en-es  The Mysterious Affair at Styles; chapter 1
El misterioso caso de Styles Por Agatha Christie Contenido Capítulo 1; Voy a Styles Capítulo 2; El 16 y el 17 de julio Capítulo 3; La noche de la tragedia Capítulo 4; Poirot investiga Capítulo 5; "No es estricnina, ¿verdad?" Capítulo 6; La investigación Capítulo 7; Poirot paga sus deudas Capítulo 8; Nuevas sospechas Capítulo 9; El Dr. Bauerstein Capítulo 10; La detención Capítulo 11; El caso listo para el proceso Capítulo 12; El último eslabón Capítulo 13; Poirot se explica Capítulo 1; Voy a Styles El intenso interés despertado en el público por lo que fue conocido en el momento como "El caso Styles" ha disminuido un tanto ahora. Sin embargo, en vista de la notoriedad mundial que tuvo, mi amigo Poirot y la propia familia me han pedido que escriba una narración completa sobre lo sucedido. Confiamos, esto será eficaz, en aquietar los rumores sensacionales que todavía persisten.
Por lo tanto pondré por escrito, brevemente, las circunstancias que me llevaron a relacionarme con el asunto.
Fui licenciado por invalidez a casa desde el Frente; y después de unos meses pasados en una bastante deprimente casa de reposo, recibí un mes por enfermedad. Como no tenía familia ni amigos, estaba tratando de decidir qué hacer cuando me encontré con John Cavendish. No lo había visto mucho en los últimos años. De verdad, no lo conocía muy bien. Para empezar, tenía unos quince años más que yo, aunque apenas parecía tener cuarenta y cinco años. Sin embargo, de niño, me había alojado a menudo en Styles, en la casa de su madre en Essex.
Tuvimos una buena charla sobre los viejos tiempos, y terminó con su invitación a Styles para que pasara allí mi licencia.
"Mi madre estará encantada de verte de nuevo, después de todos esos años", agregó.
"¿Tu madre está bien?", le pregunté.
"Oh si. Supongo que sabes que se ha casado de nuevo". Me temo que mostré mi sorpresa con bastante claridad. La señora Cavendish, que se había casado con el padre de John cuando era viudo y tenía dos hijos, tal como la recordaba, había sido una hermosa mujer de mediana edad. Sin duda, ahora no podía tener menos de setenta . La recordaba con una personalidad enérgica y autocrática, algo inclinada a la caridad y la notoriedad social, con una afición por inaugurar ventas benéficas y hacerse la rumbosa. Era una mujer muy generosa, y poseía una considerable fortuna propia.
Su residencia de campo, Styles Court, había sido comprada por el señor Cavendish en los primeros tiempos de su matrimonio. Él había estado totalmente dominado por su esposa, tanto es así que, al morir, le dejó a ella la residencia de por vida, así como la mayor parte de su renta; una disposición que era claramente injusta para sus dos hijos. La madrastra, sin embargo, había sido siempre muy generosa con ellos; de hecho, eran tan jóvenes cuando su padre volvió a casarse que la consideraban como su propia madre.
Lawrence, el más joven, había sido un joven frágil. Se había graduado como doctor pero pronto dejó la profesión médica, y vivía en casa mientras persiguía ambiciones literarias; aunque sus versos nunca habían encontrado un éxito destacado.
John ejerció de abogado por un tiempo, pero al final se había quedado en la vida más agradable de terrateniente. Se había casado hacía dos años y había llevado a su esposa a vivir a Styles, aunque yo albergaba una aguda sospecha de que hubiera preferido que su madre aumentara su asignación, lo que le habría permitido tener un hogar propio. La Sra. Cavendish, sin embargo, era una dama a la que le gustaba hacer sus propios planes, y esperaba que los demás los aceptaran, y en este caso ella ciertamente tenía el control, es decir: la administración del dinero.
John notó mi sorpresa ante la noticia de que su madre se había vuelto a casar y sonrió tristemente.
"¡Podrido y un poco granuja también!" Dijo furiosamente. "Te puedo decir, Hastings, que nos está haciendo la vida mucho más difícil. En cuanto a Evie, ¿recuerdas a Evie?" "No". "Oh, supongo que fue después de tu tiempo. ¡Ella es la factótum de mi madre, la compañera, la persona de muchas aptitudes! ¡Un deporte favorito, vieja Evie! No precisamente jóven y guapa, pero tan animosa como las hacen a ellas." "¿Qué ibas a decir?" "¡Ah, ese tipo!" Él apareció de ninguna parte, con el pretexto que era el primo segundo o algo así de Evie, aunque ella no parecía ansiosa por reconocer la relación. El tipo es absolutamente extraño, cualquiera puede verlo. Tiene una gran barba negra, y lleva botas de piel con cualquier clima. Pero a mamá le gustó de inmediato, lo contrató como secretario. ¿Sabes que siempre dirige un centenar de sociedades?". Asentí.
"Bueno, por supuesto, la guerra ha convertido los cientos en miles. Sin duda, el tipo fue muy útil para ella. ¡Pero nos quedamos de piedra cuando, hace tres meses, de repente anunció que ella y Alfred estaban comprometidos! ¡El tipo debe ser al menos veinte años más joven que ella! Es sencillamente un descarado caza fortunas; pero ahí está, ella es su propia dueña, y se casó con él". "Debe ser una situación difícil para todos vosotros". "¡Difícil! ¡Es deplorable!". Así sucedió que, tres días después, descendía del tren en Styles St. Mary, una pequeña estación absurda, sin razón aparente para existir, colocada en medio de campos verdes y caminos rurales. John Cavendish estaba esperando en el andén y me llevó en coche.
"Como ves, todavía tenemos un poco de gasolina, comentó". "Principalmente debido a las actividades de mi madre." El pueblo de Styles Saint Mary estaba situado aproximadamente a dos millas de la pequeña estación, y la ubicación de Styles Court a una milla al otro lado de él. Era un día tranquilo y cálido de principios de julio. Mirando a lo largo de la tierra llana de Essex, tan verde y pacífica bajo el sol de la tarde, parecía casi imposible creer que, no muy lejos de ahí, una gran guerra estaba corriendo su curso. Me sentí de repente desviado a otro mundo. Mientras llegamos a las puertas de la residencia de campo, John dijo: '' Me temo que te parecerá muy tranquilo aquí, Hastings''. ''Querido amigo, es lo que deseo''. ''Oh, es bastante agradable si quieres llevar una vida ociosa''. Ejercito dos veces por semana con los voluntarios y ayudo con las granjas. Mi esposa trabaja regularmente en el campo. Se levanta cada dia a las cinco de la mañana para ordeñar, y sigue en eso constantemente hasta la hora de almuerzo. ¡En conjunto es una buena vida, si no fuera por ese tipo, Alfred Inglethorp!". Comprobó el coche de repente y echó un vistazo a su reloj. "Me pregunto si tenemos tiempo para recoger a Cynthia. No, ya habrá salido del hospital". "¡Cynthia! ¿Esa no es tu esposa?" "No, Cynthia es una protegida de mi madre, hija de un antigua compañera de colegio suya, que se casó con un abogado bribón. Fracasó, y la niña quedó huérfana y sin un centavo. Mi madre la recogió y Cynthia lleva con nosotros casi dos años. Trabaja en el Hospital de la Cruz Roja en Tadminster, a siete millas de aquí". Mientras pronunciaba las últimas palabras, nos deteníamos frente a la casa, antigua y hermosa. Una señora con una falda gruesa de tweed, que estaba inclinada sobre un macizo de flores, se enderezó al vernos.
"¡Hola, Evie, aquí está nuestro héroe herido! El señor Hastings, la señorita Howard". La señorita Howard me estrechó la mano con un cordial, casi doloroso, apretón. En su cara bronceada, resaltaban sus ojos muy azules. Era una mujer de aspecto agradable de unos cuarenta años con una voz profunda, casi masculina en sus tonos estentóreos, y tenía un gran cuerpo fuerte y anguloso, con pies que proporcionados - estos últimos calzados con buenas botas fuertes. En seguida noté que su conversación era cortada, al estilo telegráfico.
''Malas hierbas crecen como casa en llamas. No se puede seguir el ritmo de ellas Tendré que reclutarle a usted. Tenga cuidado." "Estoy seguro que me encantará también, solamente ser útil en algo," respondí.
No lo diga. Nunca lo haga. Más tarde, usted no lo hubiera deseado''. "Eres una cínica, Evie'', dijo John, riendo. ''Dónde tomamos el té, hoy -¿dentro o fuera?'' ''Fuera. El día es demasiado lindo para encerrarse en casa''. ''Entonces ven, ya has hecho bastante en el jardín hoy. 'El trabajador es digno de su salario', sabes. Ven a refrescarte''. ''Bueno'', dijo la srta Howard, quitándose los guantes de jardín, ''me inclino a concordar contigo''. Lideró el camino alrededor de la casa donde el té estaba preparado a la sombra de un gran plátano.
Una persona se levantó de una de las sillas y vino unos pasos para recibirnos.
''Mi esposa, Hastings,'' dijo JOhn.
Nunca olvidaré mi primera visión de Mary Cavendish. Su alta y esbelta forma, esbozada contra la luz brillante; la sensación de fuego durmiente que parecía expresarse solo en esos maravillosos ojos dorados suyos, ojos destacados, diferentes de los de otras mujeres que había conocido; el intenso poder de quietud que tenía, que sin embargo transmitía la impresión de un espíritu salvaje e indomable en un cuerpo exquisitamente civilizado - Todas estas cosas estan grabadas a fuego en mi memoria. Nunca las olvidaré.
Me saludó con unas pocas palabras de agradable bienvenida en una voz suave y clara, y me hundí en una silla de mimbre sintiéndome claramente contento por haber aceptado la invitación de John. La señora Cavendish me ofreció un poco de té, y sus pocas observaciones tranquilas aumentaron mi primera impresión de que era una mujer completamente fascinante. Un oyente agradecido siempre es estimulante, y describí, de forma humorística, ciertos incidentes de mi casa de convalecencia, de una manera que, me enorgullezco, divirtió enormemente a mi anfitriona. John, aunque, por supuesto, es muy buen muchacho, difícilmente podría decirse un brillante conversador.
En ese momento una voz que recordada bien salió a través de la ventana abierta de al lado: "¿Entonces le escribirás a la princesa después del té, Alfred? Yo escribiré a Lady Tadminster para el segundo día. ¿O debemos esperar hasta que tengamos noticias de la princesa? En caso de una negativa, Lady Tadminster podría abrirlo el primer día, y la Sra. Crosbie el segundo. Luego está la duquesa, sobre la fiesta de la escuela. Hubo un murmullo de voz de hombre, y luego la Sra. Inglethorp respondió: "Sí, ciertamente. Después del té irá bastante bien. Eres tan atento, querido Alfred". La puerta se abrió un poco más y una hermosa anciana de pelo blanco, con unos rasgos un tanto dominantes, salió al césped. Un hombre la seguía, con una actitud de deferencia.
La señora Inglethorp me saludó con efusión.
"Vaya, que agradable verle de nuevo, Sr. Hastings, después de todos estos años. Alfred, querido, Sr. Hastings, mi esposo". Miré con cierta curiosidad a "Alfred querido". Ciertamente daba una nota bastante extraña. No me sorprendió que John pusiera objeciones a su barba. Era una de las más largas y más negras que he visto en mi vida. Llevaba binóculos con reborde dorado, y tenía una curiosa impasibilidad de rasgos. Me llamó la atención que podría parecer natural en un escenario, pero extrañamente estaba fuera de lugar en la vida real. Su voz era bastante profunda y untuosa. Me dio la mano rígidamente y dijo: ''Es un placer, Sr Hastings''. Después, volviéndose a su esposa: ''Emily, querida, creo que ese cojín está un poco húmedo ''. Ella le sonrió cariñosamente, mientras con toda demostración del cuidado más tierno, lo sustituía por otro. Extraña infatuación de una, por lo contrario, sensata mujer.
Con la presencia del Sr. Inglethorp, una sensación de coacción y hostilidad velada parecía formalizarse sobre la reunión. La srta Howard, en particular, no se molestó en ocultar sus sentimientos. La Sra. Inglethorp, en cambio, no pareció notar nada insólito. Su volubilidad, que recordaba de antaño, no había perdido nada en los años transcurridos, y vertió un flujo constante en la conversación, principalmente sobre el tema de la próxima venta benéfica que estaba organizando y que iba a tener lugar en breve. De vez en cuando, se refería a su esposo sobre una cuestión de días o fechas. Su actitud vigilante y atenta no variaba nunca. Desde el primer momento le tomé una antipatía firme y arraigada, y me enorgullezco de que mis primeras impresiones suelen ser bastante perspicaces.
De momento, la Sra. Inglethorp giró para dar instrucciones sobre las cartas a Evelyn Howard, y su marido me dirigió la palabra, muy cuidadoso con su voz: ''¿Ser soldado es su profesión habitual, Sr. Hastings?''. "No, antes de la guerra trabajaba en la Lloyd's''.''¿Y piensa volver ahí después de que acabe?''. ''Quizás. O eso o un nuevo inicio por completo''. Mary Cavendish se inclinó.
''¿Qué profesión eligiría de verdad, si podría solo escuchar su inclinación?"."Bueno, depende''.''¿No tiene un pasatiempo secreto?'' ella preguntó. ''¿Digame, se siente atraído por algo? Todo el mundo lo está, normalmente, algo absurdo". "Se reirá de mí". Ella sonrió.
"Tal vez". "¡Bueno, siempre he tenido un anhelo secreto de ser un detective!". "¿Un auténtico, Scotland Yard? ¿O Sherlock Holmes?". "Oh, Sherlock Holmes por supuesto. Pero realmente, en serio, eso me atrae tremendamente. Una vez me encontré con un hombre en Bélgica, un detective muy famoso, y me entusiasmó mucho. Era un hombrecillo maravilloso. Solía decir que todo el trabajo de un buen detective era una mera cuestión de método. Mi sistema se basa en el suyo, aunque, por supuesto, he progresado bastante más. Era un hombrecito gracioso, un gran dandi, pero maravillosamente inteligente". "Me gusta una buena historia de detectives", comentó la señorita Howard. "Aunque hay muchas tonterías escritas. Se descubre al criminal en el último capítulo. Todos se quedan estupefactos. En un crimen real, lo sabría de inmediato". "Ha habido una gran cantidad de crímenes sin resolver", argumenté
"No me refiero a la policía, sino a las personas que están justo ahí. La familia. En realidad no podrían engañarlos. Lo sabrían". "Entonces", dije, muy divertido, "¿cree que si se viera mezclada en un crimen, digamos un asesinato, sería capaz de detectar al asesino de inmediato?". "Por supuesto que sí. Podría ser incapaz de demostrarlo a un grupo de abogados. Pero estoy segura de que lo sabría. Lo sentiría en la yema de mis dedos si se me acercara". "Podría ser 'la' asesina", sugerí.
"Podría. Pero el asesinato es un crimen violento. Asócielo más con un hombre". "No en un caso de envenenamiento". La voz clara de la señora Cavendish me sobresaltó. "El Dr. Bauerstein estaba diciendo ayer que, debido al desconocimiento de los venenos menos comunes entre los médicos, había probablemente un montón de casos insospechados de envenenamientos''.''¡Vaya, Mary, qué conversación tan macabra!'' gritó la sra. Inglethorp. ''Se me pone carne de gallina. ¡Oh, aquí viene Cynthia!''. Una jovencita con uniforme de los volutarios corría ligeramente por el césped.
''Qué pasa, Cynthia, vienes tarde hoy. Este es el sr. Hastings - la srta Murdoch''. Cynthia Murdoch era una chica joven de aparencia fresca, llena de vida y energía. Arrojó su gorrita de voluntaria, y admiré las grandes ondas sueltas de su cabello rojizo, y la menudez y blancura de la mano que tendía para reclamar su té. Con ojos y pestañas oscuros habría sido una belleza.
Se dejó caer en el suelo junto a John, y cuando le pasé un plato de bocadillos, me sonrió.
"Siéntese aquí en la hierba. Es tanto más agradable". Me dejé caer cumplidamente.
"Usted trabaja en Tadminster, Srta. Murdoch, ¿verdad?". Ella asintió.
"A mi pesar". "¿Entonces, la molestan?". Pregunté, sonriendo.
''¡Me gustaría verlos!'' grito Cynthia dignamente.
''Tengo una prima que es enfermera'', observé. ''Y tiene miedo de las jefas''. ''No me extraña. Son las enfermeras jefas, usted sabe, Sr. Hastings. ¡Simplemente son! ¡No tiene idea! Pero no soy enfermera, gracias a dios, trabajo en el dispensario''. ''¿Cuántas personas envenenó?", pregunté, sonriendo.
Cynthia sonreía también.
''¡Oh, centenares!'', dijo.
''Cynthia'', llamó la Sra. Inglethorp, ''¿piensas que podrías escribir unas notas para mí?". ''Seguro, tía Emily''. Se levantó inmediatamente, y algo en su manera me recordó que su posición era dependiente, y la Sra Inglethorp, tan agradable que podía estar en general, no le permitía de olvidarlo.
Mi anfitrióna giró hacia mí.
''John le enseñará su habitación. La cena es a las siete y media. Hemos abandonado la cena tardía desde hace algún tiempo, ahora. La señora Tadminster, la esposa de nuestro diputado, hija del difunto lord Abbotsbury, hace lo mismo. Está de acuerdo conmigo en que uno debe dar ejemplo de economía. Somos un gran hogar de guerra; aquí no se desperdice nada incluso cada trozo de papel usado, se guarda y se envía en sacos''. Expresé mi apreciación, y John me llevó a la casa y arriba la amplia escalera, que bifurcan a derecha e izquierda a mitad de camino, hacia diferentes alas del edificio. Mi cuarto estaba en el ala izquierda, y tenía vista al parque.
John me dejó y unos minutos más tarde lo vi desde mi ventana caminando a paso lento a través de la hierba del brazo con Cynthia Murdoch. Oí a la Sra. Inglethorp llamar a "Cynthia" con impaciencia y, la muchacha emprendió corriendo el regreso a la casa. Al mismo tiempo, un hombre surgió de la sombra de un árbol y caminó lentamente en la misma dirección. Parecía de unos cuarenta años, muy moreno, bien afeitado y cara melancólica. Alguna emoción violenta parecía dominarlo. Miró hacia mi ventana al pasar, y lo reconocí, aunque había cambiado mucho en los quince años transcurridos desde la última vez que nos vimos. Era el hermano menor de John, Lawrence Cavendish. Me pregunté qué era lo que había producído esa singular expresión en su rostro.
Luego desapareció de mi cabeza y voví a pensar en mis propios asuntos.
La tarde pasó placenteramente; y esa noche soñé con esa enigmática mujer, Mary Cavendish.
La mañana siguiente amaneció brillante y soleada, y estaba lleno por la expectativa de una visita deliciosa.
No vi a la señora Cavendish hasta la hora del almuerzo, cuando se ofreció para llevarme a dar un paseo, y pasamos una encantadora tarde paseando por el bosque, regresando a la casa sobre las cinco.
Al entrar en la gran salón, John nos llamó a ambos en la sala de fumar. Ví enseguida por su cara que había ocurrido algo preocupante. Le seguimos y él cerró la puertas detrás de nosotros.
''Mira aquí, Mary, hay un gran lío. Evie ha tenido una pelea con Alfred Inglethorp, y se va''. ''¿Evie? ¿Se va?'', John asintió con tristeza.
''Sí; ves, se fue a ver a la madre, y -oh - aquí está Evie misma''. La Srta. Howard entró. Sus labios estaban apretados juntos con terquedad y llevaba una pequeña maleta. Parecía excitada y determinada, y un poco a la defensiva.
''¡De todas maneras'', estalló, '' he dicho lo que pensaba!''. ''¡Evelyn querida'' exclamó la Sra Cavendish, ''esto no puede ser cierto!''. La Sra Howard asintió inflexiblemente.
''¡Es la verdad! Temo que dije algunas cosas a Emily que no va a olvidar ni perdonar pronto. No me importa si mis palabras harán poco efecto. Probablemente no conseguiré nada, creo. Dije directamente: "Eres vieja, Emily, y las tonterías de los viejos son las peores. Es veinte años más jóven que tú, y te engañas en cuanto al motivo de su matrimonio contigo. ¡Dinero! Bueno, no le dejes tener demasiado. El granjero Raikes tiene una esposa joven y guapa. Solo pregunta a tu Alfred cuánto tiempo pasa por allí''. Estaba enojada. ¡Naturalmente! continué, 'te voy a advertir, te guste o no. Ese hombre preferiría asesinarte en tu cama como te miran. Es una mala persona. Puedes decirme lo que quieras, pero recuerda de lo que te dije. ¡Es un hombre malo!". ''¿Qué ha dicho ella?". La Srta. Howard hizo una mueca muy expresiva.
''Querido Alfred - 'queridísimo Alfred'- 'malvadas calumnias'- 'malvadas mentiras' -'malvadas mujer' - ¡acusar a su 'querido marido!' Cuánto antes me fuera de su casa, mucho mejor. Así que me voy". "¿Pero no ahora?". "¡Ahora mismo!". Por un momento nos sentamos y la miramos. Finalmente, John Cavendish, al ver que sus opiniones no servían de nada, se fue a mirar el horario de trenes. Su esposa lo siguió, murmurando algo sobre convencer a la señora Inglethorp para que lo pensara mejor.
Cuando salió de la habitación, la cara de la señorita Howard cambió. Se inclinó hacia mí ansiosamente.
"Sr. Hastings, usted es honesto. ¿Puedo confiar en usted?". Estaba un poco sorprendido. Puso su mano sobre mi brazo, y bajó su voz hasta un susurro.
"Cuide de ella, Sr. Hastings. Mi pobre Emily. Son una banda de tiburones, todos ellos. Oh, sé de lo que estoy hablando. No hay ni uno de ellos que no esté sin blanca e intente sacarle dinero. La he protegído tanto como he podido. Ahora que dejo el camino libre, se impondrán a ella". "Por supuesto, señorita Howard", le dije", haré todo lo que pueda, pero estoy seguro de que está nerviosa y alterada". Ella me interrumpió moviendo lentamente su dedo índice.
"Joven, créame. He vivido más que usted. Todo lo que le pido es que tenga sus ojos abiertos. Usted verá lo que quiero decir". El ruido del motor llegó a través de la ventana abierta y la señorita Howard se levantó, encaminándose hacia la puerta. La voz de John sonó fuera. Con su mano en la manecilla, ella volvió la cabeza sobre su hombro y me hizo señas.
"Sobre todo, señor Hastings, ¡vigile a ese diablo, a su marido!". No hubo tiempo para más. La señorita Howard fue absorbida en un ansioso coro de protestas y despedidas. Los Inglethorp no aparecieron.
Mientras el motor se alejaba, la Sra. Cavendish de repente se separó del grupo, y cruzó el camino hacia el césped para encontrarse con un hombre alto y con barba que evidentemente había estado yendo hacia la casa. Le subió el color de las mejillas mientras le tendía la mano.
"¿Quien es?''. Pregunté bruscamente, porque por instinto desconfiaba del hombre
''Ese es el Dr. Bauerstein'', dijo John brevemente.
''¿Y quién es el Dr. Bauerstein?'' ''Está quedándose en el pueblo, haciendo una cura de reposo, después de una crisis nerviosa. Es un especialista de Londres; un hombre muy inteligente - uno de los más grandes expertos en venenos, creo''. ''Y es un gran amigo de Mary'', añadó Cynthia, la indomable.
John Cavendish frunció el entrecejo y cambió de tema.
"Venga para un paseo, Hastings. Esto ha sido un asunto muy desagradable. Siempre ha tenido una lengua áspera, pero en Inglaterra no existe amiga más leal que Evely Howard''. Tomó el camino a través de la plantación, y caminamos hacia el pueblo a través los bosques que bordeaban un lado de la propriedad.
Cuando pasamos por una de las puertas regresando a casa, una mujer, joven y guapa ,de tipo gitano, viniendo en sentido contrario, se inclinó y sonrió.
''Esa es una jovencita guapa'', remarqué con aprecio.
La cara de John se endureció.
''Esa es la Sra. Raikes''. ''La de que la Srta Howard -''. ''Exactamente'', dijo John, con brusquedad innecesaria.
Pensé en la vieja señora de pelo cano en la casa grande, y la carita vivaz y picaresca que acababa de sonreírnos, y un vago frío de presagio me estremeció. Lo dejé de lado.
"Styles es realmente un viejo lugar glorioso," dije a John.
Él asintió más bien tristemente.
"Sí, es una propiedad hermosa. Va a ser mía algún día - debería ser mía ahora por derecho, si sólo mi padre hubiera hecho un testamento digno. Y después no debería estar tan malditamente sin dinero como lo estoy ahora''. ''¿Sin dineros, estás?''. ''Mi querido Hastings, no me importa decirte que no sé que hacer por dinero''. ''¿Tu hermano no podría ayudarte?''. ''¿Lawrence? Ha gastado cada penique que alguna vez tuvo, publicando versos podridos con bonitas ataduras. No, somos pobretones. Debo decir que nuestra madre siempre ha sido muy buena con nosotros. Es decir, hasta ahora. Después de su casamiento, por supuesto ---'' terminó, frunciendo el ceño.
Por primera vez sentí que, con Evelyn Howard, algo indefinible se había perdido. Su presencia suponía seguridad. Ahora esa seguridad se apartó y en el aire parecía difundirse la sospecha. La cara siniestra del Dr. Bauerstein volvía a presentarse en mí con desagrado. Una sospecha vaga hacia todos y cada uno llenó mi mente. Sólo por un momento tuve una premonición de un mal próximo.
unit 1
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie Contents CHAPTER I.  I GO TO STYLES CHAPTER II.
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unit 2
THE 16TH AND 17TH OF JULY CHAPTER III.
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unit 3
THE NIGHT OF THE TRAGEDY CHAPTER IV.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 4
POIROT INVESTIGATES CHAPTER V.  “IT ISN’T STRYCHNINE, IS IT?” CHAPTER VI.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 5
THE INQUEST CHAPTER VII.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 6
POIROT PAYS HIS DEBTS CHAPTER VIII.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 7
FRESH SUSPICIONS CHAPTER IX.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 8
DR. BAUERSTEIN CHAPTER X.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 9
THE ARREST CHAPTER XI.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 10
THE CASE FOR THE PROSECUTION CHAPTER XII.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 11
THE LAST LINK CHAPTER XIII.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 14
This, we trust, will effectually silence the sensational rumours which still persist.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 15
I will therefore briefly set down the circumstances which led to my being connected with the affair.
2 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 18
I had seen very little of him for some years.
3 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 19
Indeed, I had never known him particularly well.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 21
As a boy, though, I had often stayed at Styles, his mother’s place in Essex.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 23
“The mater will be delighted to see you again—after all those years,” he added.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 24
“Your mother keeps well?” I asked.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 25
“Oh, yes.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 28
She certainly could not be a day less than seventy now.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 30
She was a most generous woman, and possessed a considerable fortune of her own.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 34
Lawrence, the younger, had been a delicate youth.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 40
“Rotten little bounder too!” he said savagely.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 41
“I can tell you, Hastings, it’s making life jolly difficult for us.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 42
unit 43
She’s the mater’s factotum, companion, Jack of all trades!
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 44
A great sport—old Evie!
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 47
The fellow is an absolute outsider, anyone can see that.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 48
He’s got a great black beard, and wears patent leather boots in all weathers!
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 50
“Well, of course the war has turned the hundreds into thousands.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 51
No doubt the fellow was very useful to her.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 53
The fellow must be at least twenty years younger than she is!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 56
John Cavendish was waiting on the platform, and piloted me out to the car.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 57
“Got a drop or two of petrol still, you see,” he remarked.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 59
It was a still, warm day in early July.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 61
I felt I had suddenly strayed into another world.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 63
I drill with the volunteers twice a week, and lend a hand at the farms.
3 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 64
My wife works regularly ‘on the land’.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 65
She is up at five every morning to milk, and keeps at it steadily until lunchtime.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 67
“I wonder if we’ve time to pick up Cynthia.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 68
No, she’ll have started from the hospital by now.” “Cynthia!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 70
He came a cropper, and the girl was left an orphan and penniless.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 71
My mother came to the rescue, and Cynthia has been with us nearly two years now.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 74
“Hullo, Evie, here’s our wounded hero!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 76
I had an impression of very blue eyes in a sunburnt face.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 78
Her conversation, I soon found, was couched in the telegraphic style.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 79
“Weeds grow like house afire.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 80
Can’t keep even with ’em.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 81
Shall press you in.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 83
“Don’t say it.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 84
Never does.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 85
Wish you hadn’t later.” “You’re a cynic, Evie,” said John, laughing.
3 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 86
“Where’s tea to-day—inside or out?” “Out.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 88
‘The labourer is worthy of his hire’, you know.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 90
A figure rose from one of the basket chairs, and came a few steps to meet us.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 91
“My wife, Hastings,” said John.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 92
I shall never forget my first sight of Mary Cavendish.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months, 1 week ago
unit 94
I shall never forget them.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 100
I’ll write to Lady Tadminster for the second day, myself.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 101
Or shall we wait until we hear from the Princess?
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 104
After tea will do quite well.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 106
A man followed her, a suggestion of deference in his manner.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 107
Mrs. Inglethorp greeted me with effusion.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 110
He certainly struck a rather alien note.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 111
I did not wonder at John objecting to his beard.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 112
It was one of the longest and blackest I have ever seen.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 113
He wore gold-rimmed pince-nez, and had a curious impassivity of feature.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 115
His voice was rather deep and unctuous.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 117
Strange infatuation of an otherwise sensible woman!
2 Translations, 6 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 119
Miss Howard, in particular, took no pains to conceal her feelings.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 120
Mrs. Inglethorp, however, seemed to notice nothing unusual.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 122
Occasionally she referred to her husband over a question of days or dates.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 123
His watchful and attentive manner never varied.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 126
Either that or a fresh start altogether.” Mary Cavendish leant forward.
3 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 128
“Tell me—you’re drawn to something?
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 129
Everyone is—usually something absurd.” “You’ll laugh at me.” She smiled.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 131
Or Sherlock Holmes?” “Oh, Sherlock Holmes by all means.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 132
But really, seriously, I am awfully drawn to it.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 133
unit 134
He was a marvellous little fellow.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 135
He used to say that all good detective work was a mere matter of method.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 136
My system is based on his—though of course I have progressed rather further.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 138
“Lots of nonsense written, though.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 139
Criminal discovered in last chapter.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 140
Everyone dumbfounded.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 142
“Don’t mean the police, but the people that are right in it.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 143
The family.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 144
You couldn’t really hoodwink them.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 146
Mightn’t be able to prove it to a pack of lawyers.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 147
But I’m certain I’d know.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 149
“Might.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 150
But murder’s a violent crime.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 152
“Dr.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 154
“It makes me feel as if a goose were walking over my grave.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 155
Oh, there’s Cynthia!” A young girl in V.A.D.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 156
uniform ran lightly across the lawn.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 157
“Why, Cynthia, you are late to-day.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 159
She tossed off her little V.A.D.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 161
With dark eyes and eyelashes she would have been a beauty.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 163
“Sit down here on the grass, do.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 164
It’s ever so much nicer.” I dropped down obediently.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 165
“You work at Tadminster, don’t you, Miss Murdoch?” She nodded.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 166
“For my sins.” “Do they bully you, then?” I asked, smiling.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 167
“I should like to see them!” cried Cynthia with dignity.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 168
“I have got a cousin who is nursing,” I remarked.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 169
“And she is terrified of ‘Sisters’.” “I don’t wonder.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 170
Sisters are, you know, Mr. Hastings.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 171
They simp-ly are!
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 weeks ago
unit 172
You’ve no idea!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 174
Cynthia smiled too.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 175
“Oh, hundreds!” she said.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 177
My hostess turned to me.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 178
“John will show you your room.
2 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 179
Supper is at half-past seven.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 180
We have given up late dinner for some time now.
3 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 181
unit 182
She agrees with me that one must set an example of economy.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 184
My room was in the left wing, and looked out over the park.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 186
unit 188
He looked about forty, very dark with a melancholy clean-shaven face.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 189
Some violent emotion seemed to be mastering him.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 191
It was John’s younger brother, Lawrence Cavendish.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 192
I wondered what it was that had brought that singular expression to his face.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 193
unit 195
unit 197
As we entered the large hall, John beckoned us both into the smoking-room.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 198
I saw at once by his face that something disturbing had occurred.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 199
We followed him in, and he shut the door after us.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 200
“Look here, Mary, there’s the deuce of a mess.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 201
Evie’s had a row with Alfred Inglethorp, and she’s off.” “Evie?
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 202
Off?” John nodded gloomily.
3 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 204
Her lips were set grimly together, and she carried a small suit-case.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 205
She looked excited and determined, and slightly on the defensive.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 207
“True enough!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 208
Afraid I said some things to Emily she won’t forget or forgive in a hurry.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 209
Don’t mind if they’ve only sunk in a bit.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 210
Probably water off a duck’s back, though.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 211
I said right out: ‘You’re an old woman, Emily, and there’s no fool like an old fool.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 212
unit 213
Money!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 214
Well, don’t let him have too much of it.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 215
Farmer Raikes has got a very pretty young wife.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 216
Just ask your Alfred how much time he spends over there.’ She was very angry.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 217
Natural!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 218
I went on, ‘I’m going to warn you, whether you like it or not.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 219
That man would as soon murder you in your bed as look at you.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 220
He’s a bad lot.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 221
You can say what you like to me, but remember what I’ve told you.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 months ago
unit 222
He’s a bad lot!’” “What did she say?” Miss Howard made an extremely expressive grimace.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 224
So I’m off.” “But not now?” “This minute!” For a moment we sat and stared at her.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 225
Finally John Cavendish, finding his persuasions of no avail, went off to look up the trains.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 226
unit 227
As she left the room, Miss Howard’s face changed.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 228
She leant towards me eagerly.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 229
“Mr.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 230
Hastings, you’re honest.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 231
I can trust you?” I was a little startled.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 232
She laid her hand on my arm, and sank her voice to a whisper.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 233
“Look after her, Mr. Hastings.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 234
My poor Emily.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 235
They’re a lot of sharks—all of them.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 236
Oh, I know what I’m talking about.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 237
There isn’t one of them that’s not hard up and trying to get money out of her.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 238
I’ve protected her as much as I could.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 240
“Young man, trust me.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 241
I’ve lived in the world rather longer than you have.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 242
All I ask you is to keep your eyes open.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 244
John’s voice sounded outside.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 245
With her hand on the handle, she turned her head over her shoulder, and beckoned to me.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 246
“Above all, Mr. Hastings, watch that devil—her husband!” There was no time for more.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 247
Miss Howard was swallowed up in an eager chorus of protests and good-byes.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 248
The Inglethorps did not appear.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 250
The colour rose in her cheeks as she held out her hand to him.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 251
“Who is that?” I asked sharply, for instinctively I distrusted the man.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 252
“That’s Dr. Bauerstein,” said John shortly.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 255
John Cavendish frowned and changed the subject.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 256
“Come for a stroll, Hastings.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 257
This has been a most rotten business.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 260
“That’s a pretty girl,” I remarked appreciatively.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 261
John’s face hardened.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 264
I brushed it aside.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 265
“Styles is really a glorious old place,” I said to John.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 266
He nodded rather gloomily.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 267
“Yes, it’s a fine property.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 268
unit 270
He’s gone through every penny he ever had, publishing rotten verses in fancy bindings.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 271
No, we’re an impecunious lot.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 3 weeks ago
unit 272
My mother’s always been awfully good to us, I must say.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 273
That is, up to now.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 274
Since her marriage, of course——” he broke off, frowning.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 275
unit 276
Her presence had spelt security.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 277
Now that security was removed—and the air seemed rife with suspicion.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 278
The sinister face of Dr. Bauerstein recurred to me unpleasantly.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 279
A vague suspicion of everyone and everything filled my mind.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
unit 280
Just for a moment I had a premonition of approaching evil.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 weeks, 6 days ago
Ernesto • 4460  commented on  unit 269  4 months, 4 weeks ago
Ernesto • 4460  commented on  unit 115  5 months, 1 week ago
Ernesto • 4460  commented on  unit 103  5 months, 1 week ago
Ernesto • 4460  commented on  unit 99  5 months, 1 week ago
Boot2 • 5446  commented on  unit 76  5 months, 1 week ago
Boot2 • 5446  commented on  unit 82  5 months, 1 week ago
Boot2 • 5446  commented on  unit 81  5 months, 1 week ago
Boot2 • 5446  commented on  unit 77  5 months, 1 week ago
Boot2 • 5446  commented on  unit 48  5 months, 1 week ago
Boot2 • 5446  translated  unit 83  5 months, 1 week ago
carme2222 • 6217  translated  unit 25  5 months, 1 week ago

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

by Agatha Christie

Contents
CHAPTER I.  I GO TO STYLES

CHAPTER II.  THE 16TH AND 17TH OF JULY

CHAPTER III.  THE NIGHT OF THE TRAGEDY

CHAPTER IV.  POIROT INVESTIGATES

CHAPTER V.  “IT ISN’T STRYCHNINE, IS IT?”

CHAPTER VI.  THE INQUEST

CHAPTER VII.  POIROT PAYS HIS DEBTS

CHAPTER VIII.  FRESH SUSPICIONS

CHAPTER IX.  DR. BAUERSTEIN

CHAPTER X.  THE ARREST

CHAPTER XI.  THE CASE FOR THE PROSECUTION

CHAPTER XII.  THE LAST LINK

CHAPTER 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 the family themselves, to write an account of the whole story. This, we trust, will effectually silence the sensational rumours which still persist.
I will therefore briefly set down the circumstances which led to my being connected with the affair.
I had been invalided home from the Front; and, after spending some months in a rather depressing Convalescent Home, was given a month’s sick leave. Having no near 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 had 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 had 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 Styles 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 middle-age as I remembered her. She certainly could not be a day less than seventy now. I recalled her as an energetic, autocratic personality, somewhat inclined to charitable and social notoriety, with a fondness for opening bazaars and playing the Lady Bountiful. She was a most generous woman, and possessed a considerable fortune of her own.
Their country-place, Styles Court, had been purchased by Mr. Cavendish early in their married life. He had been completely under his wife’s ascendancy, so much so that, on dying, he left the place to her for her lifetime, as well as the larger part of his income; an arrangement that was distinctly unfair to his two sons. Their step-mother, however, had always been most generous to them; indeed, they were so young at the time of their father’s remarriage that they always thought of her as their own mother.
Lawrence, the younger, had been a delicate youth. He had qualified as a doctor but early relinquished the profession of medicine, and lived at home while pursuing literary ambitions; though his verses never had any marked success.
John practised for some time as a barrister, but had finally settled down to the more congenial life of a country squire. He had married two years ago, and had taken his wife to live at Styles, though I entertained a shrewd suspicion that he would have preferred his mother to increase his allowance, which would have enabled him to have a home of his own. Mrs. Cavendish, however, was a lady who liked to make her own plans, and expected other people to fall in with them, and in this case she certainly had the whip hand, namely: the purse strings.
John noticed my surprise at the news of his mother’s remarriage and smiled rather ruefully.
“Rotten little bounder too!” he said savagely. “I can tell you, Hastings, it’s making life jolly difficult for us. As for Evie—you remember Evie?”
“No.”
“Oh, I suppose she was after your time. She’s the mater’s factotum, companion, Jack of all trades! A great sport—old Evie! Not precisely young and beautiful, but as game as they make them.”
“You were going to say——?”
“Oh, this fellow! He turned up from nowhere, on the pretext of being a second cousin or something of Evie’s, though she didn’t seem particularly keen to acknowledge the relationship. The fellow is an absolute outsider, anyone can see that. He’s got a great black beard, and wears patent leather boots in all weathers! But the mater cottoned to him at once, took him on as secretary—you know how she’s always running a hundred societies?”
I nodded.
“Well, of course the war has turned the hundreds into thousands. No doubt the fellow was very useful to her. But you could have knocked us all down with a feather when, three months ago, she suddenly announced that she and Alfred were engaged! The fellow must be at least twenty years younger than she is! It’s simply bare-faced fortune hunting; but there you are—she is her own mistress, and she’s married him.”
“It must be a difficult situation for you all.”
“Difficult! It’s damnable!”
Thus it came about that, three days later, I descended from the train at Styles St. Mary, an absurd little station, with no apparent reason for existence, perched up in the midst of green fields and country lanes. John Cavendish was waiting on the platform, and piloted me out to the car.
“Got a drop or two of petrol still, you see,” he remarked. “Mainly owing to the mater’s activities.”
The village of Styles St. Mary was situated about two miles from the little station, and Styles Court lay a mile the other side of it. It was a still, warm day in early July. As one looked out over the flat Essex country, lying so green and peaceful under the afternoon sun, it seemed almost impossible to believe that, not so very far away, a great war was running its appointed course. I felt I had suddenly strayed into another world. As we turned in at the lodge gates, John said:
“I’m afraid you’ll find it very quiet down here, Hastings.”
“My dear fellow, that’s just what I want.”
“Oh, it’s pleasant enough if you want to lead the idle life. I drill with the volunteers twice a week, and lend a hand at the farms. My wife works regularly ‘on the land’. She is up at five every morning to milk, and keeps at it steadily until lunchtime. It’s a jolly good life taking it all round—if it weren’t for that fellow Alfred Inglethorp!” He checked the car suddenly, and glanced at his watch. “I wonder if we’ve time to pick up Cynthia. No, she’ll have started from the hospital by now.”
“Cynthia! That’s not your wife?”
“No, Cynthia is a protégée of my mother’s, the daughter of an old schoolfellow of hers, who married a rascally solicitor. He came a cropper, and the girl was left an orphan and penniless. My mother came to the rescue, and Cynthia has been with us nearly two years now. She works in the Red Cross Hospital at Tadminster, seven miles away.”
As he spoke the last words, we drew up in front of the fine old house. A lady in a stout tweed skirt, who was bending over a flower bed, straightened herself at our approach.
“Hullo, Evie, here’s our wounded hero! Mr. Hastings—Miss Howard.”
Miss Howard shook hands with a hearty, almost painful, grip. I had an impression of very blue eyes in a sunburnt face. She was a pleasant-looking woman of about forty, with a deep voice, almost manly in its stentorian tones, and had a large sensible square body, with feet to match—these last encased in good thick boots. Her conversation, I soon found, was couched in the telegraphic style.
“Weeds grow like house afire. Can’t keep even with ’em. Shall press you in. Better be careful.”
“I’m sure I shall be only too delighted to make myself useful,” I responded.
“Don’t say it. Never does. Wish you hadn’t later.”
“You’re a cynic, Evie,” said John, laughing. “Where’s tea to-day—inside or out?”
“Out. Too fine a day to be cooped up in the house.”
“Come on then, you’ve done enough gardening for to-day. ‘The labourer is worthy of his hire’, you know. Come and be refreshed.”
“Well,” said Miss Howard, drawing off her gardening gloves, “I’m inclined to agree with you.”
She led the way round the house to where tea was spread under the shade of a large sycamore.
A figure rose from one of the basket chairs, and came a few steps to meet us.
“My wife, Hastings,” said John.
I shall never forget my first sight of Mary Cavendish. Her tall, slender form, outlined against the bright light; the vivid sense of slumbering fire that seemed to find expression only in those wonderful tawny eyes of hers, remarkable eyes, different from any other woman’s that I have ever known; the intense power of stillness she possessed, which nevertheless conveyed the impression of a wild untamed spirit in an exquisitely civilised body—all these things are burnt into my memory. I shall never forget them.
She greeted me with a few words of pleasant welcome in a low clear voice, and I sank into a basket chair feeling distinctly glad that I had accepted John’s invitation. Mrs. Cavendish gave me some tea, and her few quiet remarks heightened my first impression of her as a thoroughly fascinating woman. An appreciative listener is always stimulating, and I described, in a humorous manner, certain incidents of my Convalescent Home, in a way which, I flatter myself, greatly amused my hostess. John, of course, good fellow though he is, could hardly be called a brilliant conversationalist.
At that moment a well remembered voice floated through the open French window near at hand:
“Then you’ll write to the Princess after tea, Alfred? I’ll write to Lady Tadminster for the second day, myself. Or shall we wait until we hear from the Princess? In case of a refusal, Lady Tadminster might open it the first day, and Mrs. Crosbie the second. Then there’s the Duchess—about the school fête.”
There was the murmur of a man’s voice, and then Mrs. Inglethorp’s rose in reply:
“Yes, certainly. After tea will do quite well. You are so thoughtful, Alfred dear.”
The French window swung open a little wider, and a handsome white-haired old lady, with a somewhat masterful cast of features, stepped out of it on to the lawn. A man followed her, a suggestion of deference in his manner.
Mrs. Inglethorp greeted me with effusion.
“Why, if it isn’t too delightful to see you again, Mr. Hastings, after all these years. Alfred, darling, Mr. Hastings—my husband.”
I looked with some curiosity at “Alfred darling”. He certainly struck a rather alien note. I did not wonder at John objecting to his beard. It was one of the longest and blackest I have ever seen. He wore gold-rimmed pince-nez, and had a curious impassivity of feature. It struck me that he might look natural on a stage, but was strangely out of place in real life. His voice was rather deep and unctuous. He placed a wooden hand in mine and said:
“This is a pleasure, Mr. Hastings.” Then, turning to his wife: “Emily dearest, I think that cushion is a little damp.”
She beamed fondly on him, as he substituted another with every demonstration of the tenderest care. Strange infatuation of an otherwise sensible woman!
With the presence of Mr. Inglethorp, a sense of constraint and veiled hostility seemed to settle down upon the company. Miss Howard, in particular, took no pains to conceal her feelings. Mrs. Inglethorp, however, seemed to notice nothing unusual. Her volubility, which I remembered of old, had lost nothing in the intervening years, and she poured out a steady flood of conversation, mainly on the subject of the forthcoming bazaar which she was organizing and which was to take place shortly. Occasionally she referred to her husband over a question of days or dates. His watchful and attentive manner never varied. From the very first I took a firm and rooted dislike to him, and I flatter myself that my first judgments are usually fairly shrewd.
Presently Mrs. Inglethorp turned to give some instructions about letters to Evelyn Howard, and her husband addressed me in his painstaking voice:
“Is soldiering your regular profession, Mr. Hastings?”
“No, before the war I was in Lloyd’s.”
“And you will return there after it is over?”
“Perhaps. Either that or a fresh start altogether.”
Mary Cavendish leant forward.
“What would you really choose as a profession, if you could just consult your inclination?”
“Well, that depends.”
“No secret hobby?” she asked. “Tell me—you’re drawn to something? Everyone is—usually something absurd.”
“You’ll laugh at me.”
She smiled.
“Perhaps.”
“Well, I’ve always had a secret hankering to be a detective!”
“The real thing—Scotland Yard? Or Sherlock Holmes?”
“Oh, Sherlock Holmes by all means. But really, seriously, I am awfully drawn to it. I came across a man in Belgium once, a very famous detective, and he quite inflamed me. He was a marvellous little fellow. He used to say that all good detective work was a mere matter of method. My system is based on his—though of course I have progressed rather further. He was a funny little man, a great dandy, but wonderfully clever.”
“Like a good detective story myself,” remarked Miss Howard. “Lots of nonsense written, though. Criminal discovered in last chapter. Everyone dumbfounded. Real crime—you’d know at once.”
“There have been a great number of undiscovered crimes,” I argued.
“Don’t mean the police, but the people that are right in it. The family. You couldn’t really hoodwink them. They’d know.”
“Then,” I said, much amused, “you think that if you were mixed up in a crime, say a murder, you’d be able to spot the murderer right off?”
“Of course I should. Mightn’t be able to prove it to a pack of lawyers. But I’m certain I’d know. I’d feel it in my fingertips if he came near me.”
“It might be a ‘she’,” I suggested.
“Might. But murder’s a violent crime. Associate it more with a man.”
“Not in a case of poisoning.” Mrs. Cavendish’s clear voice startled me. “Dr. Bauerstein was saying yesterday that, owing to the general ignorance of the more uncommon poisons among the medical profession, there were probably countless cases of poisoning quite unsuspected.”
“Why, Mary, what a gruesome conversation!” cried Mrs. Inglethorp. “It makes me feel as if a goose were walking over my grave. Oh, there’s Cynthia!”
A young girl in V.A.D. uniform ran lightly across the lawn.
“Why, Cynthia, you are late to-day. This is Mr. Hastings—Miss Murdoch.”
Cynthia Murdoch was a fresh-looking young creature, full of life and vigour. She tossed off her little V.A.D. cap, and I admired the great loose waves of her auburn hair, and the smallness and whiteness of the hand she held out to claim her tea. With dark eyes and eyelashes she would have been a beauty.
She flung herself down on the ground beside John, and as I handed her a plate of sandwiches she smiled up at me.
“Sit down here on the grass, do. It’s ever so much nicer.”
I dropped down obediently.
“You work at Tadminster, don’t you, Miss Murdoch?”
She nodded.
“For my sins.”
“Do they bully you, then?” I asked, smiling.
“I should like to see them!” cried Cynthia with dignity.
“I have got a cousin who is nursing,” I remarked. “And she is terrified of ‘Sisters’.”
“I don’t wonder. Sisters are, you know, Mr. Hastings. They simp-ly are! You’ve no idea! But I’m not a nurse, thank heaven, I work in the dispensary.”
“How many people do you poison?” I asked, smiling.
Cynthia smiled too.
“Oh, hundreds!” she said.
“Cynthia,” called Mrs. Inglethorp, “do you think you could write a few notes for me?”
“Certainly, Aunt Emily.”
She jumped up promptly, and something in her manner reminded me that her position was a dependent one, and that Mrs. Inglethorp, kind as she might be in the main, did not allow her to forget it.
My hostess turned to me.
“John will show you your room. Supper is at half-past seven. We have given up late dinner for some time now. Lady Tadminster, our Member’s wife—she was the late Lord Abbotsbury’s daughter—does the same. She agrees with me that one must set an example of economy. We are quite a war household; nothing is wasted here—every scrap of waste paper, even, is saved and sent away in sacks.”
I expressed my appreciation, and John took me into the house and up the broad staircase, which forked right and left half-way to different wings of the building. My room was in the left wing, and looked out over the park.
John left me, and a few minutes later I saw him from my window walking slowly across the grass arm in arm with Cynthia Murdoch. I heard Mrs. Inglethorp call “Cynthia” impatiently, and the girl started and ran back to the house. At the same moment, a man stepped out from the shadow of a tree and walked slowly in the same direction. He looked about forty, very dark with a melancholy clean-shaven face. Some violent emotion seemed to be mastering him. He looked up at my window as he passed, and I recognized him, though he had changed much in the fifteen years that had elapsed since we last met. It was John’s younger brother, Lawrence Cavendish. I wondered what it was that had brought that singular expression to his face.
Then I dismissed him from my mind, and returned to the contemplation of my own affairs.
The evening passed pleasantly enough; and I dreamed that night of that enigmatical woman, Mary Cavendish.
The next morning dawned bright and sunny, and I was full of the anticipation of a delightful visit.
I did not see Mrs. Cavendish until lunch-time, when she volunteered to take me for a walk, and we spent a charming afternoon roaming in the woods, returning to the house about five.
As we entered the large hall, John beckoned us both into the smoking-room. I saw at once by his face that something disturbing had occurred. We followed him in, and he shut the door after us.
“Look here, Mary, there’s the deuce of a mess. Evie’s had a row with Alfred Inglethorp, and she’s off.”
“Evie? Off?”
John nodded gloomily.
“Yes; you see she went to the mater, and—Oh,—here’s Evie herself.”
Miss Howard entered. Her lips were set grimly together, and she carried a small suit-case. She looked excited and determined, and slightly on the defensive.
“At any rate,” she burst out, “I’ve spoken my mind!”
“My dear Evelyn,” cried Mrs. Cavendish, “this can’t be true!”
Miss Howard nodded grimly.
“True enough! Afraid I said some things to Emily she won’t forget or forgive in a hurry. Don’t mind if they’ve only sunk in a bit. Probably water off a duck’s back, though. I said right out: ‘You’re an old woman, Emily, and there’s no fool like an old fool. The man’s twenty years younger than you, and don’t you fool yourself as to what he married you for. Money! Well, don’t let him have too much of it. Farmer Raikes has got a very pretty young wife. Just ask your Alfred how much time he spends over there.’ She was very angry. Natural! I went on, ‘I’m going to warn you, whether you like it or not. That man would as soon murder you in your bed as look at you. He’s a bad lot. You can say what you like to me, but remember what I’ve told you. He’s a bad lot!’”
“What did she say?”
Miss Howard made an extremely expressive grimace.
“‘Darling Alfred’—‘dearest Alfred’—‘wicked calumnies’ —‘wicked lies’—‘wicked woman’—to accuse her ‘dear husband!’ The sooner I left her house the better. So I’m off.”
“But not now?”
“This minute!”
For a moment we sat and stared at her. Finally John Cavendish, finding his persuasions of no avail, went off to look up the trains. His wife followed him, murmuring something about persuading Mrs. Inglethorp to think better of it.
As she left the room, Miss Howard’s face changed. She leant towards me eagerly.
“Mr. Hastings, you’re honest. I can trust you?”
I was a little startled. She laid her hand on my arm, and sank her voice to a whisper.
“Look after her, Mr. Hastings. My poor Emily. They’re a lot of sharks—all of them. Oh, I know what I’m talking about. There isn’t one of them that’s not hard up and trying to get money out of her. I’ve protected her as much as I could. Now I’m out of the way, they’ll impose upon her.”
“Of course, Miss Howard,” I said, “I’ll do everything I can, but I’m sure you’re excited and overwrought.”
She interrupted me by slowly shaking her forefinger.
“Young man, trust me. I’ve lived in the world rather longer than you have. All I ask you is to keep your eyes open. You’ll see what I mean.”
The throb of the motor came through the open window, and Miss Howard rose and moved to the door. John’s voice sounded outside. With her hand on the handle, she turned her head over her shoulder, and beckoned to me.
“Above all, Mr. Hastings, watch that devil—her husband!”
There was no time for more. Miss Howard was swallowed up in an eager chorus of protests and good-byes. The Inglethorps did not appear.
As the motor drove away, Mrs. Cavendish suddenly detached herself from the group, and moved across the drive to the lawn to meet a tall bearded man who had been evidently making for the house. The colour rose in her cheeks as she held out her hand to him.
“Who is that?” I asked sharply, for instinctively I distrusted the man.
“That’s Dr. Bauerstein,” said John shortly.
“And who is Dr. Bauerstein?”
“He’s staying in the village doing a rest cure, after a bad nervous breakdown. He’s a London specialist; a very clever man—one of the greatest living experts on poisons, I believe.”
“And he’s a great friend of Mary’s,” put in Cynthia, the irrepressible.
John Cavendish frowned and changed the subject.
“Come for a stroll, Hastings. This has been a most rotten business. She always had a rough tongue, but there is no stauncher friend in England than Evelyn Howard.”
He took the path through the plantation, and we walked down to the village through the woods which bordered one side of the estate.
As we passed through one of the gates on our way home again, a pretty young woman of gipsy type coming in the opposite direction bowed and smiled.
“That’s a pretty girl,” I remarked appreciatively.
John’s face hardened.
“That is Mrs. Raikes.”
“The one that Miss Howard——”
“Exactly,” said John, with rather unnecessary abruptness.
I thought of the white-haired old lady in the big house, and that vivid wicked little face that had just smiled into ours, and a vague chill of foreboding crept over me. I brushed it aside.
“Styles is really a glorious old place,” I said to John.
He nodded rather gloomily.
“Yes, it’s a fine property. It’ll be mine some day—should be mine now by rights, if my father had only made a decent will. And then I shouldn’t be so damned hard up as I am now.”
“Hard up, are you?”
“My dear Hastings, I don’t mind telling you that I’m at my wits’ end for money.”
“Couldn’t your brother help you?”
“Lawrence? He’s gone through every penny he ever had, publishing rotten verses in fancy bindings. No, we’re an impecunious lot. My mother’s always been awfully good to us, I must say. That is, up to now. Since her marriage, of course——” he broke off, frowning.
For the first time I felt that, with Evelyn Howard, something indefinable had gone from the atmosphere. Her presence had spelt security. Now that security was removed—and the air seemed rife with suspicion. The sinister face of Dr. Bauerstein recurred to me unpleasantly. A vague suspicion of everyone and everything filled my mind. Just for a moment I had a premonition of approaching evil.