about that man. then?" "Yes. a good deal you can guess for yourself. Hastings." "What?" Poirot caught me violently by the shoulders. "Allons!" he said. he didn't want to come in--it was just after dinner--but Mr. "You couldn't call it a suspicion." I remarked resignedly. You shoul d always pay attention to your instincts. From your account. that alters ever ything--everything. Yes--doub ly careful. I don't like him. We must find out who did take t hat coffee to Mrs. Hastings. We a re face to face with an entirely new problem. "My dear Poirot. I had rejected it as absurd." I blurted out. "He looked a regular scarecrow! Plastered with mud from head to foo t. the whole position is greatly changed. and Mademoiselle Cynt hia." He turned to me abruptly. Of course. "it's absurd--but I suspect Miss Howard of not telli ng all she knows!" . he mechanically straigh tened a pair of candlesticks. we were r acing down the park and along the high road to Tadminster. Inglethorp eventually." John rang the bell. clever as the devil! I must say I was overjoyed to see him in the plight he was in on Tuesday.
It is always wise to suspect everybody until you can prove logically. A car would do it in half an hour. no doubt--that she had intended to poison him--and that. my friend. She is sanity itself. in some way. "Now. Wells?" Poirot smiled. though I did not really see how he could be so positiv . "You argue like a child. and to your own satisfaction. But I don't at all see how it could hav e been done. mistaking it for the earlier one in his favour. which offer was gratefully accepted. No. "that we've rather left her ou t of the possible suspects." "You consider her vehemence unnatural?" "Y--es. "That was for a reason. Inglethorp might have done so. made on the afternoo n of her death may----" But Poirot's shake of the head was so energetic that I stopped. N ow. Inglethorp have made a will in her favour?" Poirot shook his hea d. And I had an idea she might know something about the destroying of the will. But. so I use d her name instead. "Could not Mrs." He paused a minute.she had kindly offered to remain on night du ty. That disposes of that. Mrs. rather nonplussed. You are perfectly correct in your a ssumption that her vehemence against Alfred Inglethorp is too violent to be natu ral." I continued. she would be quite equally capable of simu lating devotion. Why. "we can. what reasons are there against Miss Howard's having deliberately poisoned Mr s. She is so very violent. after all. Inglethorp got hold of it by mistake." said Poirot unexpectedly. my friend. "No. no. "Really. I have certain little ideas of my own about that will."Miss Howard?" "Yes--you'll laugh at me----" "Not at all. "it's her extraordinary vehemence against Inglethorp that started me off suspecting her. Miss Howard occupied very much the same position. simply on the strength of her having been away from the place. She is an excellent specimen of well-balanced English beef and brawn. If Miss Howard we re capable of poisoning the old lady. but I will not speak of them at p resent." "Still you are right in one thing. "No. Can we say positively that she was away from Styles on the night of the murder?" "Yes. I can't help fe eling she'd do anything against him. that will. But I can tell you this much--it was not in Miss Howard's favour." I accepted his assurance. "But you yourself suggested that possibility to Mr. Mr s. Inglethorp's death benefit Miss Howard." "Well?" "Well. and that --a convoy coming in unexpectedly-. she was only fifteen miles away. She might have burnt the new one. My idea was--a very ridiculo us one. we must look elsewhere. I learnt that Miss Howard had been on afternoon duty on Tuesday. then went on. that they are innocent. but you are quite wrong in the deduction you draw from it." I reflected. which I believe to be correct. The whole thing is absurd and ridiculous to the last degree." "Yet her hatred of Inglethorp seems almost a mania. there is one insuperable objection to Miss Howard's being the murderess." Poirot shook his head energetically. Why should I?" "I can't help feeling. you are on a wrong tack there. Now there is no murder without a motive. "Tcha! Tcha!" cried Poirot irritably. Inglethorp?" "Why. I wondered really whether she is quite sane on t hat point." "Still. I have drawn my own deductions. to my way of thinking." I continued blunderingly. She is so terribly bitter against him." "And that is?" "That in no possible way could Mrs. she was devoted to her!" I exclaimed. One of my first actions was to ring up the hospital where she was working." "Oh!" I said. There is nothing weak-minded or degenera te about Miss Howard. I did not want to mention the name of the person who was actually in my mind.
"And really it's a great relief to think he's going. we've treated him abominably." Poirot looked puzzled. and see what he says. "we will acquit Miss Howard. Inglethorp took place the following day. I want you to say thi s to him. The fact is." "Yes. The funeral of Mrs." We were running into Tadminster now. with a sigh. He's welcome to her money." "You'll be able to keep up the place all right?" I asked. to take up his quarters at the Stylites Arms u ntil he should have completed his plans. which at o ne time had rather waned. "That is all my business. Nothing less. stupefied. In a few minutes he was back again. "Excellent. there it is. there is something I want you to do for me." replied Poirot quietly. but I'm han ged if it isn't worse now." continued my hon est friend. when we thought he'd done it. was fully restored since his belief in Alfred Ingletho rp's innocence had been so triumphantly vindicated. I cou ld see neither rhyme nor reason in it. This proceeding of Poirot's. You have access to the facts. and went inside. that is all. Couldn't bear to think of the fellow fo rding it here. He says: "Find the extra coffe e-cup. from Poirot. we were in the wrong. when one doesn't like the fellow a bit better than one did before. "What did I say about her evidence at the inquest?" "Don't you remember? When I cited her and John Cavendish as being above suspicio n?" "Oh--ah--yes. "There." Poirot hopped down briskly. Just say t hat to him. Still. and Poirot directed the car to the "Analyti cal Chemist. Bauerstein had it t ested. There are the death duties." "Very well--but it's all extremely mysterious. We shall be pinched at first. as I came down to a late breakfast. and informed me that Mr." He seemed a little confused. Of course. Bauerstein had it tested. John drew me aside. Ing lethorp was leaving that morning. and you can rest in peace. I don't see how anyone could blame us for jumping to the conc lusions we did. "Well. It is partly you r fault that I ever came to suspect her. and you can rest in peace!" ' Nothing more. I have a fancy for having it analysed again. It's a good thing St yles wasn't the mater's to leave to him. "It was bad enough before. but what?" "The sample of coco I took from the saucepan in the bedroom. my confidence in him. "By the way." "But what does it mean?" "Ah. which is difficult." I said. but recovered himself. then. "I left something to be analysed. Hastings." " 'Find the extra coffee-cup. It was what you said about her evidence at the inquest that set me off. of course. What is it?" "Next time you happen to be alone with Lawrence Cavendish. then?" "Well." "Certainly. of course." "I know Dr. and Lawrence will stay with us for the present. in respect of the coco. 'I have a message for you." "But that has already been tested!" I cried. However. yes. Hastings. "Well. as I once told .e about the matter. and now there's a beas tly feeling that one ought to make amends. that I will leave you to find out. and you yourself laughed at the possibility of there being strychnine in it. things did look black against him.' Is that right?" I aske d. "Dr. The whole thing's damned awkwa rd! And I'm thankful he's had the tact to take himself off. and on Monday. when we all feel guilty for having been so down on th e fellow. so there is his share as well. puzzled me intensely. much mystified." "What were you doing there?" I asked. because. in lively curiosity." he said." And not another word on the subject could I drag out of him. but half my father's money goes with the place. "Oh.
had been full of the tragedy. but who continued to haunt the village and the grounds. Still. Nothing was spared us. "New. "Thank you very much. Dorcas came up to me rather mysteriously. sir." he remarked.but no matter--we w ill examine it all the same. A very nice gentleman he is. or anyone else. and we all. and there. there was the chest. It was a slack time. at the opening of a new and hopeful future. the Johnnies will wait now. And quite a differe nt class from them two detectives from London. yes. the usual fa miliar tag about the police having a clue. and askin g questions. The papers. all studded with brass nails . "Oho!" He turned it over in his hands. coming up to the house. Suddenly he gave an exclamation. what goes prying about. You have found one?" My interest was aroused. "Oho!" said Poirot. And it came to me sudden like that there might be a green dress amongst them. sir. reposing right at the bottom." We entered the house by one of the windows. o r would the whole thing remain in the category of undiscovered crimes? After breakfast. and we went straight up to the attic. So. "Ah. as though he expected no great resul ts from it. "No. sir. Towards what end they were working. Dorcas?" "Well. "Yes. A great chest. it's just this. I thought I might as well go down to the village at once. and look up Poirot. and full to overflowing with every imaginable type of garment. You'll be seeing the Belgian gentleman to-day perhap s?" I nodded.' It's up in the front attic. and what not." . quite new. wi th the exception of Lawrence. The house was constantly bes ieged by reporters." In the general relief at Inglethorp's approaching departure. Glaring headlines. There was no one in the hall. for any unwary members of the household. Sure enough. we had the most gen ial breakfast we had experienced since the tragedy. The Scot land Yard men came and went. There were one o r two green fabrics of varying shades. lynx-eyed and reserved of t ongue. although-. the brave Dorcas! We will look at the chest. and at once gave him Dorcas's mess age. were qu ietly cheerful. subtle innuendoes. I don't hold with foreigners as a rule." I promised. bu t I met him half-way. and asked if she migh t have a few words with me. and certainly he's a most polite spoken gentleman. full of old clothes and fancy dresses. who seemed unalterably gloomy and nervous. and the newspapers seized with avidity on this crime in fashionable life: "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" was the top ic of the moment. sir. but from what the newspaper s say I make out as how these brave Belges isn't the ordinary run of foreigners. questioning. I am in a bit of a hole financially myself. a fine old piece. We all lived in a blast of publicity. with her honest face upturned to mine. where they lay in wait with cameras. Cynthia. was looking quite her pretty self again. examining. Had they any clue. Naturally it was very annoying for the Cavendishes. examining it closely. But since then I've remembered what the young gentlemen"--Jo hn and Lawrence were still the "young gentlemen" to Dorcas--"call the 'dressingup box. not that. sir. who were consistently denied admission. we did not know. sandwich ed biographies of every member of the household. whose young spirits were naturally buoyant. I th ought what a fine specimen she was of the old-fashioned servant that is so fast dying out. had a green dress?" "Yes.you. What is it. if you'd tell the Belgian gentleman----" "I will tell him. "What is it?" "Look!" The chest was nearly empty. sir." Dear old Dorcas! As she stood there. was a magni ficent black beard. you know how he asked me so particular if the mistress . Poirot bundled everything out on the floor with scant ceremony. but Poirot shook his head over them all. He seemed somewhat apathetic in the search. The war was momentarily inactive. "Well. "Certainly. Dorcas. of course.
"You do not quite take my meaning. where we found Dorcas busily polishing her silver. Are they often used." he observed reflectively. sir. he is intelligent." replied Dorcas." I said thoughtfully." said Poirot genially. How about John?" "No. oh. He had the big paper knife in his hand. "There. "And well I know it. "Here comes Miss Howard. Hastings. this affair is very deep. You are known to be working with me.After a moment's hesitation.' And very funny it is sometimes." "Who put it in the chest." I protested.' he says." "These evenings must have been great fun. This is my specially sharpened scimitar." "So Dorcas knows nothing about that black beard. I am much obliged to you for m entioning it. Lawrence. I wonder?" "Some one with a good deal of intelligence. Miss Howard assented to Poirot's request for a few minutes' conversation. he replaced it in the chest. and it's off with your head if I'm at all displeased with you!' Miss Cynthia. and showed it. "I do. Inglethorp's. I know. indeed. I take it to be. sir. ma y I ask?" "Well. Inglethorp. I think he called it--a sort of Eastern King it was . But we must be more intelligent. "I must have an ally in the house. we can but try. You notice it had been trimmed?" "No. but you are not sufficient." This was naturally gratifying. but Poirot's next words were not so welcome." I acquiesced. I didn't know as there was a beard up there at all. Mr. There is. Nobody would have known her. smiling. Burnt corks they use mostly--though 'tis mes sy getting it off again. He went strai ght to the pantry. a fine collection there. as w e walked out into the hall again. There was a red wig. staring at me thoughtfully." "The dear fellow isn't perhaps very bright." remarked Poirot dryly. though from time to time we do have what th e young gentlemen call 'a dress-up night. You'd never have believed a pretty young lady like that could have made herself into such a ruffian. "you will be invaluable. mon ami. I want s omebody who is not associated with us in any way. "Yes. Poirot nodded. But I a m in her black books. the trouble sh e had. "You have me. and 'Mind. and. There had been times when I hardly thought th at Poirot appreciated me at my true worth." I was hurt." With a nod that was barely civil. . and I found one or two s nipped hairs. you will be of great assistance to me. heaped all the other t hings on top of it as before. she was what t hey call an Apache. Most comic! I shall never forget the night he came down as the Char of Persia. It must have been got quite lately. for he borrowed two skeins of my black wool to make it with! And I'm sure it looked wo nderfully natural at a distance. Still. and went on: "We have been looking through that chest. and made his way briskly downstairs. I think not. he's wonderful. b ut nothing else in the way of hair. Poirot wished her good morning with Gallic politeness. "True. "She is the very person." he continued. Lawrence wore that fine black beard in the chest upstairs. "Do you think it is *The one?" I whispered eagerly. Dorcas. It was cut exactly the shape of Mr." said Poirot thoughtfully. "You realize that he chose the one place in the house to hide it where its presence would no t be remarked? Yes. "I suppose Mr. or some such name--a Frenchified sort of cut-throat. 'you'll h ave to be very respectful. I think. Poirot hurried to explain himself. I see." "Yes. since I cleared Mr. when he was Shah of P ersia?" "He did have a beard. Miss Cynthia was a nigger once." said Poirot suddenly. We must be so intelligent that he does not suspect us of being intelligent at all." I was pleased with the compliment. A real sight she looked. sir. Dorcas. not very often nowadays." "Oh.
Inglethorp? It is be cause you have been trying to believe what you wish to believe. "Haven't I always told you the man is a villa in? Haven't I always told you he would murder her in her bed? Haven't I always h ated him like poison?" "Exactly. Do you remember affirming that if a crime had been committed. ." said Poirot." Poirot shook his head gravely. even if you were quite unable to prove it?" "Yes." "Never tell lies. I remember saying that." "And yet you will pay no attention to my instinct against Alfred Inglethorp. "That bears out my little idea entirely. I must be mad to think of such a thing." The lady nodded." said Poirot quietly. you must be a wizard to have guessed. and there is a sentence of yours that has impressed me very much." continued Miss Howard." replied Miss Howard. You wish to believe he committed the crime. I suppose you think it nonsense? " "Not at all. It must be Alfred Inglethorp. "Don't ask me about it. Inglethorp. Monsieur Poirot." "Ah!" Poirot studied her seriously. I beg of you to reply to it truthfully. If I'm convinced he did it. I believe it too. which tells you another name---" "No. too impossible. flinging up her hands. I'm busy. "I will put my question in another form. and anyone you loved had been murdered. "Shall I tell you why you have been so vehement against Mr. Inglethorp was poisoned by her husband?" "Good heavens!" cried Miss Howard. it doesn't matter a jot to me *How h e did it." "What little idea?" "Miss Howard. You believe him capable of comm itting it." said Miss Howard impatiently. But your instinct tells you he did not commit it. "What does that matter? Arsenic would put poor Emily out of the way just as well as strychnine. "because I shan't tell you. mademoiselle. you felt certain that you wou ld know by instinct who the criminal was. What of that? I dare say he soaked fly paper. I'll admit that it wasn't he who bought strych nine at the chemist's shop. "It is this." "That is arsenic--not strychnine. "I will ask you nothing. "what is it? Out with it. Inglethorp was poisoned by her husba nd?" "What do you mean?" she asked sharply." said Poirot curtly." "Do you remember. And I--I. am I not?" asked Poirot. yes. Did you ever in your heart of hearts believe that Mrs." said Poirot mildly. and made a slight affirmative movement of th e hand. "Well. no. Do you still believe that Mrs. "Yes. I wo n't admit it." "No." Poirot nodded. I will ask you one question. It tells you more-shall I go on?" She was staring at him. no!" cried Miss Howard wildly. "Don't say it! Oh .idea into my head!" "I am right. "Miss Howard." "Exactly. that I once asked you to help me?" "Yes. *IF you are convinced he did it.We went into the little morning-room. "And I told you I'd help you with pleasure--to han g Alfred Inglethorp. as I t old you at the beginning. I don't know what put such a wi ld--such a dreadful-. "Because your instinct is not against Mr. But it can't be so--it's too mo nstrous. don't say it! It isn't true! It can't be true. I do. even to myself. "You needn't think your pretty explanatio ns influence me in the slightest. It is because yo u are trying to drown and stifle your instinct." "What?" "No. as if satisfied. It is enough for me that it is as I thought. and Poirot closed the door. do you remember a conversation that took place on the day of my fr iend's arrival here? He repeated it to me. fascinated.
But now. Miss Howard." I observed coldly . Bauerstein I HAD had no opportunity as yet of passing on Poirot's message to Lawrence." "If we are wrong." "Still. You can draw your own deductions from them." said Poirot gravely. Then." "You and Miss Howard seem to know what you are talking about." she said quietly. I wouldn't lift a finger to--to----" She faltered." he said sadly." "I am not keeping back facts. "Instinct is a marvellous thing. "Yes. aimlessly knocking a couple of very ancient balls about." "It was intelligence you were requiring just now. "You will help me in spite of yourself. still nursing a grudge against my friend's h igh-handedness. "*You have no instincts. to my intense surprise. . look here. he shook his head decidedly." "Well. You will do the only thing that I wa nt of you." "Really? Is that so. "Perhaps you don't realize that I am still in the dark. I don't know----" "Come now. on whose side are you then?" "I don't know. We are working together towards a common end. mon ami?" "Yes. Hastings. "goes a very valuable ally. "No one will be more pleased than I shall. it would be interesting to know. "There. I ask you nothing-." I did not reply." "But Emily herself----" She broke off. I think it is very unfair to keep back facts from me. The remark seemed so utterly irrelevant that I did not even take the trouble to answer it. if we are right? If we are right. "The two often go together." said Poirot." "Oh. and surprise Poirot with t he ultimate result. will you?" Poirot studied me attentively for a moment or two. Chapter IX Dr. with a still more ancient mallet. "this is unworthy of you. has got brains as well as a heart." "And that is?" "You will watch!" Evelyn Howard bowed her head. and again shook his head. she walked firmly out of the roo m." mused Poirot. But I decided that if I made any interesting and important discoverie s--as no doubt I should--I would keep them to myself." said Poirot.but you will be my a lly." said Poirot enigmatically. But. have an instinct.too." "There must be no hushing up. "that was not Evelyn Howard who spoke!" She flung her h ead up proudly. "It can neither be explained nor ignored. Enlighten me. I can't help doing that. "You see. "Miss Howard. I am always watching--always hoping I shall be pr oved wrong. I saw Lawrence on the croquet lawn." "Don't ask me to help you. "*This is Evelyn Howard! And she is on the side of Justice! Let the cost be what it may. This time it is a question of ideas." "It could be hushed up. "No. There are times when it is one's duty to assert oneself. looking after her." Poirot looked at me very earnestly. my friend. You will not be able to help yourself. That woman. as I strolled out on the lawn. why not?" "Two is enough for a secret. Every fact that I know is in your possession." And with these words. because I won't." I pointed out. "Yes. well and good." Suddenly she took her face from her hands.
" She looked perplexed." "All right." I was moving off towards the house again when he suddenly called me back. and you can rest in peace. He shook his head. No.' Are you sure you don't know what it means?" I asked him earnestly. You're not a connoisseur. I don't know. Poirot himself might relieve me of it. I believe. creating an atmosphere. "Pardon me. and not merely locked?" "Oh. I have always b een rather good at what is called. and other outside topics. "I've been looking for you. are you. "Well?" There was no change of expression in the dark melancholic face." explained Poirot. it was bolted. or even to look at it." "Yes?" "He told me to wait until I was alone with you. I see what you mean. what was the end of that message? Say it over again. It's their business. "No. "Don't you know?" "Not in the least." The boom of the gong sounded from the house. But after the cheese and biscuits had been handed ro und. I've got a message for you--from Poirot." I said. Do you?" I was compelled to shake my head. A really perfect bit of old china--it's pure delight to handle it. It's double Dutch to me. I--I wish I did. "Have you?" "Yes. Inglethorp's room from that of Mademoiselle Cynthia.It struck me that it would be a good opportunity to deliver my message. We conversed on the war . but I flattered myself that by Lawrence's reply. what am I to tell Poirot?" "Tell him I don't know what he's talking about. rather surprised." "Bolted?" "Yes. and you can rest in peace. By tacit consent. all mention of the tragedy was barred. "What extra coffee-cup?" "I don't know." I remarked untruthfully. madame." "He'd better ask Dorcas. if he wants to know about coffee-c ups. Cavendi sh. not mine. What I want to ask is this: the door leading into Mrs. and was already seated at the table. which are a perfect dream! Old Worcester. but I have a little idea" --Poirot's "little ideas" were becoming a perfect byword--"and would like to ask one or two questions. you say ?" "Certainly it was bolted.' " "What on earth does he mean?" Lawrence stared at me in quite unaffected astonish ment. Had he any idea of what I was about to say? "This is the message. and Dorcas had left the room. I don't know anything about the coffee-cups. Otherwis e. or one of the maids." "Of me? Certainly." "Well. "you are sure it was bolted. except that we've got some that are never used. and perhaps a li ttle skillful cross-examination on my part. "You miss a lot. Hastings?" I shook my head. dropping my voice signi ficantly. The truth is." I dropped my voice still lower. meaning that it was f . and we went in together. I said bolted. " 'Find the extra coffeecup." replied Mary Cavendish. "I said so at the inquest. Accordingly I accosted him. It was true that I did not quite gathe r its purport. "I say. Poirot had been asked by John to remain to lunch. for recalling unpleasant memories." he said musingly. will you?" " 'Find the extra coffee-cup. "I don't." "You are too amiable. I should soon perceive its significa nce. madame. "I mean. and watching him intently out of the corner of my eye. Poirot suddenly leant forward to Mrs.
the door might equally well have been locke d?" "Oh. Will you come in?" We had reached the cottage. "No. "That is well. the fervour of his words went towards the app easing of my just displeasure." "Still. as we walked through the pa rk." "Ah." "Ah. yes. . There was hardly a b reath of wind. That is all. she has brains." I said coldly. and I could not open it. he replied that t hat was as he had thought." I had expected Poirot to be disappointed. Then I yawned. she is an industrious little demoiselle. I think I'll be getting back. I strolled on a little way. madame. and comes back to lunch on Saturdays. I had hoped that he would have observed the stiffness of my manner. I believe she has passed quite a stiff exam." The woods round Styles were very beautiful. and that he was very glad. After the walk across the open park." This was not quite what I had intended. My pride forbade me to ask any questions. That lifts a great load from my mind. Poirot switched off on another tack. They always take out the key before leaving t he room. it is very responsible work. it was pleasant to saunter lazily through the cool glades. Women are doing great work nowadays. I suppose they have very strong poisons there?" "Yes." And Poirot looked crestfallen. I bel ieve they have to be very careful." interrupted Lawrence suddenly. for once. I even forgave Poirot for his absurd secrecy. They are kept locked up in a little cupboard. and finally flung myself down at the foot of a grand old beech-tre e. that little one. but. "And what did he say? He was entirely puzzled?" "Yes. "Not at all." "But you did not see it?" "No. and Mademoiselle Cynthia is clever--oh. It's an interesting little place. "I gave Lawrence your message. "Mademoiselle Cynthia was not at lunch to-day? How was that?" "She is at the hospital again. It is near the window." "Yes. I consented rather stiffly. this cupboard?" "No. whether that door was bolted or not?" "I--I believe it was. And pretty too. that settles it. she showed them to us." "But I did. After lunch Poirot begged me to accompany him home. My thoughts of mankind were kindly and charitable. I shall go round the long way through the woo ds. She resumed work to-day. the very chirp of the birds was faint and subdued. Why?" Poirot shrugged his shoulders. Still. Do you think she would show it to me?" "I am sure she would be delighted. Those are her only times off. yes. as far as you are concerned. "I happened to notice that it *WAS b olted. After all.astened. one of his "little ideas" had come to naught. when you entered Mrs. I would rather like to see that dispensary of hers. I am quite sure he had no idea of what you meant. to my surprise." "I will remember. I was at peace with the world. I--never looked. right the other side of the room. She is like pictur es I have seen in Italy. is it not so?" he asked anxiously." "Does she go there every day?" "She has all Wednesdays off." "Indeed." I said. "I wondered. I could not help rejoicing that. I thawed." "You yourself did not happen to notice." "Without doubt. but I believe all the doors were found bolted on the inside. "You are annoyed. Inglethorp 's room. In fact.
they were unaware of my vicinity. leaving Jo hn standing there as though he had been turned to stone. A softer expression came over her face." Fire in her eyes. At once I realized that I was in a very awkward predicament. The pleading died out of his voice. Hastings. and it struck me as being very unreal and far off. it was all a bad dream . Rather ostentatiously." she shrugged her shoulders. And. ol d as the hills. then. but I deny your right to criticize my actions. a stricken look on his face. crackling some dead branches with my f eet as I did so. and then swiftly passed out of the little glade. cool and liquid: "Have *You any right to criticize my actions?" "It will be the talk of the village! My mother was only buried on Saturday. "None!" She was walking away when John sprang after her. But it was absurd of John to make such a fuss about it. I suppose there must be something in it. well." Mary's voice came. "Mary----" For a moment. and here you are gadding about with the fellow. for before I could move or speak John repeated the words which had ar oused me from my dream. he took it for granted that I had only ju st come upon the scene. and t hey were evidently quarrelling. "No right? Have I *NO right. "Perhaps. ice in her voice. it really never happened. "Mary!" "Well?" Her tone did not change. John and Mary Cavendish were standing facing each other. The truth of the matter was that it was Lawrence who had murdered Alfred Ingle thorp with a croquet mallet. yet with something eternally young about it. "if it is only village gossip that you mind!" "But it isn't. Probably. "I tell you." "You defy me?" "No. I yawned again." "Oh. He stretched out his han ds. It leavens the"--she looked at him-"stolid stupidity of the ordinary Englishman. "What do you mean?" he said. What a rotten world it is. So might some Egypt ian sphinx have smiled. that *You have no right t o dictate to *ME as to the choice of my friends?" John glanced at her pleadingly. I did not wonder that the blood rose to John 's face in a crimson tide. For." "A tinge of Jewish blood is not a bad thing. a nyway. "Mary"--his voice was very quiet now--"are you in love with this fellow Bauerste in?" She hesitated. in an unsteady voice. "You *DO see. I've had enough of the fellow hanging about. and caught her by the arm. "You see!" said Mary quietly." she said. though. He's a Polish Jew. the n suddenly she turned almost fiercely away. Mary. and suddenly there swept across her face a strange expression. I thought she wavered. about twelve f eet away from me. quite as evidently. Luckily. I won't have it. and to go shouting out: "I tell you I won't have it!" I woke up with a start. The colour ebbed slowly from his face." "Oh. Have you seen the little fellow safely back to his cottage? Qu aint little chap! Is he any good. Have *You no friends of whom I should disapprove?" John fell back a pace. really?" "He was considered one of the finest detectives of his day. though!" . I thought. John turned. and spoke over her shoulder. Of course. I stepped forward. "Hullo. Mary?" he said unsteadily. don't you. "Am I to understand that you will continue to see Bauerstein against my express wishes?" "If I choose.I thought about the crime. She freed herself quietly from his arm.
look here. yes! There's this terrible business to start with. though? It can last long enough for us never to be able to hold up ou r heads again." said John. I didn't see it either until now." I said. "It would have been very risky. as Inglethorp brought him through the hall. Poirot's mysterious doings. "Impossible!" "Not at all. I say! Do you know there was a whole crowd staring in at the lodge gates thi s morning. who else is there?" "Can't you guess?" "No." But I had remembered something else. Pretty thick. And there are other possibilities. and what a relief for us all.' And I've been thinking." . and added: "He said twice: 'That alters everything. John!" I said soothingly. Hastings--it's a nightmare to me-. And of course they would find no strychnine! B ut no one would dream of suspecting Bauerstein. with belated recognition. n othing could be simpler than for him to substitute some ordinary coco for his sa mple. Rapidly. Isn't it possible that. Don't you underst and? Bauerstein had it analysed--that's just it! If Bauerstein's the murderer. John. yes. He's adm ittedly one of the world's greatest toxicologists----" "One of the world's greatest what? Say it again. we've only his word for that. How could it be?" "I know. Listen." I added. Because--because--who could have done it? Now Inglethorp's out of the way. the doctor dropped something into the coffee in passing?" "H'm. Fool that I wa s not to have thought of this possibility before. unless----A new idea suggested itself to my mind. "but I'll tell you this: Poirot thinks so." Yes. "Good Lord. but. "It can't last for ever. you're getting morbid on the subject. and lowered my voice. Bauerstein had bee n at Styles on the fatal night." "And then. there's no one else." I confessed. Screaming headlines in every paper in the country--damn all journalis ts." "But what earthly interest could he have in my mother's death?" "That I don't see. Bauerstein!" I whispered. "No. John interrupted just as I had done. except--one of us. indeed. I m ean. "You're quite right. still." "Enough to make a man morbid. to be stalked by beastly journalists and stared at by gaping moon-faced idiots. or think of taking another sampl e--except Poirot. Scotland Yard men in and out of the house like a jack-in-the-box! Never know where they won't tur n up next. You know Ingle thorp said he had put down the coffee in the hall? Well. surely it mu st be so. no. "Yes. how could he know it was her coffee? No. his hints--they all fitted in. "But. that's the point." "Yes. it was just then that B auerstein arrived. and send that to be tested." "Can't it. I don't think th at will wash. but it was possible." "What?" John lowered his voice: "Have you ever thought. "Dr." "Poirot? Does he? How do you know?" I told him of Poirot's intense excitement on hearing that Dr.who did it? I can't h elp feeling sometimes it must have been an accident. Bauerstein had had it analysed already?" "Yes." I looked cautiously round." "No. isn't it?" "Cheer up. Sort of Madame Tussaud's chamber of horrors business that can be seen for nothing. but what about the bitter taste that coco won't disguise?" "Well."You find it so?" I asked. old fellow. That wasn't how it was done. no one. that was nightmare enough for any man! One of us? Yes." And I then told him o f the coco sample which Poirot had taken to be analysed. I considered it. The light incr eased. wherever he goes! But there's worse than that. "it isn't one of us.
I mus t fix it up with him. thankful that he had gone away from the subject of how t he poison could have been introduced into the coco. the fact that Bauerstein demanded a post-mortem. W ould not Mrs. And. and I placed my chair beside her." I trembled." I explained. it all fitted in." admitted John. And then. "I'm blest if I can se e what his motive could have been. glancing in the direction of Mary Cavendish. Inglethorp disc overed something between her and Bauerstein. He'd better come to tea there one day. Was this what they had meant? Was this the monstrous possibility that Evelyn h ad tried not to believe? Yes. how could he have got at t he coco? That wasn't downstairs?" "No. as it had been on the day of my arrival." "Yes. but some obscure drug no one has ever heard of." "Oh. "Still. my idea i s. No wonder Miss Howard had suggested "hushing it up. and now we passed through the little gate into the garden. H ow agitated she had been on that fatal Tuesday evening! Had Mrs. and he would ha ve been in an awkward position. yes. for tea was spread out under the sycamore-tree . and I drew a deep breath of relief. as we talked. and told h er of Poirot's wish to visit the dispensary. "Why. "But look here. that might be. all this is in c onfidence." I said. and then." said John." I admitted reluctantly." "Yes. isn't it?" We were silent for a minute or two. He made me take the brooch out of my tie the other day." "H'm." said John suddenly. because he sai d it wasn't straight. w hich produces much the same symptoms." ." "Yes." "What's that?" I asked. "But we don't know." We had walked. Cynthia was back from the hospital. He needn't have done so. And suddenly I remembered that first conversation at tea on the day of my arriva l. remember. and put it in again." I laughed. of course--that goes without saying. I hoped and prayed it would not occur to John also. Some one might have talked afterwards." I said doubtfully. for no one would have believed that a man of his reputation could have been deceived into calling it heart disease. "I may be altogether wrong. and the gleam in her eyes as she had said that poison was a woman's weapon. "There's another thing. suddenly. that's possible." Now I understood that unfin ished sentence of hers: "Emily herself----" And in my heart I agreed with her. Bauerstein might have had an acc omplice."He knows more about poisons than almost anybody. Little Wilkins would have been quite content to let it go at heart disease. it wasn't. that perhaps he's found some way of making strychnine tasteless. Yet beautiful women had been known to poison. "Look here. Cynthia said: "Mr. and dropping her voice. Hastings. Or it may no t have been strychnine at all. Perhaps he thought it safer in the long run. for the terrible thought tha t had flashed across my mind was this: that Dr. Voices rose near at hand. a dreadful possibility flashed through my mind. He's such a dear little man! But he *IS funny. The whole thing would have come out. "Well. "Of course! I'd love him to see it. Yet surely it could not be! Surely no woman as beautiful as Mary Cavendish could be a murderess. and threatened to tell her husband? Was it to stop that denunciation that the crime had been committed? Then I remembered that enigmatical conversation between Poirot and Evelyn Howard . "It's quite a mania with him. then. He was frowni ng perplexedly. and the unexpected sound of his voi ce made me start guiltily." he added. "Something which makes me doubt if what you say can b e true. Then the Home Office might hav e ordered exhumation. I glanced sideways at him. Inglethorp have preferred to go unavenged rather than have such te rrible dishonour fall upon the name of Cavendish.
" "There I know you're wrong. It really is too bad! I suppose they took advantage of our all being out. I meant Lawrence. "On the contrary. and of course Evie . "Yes. and *HE can't. it's rather horrid when no one loves you." Her glance at Mary had set me thinking. Inglethorp had made no provisions of any kind for her ." I said warmly. no! They don't want to part with you. perhaps the sense of relief at encountering someone who so obviously could have no connection with the tragedy. drew her hand away. or didn't think she was likely to die--anyway. Then she said: "Mrs. Cynthia. I think. Cynthia nodded. turned the auburn of her hair to quivering gold. I'm sure. now reappeared. perhaps hone st pity for her youth and loneliness. But Lawrence never speaks to me if he can help it. Hastings--you are always so kind. wouldn't be unkind to a fly." "Hates you?" I cried. Aunt Emily always told me I should be provided for. for all her gruff ways. either. but she doesn't want me. and upside down. and taking her li ttle hand. Not. I invited Cynthia to come for a walk. I want to talk to you. The sunlight." grunted Miss Howard. You see. as she hesitated. and Mary can hardly bring herself to be civil to me. I had hit upon a sovereign remedy for her tears. I am *Not provided for! And I don't know what to do. . His good-natured face wore an unaccustomed frown of anger. She hates me. perhaps. S he wants Evie to stay on. as she sat there. After tea. and said. of course. What shall I do?" "Do?" "Yes. but I imagined that John and Mary would probably insist on her making her home with them--at any rate until the end of the war. Cavendish does. Look. astonished. who had gone into the house. and you know such a lot. I knew. "Well?" I asked benignantly. John likes me. Cynthia flung herself down." I said earnestly. there is John--and Miss Howard--" Cynthia nodded rather gloomily. I said awkwardly: "Marry me. Still. Cynthia dear. as soon as we were protected from prying eyes by the leafy s creen. with the sunlight glinting down on her head. Her beauty. is begging her to. and would be sorry to let her go. "I want to ask your advice. With a sigh. that I care whether Lawrence hates me or not. and tossed off her hat."Yes?" "After tea. Mrs. John. who never said things of that kind. John is very fond of you. Anyway. I fancied that between these two there e xisted very little sympathy. I shall go for that fellow Japp. "Mr. I leant forward. Lawrence opined that they had to make a show of doing something. She sat up at once . with some asperity: "Don't be silly!" I was a little annoyed. I don't know why. I don't know what possessed me. plucking up the grass with her tiny hands." Cynthia hesitated a moment. p iercing through the branches. John. I suppose she forgot. but she can't bear me. Do you think I ought to go away from here at once?" "Good heavens. it occurred to me to wonder abo ut the girl's future. and we sauntered off into the w oods together." It struck me at this moment that Cynthia was really a very charming girl! Much m ore charming than Mary. "I'm sure you are mistaken. Mary Cavendish said nothing." Unwittingly. "Well?" I inquired." "Oh. and--and-I don't know what to do. "Yes. yes--*John. For the first time. "Confound those detectives! I can't think what they're after! They've been in ev ery room in the house--turning things inside out. when I next see him!" "Lot of Paul Prys. was very fond of her. isn't it?" "But they do." Suddenly the poor child burst out crying.
" said Cynthia. as he thought fit. in all probability. but tore up the village to find Poirot. "Haven't you heard?" "Heard what?" "About him. "Is Dr." "No. that's it. The Arrest TO my extreme annoyance. or had he already made up his mind when he parted from m e a few hours earlier? I retraced my steps to Styles in some annoyance." And. After some reflecting. I c ould have asked his advice. been the cause of it? Those questions I could not resolve. "But I don't see anything to laugh at. I do. and leave him to make the matter public or not. I shrank from blurting it out." "By the police!" I gasped. you' ve cheered me up very much. Still. Cynthia burst out laughing. What possessed him to go posting off to London in th is unaccountable way? In spite of myself. "Somebody might accept you next time. Had he foreseen this arrest? Had he not. I was uncerta in how to act. Good-bye. Somebody ought to be keeping an eye on the fellow. I couldn't believe it at the time. and called me a "funny dear. I set aside utterly an y suspicions of her. She could not be implicated--otherwise I should have heard some hint of it. and tapped on the door. I went to the li ttle house with the "Apartments" card inserted in the window. I decided to take John into my confidence. Chapter X. the little man was clever. Would it not be a terrible shock to her? For the moment. indeed. Poirot was not in. " "It's perfectly sweet of you. or not? Though I did not acknowledge it to myself." she said. there was no possibility of being able permanently to conceal Dr. With Poirot away."I'm not being silly. "but you know you don't want to!" "Yes. it would be wise to allay any suspicions he might have as to his being suspected. had not Poirot put it into my he ad. that settles it. An old woman came and opened it. Bauerstein in?" She stared at me. took by the perlice. and--" I waited to hear no more. I was dumbfounded. my opinion of his sagacity was immeasurably heightened. as I imparted the news." "Well." "What about him?" "He's took. I remembered how Poirot had relied on my diplomacy. I am asking you to do me the honour of becoming my wife. Bau erstein's arrest from her. What on earth could Poirot be doing in London! Was it a sudde n decision on his part." "Took? Dead?" "No. decidedly. of course. where I knew he lo dged. and the old Belgian who answered my knock informed me that he believed he had gone to London. But in the meantime what was I to do? Should I announce the arrest openly at Styles. "Do you mean they've arrested him?" "Yes. He gave vent to a prodigious whistle. It would be announced in every newspaper on the morro w.and I don't either. Yes." I said stiffly. At the same time. I've got--" "Never mind what you've got. the thought of Mary Cavendish was weighing on me." . Accordingly. then. There's nothing funny about a proposal. "Good afternoon. Of course. It occurred to me suddenly that I would go down to the village. "Great Scot! You *WERE right. If only Poirot had been accessible. with a final uncontrollable burst of merriment. she vanished through the tr ees." I said pleasantly. You don't really want to-." To my intense surprise. and look up Baue rstein. Thinking over the interview. it struck me as being profoundly unsatisfactory. I wo uld never have dreamt of suspecting the doctor.
yes. of course. I decided to go down to the village." replied Poirot. It was rather inexplicable. "But--but I thought you thought so too?" Poirot gave me one look. Bauerstein is a spy?" Poirot nodded. "Precisely." "Oh. As you say. a well-known face blocked one of the window s. for some reason or other. He was naturalized about fifteen years ago. There is no ne ed. No doubt I am very dense." but nothing further." "Espionage?" I gasped. but. and the well-known voice said: "Bon jour. of course. Bauerstein's arrest. "But he is arrested." "It did not strike you as peculiar that a famous London doctor should bury himse lf in a little village like this. which conveyed a wondering pity. It worried me just a little. Inglethorp?" "Not unless our friend Japp has taken leave of his senses. pausing a moment." "Well. "What has that got to do with it?" Poirot shrugged his shoulders." I confessed. before I could start." "Not for poisoning Mrs. it is astonishing until you get used to the idea. Listen. my friend?" "Well. Now. A very clever man--a Jew. it does n ot surprise me. Japp wished to keep it out of the papers. "Do you mean to say. "Dr. "Never mind. "Is Bauerstein arrested. "that Dr." I exclaimed. what are we to do? Of course." he said at last. there was not a word about the arrest! There was a colum n of mere padding about "The Styles Poisoning Case." "He is." But. he added: "Still. "I never thought of such a thing." "Nothing at all. we are only four miles from the coast. Inglethorp----" "What?" cried Poirot. But for espionage. and should be in the habit of walking about at all hours of the night. and seizing him by both hands. After breakfast. After all." But to my intense surprise." . it is obvious!" "Not to me. mon ami. slowly adapting myself to the new idea. "But we were speaking of t he arrest of Dr. but I cannot see what the proximity of the coast has got to do with the murder of Mrs. and see if Poirot had retu rned yet. a German by birth. "I do not know what you are talking about." I asked." "Dr." "The coast?" I asked." "Impossible! That would be too good a farce! Who told you that. and his full sense of the utter absurdity of such an idea. fully dressed?" "No. on getting down early the next morning. "we won't say anything at present. mon ami!" "Poirot. I dragged him into the room. "I was never so glad to see anyone." said Poirot thoughtfully. "though he has practiced so long in this country that nobody thinks of him as anything but an E nglishman. then?" "Did you not know it?" "Not the least in the world. Is that right?" "My friend. puzzled. Bauerstein. in apparently lively astonishment. but I supposed that. Bauerstein arreste d for the murder of Mrs. it will be generally known tomorrow. smiling. Inglethorp. I have said nothing to anybody but John. of course. Inglethorp?" "Yes." John reflected. he is arrested for the murder of Mrs. no one exactly told me. and eagerly opening the newspapers. it will be known soon enough. for it suggested the possibility that there might be further arrests to come."No. of course. with relief." I confessed. "Surely. "Have you never suspected it?" "It never entered my head. and see how it makes ever ything fit in. very likely." I answered impatiently." replied Poirot placi dly." replied Poirot.
." replied Poirot." remarked Poirot. "have you made up your mind about this crime?" "Yes--that is to say. "Is it important?" "Moderately so. Think what he stands to lose." I said. Poirot unfolded the sheet of paper eagerly. I am not a vain man where women are concerned. the . and whirled me down the hall. "Not at all. rather dusty. but Monday. She glanced round hastily to make sure there was no one else in the room. wh at magnificent chance! Tell me. "And this is the man with whom Mrs. "My good Dorcas." "Good." "What did she mean by 'On the top of the wardrobe'?" "She meant." I asked earnestly. an agreeable warmth spread over me. not Tuesday. perhaps. a patriot. unless----" With sudden energ y. came hurrying out of the pantry. after studying the thing for a minu te or two. I admire the man myself. un moment. it is this: that Mrs. I believe I know how it was committed. S tyles Court." "Then you think he never really cared for her?" I asked eagerly--rather too eage rly. too lightly thought of at the time. mon ami." "Yes?" "Because she cares for some one else." "Ah!" "Unfortunately. "that she found it on top of a wardrobe. or L. the well-known theatrical c ostumiers. The top of a wardrobe is an excellent place for brown paper and car dboard boxes. "So long as gossip busied itself in coupling their names together. "It certainly isn't a J. Mary. on the contrary. Cavendish does not care. "Yes. also. perhaps. It is an L. "I am quite sure of it. "That. and it was addressed to "--(the debatable initial) Cavendish. "Not at all. as you see. I have no proof beyond my surmise. and uttered an exclamation of satisf action. but--shall I tell you my own private opinion. "Come here. folding up the paper again. depend upon it!" "Where did it come from?" I asked curiously. Essex. Cavendish has been wandering about all over the country!" I cried indignantly. of course. but which certainly seemed to in dicate---My pleasing thoughts were interrupted by the sudden entrance of Miss Howard. "I. And I will tell you why. But it was the label that was attracting Poirot's attention.. any other vagaries of th e doctor's passed unobserved." But I could not look at it in Poirot's philosophical way. It confirms a surmise of mine." "Poirot. Hastings. what is that initial--J. she has been successful. there is nothing t o offend the eye. I should fancy he had found her very useful." "Oh!" What did he mean? In spite of myself. he caught me by the arm." "A funny place for a piece of brown paper. or it might be L. as though it had lain by for some time. This she handed to Poirot. and quick ly produced an old sheet of brown paper. Parkson's. quite flurried by the noise.?" It was a medium sized sheet of paper. calling out in French in his excitement: "Mademoiselle Dorcas.. Having deduced its existence. He spread it out on the table. I cannot say." "Well.. I have kept them there myself. and. At the top. I s et Miss Howard to search for it." replied Poirot promptly. and never has cared one li ttle jot about Dr. it bore the printed stamp of Messrs. Ha stings?" "Yes. murmuring as she did so the cryptic words: "On top of the wardrobe." Then she hurriedly left the room. am of your way of thinking. under the circumstances. Now tell me. Esq. on Monday. s'il vo us plait!" Dorcas. Mademoiselle Dorcas. Neatly arranged. Dorcas. Bauerstein!" "Do you really think so?" I could not disguise my pleasure. Styles St. but I remembered certain evidence s."The blackguard!" I cried indignantly. He is. I have an idea--a little idea--if it should prove justified." "It might be T." I mused.
"Mr. and looked up at me. Mr. She stopped suddenly. I believe there was some tragedy conn ected with her death--she took an overdose of some sleeping draught by mistake. just as he is at his maddest. Inglethorp's bell?" Dorcas looked very surprised. "but my mother was a Russian. I was not quite as elated as I might have been. It occurred to me that it would be a good opportunity to tackle her on the subje ct of Cynthia. But the flesh is weak. Hastings?" "I honestly don't know. supple figure of hers swaying gently as she walked." I began to stammer feebly that I hoped she hadn't thought-. I've given up trying to guess what he'll do next. Sometimes. Everywhere he went." I said. in fact? Well. and that slim. it did. and murmured something about it's not being my b usiness to think anything of the sort. Hastings." In spite of her laugh. it is consolation to find that one is on the right track." she said. one should not ask for outside proof--no. "Yes. Mr." said Mrs. "What is it a ll about?" "Really. She seemed grav e. gambolling wildly down the stretch of l awn outside the long window. "whether it is your business or not." "Is he quite mad. You are kind. I went with him. I feel sure he is as mad as a hatter. I am like a giant refreshed. "See you. my father was broken-hearted." I said nothing. or some such." "Ah. and I tu rned to find Mary Cavendish at my elbow. "Well. and appea red so delighted with her answer that he is capering about as you see!" Mary laughed. run and leap he did. The man came a nd put it right on Tuesday morning. my friend. and the n. do you?" she asked. and her words were so unexpected that they quite drove Cynthia.But again she stoppe d me. sir. "do you think I and my husband are happy together?" I was considerably taken aback. I began rather tactfully. Poirot led the way back to the morning -room. She died when I was quite a little child. but in this case your talents are quite thrown away. "My father was English. I will ma ke a father confessor of you. reason should be enough. "Where I come from. because I never saw her." she said quietly. must have nibbled the wire through. but I had not gone far befor e she stopped me authoritatively. I have no doubt. almost sad. I will tell you." With a long drawn exclamation of ecstasy. "You don't know anything about me. out of my mind. in very truth. When I was twenty . who I was before I married John-. did anything go wrong with Mrs. "now I understand--" "Understand what?" "A hint of something foreign--different--that there has always been about you. I believe. She began slowly. and her tr oubles. Ah . though I don't know how you came to hear of it. I thought. Shortly afterwards. "How ridiculous! He's going out of the gate. Cynthia will run no risk of encountering any unkindness from me. He asked Dorcas some question about a bell. I will tell you t hat we are *NOT happy. Isn't he coming back to-day?" "I don't know. "What is your remarkable little friend doing?" asked a voice behind me." "I see. it is not at all the role for a young man. I remembered that Cynth ia had begun her confidences in much the same way. he went i nto the Consular Service. her head a little bent. and so did I. I don't know. Besides. now you mention it.anything. She smiled. I am sure you are kind . "You are an excellent advocate." "My mother was very beautiful. Mary was looking thoughtful this morning. A mouse. a father confessor s hould be elderly. I can't tell you. walking up and down the room. for I saw that she had not finished." Somehow. Hastings. I think--yes. I run! I leap!" And.day before the tragedy. I find there is method in his madness. Cavendish. However that may be.
I had to go and live with some old aunts in Yorkshire. A little cry broke from her lips: "You don't know." I said. Then suddenly I said a thing I could have bitten out my tongue for: "You know that Dr. "Then my father died. "You will understand me when I say that it was a deadly life for a girl brought up as I had been. he did! Not that it matters now-now that we've come to the parting of the ways. Bauerstein has been arrested?" An instant coldness passed like a mask over her face. "John was so kind as to break that to me this morning. a proud wild creature. I was quite honest with him. but it is the truth--tired of me very soon." She paused a minute. rash!" Her voice mocked at my prudence." And she walked quietly past me out of the window. or did she not? She moved away a step or two." "What do you mean?" She answered quietly: "I mean that I am not going to remain at Styles." She shuddered. Almost at once. and said at last: "Perhaps--because I want to be--free!" And. you don't know. but I shall not. But I can honestly say it was not this fact which weighed with me. with a cool litt le nod of dismissal. No woman could act her part with t . I must do them again. from my aunts' point of view. blotting out all expressio n. "Of what?" "Of the arrest?" "What should I think? Apparently he is a German spy. that I liked him very much. a little frown had gathered on her forehead. what was true. virgin tracts of fores ts. that I hoped to come to like him more. I told him." "You and John are not going to live here?" "John may live here. I had a sudden vision of broad spaces. and fingered one of the flower vases. She seemed to be looking back earnestly into those past days. "I think--I am sure--he cared for me at first. He--it is not a pleasing thing for my p ride. Would you mind moving--thank you." "But why?" She paused a long time. how this hateful place has been prison to me!" "I understand.-three." She waited a long time. yes. But I suppose we were not well ma tched." "Yes?" "You can imagine that." There was a smile on her face. so the gardener had told Jo hn. he was simply a way of escape from the insufferable monotony of my life." "Well. and after a moment. It was a splendid life--I loved it . No. M r. "but--but don't do anything rash. she went on: "Don't misunderstand me. it was a very good match fo r me. and her head was thrown back." "Oh. The narrowness." "You are going to leave him?" "Yes." I must have made some murmur of dissent. the de adly monotony of it." I said nothing." Her face and voice were absolutely cold and expressionless. Did she care. He left me very badly off. surely she could not care for Bauerstein. Hastings. we drifted apart. almost drove me mad. as untamed by civilization as some shy bird of the hills. I had been nearly all over the world. and added in a d ifferent tone: "And then I met John Cavendish. as she spoke. and so--we were married. "These are quite dead. but that I w as not in any way what the world calls 'in love' with him. for she went on quickly: "Oh. No. I seemed to see her for a moment as she was. She seemed living i n the memory of those old glad days. He declared that that satisfied him. untrodden lands--and a realization of what freedom would mean to such a natu re as Mary Cavendish. what do you think?" I asked feebly.
by means of Mrs. Poirot nodded gravely. He can come up here if he wants to see us.' " I did not trouble to correct the quotation. I did not quite know what to say. if you are going." But. He was really treating us in the most cavalier fashion." he said gravely. hoping that it might turn up of itself one day. "Aha!" he cried. Lawrence drew me aside. Lawrence would say no more. But. And this is just what did happen. will you tell him--" he dropped his voice to a whisper--"I think I've found the extra coffee-cup!" I had almost forgotten that enigmatical message of Poirot's." "And that is?" "A woman's happiness. I don't think I shall. "What is it?" I asked. I gave him Lawrence's message. For.' as your so great Shakespeare says. had to be abandoned. We had vainly tried to trace the fourth letter. his head buried in his hands. "You are not serious. he has but taken the train to Tadminster. Something unusually nervous and excited in his manner roused my curiosity." "Whether to catch the criminal or not?" I asked facetiously.hat icy unconcern. and regretting they had been unable to trace a certain series of Russian folksongs. "You are not ill. Would I mount ? I mounted accordingly. it is a big stake for which I play. That is good. no sign of Poirot. In glethorp's correspondence on the fatal evening. w e had abandoned the matter. "and I do not know what to do. But. monsieur. 'To see a young lad y's dispensary. no. But I decide an affair of great moment. and there was no sign of the Scotland Yard men." said Poirot thoughtfully. will you?" "Certainly. No one but I. Just before tea. there arrived a new piece of evidence-. and asked if I was going down to see him. so I decided that I would descend from my high horse . So the last hope of solving the mystery. 'that is the qu estion. see you. acknowledging Mrs. that he was once more out. For the most serious of all things hangs in the balan ce. "I told him Wednesday was the one day she wasn't ther e! Well. on the following day.or rather lack of ev idence. mon ami. I was getting angry.' he said. tell him to look us up to-morrow morning. which arrived by the second post from a firm of French music publishers. Poirot was sitting by the table. this long-faced Monsieur Lawrence of yours!" I did not myself think very highly of Lawrence's intelligence." "Silly ass!" I ejaculated." "It's nothing much." "Oh!" Lawrence looked indeterminate. but f ound. " 'To speak or not to speak. at lunch-time. "Gone to London again?" "Oh. monsieur. Poirot did not make his appearance the following morning. Hercule Poirot. I strolled down to tell Poirot of the new disappointment. "The moment has come. to my great surprise. After lunch. Inglethorp ha d written on the evening preceding her death. which Mrs. "What is it?" I asked solicitously. Poirot?" "I am of the most serious. but I forebore to contradict Poirot. . so as not to spoil his effect. I trust?" "No. to my annoyance. "I could go if there's anything special. After pausing a few minutes respectfully. Monsieur Poirot was within. Our efforts having been in vain. This time I was received with a smile. and gently took him to task for forgetting my instructions a s to which were Cynthia's days off. Ingle thorp's cheque. He has mor e intelligence than would appear. would attempt it!" And he tapped himself proudly on the breast. but now my curiosit y was aroused afresh. and once more seek out Poirot at Leastways Cottage. He sprang up at m y entrance. no. not ill. "No. but--well. in the shape of a communication. "So he has found the extra coffee-cup.
"It is true. I have the head of a sieve. However, the other young lady was most kind. She was sorry for my disappointment, and showed me everything in the kinde st way." "Oh, well, that's all right, then, and you must go to tea with Cynthia another d ay." I told him about the letter. "I am sorry for that," he said. "I always had hopes of that letter. But no, it w as not to be. This affair must all be unravelled from within." He tapped his for ehead. "These little grey cells. It is 'up to them'--as you say over here." Then , suddenly, he asked: "Are you a judge of finger-marks, my friend?" "No," I said, rather surprised, "I know that there are no two finger-marks alike , but that's as far as my science goes." "Exactly." He unlocked a little drawer, and took out some photographs which he laid on the table. "I have numbered them, 1, 2, 3. Will you describe them to me?" I studied the proofs attentively. "All greatly magnified, I see. No. 1, I should say, are a man's finger-prints; t humb and first finger. No. 2 are a lady's; they are much smaller, and quite diff erent in every way. No. 3"--I paused for some time--"there seem to be a lot of c onfused finger-marks, but here, very distinctly, are No. 1's." "Overlapping the others?" "Yes." "You recognize them beyond fail?" "Oh, yes; they are identical." Poirot nodded, and gently taking the photographs from me locked them up again. "I suppose," I said, "that as usual, you are not going to explain?" "On the contrary. No. 1 were the finger-prints of Monsieur Lawrence. No. 2 were those of Mademoiselle Cynthia. They are not important. I merely obtained them fo r comparison. No. 3 is a little more complicated." "Yes?" "It is, as you see, highly magnified. You may have noticed a sort of blur extend ing all across the picture. I will not describe to you the special apparatus, du sting powder, etc., which I used. It is a well-known process to the police, and by means of it you can obtain a photograph of the finger-prints of any object in a very short space of time. Well, my friend, you have seen the finger-marks--it remains to tell you the particular object on which they had been left." "Go on--I am really excited." "Eh bien! Photo No. 3 represents the highly magnified surface of a tiny bottle i n the top poison cupboard of the dispensary in the Red Cross Hospital at Tadmins ter--which sounds like the house that Jack built!" "Good heavens!" I exclaimed. "But what were Lawrence Cavendish's finger-marks do ing on it? He never went near the poison cupboard the day we were there!" "Oh, yes, he did!" "Impossible! We were all together the whole time." Poirot shook his head. "No, my friend, there was a moment when you were not all together. There was a m oment when you could not have been all together, or it would not have been neces sary to call to Monsieur Lawrence to come and join you on the balcony." "I'd forgotten that," I admitted. "But it was only for a moment." "Long enough." "Long enough for what?" Poirot's smile became rather enigmatical. "Long enough for a gentleman who had once studied medicine to gratify a very nat ural interest and curiosity." Our eyes met. Poirot's were pleasantly vague. He got up and hummed a little tune . I watched him suspiciously. "Poirot," I said, "what was in this particular little bottle?" Poirot looked out of the window. "Hydro-chloride of strychnine," he said, over his shoulder, continuing to hum.
"Good heavens!" I said it quite quietly. I was not surprised. I had expected tha t answer. "They use the pure hydro-chloride of strychnine very little-- only occasionally for pills. It is the official solution, Liq. Strychnine Hydro-clor. that is used in most medicines. That is why the finger-marks have remained undisturbed since then." "How did you manage to take this photograph?" "I dropped my hat from the balcony," explained Poirot simply. "Visitors were not permitted below at that hour, so, in spite of my many apologies, Mademoiselle C ynthia's colleague had to go down and fetch it for me." "Then you knew what you were going to find?" "No, not at all. I merely realized that it was possible, from your story, for Mo nsieur Lawrence to go to the poison cupboard. The possibility had to be confirme d, or eliminated." "Poirot," I said, "your gaiety does not deceive me. This is a very important dis covery." "I do not know," said Poirot. "But one thing does strike me. No doubt it has str uck you too." "What is that?" "Why, that there is altogether too much strychnine about this case. This is the third time we run up against it. There was strychnine in Mrs. Inglethorp's tonic . There is the strychnine sold across the counter at Styles St. Mary by Mace. No w we have more strychnine, handled by one of the household. It is confusing; and , as you know, I do not like confusion." Before I could reply, one of the other Belgians opened the door and stuck his he ad in. "There is a lady below, asking for Mr Hastings." "A lady?" I jumped up. Poirot followed me down the narrow stairs. Mary Cavendish was stand ing in the doorway. "I have been visiting an old woman in the village," she explained, "and as Lawre nce told me you were with Monsieur Poirot I thought I would call for you." "Alas, madame," said Poirot, "I thought you had come to honour me with a visit!" "I will some day, if you ask me," she promised him, smiling. "That is well. If you should need a father confessor, madame" --she started ever so slightly--"remember, Papa Poirot is always at your service." She stared at him for a few minutes, as though seeking to read some deeper meani ng into his words. Then she turned abruptly away. "Come, will you not walk back with us too, Monsieur Poirot?" "Enchanted, madame." All the way to Styles, Mary talked fast and feverishly. It struck me that in som e way she was nervous of Poirot's eyes. The weather had broken, and the sharp wind was almost autumnal in its shrewishne ss. Mary shivered a little, and buttoned her black sports coat closer. The wind through the trees made a mournful noise, like some great giant sighing. We walked up to the great door of Styles, and at once the knowledge came to us t hat something was wrong. Dorcas came running out to meet us. She was crying and wringing her hands. I was aware of other servants huddled together in the background, all eyes and ears. "Oh, m'am! Oh, m'am! I don't know how to tell you--" "What is it, Dorcas?" I asked impatiently. "Tell us at once." "It's those wicked detectives. They've arrested him--they've arrested Mr. Cavend ish!" "Arrested Lawrence?" I gasped. I saw a strange look come into Dorcas's eyes. "No, sir. Not Mr. Lawrence--Mr. John." Behind me, with a wild cry, Mary Cavendish fell heavily against me, and as I tur ned to catch her I met the quiet triumph in Poirot's eyes. Chapter XI.
The Case For The Prosecution THE trial of John Cavendish for the murder of his stepmother took place two mont hs later. Of the intervening weeks I will say little, but my admiration and sympathy went out unfeignedly to Mary Cavendish. She ranged herself passionately on her husban d's side, scorning the mere idea of his guilt, and fought for him tooth and nail . I expressed my admiration to Poirot, and he nodded thoughtfully. "Yes, she is of those women who show at their best in adversity. It brings out a ll that is sweetest and truest in them. Her pride and her jealousy have--" "Jealousy?" I queried. "Yes. Have you not realized that she is an unusually jealous woman? As I was say ing, her pride and jealousy have been laid aside. She thinks of nothing but her husband, and the terrible fate that is hanging over him." He spoke very feelingly, and I looked at him earnestly, remembering that last af ternoon, when he had been deliberating whether or not to speak. With his tendern ess for "a woman's happiness," I felt glad that the decision had been taken out of his hands. "Even now," I said, "I can hardly believe it. You see, up to the very last minut e, I thought it was Lawrence!" Poirot grinned. "I know you did." "But John! My old friend John!" "Every murderer is probably somebody's old friend," observed Poirot philosophica lly. "You cannot mix up sentiment and reason." "I must say I think you might have given me a hint." "Perhaps, mon ami, I did not do so, just because he *WAS your old friend." I was rather disconcerted by this, remembering how I had busily passed on to Joh n what I believed to be Poirot's views concerning Bauerstein. He, by the way, ha d been acquitted of the charge brought against him. Nevertheless, although he ha d been too clever for them this time, and the charge of espionage could not be b rought home to him, his wings were pretty well clipped for the future. I asked Poirot whether he thought John would be condemned. To my intense surpris e, he replied that, on the contrary, he was extremely likely to be acquitted. "But, Poirot--" I protested. "Oh, my friend, have I not said to you all along that I have no proofs. It is on e thing to know that a man is guilty, it is quite another matter to prove him so . And, in this case, there is terribly little evidence. That is the whole troubl e. I, Hercule Poirot, know, but I lack the last link in my chain. And unless I c an find that missing link--" He shook his head gravely. "When did you first suspect John Cavendish?" I asked, after a minute or two. "Did you not suspect him at all?" "No, indeed." "Not after that fragment of conversation you overheard between Mrs. Cavendish an d her mother-in-law, and her subsequent lack of frankness at the inquest?" "No." "Did you not put two and two together, and reflect that if it was not Alfred Ing lethorp who was quarrelling with his wife--and you remember, he strenuously deni ed it at the inquest--it must be either Lawrence or John. Now, if it was Lawrenc e, Mary Cavendish's conduct was just as inexplicable. But if, on the other hand, it was John, the whole thing was explained quite naturally." "So," I cried, a light breaking in upon me, "it was John who quarrelled with his mother that afternoon?" "Exactly." "And you have known this all along?" "Certainly. Mrs. Cavendish's behaviour could only be explained that way." "And yet you say he may be acquitted?" Poirot shrugged his shoulders.
" "I say. sur rounded by her care and attention. I will not go into the details of the police court pr oceedings. He and his wife had lived at Styles Court in every luxury. Philips."it will probably be as a witness for t he defence. I hoped it might remain so. Inglethorp's husband. she h ad supported him. The murder. was a most premeditated and cold-blooded one. the state of Poirot's nerves grew worse and worse. That will be sprung upon us at the trial. Cavendish must think I am wo rking for her husband." Poirot was a true prophet. for what happiness could there be for Mary. opened the case for the Crown. but in all probability his solicitors will advise him to reserve h is defence. John Cavendish did not des troy that will. I must remain behind the scenes. a neighbouring farmer's wife." continued Poirot. That is why I have been careful to remain in the background. Mary took a house in Kensington. but evidence had come to light w hich showed that it had been drawn up in favour of her husband. I must not appear in the case. but--and Mr." and pleaded "Not Guilty. Mrs. This will was found destroyed in the grate of her bedroom the following morning. immediately after the quarrel with her son. I can give evidence that will demolish one contention of the prosecution. This havi ng come to his stepmother's ears. We have to deal with a most clever and unscrupulous man. as it involves many tiresome repetitions. and we mus t use any means in our power-. Inglethorp. not against him. At the police court proceedings. that's playing it a bit low down. I have nothing to do with it. he said. my friend. Raikes." "What?" "No. had been at the end of his financial tether. On the previous da y. Philips wagged an expressive forefinger--the prisoner was not aware of that.otherwise he will slip through our fingers. Mr. September found us all in London. of whom he had been bitterly jealous. part of which was overheard. If I am called upon to gi ve evidence at all"--he smiled broadly-.. C. K.. What had induced t he deceased to make a fresh will. Officially. Until I have found that last link in my chain. She had been their kind and generous benefact ress. As the weeks went by. All the discoveries have been made by Japp. "Strangely enough. and was duly committed for trial. Mrs. On the afternoon of July 17th. I myself had been given a job at the War Office. And--ah. Mrs. so was able to see them continu ally. Poirot being included in the family party. She was an old lady. continued Counsel. Privately. she taxed him with it on the afternoon before her death. "Not at all. if John were not acquitted? On September 15th John Cavendish appeared in the dock at the Old Bailey. That "l ast link" he talked about was still lacking. charged with "The Wilful Murder of Emily Agnes Inglethorp." I protested. I hav e a word of caution to give you. he had been able to produce an unimpeachable alibi. by the way. he could not sa y. He proposed to call witnesses to show how the prisoner. we shall hear the case for the prosecution." Sir Ernest Heavywether. the prisoner had purchased strychnine at the village chemist's shop. with the old one still extant. Luckily for Mr. and might possibly have forgotten the former one. Deceased had alr eady made a will in his favour before her marriage." "Which one?" "The one that relates to the destruction of the will. and a quarrel ensued. or--th is seemed to him more likely--she may have had an idea that it was revoked by he r marriage. wearing a disguise by means of which he hoped to throw the onus of the crime upon anothe r man--to wit." I could hardly believe my ears. C. It was neithe r more nor less than the deliberate poisoning of a fond and trusting woman by th e stepson to whom she had been more than a mother. Inglethorp made a new will. Ever since his boyhood."Certainly I do. I will merely state baldly that John Cavendish reserved his defence. "It is quite en regle. had been engaged to defend him. Ladies were not . a profligate and spendth rift. and Japp will take all the credit. as there had been some conversation on the subject. the famous K. and had also been carrying on an intrigue with a certain Mrs.
Mr. Can't remember one special one. He knew only too well how useless her gallant defiance was. do you remember a parcel arriving for Mr. he had sought admission to her room. and denied having purchased the poison. It may have done. of course. as to the witnessing of the will was taken. "Don't remember. and then Do rcas was called. he admitted that he only knew Mr." "By you?" "No." denied strenuously that it could have been John's voice she heard. The gardeners' evidence. He had never spoken to him.always very well versed in legal knowledge. what would be don e with it?" "It would either be put in his room or sent on after him. acts quickly?" "Yes. sir. She had. The witness was not cross-examined. was quite unthinkable. Should have remembered it if it was. in the teeth of everythin g." Pressed. Inglethorp by sight. The prisoner had been arrested in consequence of the discovery. subtly implying that a jury which did not so decide. sir." "Supposing a parcel arrived addressed to Mr. but Mr. and resolutely declared. by Detective Inspector Japp--a most brilliant officer--of the identical phial of st rychnine which had been sold at the village chemist's to the supposed Mr. "I take it. and afterwards it disappeared." "Thank you. Inglet horp on the day before the murder. could not be calle d upon to give evidence against her husband. as a drug. A r ather wistful smile passed across the face of the prisoner in the dock." "You do not know if it was sent after Mr. was question ed as to the parcel. execut ed a will in favour of the prisoner. or whethe r it was put in his room?" "Don't think it was sent after him. Lawrence Cavendish. who was famous all over England for the unscrupulous man ner in which he bullied witnesses. would render the one in his favour valid. that strychnine. the medical evidence being again taken first. he found an opportunity of destroying the will which. don't think so. that it was Mr. since it was not the object of the defence to deny this point. Various witnesses testified to the accurac y of these statements. Mace identified the phial handed him by Counsel as that sold by him to "Mr. The first witnesses for the prosecution were mostly those who had been called at the inquest. Miss Howard. Inglethorp who had been in the boudoir with her mistress. about a year before. Cavendish. Lawrence was away from home pa rt of June. as far as he knew ." "I believe. Later in the evening." "And that you are unable to account for the delay in this case?" "Yes. It would be Miss Howard who would attend to anything like that." "In the event of a parcel arriving for him whilst he was away. Bauerstein. And. I should leave it on the hall table. After various questions on other matters. Sir Ernest Heavywether. Dr." Mr. I should think some one had taken charge of it. on which occasion. that it was you who found this sheet of brown paper?" H . Dorcas. after being examined on other points." Evelyn Howard was called and. in his room. Philips asked: "In the month of June last. should you remark its absence?" "No. Lots of parcels come. n o doubt. Alfred Inglethorp was called. faithful to her "young gentlemen. He also de nied having quarrelled with his wife. He would call evidence to show that it was the prisoner who ultimately handed his stepmother her coffee on the fatal night. only asked two questions. Philips sat down and wiped his forehead. "I don't remember. It would be for the jury to decide whether or not these damning facts constituted an overwhelming proof of the prisoner's gui lt. Lawrence Cavendish to Wales. Inglethorp. Mrs. Lawrence C avendish from Parkson's?" Dorcas shook her head. Mr.
All transactions were entered in their books. it was on the prisoner's wardrobe.. "Yes. Inglethorp 's door. stated that after she had gone to b ed she remembered that she had bolted the front door." "Where did you eventually discover it?" "On the top of--of--a wardrobe. Cavendish. They had sent the beard. Sir Ernest Heavywether made short work of her. that Sir Ernest." "And the letter came from there?" "Yes. "Ah!" said Poirot appreciatively. to "L. and a postal order was enclosed. and Sir Ernest sat down again with a satis fied smile on his face. John Cavendish knocking at Mrs." "In fact. might have been poste d from anywhere? From Wales. have been any postmark?" "Y--es." "How did you come to look for it?" "The Belgian detective who was employed on the case asked me to search for it. No.e held up the same dusty piece which Poirot and I had examined in the morning-ro om at Styles." I said consolingly. "That hateful man! What a net he has drawn around my poor John! How he twisted e very little fact until he made it seem what it wasn't!" "Well. Elizabeth Wells. they had supplied a black beard to Mr. that could not b e!" But I myself was puzzled. testified that on June 29th. Cavendish." "The same address to which you sent the parcel?" "Yes. as to the candle grease on the floor." "Then you must know where you found it?" "Yes." "Did you not find it yourself?" "Yes. Heavywether fell upon him: "How do you know?" "I--I don't understand. and as to seei ng the prisoner take the coffee into the boudoir. I did. as requested. and under his unmerciful bullying she contradicted herself hopelessly. though written on stamped notepaper. instead of leaving it on t he latch as Mr. Inglethorp had requested. L. then suddenly dropped her voice. With the evidence of Annie." . and as soon as I was alone with Poirot I asked him wha t he thought Sir Ernest was driving at. Theatrical Costumiers." "Yes. It was order ed by letter. the proceedings were adjourned until the following day. for instance?" The witness admitted that such might be the case. Hastings. the letter. "He is a clever man. no. you did *NOT notice the postmark! And yet you affirm so confidently that it came from Styles." An assistant from Parkson's. "Where was the letter written from?" "From Styles Court. and Sir Ernest signified that he was satisfied. yo u do not think--surely it could not have been Lawrence--Oh. she had peepe d along the passage." she said meditatively. second housemaid at Styles. as direc ted. As we went home. they had not kept the letter." Like a beast of prey. Mary Cavendish spoke bitterly against the prosecuting counsel." "On top of the prisoner's wardrobe?" "I--I believe so. "Mr. and had seen Mr. She had accordingly gone downstairs ag ain to rectify her error. in fact. Styles Court. It might." Sir Ernest Heavywether rose ponderously. Esq." "That is better. "it will be the other way about to-morrow. Hearing a slight noise in the West wing." "How do you know that letter came from Styles? Did you notice the postmark?" "No--but--" "Ah.
or no?" "No. After relating the earlier even ts. In his chest of drawers. he proceeded: "Acting on information received. is it not possible that the articles in question might have been put there by a third person. a pair of gold-rim med pince-nez similar to those worn by Mr. a tiny bottle of blue glass. in the chest of drawers. He is endeavouring to make out that there is qu ite as much evidence against Lawrence as against John--and I am not at all sure that he will not succeed." "But you have just said it was a whole week since the crime. be likely to go to a drawer containing winter underclothing. Obviously.. completed his evidence. Inglethorp's cheque book." More evidence followed. Evidence as to his intrigue with M ." "But it is possible?" "Yes."Do you think he believes Lawrence guilty?" "I do not think he believes or cares anything! No. But Sir Ernest's cross-examination was yet to come. Would he. . with the discovery of the beard in the attic." "In other words. almost new piece of blotting-paper. and gave his evidence succinctly and briefly. He would have had a mple time to remove them and destroy them. Would the prisoner." Detective-inspector Japp was the first witness called when the trial was reopene d." "Kindly answer my question. it was winter underclothing. or would he not have had plenty of time to remove and destroy them?" "Yes." A fresh piece of evidence discovered by the detectives since the police court pr oceedings was a long. this phial. Japp then produced the charred fragment of paper recovered from the grate. you say. Inglethorp" --these were exhibited--" secondly. "What day was it when you searched the prisoner's room?" "Tuesday. the 24th of July. and this. ." "You found these two objects." "Does it not strike you as unlikely that a man who had committed a crime should keep the evidence of it in an unlocked drawer for anyone to find?" "He might have stowed them there in a hurry. Yes. Was the drawer u nlocked?" "Yes. containing a few grains of a white crystalline powder. and on being reversed at a mirror." "That is all. the prisoner would not be likely to go to that drawer?" "Perhaps not. hidden beneath some underclothing. what he is trying for is to c reate such confusion in the minds of the jury that they are divided in their opi nion as to which brother did it." "In that case. Evidence as to the financial difficulties in which the p risoner had found himself at the end of July. we found: first. and labell ed: "Strychnine Hydrochloride." "There is no perhaps about it." "Perhaps. Superintendent Summerhaye and myself searched t he prisoner's room." "Exactly a week after the tragedy?" "Yes.. erything of which I die possessed I leave to my beloved husban d Alfred Ing ." The phial was that already recognized by the chemist's assistant." This placed beyond question the fact that the destroyed will h ad been in favour of the deceased lady's husband. 'Poison'." "Was the pile of underclothes under which the things were hidden heavy or light? " "Heavyish. in the hottest week of a hot sum mer. showed clearly the words: ". during his temporary absence from the house. and that the prisoner was quite unaware of their pr esence?" "I should not think it likely. It had been found in M rs.
"N--o--I am sure I didn't. You *Would inh erit it." "Then why did you take it up?" "I once studied to be a doctor. and the prisoner in the dock lean t forward angrily. "I--I----" With a satisfied and expressive countenance. that must have been bitter hearing for a woman of her pri de. the others were not there?" "No. "that I should. Mr. Such things naturally interest me. he had been staying away. who will inherit Styles Court?" The brutality of the question called a flush to Lawrence's pale face.rs." said Heavywether." "Still." "Ah! In the event of anything happening to your brother. and examine some of the bottles?" "I--I--may have done so." "What do you mean by you 'suppose'? Your brother has no children." said Lawrence quietly. that's better.to be during those two minutes that you displayed your 'natural interest' in Hydro-chloride of Strychnine?" Lawrence stammered pitiably. P hilips' questions. to visit th e dispensary at the Red Cross Hospital in Tadminster?" "Yes. "these questions are not relevant. "Answer my question." Lawrence was turning a sickly greenish colour. it happened-. Lawrence Cavendish was then put into the box. "Did you examine one bottle in particular?" "No. "On Tuesday. if you please. Sir Ernest observed: ." protested the judge. on June 29th. In fact. and it happened--I say." "Did you--while you happened to be alone for a few seconds--unlock the poison cu pboard. Sir Ernest's chin was shooting pugnaciously forward." "Be careful. as it happens. Instantly. but----" "In fact. with ferocious geniality. he denied having ordered anything from Parkson's in June. "And you'd inhe rit a good slice of money too. I should have done just the same. do they? Still. Raikes--poor Mary. with another guest. you waited to be alone before gratifying that 'interest' of yours?" "That was pure chance. during the whole afternoon. you were only alone for a couple of minute s. wouldn't you?" "Yes. I am referring to a little bottle of Hydro-chloride of Strychnine." "I suppose so too! Did you abstract any of the contents of the bottle?" "Certainly not." "Then how do you account for the fact that you left the unmistakable impress of your finger-prints on it?" The bullying manner was highly efficacious with a nervous disposition. The judge gave vent to a faint murmur of disapprobation. the 17th July." "I put it to you that you did do so?" "Yes. in answer to Mr. In a low voice. Sir Ernest." "Ah. "I--I suppose I must have taken up the bottle." "I suppose." Sir Ernest fairly shot the next question at him. wouldn't you?" "Really. I believe. you went. and having shot his arrow proceeded. I do not think so. Evelyn Howard had been right in her facts. Heavywether cared nothing for his client's anger." Sir Ernest bowed. Cavendish." "Ah! So poisons 'naturally interest' you. in Wales. If the others had been there. though her animosity against Alfr ed Inglethorp had caused her to jump to the conclusion that he was the person co ncerned. "You deny having ordered a black beard from Parkson's on June 29th?" "I do.
There was little more evidence. in the course of his long experience."I have nothing more to ask you. the prisoner had entered the chemist's shop in the village. and handed to the jury to examine. he would have come forward at the inquest to explain that it was he. The heads of the many fashionably attired women present were busily laid together. Inglethorp. Under Sir Ernest's skilful handl ing. John acquitted himself well in the witness-box. and it was possible that that might open up quite a new view of the case. in fact. lent val ue to his denials. gone to the appointed spot. but it was backed by the full force of his emphatic manner. he sa id. as he had pointed out. Let them take the testimony they had heard an d sift it impartially. What had actuall y occurred was this. couched in blackmailing terms. returning to the house on Tuesday evening. They all declared unanimously that it was certainly not his hand-writing." This bit of cross-examination had caused great excitement in court. and after waiting t here vainly for half an hour had returned home. if not stronger t han that against his brother. where he had been summoned by an anonymous note. No suspicion had entered the prisoner's head that anyone coul d possibly have mistaken his voice for that of Mr. The prisoner had. Unfortunately. but the greater pa rt of it was practically unproved. He would call evidence to show who did destroy the will. who had been the participato r in the quarrel. and said: "I should like to make one thing clear. he had met with n o one on the way there or back who could vouch for the truth of his story. Lawrence Cavendish was quite as strong. Inglethorp. He would direct their attention to the fact that th e evidence against Mr. The quarrel which had t aken place between prisoner and his stepmother was freely admitted. The prosecution had been u nable to produce a shred of evidence in support of their contention that it was the prisoner who ordered the black beard from Parkson's. The strychnine had been found in a drawer in the prisoner 's room. Inglethorp. His learned friend--Sir Ernest nodded carelessly at Mr. on the contrary. and he submitte d that there was no evidence to prove that it was the prisoner who had concealed the poison there. and threa tening to reveal certain matters to his wife unless he complied with its demands . and the disagreement with his stepmother. The prisoner. He naturally conc luded that his stepmother had had two quarrels. At the close of his examination. and was perfectly well aware that the will made in his favour a year before was automatically revoked by his stepmother's remarria ge. Philips--had stated that if the prisoner were an innocent man. The anonymous note received by him was produced. he paused. He would now call the prisoner. Mr. It was. a wicked and malicious attempt on the part o f some third person to fix the crime on the prisoner. and gave it as their view that it might be that of the prisoner disguised. was at that time at a lonely spot called Marston's Spinney. but both it and his financial embarrassments had been grossly exaggerated. That drawer was an unlocked one. He thought the facts had been misrepresented. The readiness with which he admitte d his financial difficulties. and not Mr. ha d been authoritatively told that there had been a violent quarrel between Mr. As for the statement relating to the destruction of the will. an d Mrs. Inglethorp. Finally. July 16th. they admitted that it might be the prisoner's hand-writing cleverly c ounterfeited. The prosecution averred that on Monday. had he known a charge of murder rest o n slighter evidence. but l uckily he had kept the note. Never. The prisoner. Cross -examined. Not only was it entirely circumstantial. I utterly reject and disapprove of Sir E . disguised as Mr. he told his tale credibly and well. the prisoner had f ormerly practiced at the Bar. and it would be produced as evidence. The hand-writing experts were called upon for th eir opinion of the signature of "Alfred Inglethorp" in the chemist's poison regi ster. he would point out to the jury that there was evidence against other pe ople besides John Cavendish. accordingly. and their whispers became so loud that the judge angrily threatened to have the court cle ared if there was not immediate silence. Cavendish. Sir Ernest Heavywether's speech in opening the case for the defence was not a lo ng one.
" Mr. you were there--and signed the register in his na me!" "That is absolutely untrue. the case was adjourned till Monday. my heart gave a leap of relief." "Your memory must be unusually short!" "No. anxious to prove an alibi." "Not when the servant Dorcas repeated certain fragments of the conversation--fra gments which you must have recognized?" "I did not recognize them." "Do you not think that it bears a marked resemblance to your own hand-writing--c arelessly disguised?" "No." "I put it to you that. . t he register. wearing a suit of Mr. I paid very little attention to my mother's actual words. My brother." said Mr. but who was neverthele ss horrified by such deliberate perjury. madame. I was told there had been a quarrel between my mother and Mr. you were really in the chemist's shop in Styles St . Philips' incredulous sniff was a triumph of forensic skill. and. He had that little frown between the eyes that I knew so well. and your own. Poirot. Still frowning. at the time you claim to have been waiting about at a so litary and unfrequented spot. "Ah. "What is it. mon ami." "Is it not a fact that. Evidently there was a likeli hood of John Cavendish being acquitted. "You have produced this note very opportunely. And never have I needed that more than now!" "What is the trouble?" I asked. Then the cross-examination began." I followed him. he went across to the desk and took out a small pack of patience cards. you conceived the idea of a fi ctitious and rather incredible appointment. Philips." Sir Ernest merely smiled. mon ami. I do not think so. and. This employment requires precision of the fingers. Inglethorp. my little friend waved aside Mary's offer of tea. had no more to do with the crime than I have. and he said at once: "No. is there nothing familia r about the hand-writing of it?" "Not that I know of. I thank you. things are going badly. that is a lie. to my utter a mazement. "No. I am not in my second childhood! I steady my nerves. I s not that very surprising?" "No. Tell me. with a black beard trimmed to resemble his. to the consideration of the jury.rnest Heavywether's insinuations against my brother. badly. Inglethorp's clothes." "I put it to you that it is your own hand-writing!" "No. I noticed. Mary. was looking profoundly discouraged. and it never occurred to me that such was not really the case. Then he drew up a chair to the table. where you purchased strychnine in the name of Alfred Inglethorp?" "No." "Then I will leave the remarkable similarity of hand-writing between the note. When we reached the house. With precision of the fingers goes precision of the brain. I will mount to my room. I think." "I put it to you that. He passed on to the subject of the note. that is all. "I understand you to say that it never entered your head that the witnesses at t he inquest could possibly have mistaken your voice for that of Mr. Poirot?" I inquired. and noted with a sharp eye that John's protest had pro duced a very favourable impression on the jury." In spite of myself. but we were both angry. and sat down with the air of a man who has done his duty. and wrote this note yourself in orde r to bear out your statement!" "No. Inglethorp. as it was growing late. I don't think so. I am convinced. said more than we meant. began solemnly to build card houses! My jaw dropped involuntarily. After this.
so I held my peace. "I expect he will be back before dinner. agai n annihilated his masterpiece of cards. "One of your 'little ideas'?" "Ah. with great placidity. tearing down the street. He never hesita ted or faltered. Chapter XII The Last Link POIROT'S abrupt departure had intrigued us all greatly. madame. and he began slowly buil ding up the cards again. Inglethorp's bedroom had been f orced. Poirot demolished his carefully built up edific e. without doubt. my friend. "It is--it is--that I have an idea!" "Oh!" I exclaimed. madame!' And." "Well. "What a steady hand you've got. hat less. to see Poirot alighting from a car. uttering a hoarse and inarticulate cry. and your hand shook like a leaf! I must say----" But I stopped suddenly. there he was. "Good heavens." Mary smiled sadly. "What is the matter? Are you taken ill?" "No." I could not quite tell what to say. "I don't know. and putting his hands over his eyes sway ed backwards and forwards. and before I had recovered from my surprise ran headlong from the room. when suddenly he said he had an idea ." I remarked." observed Poirot. and we stared helplessly at one another. For Poirot. "This time it is an idea gigantic! Stu pendous! And you--*You. ma foi. and still he did not reappear. "What can be the matter?" I shook my head. Do you remember? It was when you disco vered that the lock of the despatch-case in Mrs. "I believe I've only seen your hand shake once. have given it to me!" Suddenly clasping me in his arms. He radiated a n absurd complacency. and Poirot had not returned. that you have carte blanche in every way. The little man was transformed. mon ami! That I can build card houses seven stories high. before I could a nswer. Monsieur Lawrence. "Miss Howard--here. He was building card houses." I hurried to the window. no!" replied Poirot frankly. and gesticulating as he went. True enough.With a great thump on the table. He bowed with exaggerated respect to Mary Cavendish. Mary Cavendish entered at that moment." "You are too amiable. I have your permission to hold a little reunion in the salon? It is nec essary for every one to attend. "It is done--so! By placing--one card--on another--with mathematical--precision! " I watched the card house rising under his hands. but I can not"--thump--"find"--thump--"that last link of which I spoke to you. Sunday morning wore away ." Still beaming. bringing forward chairs as he did so. "It is this.room. Poirot marshalled us all into the drawing. But about three o'clock a ferocious and prolong ed hooting outside drove us to the window. much relieved. he had dashed out into the street. "You know. he kissed me warmly on both cheeks. speaking in jerks as he did so. apparently suffering the keenest agony. and rushed off as you saw. "What is the matter with Monsieur Poirot? He rushed past me crying out: 'A garag e! For the love of Heaven. I turned to Mary with a gesture of despair. There he goes. Poirot!" I cried. a ccompanied by Japp and Summerhaye. twiddling the things on it in your usual f ashion. direct me to a garage. no. The good Dorcas. You stood by the mantel-piece. Mademoiselle Cynthia. "He'll be stopped by a policeman in another minute. Monsieur Poirot." said Mary." "On an occasion when I was enraged." he gasped. "Madame." But night fell. round the cor ner!" Our eyes met. It was really almost like a conjuring trick. An . "Yes indeed! You were in a towering rage. story by story.
Cavendish has n ot arrived with the rest.d Annie. Cavendish's door. Inglethorp awakens and is seized with an alarming paroxysm. Mrs. the fall of the table by the bed. Nor did they recognize it for what it was--a piece torn fr om a green land armlet. Poirot rose from his seat with the air of a popular lecturer. and retreats quickly to Mademoiselle Cynthia's room. went to the deceased's room. Cavendish. I leave it!" "No. thirdly. Also. Mrs. Suddenly Mrs. t he fragment corresponds exactly with a tear in Mrs. A few minutes later Alfred Inglethorp entered the room. Therefore it must have been Mrs. But in the first place we have only her word for it. I took an early opportunity of verifying my conjectures. Cavendish's armlet. It occurs to nobody that Mrs. What can she do? Quick as though t. startled. but smiling. she hurries back to the young girl's room." He looked at Mary Cavendish. Cavendish. I was convinced that. far from having been in her own room. Mrs. I handed the fragment over to the police who did not consider i t of much importance. Cavendish who entered the deceased's room thro ugh the door communicating with Mademoiselle Cynthia's room. "Messieurs. "Quite right. I found it caught in the bolt of the communicating door between that room and the adjoining one occupied by Madem oiselle Cynthia. by the advice of the doctors. I at once examined the bedroom of the deceased which . since it was she who tried that particular door and reported it fastened. monsieur. scattering the grease on the carpet." "But that door was bolted on the inside!" I cried. but--and this is significant--I can find no one who sa w her come from the other wing. You understand that. We will say that she is seeking for something and has not yet found it . Cavendish was not sp eaking the truth when she declared that she had been dressing in her room at the time of the tragedy. This confirmed my belief that Mrs. Mrs. madam e?" She bowed her head. Cavendish was actually in the deceased's room when the alarm was given. no!" Poirot went up to her and pleaded in a low voice." I shot a quick glance at Mary. a stain on the carpet near the window." There was a little stir of excitement. Monsieur Hastings ha d heard no sound at all. for the servants mu st not find her where she is. second. had been kept locked. just outside Mrs. overturning the bed table. Inglethorp's door. She picks it up. The hastily aroused household come trooping down the passage. but found that. from her own room. To begin with. "I proceeded to reason on that assumption. Finally Miss Howard consented to return to her chair. I myself. But it is too late! Already footsteps are echoing along the gallery which connects the two wings. Bien! We must delay our proceedings a few minutes until Mr. "Now there was only one person at Styles who worked on the land--Mrs. I n the ensuing confusion she would have had ample opportunity to shoot the bolt a cross. at the inquest. as you all know. In fact. "When I examined the room. She hurries out into the passage. drops her candle. I have sent him a note. "Am I right. a n empty box of bromide powders. apparently accidentally. I took an early opportunity of testing that state ment by stationing my friend Monsieur Hastings in the left wing of the building. But it did not seem . knocked ove r the table in question. She was very pale. as I had expected. The company once assembled. and starts shaking her awake. I was called in by Monsieur John Cavendis h to investigate this case. mesdames. "If that man comes into the house." Miss Howard rose immediately from her seat. and whilst there I. if I had thought I would do my husb and any good by revealing these facts. They are all busily ba ttering at Mrs. I found: first. Cavendish is in her mother-in-la w's room. Inglethorp arrives. She flings out her arm. cl osing the door behind her. a fragment of green material. "To take the fragment of green material first. and then pulls desperately at the bell. in company with the police. and bowed politely to his audience. and was consequently exact ly as it had been when the tragedy occurred. Cavendish declared that she had heard. I would have done so. still damp. yes.
At 5 o'clock. At 5 o'clock she is in violent distress. something has occurred to occasion a complete r evolution of feeling. messieurs. of course. She admits to Dorcas. I fell into a grievous error. What idiots we had been never to think of that fire as being inco ngruous! Poirot was continuing: "The temperature on that day. Now. as we know. But it cleared my mind of many misconcepti ons. and in searching for the stamps she came across something else--that slip of paper which Dorcas saw in her hand. Inglethorp." I gave a gasp. an hour later. and it is then that she orders the fire in her room to be lighted. She therefore opened the de sk. and coul d think of no other way. in consequence of the War econo mics practiced at Styles. John Cavendish.' At 4 o'clock she has been angry. I nglethorp ordered a fire! Why? Because she wished to destroy something. she tried her o wn keys in the desk.to me to bear upon the question of his guilt or innocence. We know this." "In a sense. "Then it was you. The moment I heard of a fi re being lighted in Mrs. Dorcas finds her mistress in a state of consid erable agitation. t hat these words were addressed. and left me free to see other facts in their true significance. not to her husband. and. but the standpoint i s different. but I believe my guess to be correct. t hen. Because.' Dorcas thinks--in her hand. Inglethorp. On the other hand. That one of them fitted I know. There was therefore no means of destroying a thick document such as a will.who. Now in the opposite corner of the room stood her husband's desk--locked." I conjectured. according to my theory. At 4. Dorcas overheard her mistre ss saying angrily: 'You need not think that any fear of publicity. between 4. Yet Mrs. Inglethorp herself!" "Impossible!" I exclaimed. madame. Ingleth orp ordered a fire to be lighted in her room. because later she asked Dorcas to bring her some. Inglethorp's determination to destroy her will arose a s a direct consequence of the quarrel she had that afternoon. What was that something? "As far as we know." "The will!" cried Lawrence. overheard the greater par t of the conversation.30 and 5 o'clock. I leaped to the conclusion that it w as to destroy some important document--possibly a will. in consequence of a conversatio n on the validity of wills. and which assuredly was never meant for Mrs . Inglethorp's room. she uses almost the same words. it was Mrs. "Here. A t 5 o'clock." he said quietly. Mrs. no waste paper was thrown away. 'I don't know what to do. and Poirot shook his also. scandal between hus band and wife is a dreadful thing. as she wa s before to make it. and conjectured rightly. "She had only made it out that very afternoon!" "Nevertheless. So the discovery of the charred fragment in the grate was no surprise to me. was 80 degrees in the shade. I faced t he problem from a new standpoint. I drew one deduction which I was convinc ed was correct. "Looking at the matter psychologically. Inglethorp quarrels with her son. at 4 o'clock. who destroyed the will?" She shook her head. makes a will in favour of her husband. and I was forced to abandon that idea. Mary. Mrs. I was wrong. You will remember that. S he was anxious to find some stamps. Mrs. Inglethorp had n o stamps in her desk. by the way. I came to the conclusion that Mrs.30. and speaks of having had a great shock. and I w ill admit that. with a slip of paper--'a letter. on one of the hottest days of the year. since she is now as anxious to destroy the will. Presumably. and th reatens to denounce him to his wife-. Cavendish believed that the slip of paper to which her mother-in-law clung so tenaciously was a written proof of he . which the two gardeners witness. At 4 o'clock. she was quite alone during that half-hour. but to Mr. know at the time that the will in question had only been made this afternoon. "There is only one person who could possibly have destroy ed that will--Mrs. when I learnt that fact. Mrs. and not before the making of the will. The second 'scandal' she spoke of was not the same as the first-and it concerned herself! "Let us reconstruct. "No. or scandal be tween husband and wife will deter me. Inglethorp's eyes. Nobody entered or left that boudoir. that is correct. I did not. and that therefore the quarrel took place after. but complet ely mistress of herself. What then occasioned this sudden change of sentiment? "One can only guess. Mrs. in no other way can you account for the fact that. mon ami.
" "Drugged?" "Mais. and. she was madly jealous of her husband. the housemaid. Coffee had been brought in for seven persons. and quickly drops t he coffee-cup and saucer used by Mademoiselle Cynthia into a large brass vase." said Lawrence quickly. oui!" "You remember"--he addressed us collectively again--"that through all the tumult and noise next door Mademoiselle Cynthia slept. I had to confess myself mistaken. and immediately after she hears the word 'Poison'! She has believed that the sleeping draught she administ ered was perfectly harmless. I examined all the coffee-cups most carefully . for there was now one cup missing. She is seized with panic. Mrs. She dressed comple tely in her land kit. Cavendish. and made her way quietly through Mademoiselle Cynthia's ro om into that of Mrs. That admitted of two possibilit ies. therefore. the sixth being the one found broken in Mrs. "With this latter idea in my mind. She demanded it from Mrs. Now M rs. My attention was at tracted by the story of Annie about some 'salt' on the tray of coco which she to ok every night to Mrs. Inglethorp who assured her . and had them analysed-with no result. Inglethorp. quite truly. since Annie. Inglethorp's room. "Mrs. Mrs. Cavendish administered a safe. in the event of one having be en removed. remembering that it was Mrs. She determined to get hold of that paper at all c osts. as I did. He did not have it tested. "I was confident that the missing cup was that of Mademoiselle Cynthia. Possibly she applied oil to the hinges. and six cups were duly found. This changed the face of the whole affair. Bauerstein had been there th at evening. mademoiselle. I had an additional reason for that belief in the fact that all the cups found contained sugar. Inglethorp's death lay at her door. narcotic to both Mrs. or was not. f or I found that it opened quite noiselessly when I tried it. brought in seven cups. Cavendish did no t believe her. "Not exactly. that it had nothing to do with that matter. Inglethorp and Mademoiselle Cynthia. whereas Dorcas. who took in the coffee. behind her mask of reserve. made her plans as only a woman driven desperate thro ugh jealousy could have done." "But that had already been done by Dr. She thought that Mrs. Here is the analyst's report. not six. and Cynthia interrupted: "But I should have woken up if anyone had come through my room?" "Not if you were drugged. which had been lost that morning. I accordingly secured a sample of that coco. She k new that her mother-in-law invariably kept all important papers in this particul ar case. She put off her pro ject until the early hours of the morning as being safer. Cavendish is a very resolute woman. Either her sleep was feigned--which I did not believe--or her unconsciousne ss was indeed by artificial means. since the servants wer e accustomed to hearing her move about her room at that time. but effe ctual. The remains of the coco she da . Inglethorp was shielding her stepson. present. who cleared them away the following morning. She happened to pick up the key of Mrs. The analyst was asked by him to report whether strychnine was. Inglethorp never drank i t. and in this resolution chance came to her aid. for a narcotic. for Dr." "For a narcotic?" "Yes. Inglethorp's room. I took a sample from each cup." He paused a moment. And it is poss ible that she had a mauvais quart d'heure in consequence! Imagine her feelings w hen her mother-in-law is suddenly taken ill and dies. w here it is discovered later by Monsieur Lawrence. not knowing that Mr. "Then I discovered that I had been guilty of a very grave oversight. Bauerstein. Some time in the evening she unbolted the door lea ding into Mademoiselle Cynthia's room. but there is no doubt that for one terrible moment she must have feared that Mrs. Inglethorp's despatch-case.r own husband's infidelity. I had counted the cups carefully. The servants noticed nothing. and sent it to be analysed. and under its influence she hurries downstairs. found six as usu al--or strictly speaking she found five. Cavendish who had brought Mademoiselle Cynthia he r coffee the night before. which Mademoiselle Cynthia never took in her coffee. Six persons had taken coffee.
and would have died. Inglethorp's room? There were some peculiar points about that stain. You will remember my speaking of a stain on the carpet in Mrs. . It was still damp. and the treacherous table had played her the same trick. The coffee was never drunk. and imbedded in the nap of the carpet I found s ome little splinters of china. Too many eyes are upon her. Inglethorp would have been quite alone in the right wing. "Her medicine!" "Do you mean that the murderer introduced the strychnine into her tonic?" I crie d. as the book describes. One or two of those powders introduced into the full bottle of medicine would effectually precipitat e the strychnine. Monsieur Poirot. Inglethorp had laid down her cup of coffee on r eaching her room the night before." "Exactly. "We are now able to account for the symptoms of strychnine poisoning being so lo ng in making their appearance. Mrs. The s trychnine that killed Mrs. but I should say that Mrs. and then answer ed himself impressively. and drank it off t hen and there. . c ompletely shut off from help of any kind. . . . 3viii Fiat Mistura This solution deposits in a few hours the greater part of the strychnine salt as an insoluble bromide in transparent crystals. . but to leave th e sediment at the bottom of it undisturbed. On that day. eh? But you would not trust me. had deposited it upon the floor on precisely the identical spo t. and she discovers that after all the tragedy is not her doing.I Potass Bromide . gr. Guess at her relief when strychnine is mentioned. Feeling in need of a stimulant of some kind." said Lawrence. But in her hurry to be in time f . Now we are faced with a new problem. Inglethorp never drank it. "The drugged coco. I understand now----" "What I meant when I told you that you could safely confess to Papa Poirot. I shall never forget it. so that Mrs. "All you have said is quite true. of course. "What happened next is mere guess work on my part. there have been evidences that the tragedy was intended to take place on Monday evening." "I see everything now. or was it not? We come to a little diffic ulty here. You will learn later that the person who usually poured out Mrs.re not touch. no bromide in Dr. . Mary looked up at him. and the t able. It was the most awful hour of my life. Inglethorp was the identical strychnine prescribed by Dr. Wilkins' prescription. In glethorp picked up the broken cup and placed it on the table by the bed. A lady in England lost her life b y taking a similar mixture: the precipitated strychnine collected at the bottom. amply accounts for the delay. and cause it to be taken in the last do se. taken on top of the po isoned coffee. 3vi Aqua ad . the colour slowly rising in her face. . In exactly the same way. . but you will remember that I mentioned an empty box of bromide powders. . . To make that clear to you. before medical aid could have been summoned." "What?" The cry of surprise was universal. What third medium was ther e--a medium so suitable for disguising the taste of strychnine that it is extrao rdinary no one has thought of it?" Poirot looked round the room. We know the coco contained n o strychnine." Poirot paused. "There was no need to introduce it. and in taking the last dose she swallowed nearly all of it!" "Now there was. . . she heated up her coco. Yet the strychnine must have been admi nistered between seven and nine o'clock that evening. . . for not two mi nutes before I had placed my little case on the table near the window. It was already there-. Mrs. . . since Mrs. in all probabilit y. But was the coffee poisoned. . it e xhaled a strong odour of coffee. . . A narcotic taken with strychnine will delay the a ction of the poison for some hours. "No. Inglethorp's bell wire was neat ly cut. . "Throughout the case. and on Monday evening Mademoiselle Cynthia was spending the night with f riends. But you are wonderful. What had happened was plain to me. I will read you an extract from a book on dispensing which I found in the Dispensary of the Red Cross Hospital at Tadmi nster: " 'The following prescription has become famous in text books: Strychninae Sulph .in the mixture. tilting up. Wilkins. Inglethorp' s medicine was always extremely careful not to shake the bottle.
on the contrar y. she realized her danger. "at the beginning. mon ami. a little mollified. it is possible that Mrs. Inglethorp. You understand. mes amis! Had it been a little cle arer in its terms. a nd it is owing to that delay that the final proof-." I grumbled. Think now. No one can possibly bring home the crime to me. the letter breaks off. As it was. and his assailant fell with a crash. my friend. would ha ve escaped. John and Mary were together once more. "I've half a mind to strangle you! What do yo u mean by deceiving me as you have done?" We were sitting in the library. Poirot pieced together the slips of paper and. Alfred In glethorp that astute gentleman would have--in your so expressive idiom--'smelt a rat'! And then. At most. "A letter in the murderer's own hand-writing. but----" "And did I not immediately afterwards speak of the difficulty of bringing the mu rderer to justice? Was it not plain to you that I was speaking of two entirely d ifferent persons?" "No. you old villain. and th e next day she lunched away from home. bon jour to our chances of catching him!" "I think that I have more diplomacy than you give me credit for. It is but the extremely beautiful nature that y ou have. warned in time. did I not repeat to you sever al times that I didn't want Mr. I had Poirot to myself." "My friend. You would not take them. "it was not plain to me!" "Then again." . to conceal your feelings is i mpossible! If I had told you my ideas." besought Poirot. "I implore you. Poirot skipped nimbly aside. Mr. Now at last. Several hectic days lay behind us. with a flourish. so that the last--and fatal--dose was act ually taken twenty-four hours later than had been anticipated by the murderer. while Alfred Inglethorp and Miss Ho ward were in custody." continued Poirot." "Well. Doubtless the writer was interrupted. "I still think you might have given me a hint. I permitted you to deceive yourself. tell you that he would almost certainly be acquitted?" "Yes. my friends. Poirot did not answer me for a moment. It is all right--only it will be to-nig ht instead of last night. but not the manner of it. read: " 'Dearest Evelyn: 'You will be anxious at hearing nothing.the last link of the chain-is now in my hands. but at last he said: "I did not deceive you. Inglethorp arrested *NOW? That should have conve yed something to you." Amid breathless excitement. but why?" "Well. Several hints. but there can be no question as to his identity. "let me introduce you to th e murderer. mesdames. he held out three thin strips of paper. my friend." I said. the very first time you saw Mr." In the deathly silence. that--enfin. "Messieurs. That idea of yours about the bromides was a stroke of genius! But we must be very circumspect." "Yes." I said. A quick movement on his par t. We all know this hand-writing a nd----" A howl that was almost a scream broke the silence. "You devil! How did you get it?" A chair was overturned. clearing his throat. Inglethorp forgot to take her medicine." "But I did. it is difficult to explain. did I ever say to you that I believed John Cavendish guilty? Did I not." said Poirot. you have a nature so hone st. A false step----' "Here. There's a good time coming once the ol d woman is dead and out of the way. do not enrage yourself! Your help has been of the most invaluable. and a countenance so transparent. You see.or the village entertainment Mrs. and could relieve my still burning curiosity. which made me pause. Alfred Inglethorp!" Chapter XIII. Poirot Explains "POIROT. In the room b elow.
Raikes. when I discovered that Inglethorp had nothing t o do with Mrs. Inglethorp's large sized bottle of medicine when it came from Coot's? The ri sk is practically nil. Who else? It was most easy for her. and I was slowly forced to the conclusion that Alfred Inglethorp wanted to be arrested. and ther e. his silence was perfectly comprehensible. This attitude of his gave me furiously to think. which she occasionally took at night. she and Inglethorp are cousins. To begin with. It was nons ense to pretend that he was afraid of the scandal. Probably the idea came to her quite suddenly." "When did you change your mind?" "When I found that the more efforts I made to clear him. mon ami. yes. Inglethorp had a box of bromide powders. my views as to Mr. moreover. but from what I knew of Mr. Inglethorp I fancied that it would be v ery hard to find anything to connect him with it. you cannot complain. But. he was safe for life!" "But I still don't see how he managed to prove his alibi. You remember her once mentionin g that her father was a doctor? Possibly she dispensed his medicines for him. Eh bien! from that moment. he knew that in his position he was boun d to be suspected. it is the law of your country that a man once acquitted can n ever be tried again for the same offence. I am inclined to think that Miss Howard was the master mind in that affair. What could be easier than quietly to dissolve one or more of those powders in M rs. I was equally determined that he should not be arrested. If it had been Inglethorp who was carrying on an intrigue with Mrs . in fact. She is of a good height. and yet go to the chem ist's shop?" Poirot stared at me in surprise. I realized at once that it was Mrs." "Yes. they will have f orgotten it by that time. They are a clever pair!" "I am still a little fogged as to how exactly the bromide business was done. He wished to be arrested. her husband would benefit the most. she was familiar with the fact that the addition of a bromide to a mixture containing strychnine would cause th e precipitation of the latter. a nd there is a distinct resemblance between them. as I say." "Well. Then. hey presto. Mrs . Anyway. There was no getting away from that. so he conceived the exceedingly clever idea of preparing a lo t of manufactured evidence against himself. Inglethorp who had burnt the will. If anyone has seen either of them touching the medicine. I had no idea as to how the crime had bee n committed. his silence bore quite a different interpretation. "Bon! I will reconstruct for you as far as possible. When I arrived at the chateau. for I tried my best to force on y ou the significance of that bedroom fire in midsummer. when I discovered that it was known all over the village that it was John who was attracted by the farm er's pretty wife. by the way. See here." "Wait a minute. Inglethorp's death."Do you mean to say you suspected him as long ago as that?" "Yes. The lapse of time." I said impatiently. especially in their gait and be aring. whoever else might benefit by Mrs. Inglethorp's guilt were very much shaken. I don't see why he wished to be arrested?" "Because. or she may have taken the idea from one of the many books lying about when Mademoi selle Cynthia was studying for her exam. There was. will defeat all suspici . The tragedy will not take place until nearly a fortnight later. Raikes and that in fact it was John Cavendish who was interested in that quarter. my friend. I was quite sure. my friend. "Is it possible? My poor friend! You have not yet realized that it was Miss Howa rd who went to the chemist's shop?" "Miss Howard?" "But." I remarked. and her absence. remember. as no possible scandal could attach to him." "But why?" "Simply this. he r voice is deep and manly. the more efforts he mad e to get himself arrested. so much evidence against him that I was inclined to believe that he had not done it. He would t hen produce his irreproachable alibi--and. Miss Howard will have engineered her quarrel. Aha! but it was clever--his idea! Assu redly. It was simplicity itself. he is a man of method. When I went up to Styles with you that first day. certainly. and depa rted from the house. "Go on.
"Mrs. She decides to say nothi ng to her husband. it was a clever idea! If they had left it alone.on. "So far. enters the chemist's shop. On Monday. with her story about a dog. too. and the keys are nowhere to be seen. and he sits down to write to his accomplice. and discover the incri minating document." Poirot puffed at his tiny cigarette. Bu t he sees clearly that everything must be risked for the sake of that damning pi ece of evidence. Mrs. . and that Mrs. Alfred Inglethorp returns to Styles. And then--he makes his slip. and somewhat f lurried he hastily shuts and locks his desk. At six o'clock. Miss Howard has previously made up a cock and bull story about him and Mrs. Quickly. I have discovered that there were only five short minutes in which he could have taken it--the five minutes immediately befo re our own arrival on the scene. Yes. Inglethorp will take the last dose of her medicine. Mrs. Caught in the act. Inglethorp does not take her medicine that night. "But. by buying strychnine at the village chemist's.arranged by Inglethorp through his wife--al l these are wasted. it is possible the cri me might never have been brought home to them." "Look at it from his point of view. and would have seen anyone who passed going to the right wing. as it will never do if John. Inglethorp returned earlier than he expected. disguised as Alfred Inglethorp. Inglethorp might catch sight of the letter before he could snatch it up. and she also determines to destroy immediately the will which sh e has just made. why didn't he destroy it at once when he got hold of it?" "Because he did not dare take the biggest risk of all--that of keeping it on his own person. is what happened. at six o'clock. all goes well. t herefore. after all. is only wanted as a bl ind to throw suspicion on John Cavendish. for before that time Annie was brushing the sta irs. who. "But this. He hurries to the despatch-case--it is locked. The broken bell. But they were not satisfied. he forces the lock with a penknife. Alfred Inglethorp arranges to be seen by a number of p eople at a spot far removed from the village. his eyes fixed on the ceiling. fo r it means that his presence in the room cannot be concealed as he had hoped. the sentence about the bromides conveys no warning to her mind. as we know. little dreaming that Mrs. which." "I don't understand. They tried to be too clever--and that was their undoing. may be in a panic at the nonsuccess of their plan. Inglethorp reads it. She keeps the fatal letter. and from the enormous risk he ran we can see how fully he realized its imp ortance. can prove an alibi. then. That letter excepted. Figure to yo urself the scene! He enters the room." "It was to discover that letter." "There's only one thing I can't make out. Miss Howard goes back to Middlingham. Cynthia's absence-. and signing the register in his hand-writing. So he goes out and walks in the woods. asking him to come on the morrow. and becomes a ware of the perfidy of her husband and Evelyn Howard. "They arranged a plan to throw suspicion on John Cavendish. that her husband forced the lock of the d espatch-case?" "Yes. He fears that if he remains in the room he may have to open it again. unlocking the door by means of one of the other doorkeys--they were all much alike. there was absolutely nothing to connect him with the crime. Miss Howard. Raikes to account for his holding his tongue afterwards. Inglethorp will open his desk. which she had pre viously studied carefully. It is probable that Mrs. he fe ars. Inglethorp is out. since it is Miss Howard who has the strychnine. "But now a hitch occurs. She knows that she is in danger--but is ignorant of where the danger lies. That is a terrible blow to him. but sits down and writes to her solicitor. a nd writes the name of Alfred Inglethorp in John's handwriting. "On Monday Mrs. There is nothing that can compromise him in any way. she writes him an an onymous note--still copying his hand-writing --which takes him to a remote spot where it is exceedingly unlikely that anyone will see him. unfortunately. obtains the strychnine. and turns over the papers until he finds what he is looking for. though.
too. Inglethorp. Wells and John leaving the boudoir. there would be no need to str aighten them again. He was therefore forced to depart from the house. I was not sure then if Inglet horp was the criminal or not. and he sees--what do you think." "Then."But now a fresh dilemma arises: he dare not keep that piece of paper on him." "Ah. a t his leisure. who would be watching him unceasingly. if they were already straightened. You rushed down to Styles." "To me?" "Yes. but he had no opportunity. and found it still there?" "Yes. my friend. Do you remember telling me that my hand shook as I was straightening the o rnaments on the mantel-piece?" "Yes. my friend. she never spoke to Alfred Inglethorp. to come back and destroy this solitary piece of evidence against him. but I don't see----" "No. Poirot nodded. and until John Cavendish was safely convicted they neithe r of them dared risk a meeting. since no one had t hought of looking there in the first week. The paper was safe where it was. and by enlisting the sympath y of the household I could effectually prevent his destroying it. "Yes. some one else had touched them. but if he was I reasoned that he would not have th e paper on him. But for your lucky remark. leaving it in the spill vase. They were supposed to be deadly enemies. He must act quickly." "But I still can't understand why Inglethorp was such a fool as to leave it ther e when he had plenty of opportunity to destroy it." I uttered an exclamation. "No one would think of looking there. I saw to that. it was in the spill vase in Mrs." Poirot continued. There are no means of destroying it. hoping that sooner or later he would lead me to the hiding-place." "But surely Miss Howard had ample opportunities of aiding him." . If the paper is found on him. "And he will be able. But he was too clever to take any chances. and being himself aware of their watchfulness he would not dare seek further to destroy th e document." "Yes. but would have hidden it somewhere. "In a moment." "I understand that now. Inglethorp's bedroom." "Well. it was not likely they would do so af terwards. when we had been there together. but Miss Howard did not know of the paper's existence. I remembered that earlier in the morning . Where can he hide this terrible slip of paper? The contents of the waste-paper-basket are kept and in any case. but I saw.' and I owe that very fortunate discovery to you. Inglethorp. Do you know. he hears the sounds below of Mr. I saw there was just one chance. He was already under suspicion. unde r our very noses?" I cried." "You?" "Yes. and by making 190> the matter public I secured the services of about ten amateur detectives. in the meantime. And." I murmured. it is certain doom. He looks round. He may be seen leaving the room--he may be searched. mon ami?" I shook my head. Probably. That is where I discovered my 'last link. and rolling them up into spills he thrusts them hurriedly in amongst the other spills in the vase on the mantle-piece. my friend. all the time. he has torn the letter into long thin strips. "so that is the explanation of your extraordinary behavio ur. I had straightened all the objects on the man tel-piece." "Dear me. unless. In accordance with their prearranged plan. Do you remember reproving me for taking the household into my confidence o n the subject?" "Yes. but when did you first begin to suspect Miss Howard?" "When I discovered that she had told a lie at the inquest about the letter she h ad received from Mrs. at this minute. and it was a race for time. and he dare not keep it. are sure to be examined. we might never have been able to bring him to justice. Of course I had a watch kept on Mr.
" "You did not understand that he believed Mademoiselle Cynthia guilty of the crim e?" "No." "But why?" "That is exactly what I asked myself. whilst his mother lay there." "I don't quite see why they tried to fix the blame on John. obviously poisoned." I exclaimed. "after that. Why does Miss Howard suppress the letter w ritten on the 17th. While suspicion was to be directe d against him. there was that rather over-vehement hatred of hers! It concealed a very oppos ite emotion. a tie of passion between them long before h e came to Styles. She will see to it that sooner or later they are duly discove red. You will remember my saying that it was wise to beware of people who wer e not telling you the truth. astonished. No suspicion attaches to her. and then gain their ends by a very cleverly conceived crime. the n. a nd left large clear spaces between her words. It must." "You will recollect. Poirot!" "No." I confessed. but rather foolish old lady. that the door into Madem oiselle Cynthia's room was unbolted. "Impossible!" "Not at all. of course. You realize." . They had already arranged their infamous plot--that he should marry this rich. Do you see what I mean?" "No." "His manner was unfortunate. what was at the back of that?" "No. "Exactly. No notice is paid to her coming and going i n the house. you gave me two reasons why Miss Ho ward could not have committed the crime!" "And very good reasons too. and produce this faked one instead? Because she did not wish to show the letter of the 17th. Wells that first question about the will." I observed thoughtfully. undoubtedly. "And that was just what confirmed my suspicion tha t it was not. There was."Why." "You do not see that that letter was not written on the 17th." I remarked. All the evidence against him arose out of pure a ccident. But if you look at the date at the top of the letter you will notice that 'July 17th' is quite different in this r espect. in fact. what was there to lie about?" "You saw that letter? Do you recall its general appearance?" "Yes--more or less. she would be making quiet preparations for a very different denou ement. over your shoulder. as Dorcas recounted them to us. Why. but that was mere chance." "And yet. I f all had gone as they planned. again? And at once a suspicion dawned in m y mind. he saw. b ut the reasons against that did not debar her from being an accomplice. but on the 7th--th e day after Miss Howard's departure? The '1' was written in before the '7' to tu rn it into the '17th'. "It wou ld have been much easier for them to bring the crime home to Lawrence. they would probably have left England. I myself nearly had the same idea. Shall I tell you what made Monsieur Lawrence turn so pale when he first ent ered his mother's room on the fatal night? It was because. induce her to make a will leaving her money to him. She could not have committed the crime single-handed. She arrives from Middlingham with all the compromising items in her posse ssion." "Yes. "I don't. There was really more evidence against her than anyone else. and lived together on their poor victim's money. that Mrs. "They are a very astute and unscrupulous pair." "But he declared that he saw it bolted!" I cried. It was in my mind when I asked M r. She puts the b eard in the attic. Then there were the bromide powders which she had made up." said Poirot dryly." "You are joking. And. and her clever male impersonations. Inglethorp wrote a very distinctive hand. have been distinctly annoying to the pair of schemers . She hides the strychnine and glasses in John's room. "Yes. "For a long time they were a stumbl ing-block to me until I remembered a very significant fact: that she and Alfred Inglethorp were cousins. then. He was shielding Mademoiselle Cynthia." replied Poirot." I cried indignantly.
Cavendish who had hidden it. I am glad it has all ended so happily. Do you remember the day of John Cavendish's arrest. He was ne arly driven desperate." "Pardon me. Monsieur Lawrence did not know at all what I meant. remembering that *SHE had gone up with his mother the night before. Inglethorp mean by her dying words?" "They were. Thenceforward. But they had drifted very far apart." remarked Poirot." "Then she certainly did mind very much. mon ami?" "Cynthia herself. She married him without lo ve." I laughed. mon ami. He drifted in to an entanglement with Mrs. he came to the conclusion that if he could find an extra coffee-cup anywhere his lady love would be cleared of suspicion. Poirot. my friend. on reflecti on. They were entirely in the dark as to my real attitude up to the very last moment--whi ch partly accounts for my success." I said with a sigh. upheld the theory of 'Death from natural caus es'. do you not realize that it was simply and solely the trial whic h has brought them together again? That John Cavendish still loved his wife. he positively dislikes her. "But why? It was most obvious. you are quite wrong! I happen to know for a fact that. but I had to make sure." "La pauvre petite! And she was concerned?" "She said that she did not mind at all." I said. but." "Do you mean that you could have saved John Cavendish from being brought to tria l?" "Yes. he jumped to the conclusion that Mademoiselle Cynthia knew something about the matter. Whe n he entered his mother's room."But why should he shield her?" "Because he is in love with her. I w as convinced. First he crushed the coffee-cup to powder under his feet. I could have cleare d him--though it might have meant a failure to convict the real criminals. Did not Monsieur Lawrence make the sour face ever y time Mademoiselle Cynthia spoke and laughed with his brother? He had taken it into his long head that Mademoiselle Cynthia was in love with Monsieur John. "There. of course. and their pride held them inexorably apart. The colossal cheek of the little man! Wh o on earth but Poirot would have thought of a trial for murder as a restorer of conjugal happiness! "I perceive your thoughts." "Thanks to me. But they are both unusually proud. Also. I was trying to decide whether or not I would clear John Cavendish at once." "And what about the 'extra coffee-cup'?" "I was fairly certain that it was Mrs. an accusation against her husband. Poirot. and she deliberately cultivated the friends hip of Dr. He is a sensitive man in his way. her love awoke. far from being in love with her. mon ami. "They are like that--l es femmes!" "What you say about Lawrence is a great surprise to me. and saw her obviously poisoned. I quite understood your distress." "Dear me." said Poirot. And he was perfectly right. He knew it." "How do you mean--thanks to you?" "My dear friend. and quite uselessly. he strenuously. Bauerstein. and he dete rmined that there should be no chance of testing its contents." I looked at Poirot in silent amazement." "Who told you that. What did Mrs. that she was equally in love with him." "One thing more. as he withdrew. And. smiling at me. when you found me deliberating over a big decision?" "Yes. Raikes. "I think you have explained everything. "No one but Her cule Poirot would have attempted such a thing! And you are wrong in condemning i t. but you did not understand it in the least. he would not force himself upo n her if she did not want him. But I eventually decided in favour of 'a woman's happiness'. No thing but the great danger through which they have passed could have brought the se two proud souls together again. The happiness of one man and one woman is the greatest thing in all the world . Even John and his wife are reconciled. It all arose from a misunderstanding.
Now Cynthia had looked charming. then. a s John Cavendish had caught his wife in his arms. "They are two delightful women!" "And neither of them is for you?" finished Poirot. is it not so? " Lawrence blushed. She had started up. "I have brought him back to y ou." I said. and rushed out of the room agai n. "Never mind." replied Poirot philosophically. "We must congratulate you. there was a tap at the door. but did not sit down. it is the greatest thing i n the world. It was very nice to be kissed by Cynthia. "Yes. There had come the sound of the be ll below. "But----" "Here he is. my friend. Poirot. We may hunt together again. Poirot had opened the door. "It means that she has discovered Monsieur Lawrence does not dislike her as much as she thought." I said gently. I remembered Mary as she lay white and exhausted on the sofa. I sighed. "What is it. "Eh! Monsieur Lawrence. but the publicity of the salute rather impaired the pleasure. springing up. who knows? And then----" -. and then smiled awkwardly. and Cynthia peeped in." Suddenly. "I--only wanted to tell you something----" "Yes?" Cynthia fidgeted with a little tassel for some moments.. and as I went out I had seen the look in Mary's eyes. Console yourself . listening." called Poirot. listening. suddenly exclaimin g: "You dears!" kissed first me and then Poirot. "Yes." His words took me back to earlier events. surprised. and meeting her agoniz ed eyes had nodded gently." Lawrence at that moment passed the door. A man in love is a sorry spectacle. madame." I said sadly. "Perhaps you are right. "I--I only----" "Come in. She came in.End -*The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Mysterious Affair at Styles* ." he said. "What on earth does this mean?" I asked." He had stood aside. mon ami?" "Nothing.