en-fr  The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Chapter VI
L'ENQUÊTE Dans l'intervalle avant l'renquête, Poirot était indéfectible dans son activité.

Deux fois il s'était cloîtré avec M. Wells.

Il s'était aussi longuement promené dans la campagne. Je regrettai vivement qu'il ne se confie pas à moi, d'autant plus que je ne devinais pas dans quelle direction il s'orientait.

Je me dis qu'il était peut-être allé enquêter à la ferme des Raikes ; aussi, apprenant qu'il était sorti je passai à Leastways Cottage le mercredi soir, je m'y rendis à travers champs espérant le rencontrer.

Mais il n'y avait pas trace de lui aussi hésitai-je à monter à la ferme elle-même.

Comme je m'en allai, je rencontrai un vieux paysan qui me jaugea d'un air sournois.

– Vous v'nez du château, c'pas ? baragouina-t-il.

— Oui. Je cherche un de mes amis qui, je pensais, aurait pu marcher par là.

— Un petit gars ? Qui gesticule pendant qu'il parle ? Un des Belges du village ?

— Oui, dis-je avec impatience. — Alors, il est venu ici ?

— Ben oui, il est venu ici, effectivement. Plus qu'une fois, même. C'est l'un de vos amis ? Ah ! vous autres les messieurs du château... z'êtes une sacrée bande !

Et il me lorgna d'un air plus narquois que jamais.

– Pourquoi, les messieurs du château viennent-ils souvent ici ? glissai-je, aussi négligemment que je le pus.

Il me fit un clin d'œil entendu.

– Il y en a un, monsieur. Pas la peine de donner de nom, j'imagine. Et un monsieur très généreux, aussi ! Oh ! merci, m'sieur, pour sûr.

Je rentrai d'un pas vif. Ainsi, Evelyn Howard ne s'était pas trompée, je ressentis un profond dégoût en pensant à la générosité dont faisait preuve Alfred Inglethorp avec l'argent d'une autre femme.

Est-ce que ce piquant visage de gitane avait été à l'origine du crime ou son mobile était-il l'argent ? Probablement un savant dosage des deux.

Sur un point, Poirot semblait curieusement obsédé.

Il m'avait fait remarquer une fois ou deux fois qu'il pensait que Dorcas avait dû se tromper en estimant l'heure de la dispute.

Il lui avait demandé plusieurs fois s'il n'était pas plutôt 16 heures 30 et non 16 heures lorsqu'elle avait entendu les éclats de voix.

Mais Dorcas était inébranlable. Une heure environ, voire plus, s'était écoulée entre le moment où elle avait entendu les voix et 5 heures, heure à laquelle elle avait apporté le thé à sa maîtresse.

L'enquête eut lieu le vendredi au Stylites Arms au village. Poirot et moi nous assîmes côte à côte n'étant pas cités à comparaître.

Les préliminaires furent expédiés. Le jury examina le corps et John Cavendish établit son identité.

Interrogé plus précisément, il décrivit son réveil au petit matin et les circonstances de la mort de sa mère.

Puis les médecins exposèrent leurs conclusions.

Le public retenait son souffle, tous les regards étaient fixés sur le fameux spécialiste londonien reconnu comme la plus haute autorité du moment en matière de toxicologie.

En quelques mots brefs, il résuma les résultats de l'autopsie.

Si on faisait abstraction du jargon médical et des détails techniques, on aboutissait au fait que Mme Inglethorp était morte des suites d'un empoisonnement à la strychnine.

Au vu des quantités relevées, elle avait dû absorber pas moins de trois-quarts de grain de strychnine, probablement un grain voire davantage.

– Est-il possible qu'elle ait absorbé le poison par accident ? demanda le Coroner.

– Je pense que c'est très improbable. La Strychnine n'est pas utilisée dans les produits domestiques, comme le sont certains poisons et sa vente est réglementée.

– Est-ce que quelque chose dans vos observations vous a permis de déterminer comment le poison a été administré ?

– Non.

– Vous êtes arrivé à Styles avant le docteur Wilkins, je crois ?

– C'est vrai. J'ai croisé la voiture juste après le portail, j'ai couru aussi vite que j'ai pu jusqu'à la maison.

– Voulez-vous nous raconter précisément ce qui s'est passé ensuite ?

— Je suis entré dans la chambre de Mme Inglethorp. Visiblement, elle était en pleine crise de convulsion tétanique. Elle s'est tournée vers moi et a soufflé : « Alfred... Alfred... — La strychnine aurait-elle pu se trouver dans le café apporté à Mme Inglethorp par son mari après le repas ?

— C'est possible, mais les effets de la strychnine sont assez rapides.

Les symptômes apparaissent une à deux heures après son ingestion. Ils peuvent être retardés dans certaines circonstances qui ne semblent pas cependant s'être produites dans ce cas-ci. Je suppose que Mme Inglethorp a pris le café vers 8 heures après le diner, cependant les symptômes ne sont pas apparus avant les premières heures du matin, ce qui, en conséquence, semble montrer que le poison a été pris bien plus tard dans la soirée.

– Mme Inglethorp avait l'habitude de boire une tasse de cacao au milieu de la nuit.

Est-ce que la strychnine a pu être administrée par ce biais ?

– Non, j'ai pris moi-même un échantillon du cacao qui restait dans la casserole et je l'ai analysé.

Il ne contenait pas de strychnine.

J'entendis Poirot glousser doucement à côté de moi.

– Comment avez-vous compris ? murmurai-je.

– Écoutez.

– Je dirais, poursuivit le médecin, que j'aurais été très surpris par tout autre résultat.

– Pourquoi ?

– Tout simplement parce-que la strychnine a un goût amer prononcé.

On peut la sentir dans une dilution à 1/ 70 000 ème et elle ne peut être masquée que par quelques substances au parfum très prononcé. Le cacao serait quasiment incapable de la masquer.

L'un des jurés voulu savoir si la même objection pouvait s'appliquer au café.

– Non. Le café possède de lui-même un goût amer qui masquerait probablement le goût de la strychnine.

– Alors vous considérez qu'il est plus vraisemblable que le poison ait été administré dans le café mais que, pour quelque raison inconnue, son effet a été retardé.

– Oui, mais comme la tasse a été complètement détruite, il n'a pas été possible d'en analyser le contenu.

Ceci conclut la déposition du docteur Bauerstein. Le Dr Wilkins la corrobora en tous points.

Interrogé sur l'éventualité d'un suicide, il la repoussa fermement.

La morte, affirma-t-il, souffrait du cœur mais jouissait, en dehors de cela, d'une santé parfaite, elle était d'une nature joyeuse et équilibrée.

Elle aurait été une des dernières à s'ôter la vie.

Ensuite, Lawrence Cavendish fut appelé.

Son témoignage était sans intérêt, une simple répétition de celui de son frère.

Alors qu'il était sur le point de retourner à sa place, il s'interrompit, proposant d'un ton hésitant : – J'aimerais émettre une hypothèse, si vous permettez ?

Il jeta un regard désapprobateur au coroner qui répondit vivement : – Mais certainement, M. Cavendish, nous sommes ici pour faire toute la vérité sur cette affaire, tout ce qui pourrait nous conduire à l'élucider est bienvenu.

– C'est juste une idée personnelle. expliqua Lawrence. – Bien sûr, je peux me tromper, mais je persiste à penser que le décès de ma mère pourrait s'expliquer par des causes naturelles.

– Qu'est-ce qui vous permet de penser cela, M. Cavendish ?

– Ma mère, au moment de sa mort et depuis quelque temps, prenait un tonique qui contient de la strychnine.

– Oh ! s'étonna le coroner.

Les jurés levèrent les yeux, intéressés.

– Je crois, poursuivit Lawrence, qu'il existe des cas où l'effet additionné d'un poison, administré pendant quelques temps, a fini par causer la mort.

Aussi, n'est-il pas possible qu'elle ait pris une trop grosse dose de son médicament pas accident ?

– C'est la première fois que nous entendons que la morte prenait de la strychnine au moment de son décès.

Nous vous sommes très obligés, M. Cavendish.

Le Dr Wilkins fut rappelé et réfuta cette idée.

– Ce que suggère M. Cavendish est tout à fait impossible. N'importe quel médecin vous en dira autant. D'une certaine manière, la strychnine est un poison qui peut s'accumuler dans le corps mais il serait quasiment impossible qu'elle puisse provoquer un décès brutal de cette manière.

Il y aurait eu une longue période de symptômes chroniques qui auraient attiré mon attention. Tout ceci est absurde.

– Et la seconde hypothèse ? Que Mme Inglethorp aurait pu prendre une dose létale par accident ?

– Trois ou peut-être quatre doses n'auraient pas provoqué la mort. Mme Inglethorp avait toujours une très grosse quantité de médicaments à sa disposition car elle s'approvisionnait chez Cot's, le pharmacien de Tadminster.

Elle aurait dû avaler le contenu de presque toute la bouteille pour arriver à la quantité de strychnine trouvée à l'autopsie.

— Donc vous estimez que l'on peut rejeter l'idée que le produit tonique aurait pu d'une manière ou d'une autre entrainer la mort ?

— Absolument. Cette hypothèse est grotesque.

Le même juré qui était intervenu auparavant suggéra que le pharmacien qui avait préparé le médicament pouvait avoir commis une erreur.

— C'est bien entendu toujours possible, répondit le docteur.

Mais Dorcas, qui fut le témoin suivant, écarta cette éventualité. Le médicament n'avait pas été préparé récemment.

Bien au contraire, Mme Inglethorp avait pris la dernière dose le jour de son décès.

Donc la question du tonique fut finalement abandonnée et le Coroner poursuivit sa tâche. Ayant appris par Dorcas qu'elle avait été réveillée par le tintement violent de la sonnette de sa maîtresse, ce qui l'avait conduite à réveiller toute la maisonnée, il en vint au sujet de la querelle de l'après-midi précédent.

Sur ce point, le témoignage de Dorcas fut une redite de ce que Poirot et moi-même avions déjà entendu, je ne le répéterai donc pas ici.

Le témoin suivant était Mary Cavendish.

Elle se tenait très droite, s'exprimant d'une voix grave, claire et à la diction parfaite.

En réponse à la question du Coroner, elle raconta comment, son réveil ayant sonné à 4 heures 30 comme d'habitude, elle était en train de s'habiller lorsqu'elle fut alertée par le bruit de quelque chose de lourd qui tombait.

– Est-ce que ça aurait pu être la table à côté du lit ? demanda le Coroner.

– J'ai ouvert ma porte, continua Mary et écouté.

Quelques minutes plus tard, une sonnerie a retenti violemment. Dorcas est venue en courant, a réveillé mon mari, puis nous sommes tous allés dans la chambre de ma belle-mère, mais elle était verrouillée...

Le Coroner l'interrompit.

– Je pense qu'il n'est pas indispensable de vous ennuyer davantage à ce sujet. Nous savons tout ce qu'il est possible de savoir sur ce qui s'est produit ensuite. Mais je vous serais reconnaissant de bien vouloir nous raconter tout ce que vous avez surpris de l'altercation de la veille.

– Moi ? Il y avait une pointe d'insolence dans son ton.

Elle leva la main et ajusta le col de dentelle sur sa nuque tout en détournant légèrement son visage.

Brutalement la raison m'en traversa l'esprit : – Elle gagne du temps !

– Oui. J'ai cru comprendre, poursuivi fermement le Coroner, que vous étiez assise à lire sur le banc juste à l'extérieur de la grande fenêtre du boudoir. C'est juste, n'est-ce pas ?

Ceci était nouveau pour moi aussi jetai-je un regard en biais à Poirot, certain qu'il l'apprenait également.

Il y eut un petit silence, une légère hésitation avant qu'elle ne réponde : – Oui, c'est juste.

– Et la fenêtre du boudoir était ouverte, n'est-ce pas ?

Son visage pâlit visiblement un peu et elle répondit : – Oui.

– Alors vous n'avez pas pu éviter d'entendre les voix à l'intérieur, surtout lorsque le ton est monté sous l'effet de la colère. En réalité, elles devaient être bien plus audibles où vous vous trouviez que dans le vestibule.

– C'est possible.

– Voulez-vous nous répéter ce que vous avez entendu de la dispute ?

– Je ne me souviens pas d'avoir entendu quelque chose.

– Voulez-vous dire que vous n'avez pas entendu les voix ?

– Oh si ! j'ai entendu les voix, mais je n'ai pas compris ce qu'elles disaient. Ses joues se colorèrent légèrement. — Je n'ai pas pour habitude d'écouter les conversations privées.

Le coroner insista.

— Et vous ne vous souvenez vraiment d'absolument rien ? Rien du tout, Mme Cavendish ? Pas le moindre mot ou bribe de phrase pour vous faire comprendre qu'il s'agissait d'une conversation privée ?


Elle marqua un temps de réflexion, toujours en apparence aussi calme.

— Oui, je me souviens. Mme Inglethorp a dit quelque chose... je ne me rappelle plus exactement quoi... à propos d'un scandale entre mari et femme.

— Ah ! Le coroner s'adossa, satisfait. Cela corrobore ce que Dorcas a entendu.

Mais excusez-moi, Mme Cavendish, bien que vous ayez compris qu'il s'agissait d'une conversation privée, vous n'êtes pas partie ?

Vous êtes restée là où vous étiez ?

Je saisis le bref éclat de ses yeux fauves alors qu'elle levait le regard.

I felt certain that at that moment she would willingly have torn the little lawyer, with his insinuations, into pieces, but she replied quietly enough: "No. I was very comfortable where I was. I fixed my mind on my book."

"And that is all you can tell us?"

"That is all."

The examination was over, though I doubted if the Coroner was entirely satisfied with it.

I think he suspected that Mary Cavendish could tell more if she chose.

Amy Hill, shop assistant, was next called, and deposed to having sold a will form on the afternoon of the 17th to William Earl, under-gardener at Styles.

William Earl and Manning succeeded her, and testified to witnessing a document. Manning fixed the time at about 4.30, William was of the opinion that it was rather earlier.

Cynthia Murdoch came next. She had, however, little to tell. She had known nothing of the tragedy, until awakened by Mrs. Cavendish.

"You did not hear the table fall?"

"No. I was fast asleep."

The Coroner smiled.

"A good conscience makes a sound sleeper," he observed. "Thank you, Miss Murdoch, that is all."

"Miss Howard."

Miss Howard produced the letter written to her by Mrs. Inglethorp on the evening of the 17th. Poirot and I had, of course already seen it. It added nothing to our knowledge of the tragedy.

It was handed to the jury who scrutinized it attentively.

"I fear it does not help us much," said the Coroner, with a sigh.

"There is no mention of any of the events of that afternoon."

"Plain as a pikestaff to me," said Miss Howard shortly.

"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," the Coroner pointed out.

"No, because Emily never could bear to put herself in the wrong. But I know her. She wanted me back. But she wasn't going to own that I'd been right.

She went round about. Most people do. Don't believe in it myself."

Mr. Wells smiled faintly. So, I noticed, did several of the jury. Miss Howard was obviously quite a public character.

"Anyway, all this tomfoolery is a great waste of time," continued the lady, glancing up and down the jury disparagingly.


"Talk—talk—talk! When all the time we know perfectly well——" The Coroner interrupted her in an agony of apprehension: "Thank you, Miss Howard, that is all."

I fancy he breathed a sigh of relief when she complied.

Then came the sensation of the day.

The Coroner called Albert Mace, chemist's assistant.

It was our agitated young man of the pale face.

In answer to the Coroner's questions, he explained that he was a qualified pharmacist, but had only recently come to this particular shop, as the assistant formerly there had just been called up for the army.

These preliminaries completed, the Coroner proceeded to business.

"Mr. Mace, have you lately sold strychnine to any unauthorized person?"

"Yes, sir."

"When was this?"

"Last Monday night."

"Monday? Not Tuesday?"

"No, sir, Monday, the 16th."

"Will you tell us to whom you sold it?"

You could have heard a pin drop.

"Yes, sir. It was to Mr. Inglethorp."

Every eye turned simultaneously to where Alfred Inglethorp was sitting, impassive and wooden.

He started slightly, as the damning words fell from the young man's lips.

I half thought he was going to rise from his chair, but he remained seated, although a remarkably well acted expression of astonishment rose on his face.

"You are sure of what you say?" asked the Coroner sternly.

"Quite sure, sir."

"Are you in the habit of selling strychnine indiscriminately over the counter?"

The wretched young man wilted visibly under the Coroner's frown.

"Oh, no, sir—of course not. But, seeing it was Mr. Inglethorp of the Hall, I thought there was no harm in it. He said it was to poison a dog."

Inwardly I sympathized. It was only human nature to endeavour to please "The Hall"—especially when it might result in custom being transferred from Coot's to the local establishment.

"Is it not customary for anyone purchasing poison to sign a book?"

"Yes, sir, Mr. Inglethorp did so."

"Have you got the book here?"

"Yes, sir."

It was produced; and, with a few words of stern censure, the Coroner dismissed the wretched Mr. Mace.

Then, amidst a breathless silence, Alfred Inglethorp was called.

Did he realize, I wondered, how closely the halter was being drawn around his neck?.

The Coroner went straight to the point.

"On Monday evening last, did you purchase strychnine for the purpose of poisoning a dog?".

Inglethorp replied with perfect calmness: "No, I did not. There is no dog at Styles, except an outdoor sheepdog, which is in perfect health.".

"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.

"Certainly I do. The hand-writing is quite different from mine. I will show you."

He took an old envelope out of his pocket, and wrote his name on it, handing it to the jury. It was certainly utterly dissimilar.

"Then what is your explanation of Mr. Mace's statement?"

Alfred Inglethorp replied imperturbably: "Mr. Mace must have been mistaken."

The Coroner hesitated for a moment, and then said: "Mr. Inglethorp, as a mere matter of form, would you mind telling us where you were on the evening of Monday, July 16th?"

"Really—I can't remember."

"That is absurd, Mr. Inglethorp," said the Coroner sharply. "Think again."

Inglethorp shook his head.

"I cannot tell you. I have an idea that I was out walking."

"In what direction?"

"I really can't remember."

The Coroner's face grew graver.

"Were you in company with anyone?"

"No."

"Did you meet anyone on your walk?"

"No."

"That is a pity," said the Coroner dryly.

"I am to take it then that you decline to say where you were at the time that Mr. Mace positively recognized you as entering the shop to purchase strychnine?".

"If you like to take it that way, yes."

"Be careful, Mr. Inglethorp."

Poirot was fidgeting nervously.

"Sacre!" he murmured. "Does this imbecile of a man want to be arrested?".

Inglethorp was indeed creating a bad impression.

His futile denials would not have convinced a child.

The Coroner, however, passed briskly to the next point, and Poirot drew a deep breath of relief.

"You had a discussion with your wife on Tuesday afternoon?".

"Pardon me," interrupted Alfred Inglethorp, "you have been misinformed.

I had no quarrel with my dear wife. The whole story is absolutely untrue.

I was absent from the house the entire afternoon."

"Have you anyone who can testify to that?".

"You have my word," said Inglethorp haughtily.

The Coroner did not trouble to reply.

"There are two witnesses who will swear to having heard your disagreement with Mrs. Inglethorp.".

"Those witnesses were mistaken.".

I was puzzled. The man spoke with such quiet assurance that I was staggered.

I looked at Poirot. There was an expression of exultation on his face which I could not understand.

Was he at last convinced of Alfred Inglethorp's guilt?.

"Mr. Inglethorp," said the Coroner, "you have heard your wife's dying words repeated here.

Can you explain them in any way?".

"Certainly I can." "You can?".

"It seems to me very simple.

The room was dimly lighted.

Dr. Bauerstein is much of my height and build, and, like me, wears a beard.

In the dim light, and suffering as she was, my poor wife mistook him for me."

"Ah!" murmured Poirot to himself. "But it is an idea, that!".

"You think it is true?" I whispered.

"I do not say that. But it is truly an ingenious supposition.".

"You read my wife's last words as an accusation"—Inglethorp was continuing—"they were, on the contrary, an appeal to me.".

The Coroner reflected a moment, then he said: "I believe, Mr. Inglethorp, that you yourself poured out the coffee, and took it to your wife that evening?".

"I poured it out, yes.

But I did not take it to her.

I meant to do so, but I was told that a friend was at the hall door, so I laid down the coffee on the hall table.

When I came through the hall again a few minutes later, it was gone."

This statement might, or might not, be true, but it did not seem to me to improve matters much for Inglethorp.

In any case, he had had ample time to introduce the poison.

At that point, Poirot nudged me gently, indicating two men who were sitting together near the door.

One was a little, sharp, dark, ferret-faced man, the other was tall and fair.

I questioned Poirot mutely.

He put his lips to my ear.

"Do you know who that little man is?"

I shook my head.

"That is Detective Inspector James Japp of Scotland Yard—Jimmy Japp.

The other man is from Scotland Yard too.

Things are moving quickly, my friend."

I stared at the two men intently.

There was certainly nothing of the policeman about them.

I should never have suspected them of being official personages.

I was still staring, when I was startled and recalled by the verdict being given: "Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown."
unit 1
THE INQUEST In the interval before the inquest, Poirot was unfailing in his activity.
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Twice he was closeted with Mr. Wells.
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He also took long walks into the country.
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But there was no sign of him, and I hesitated to go right up to the farm itself.
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As I walked away, I met an aged rustic, who leered at me cunningly.
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"You'm from the Hall, bain't you?"
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he asked.
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"Yes.
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I'm looking for a friend of mine whom I thought might have walked this way."
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"A little chap?
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As waves his hands when he talks?
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One of them Belgies from the village?"
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"Yes," I said eagerly.
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"He has been here, then?"
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"Oh, ay, he's been here, right enough.
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More'n once too.
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Friend of yours, is he?
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Ah, you gentlemen from the Hall—you'n a pretty lot!".
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And he leered more jocosely than ever.
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"Why, do the gentlemen from the Hall come here often?"
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I asked, as carelessly as I could.
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He winked at me knowingly.
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"One does, mister.
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Naming no names, mind.
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And a very liberal gentleman too!
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Oh, thank you, sir, I'm sure."
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I walked on sharply.
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Probably a judicious mixture of both.
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On one point, Poirot seemed to have a curious obsession.
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He suggested to her repeatedly that it was 4.30, and not 4 o'clock when she had heard the voices.
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But Dorcas was unshaken.
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The inquest was held on Friday at the Stylites Arms in the village.
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Poirot and I sat together, not being required to give evidence.
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The preliminaries were gone through.
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The jury viewed the body, and John Cavendish gave evidence of identification.
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The medical evidence was next taken.
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In a few brief words, he summed up the result of the post-mortem.
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unit 48
"Is it possible that she could have swallowed the poison by accident?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 49
asked the Coroner.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 50
"I should consider it very unlikely.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 52
"Does anything in your examination lead you to determine how the poison was administered?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 53
"No."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 54
"You arrived at Styles before Dr.Wilkins, I believe?".
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 55
"That is so.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 56
The motor met me just outside the lodge gates, and I hurried there as fast as I could."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 57
"Will you relate to us exactly what happened next?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 58
"I entered Mrs. Inglethorp's room.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 59
She was at that moment in a typical tetanic convulsion.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 61
"Possibly, but strychnine is a fairly rapid drug in its action.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 62
The symptoms appear from one to two hours after it has been swallowed.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 65
"Mrs. Inglethorp was in the habit of drinking a cup of coco in the middle of the night.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 66
Could the strychnine have been administered in that?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 67
"No, I myself took a sample of the coco remaining in the saucepan and had it analysed.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 68
There was no strychnine present."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 69
I heard Poirot chuckle softly beside me.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 70
"How did you know?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 71
I whispered.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 72
"Listen."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 74
"Why?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 75
"Simply because strychnine has an unusually bitter taste.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 8 hours ago
unit 77
Coco would be quite powerless to mask it."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 78
One of the jury wanted to know if the same objection applied to coffee.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 8 hours ago
unit 79
"No.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 80
Coffee has a bitter taste of its own which would probably cover the taste of strychnine."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 82
"Yes, but, the cup being completely smashed, there is no possibility of analyzing its contents."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 83
This concluded Dr.Bauerstein's evidence.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 84
Dr.Wilkins corroborated it on all points.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 85
Sounded as to the possibility of suicide, he repudiated it utterly.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 87
She would be one of the last people to take her own life.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 88
Lawrence Cavendish was next called.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 89
His evidence was quite unimportant, being a mere repetition of that of his brother.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 92
"It is just an idea of mine," explained Lawrence.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 94
"How do you make that out, Mr.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 95
Cavendish?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 97
"Ah!"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 98
said the Coroner.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 99
The jury looked up, interested.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 101
Also, is it not possible that she may have taken an overdose of her medicine by accident?"
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 8 hours ago
unit 102
"This is the first we have heard of the deceased taking strychnine at the time of her death.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 103
We are much obliged to you, Mr.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 104
Cavendish."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 105
Dr. Wilkins was recalled and ridiculed the idea.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 106
"What Mr. Cavendish suggests is quite impossible.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 107
Any doctor would tell you the same.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 110
The whole thing is absurd."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 111
"And the second suggestion?
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 112
That Mrs. Inglethorp may have inadvertently taken an overdose?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 113
"Three, or even four doses, would not have resulted in death.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 117
"Certainly.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 118
The supposition is ridiculous."
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 5 days, 7 hours ago
unit 120
"That, of course, is always possible," replied the doctor.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 6 days, 3 hours ago
unit 121
But Dorcas, who was the next witness called, dispelled even that possibility.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 6 days, 3 hours ago
unit 122
The medicine had not been newly made up.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 6 days, 3 hours ago
unit 123
On the contrary, Mrs. Inglethorp had taken the last dose on the day of her death.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 6 days, 3 hours ago
unit 124
So the question of the tonic was finally abandoned, and the Coroner proceeded with his task.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 6 days, 3 hours ago
unit 127
The next witness was Mary Cavendish.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 days, 23 hours ago
unit 128
She stood very upright, and spoke in a low, clear, and perfectly composed voice.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 days, 23 hours ago
unit 130
"That would have been the table by the bed?"
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 days, 23 hours ago
unit 131
commented the Coroner.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 days, 23 hours ago
unit 132
"I opened my door," continued Mary, "and listened.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 days, 23 hours ago
unit 133
In a few minutes a bell rang violently.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 days, 23 hours ago
unit 135
The Coroner interrupted her.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 days, 23 hours ago
unit 136
"I really do not think we need trouble you further on that point.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 137
We know all that can be known of the subsequent happenings.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 138
But I should be obliged if you would tell us all you overheard of the quarrel the day before."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 139
"I?"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 140
There was a faint insolence in her voice.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 142
And quite spontaneously the thought flashed across my mind: "She is gaining time!".
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 143
"Yes.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 145
That is so, is it not?"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 146
This was news to me and glancing sideways at Poirot, I fancied that it was news to him as well.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 147
unit 148
"And the boudoir window was open, was it not?"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 day, 11 hours ago
unit 149
Surely her face grew a little paler as she answered: "Yes."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 150
"Then you cannot have failed to hear the voices inside, especially as they were raised in anger.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 151
In fact, they would be more audible where you were than in the hall."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 152
"Possibly."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 153
"Will you repeat to us what you overheard of the quarrel?"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 154
"I really do not remember hearing anything."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 155
"Do you mean to say you did not hear voices?"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 156
"Oh, yes, I heard the voices, but I did not hear what they said."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days, 6 hours ago
unit 157
A faint spot of colour came into her cheek.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days ago
unit 158
"I am not in the habit of listening to private conversations."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days ago
unit 159
The Coroner persisted.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days ago
unit 160
"And you remember nothing at all?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days ago
unit 161
Nothing, Mrs. Cavendish?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days ago
unit 162
unit 163
She paused, and seemed to reflect, still outwardly as calm as ever.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days ago
unit 164
"Yes; I remember.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days ago
unit 166
"Ah!"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days ago
unit 167
the Coroner leant back satisfied.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days ago
unit 168
"That corresponds with what Dorcas heard.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 days ago
unit 170
You remained where you were?"
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 hours ago
unit 171
I caught the momentary gleam of her tawny eyes as she raised them.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 hours ago
unit 173
I was very comfortable where I was.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 174
I fixed my mind on my book."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 175
"And that is all you can tell us?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 176
"That is all."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 178
I think he suspected that Mary Cavendish could tell more if she chose.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 182
Cynthia Murdoch came next.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 183
She had, however, little to tell.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 184
She had known nothing of the tragedy, until awakened by Mrs. Cavendish.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 185
"You did not hear the table fall?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 186
"No.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 187
I was fast asleep."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 188
The Coroner smiled.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 189
"A good conscience makes a sound sleeper," he observed.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 190
"Thank you, Miss Murdoch, that is all."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 191
"Miss Howard."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 193
Poirot and I had, of course already seen it.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 194
It added nothing to our knowledge of the tragedy.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 195
It was handed to the jury who scrutinized it attentively.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 196
"I fear it does not help us much," said the Coroner, with a sigh.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 197
"There is no mention of any of the events of that afternoon."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 198
"Plain as a pikestaff to me," said Miss Howard shortly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 200
"It says nothing of the kind in the letter," the Coroner pointed out.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 201
"No, because Emily never could bear to put herself in the wrong.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 202
But I know her.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 203
She wanted me back.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 204
But she wasn't going to own that I'd been right.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 205
She went round about.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 206
Most people do.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 207
Don't believe in it myself."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 208
Mr. Wells smiled faintly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 209
So, I noticed, did several of the jury.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 210
Miss Howard was obviously quite a public character.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 212
"Talk—talk—talk!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 214
I fancy he breathed a sigh of relief when she complied.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 215
Then came the sensation of the day.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 216
The Coroner called Albert Mace, chemist's assistant.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 217
It was our agitated young man of the pale face.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 219
These preliminaries completed, the Coroner proceeded to business.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 220
"Mr. Mace, have you lately sold strychnine to any unauthorized person?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 221
"Yes, sir."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 222
"When was this?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 223
"Last Monday night."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 224
"Monday?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 225
Not Tuesday?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 226
"No, sir, Monday, the 16th."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 227
"Will you tell us to whom you sold it?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 228
You could have heard a pin drop.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 229
"Yes, sir.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 230
It was to Mr.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 231
Inglethorp."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 233
unit 235
"You are sure of what you say?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 236
asked the Coroner sternly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 237
"Quite sure, sir."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 239
The wretched young man wilted visibly under the Coroner's frown.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 240
"Oh, no, sir—of course not.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 242
He said it was to poison a dog."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 243
Inwardly I sympathized.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 245
"Is it not customary for anyone purchasing poison to sign a book?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 246
"Yes, sir, Mr. Inglethorp did so."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 247
"Have you got the book here?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 248
"Yes, sir."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 250
Then, amidst a breathless silence, Alfred Inglethorp was called.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 252
The Coroner went straight to the point.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 254
Inglethorp replied with perfect calmness: "No, I did not.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 257
"I do."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 258
"Do you also deny this?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 259
unit 260
"Certainly I do.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 261
The hand-writing is quite different from mine.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 262
I will show you."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 264
It was certainly utterly dissimilar.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 265
"Then what is your explanation of Mr. Mace's statement?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 266
unit 268
"Really—I can't remember."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 269
"That is absurd, Mr. Inglethorp," said the Coroner sharply.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 270
"Think again."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 271
Inglethorp shook his head.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 272
"I cannot tell you.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 273
I have an idea that I was out walking."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 274
"In what direction?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 275
"I really can't remember."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 276
The Coroner's face grew graver.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 277
"Were you in company with anyone?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 278
"No."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 279
"Did you meet anyone on your walk?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 280
"No."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 281
"That is a pity," said the Coroner dryly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 283
"If you like to take it that way, yes."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 284
"Be careful, Mr.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 285
Inglethorp."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 286
Poirot was fidgeting nervously.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 287
"Sacre!"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 288
he murmured.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 289
"Does this imbecile of a man want to be arrested?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 290
Inglethorp was indeed creating a bad impression.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 291
His futile denials would not have convinced a child.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 293
"You had a discussion with your wife on Tuesday afternoon?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 294
"Pardon me," interrupted Alfred Inglethorp, "you have been misinformed.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 295
I had no quarrel with my dear wife.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 296
The whole story is absolutely untrue.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 297
I was absent from the house the entire afternoon."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 298
"Have you anyone who can testify to that?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 299
"You have my word," said Inglethorp haughtily.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 300
The Coroner did not trouble to reply.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 302
Inglethorp.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 303
"Those witnesses were mistaken.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 304
I was puzzled.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 305
The man spoke with such quiet assurance that I was staggered.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 306
I looked at Poirot.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 308
Was he at last convinced of Alfred Inglethorp's guilt?.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 310
Can you explain them in any way?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 311
"Certainly I can."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 312
"You can?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 313
"It seems to me very simple.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 314
The room was dimly lighted.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 315
unit 316
unit 317
"Ah!"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 318
murmured Poirot to himself.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 319
"But it is an idea, that!".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 320
"You think it is true?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 321
I whispered.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 322
"I do not say that.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 323
But it is truly an ingenious supposition.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 326
"I poured it out, yes.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 327
But I did not take it to her.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 329
When I came through the hall again a few minutes later, it was gone."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 331
In any case, he had had ample time to introduce the poison.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 333
unit 334
I questioned Poirot mutely.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 335
He put his lips to my ear.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 336
"Do you know who that little man is?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 337
I shook my head.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 338
"That is Detective Inspector James Japp of Scotland Yard—Jimmy Japp.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 339
The other man is from Scotland Yard too.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 340
Things are moving quickly, my friend."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 341
I stared at the two men intently.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 342
There was certainly nothing of the policeman about them.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 343
I should never have suspected them of being official personages.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
Bouchka • 3709  commented on  unit 41  2 weeks, 6 days ago

THE INQUEST

In the interval before the inquest, Poirot was unfailing in his activity.

Twice he was closeted with Mr. Wells.

He also took long walks into the country. I rather resented his not taking me into his confidence, the more so as I could not in the least guess what he was driving at.

It occurred to me that he might have been making inquiries at Raikes's farm; so, finding him out when I called at Leastways Cottage on Wednesday evening, I walked over there by the fields, hoping to meet him.

But there was no sign of him, and I hesitated to go right up to the farm itself.

As I walked away, I met an aged rustic, who leered at me cunningly.

"You'm from the Hall, bain't you?" he asked.

"Yes. I'm looking for a friend of mine whom I thought might have walked this way."

"A little chap? As waves his hands when he talks? One of them Belgies from the village?"

"Yes," I said eagerly. "He has been here, then?"

"Oh, ay, he's been here, right enough. More'n once too. Friend of yours, is he? Ah, you gentlemen from the Hall—you'n a pretty lot!".

And he leered more jocosely than ever.

"Why, do the gentlemen from the Hall come here often?" I asked, as carelessly as I could.

He winked at me knowingly.

"One does, mister. Naming no names, mind. And a very liberal gentleman too! Oh, thank you, sir, I'm sure."

I walked on sharply. Evelyn Howard had been right then, and I experienced a sharp twinge of disgust, as I thought of Alfred Inglethorp's liberality with another woman's money.

Had that piquant gipsy face been at the bottom of the crime, or was it the baser mainspring of money? Probably a judicious mixture of both.

On one point, Poirot seemed to have a curious obsession.

He once or twice observed to me that he thought Dorcas must have made an error in fixing the time of the quarrel.

He suggested to her repeatedly that it was 4.30, and not 4 o'clock when she had heard the voices.

But Dorcas was unshaken. Quite an hour, or even more, had elapsed between the time when she had heard the voices and 5 o'clock, when she had taken tea to her mistress.

The inquest was held on Friday at the Stylites Arms in the village. Poirot and I sat together, not being required to give evidence.

The preliminaries were gone through. The jury viewed the body, and John Cavendish gave evidence of identification.

Further questioned, he described his awakening in the early hours of the morning, and the circumstances of his mother's death.

The medical evidence was next taken.

There was a breathless hush, and every eye was fixed on the famous London specialist, who was known to be one of the greatest authorities of the day on the subject of toxicology.

In a few brief words, he summed up the result of the post-mortem.

Shorn of its medical phraseology and technicalities, it amounted to the fact that Mrs. Inglethorp had met her death as the result of strychnine poisoning.

Judging from the quantity recovered, she must have taken not less than three-quarters of a grain of strychnine, but probably one grain or slightly over.

"Is it possible that she could have swallowed the poison by accident?" asked the Coroner.

"I should consider it very unlikely. Strychnine is not used for domestic purposes, as some poisons are, and there are restrictions placed on its sale."

"Does anything in your examination lead you to determine how the poison was administered?"

"No."

"You arrived at Styles before Dr.Wilkins, I believe?".

"That is so. The motor met me just outside the lodge gates, and I hurried there as fast as I could."

"Will you relate to us exactly what happened next?"

"I entered Mrs. Inglethorp's room. She was at that moment in a typical tetanic convulsion. She turned towards me, and gasped out: 'Alfred—Alfred——' "

"Could the strychnine have been administered in Mrs. Inglethorp's after-dinner coffee which was taken to her by her husband?"

"Possibly, but strychnine is a fairly rapid drug in its action.

The symptoms appear from one to two hours after it has been swallowed. It is retarded under certain conditions, none of which, however, appear to have been present in this case. I presume Mrs. Inglethorp took the coffee after dinner about eight o'clock, whereas the symptoms did not manifest themselves until the early hours of the morning, which, on the face of it, points to the drug having been taken much later in the evening.".

"Mrs. Inglethorp was in the habit of drinking a cup of coco in the middle of the night.

Could the strychnine have been administered in that?"

"No, I myself took a sample of the coco remaining in the saucepan and had it analysed.

There was no strychnine present."

I heard Poirot chuckle softly beside me.

"How did you know?" I whispered.

"Listen."

"I should say"—the doctor was continuing—"that I would have been considerably surprised at any other result."

"Why?"

"Simply because strychnine has an unusually bitter taste.

It can be detected in a solution of 1 in 70,000, and can only be disguised by some strongly flavoured substance. Coco would be quite powerless to mask it."

One of the jury wanted to know if the same objection applied to coffee.

"No. Coffee has a bitter taste of its own which would probably cover the taste of strychnine."

"Then you consider it more likely that the drug was administered in the coffee, but that for some unknown reason its action was delayed."

"Yes, but, the cup being completely smashed, there is no possibility of analyzing its contents."

This concluded Dr.Bauerstein's evidence. Dr.Wilkins corroborated it on all points.

Sounded as to the possibility of suicide, he repudiated it utterly.

The deceased, he said, suffered from a weak heart, but otherwise enjoyed perfect health, and was of a cheerful and well-balanced disposition.

She would be one of the last people to take her own life.

Lawrence Cavendish was next called.

His evidence was quite unimportant, being a mere repetition of that of his brother.

Just as he was about to step down, he paused, and said rather hesitatingly:

"I should like to make a suggestion if I may?"

He glanced deprecatingly at the Coroner, who replied briskly:

"Certainly, Mr. Cavendish, we are here to arrive at the truth of this matter, and welcome anything that may lead to further elucidation."

"It is just an idea of mine," explained Lawrence. "Of course I may be quite wrong, but it still seems to me that my mother's death might be accounted for by natural means."

"How do you make that out, Mr. Cavendish?"

"My mother, at the time of her death, and for some time before it, was taking a tonic containing strychnine."

"Ah!" said the Coroner.

The jury looked up, interested.

"I believe," continued Lawrence, "that there have been cases where the cumulative effect of a drug, administered for some time, has ended by causing death.

Also, is it not possible that she may have taken an overdose of her medicine by accident?"

"This is the first we have heard of the deceased taking strychnine at the time of her death.

We are much obliged to you, Mr. Cavendish."

Dr. Wilkins was recalled and ridiculed the idea.

"What Mr. Cavendish suggests is quite impossible. Any doctor would tell you the same. Strychnine is, in a certain sense, a cumulative poison, but it would be quite impossible for it to result in sudden death in this way.

There would have to be a long period of chronic symptoms which would at once have attracted my attention. The whole thing is absurd."

"And the second suggestion? That Mrs. Inglethorp may have inadvertently taken an overdose?"

"Three, or even four doses, would not have resulted in death. Mrs. Inglethorp always had an extra large amount of medicine made up at a time, as she dealt with Coot's, the Cash Chemists in Tadminster.

She would have had to take very nearly the whole bottle to account for the amount of strychnine found at the post-mortem."

"Then you consider that we may dismiss the tonic as not being in any way instrumental in causing her death?"

"Certainly. The supposition is ridiculous."

The same juryman who had interrupted before here suggested that the chemist who made up the medicine might have committed an error.

"That, of course, is always possible," replied the doctor.

But Dorcas, who was the next witness called, dispelled even that possibility. The medicine had not been newly made up.

On the contrary, Mrs. Inglethorp had taken the last dose on the day of her death.

So the question of the tonic was finally abandoned, and the Coroner proceeded with his task. Having elicited from Dorcas how she had been awakened by the violent ringing of her mistress's bell, and had subsequently roused the household, he passed to the subject of the quarrel on the preceding afternoon.

Dorcas's evidence on this point was substantially what Poirot and I had already heard, so I will not repeat it here.

The next witness was Mary Cavendish.

She stood very upright, and spoke in a low, clear, and perfectly composed voice.

In answer to the Coroner's question, she told how, her alarm clock having aroused her at 4.30 as usual, she was dressing, when she was startled by the sound of something heavy falling.

"That would have been the table by the bed?" commented the Coroner.

"I opened my door," continued Mary, "and listened.

In a few minutes a bell rang violently. Dorcas came running down and woke my husband, and we all went to my mother-in-law's room, but it was locked——".

The Coroner interrupted her.

"I really do not think we need trouble you further on that point. We know all that can be known of the subsequent happenings. But I should be obliged if you would tell us all you overheard of the quarrel the day before."

"I?" There was a faint insolence in her voice.

She raised her hand and adjusted the ruffle of lace at her neck, turning her head a little as she did so.

And quite spontaneously the thought flashed across my mind: "She is gaining time!".

"Yes. I understand," continued the Coroner deliberately, "that you were sitting reading on the bench just outside the long window of the boudoir. That is so, is it not?"

This was news to me and glancing sideways at Poirot, I fancied that it was news to him as well.

There was the faintest pause, the mere hesitation of a moment, before she answered:

"Yes, that is so."

"And the boudoir window was open, was it not?"

Surely her face grew a little paler as she answered:

"Yes."

"Then you cannot have failed to hear the voices inside, especially as they were raised in anger. In fact, they would be more audible where you were than in the hall."

"Possibly."

"Will you repeat to us what you overheard of the quarrel?"

"I really do not remember hearing anything."

"Do you mean to say you did not hear voices?"

"Oh, yes, I heard the voices, but I did not hear what they said." A faint spot of colour came into her cheek. "I am not in the habit of listening to private conversations."

The Coroner persisted.

"And you remember nothing at all? Nothing, Mrs. Cavendish? Not one stray word or phrase to make you realize that it was a private conversation?".

She paused, and seemed to reflect, still outwardly as calm as ever.

"Yes; I remember. Mrs. Inglethorp said something—I do not remember exactly what—about causing scandal between husband and wife.".

"Ah!" the Coroner leant back satisfied. "That corresponds with what Dorcas heard.

But excuse me, Mrs. Cavendish, although you realized it was a private conversation, you did not move away?.

You remained where you were?"

I caught the momentary gleam of her tawny eyes as she raised them.

I felt certain that at that moment she would willingly have torn the little lawyer, with his insinuations, into pieces, but she replied quietly enough:

"No. I was very comfortable where I was. I fixed my mind on my book."

"And that is all you can tell us?"

"That is all."

The examination was over, though I doubted if the Coroner was entirely satisfied with it.

I think he suspected that Mary Cavendish could tell more if she chose.

Amy Hill, shop assistant, was next called, and deposed to having sold a will form on the afternoon of the 17th to William Earl, under-gardener at Styles.

William Earl and Manning succeeded her, and testified to witnessing a document. Manning fixed the time at about 4.30, William was of the opinion that it was rather earlier.

Cynthia Murdoch came next. She had, however, little to tell. She had known nothing of the tragedy, until awakened by Mrs. Cavendish.

"You did not hear the table fall?"

"No. I was fast asleep."

The Coroner smiled.

"A good conscience makes a sound sleeper," he observed. "Thank you, Miss Murdoch, that is all."

"Miss Howard."

Miss Howard produced the letter written to her by Mrs. Inglethorp on the evening of the 17th. Poirot and I had, of course already seen it. It added nothing to our knowledge of the tragedy.

It was handed to the jury who scrutinized it attentively.

"I fear it does not help us much," said the Coroner, with a sigh.

"There is no mention of any of the events of that afternoon."

"Plain as a pikestaff to me," said Miss Howard shortly.

"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," the Coroner pointed out.

"No, because Emily never could bear to put herself in the wrong. But I know her. She wanted me back. But she wasn't going to own that I'd been right.

She went round about. Most people do. Don't believe in it myself."

Mr. Wells smiled faintly. So, I noticed, did several of the jury. Miss Howard was obviously quite a public character.

"Anyway, all this tomfoolery is a great waste of time," continued the lady, glancing up and down the jury disparagingly.

"Talk—talk—talk! When all the time we know perfectly well——"

The Coroner interrupted her in an agony of apprehension:

"Thank you, Miss Howard, that is all."

I fancy he breathed a sigh of relief when she complied.

Then came the sensation of the day.

The Coroner called Albert Mace, chemist's assistant.

It was our agitated young man of the pale face.

In answer to the Coroner's questions, he explained that he was a qualified pharmacist, but had only recently come to this particular shop, as the assistant formerly there had just been called up for the army.

These preliminaries completed, the Coroner proceeded to business.

"Mr. Mace, have you lately sold strychnine to any unauthorized person?"

"Yes, sir."

"When was this?"

"Last Monday night."

"Monday? Not Tuesday?"

"No, sir, Monday, the 16th."

"Will you tell us to whom you sold it?"

You could have heard a pin drop.

"Yes, sir. It was to Mr. Inglethorp."

Every eye turned simultaneously to where Alfred Inglethorp was sitting, impassive and wooden.

He started slightly, as the damning words fell from the young man's lips.

I half thought he was going to rise from his chair, but he remained seated, although a remarkably well acted expression of astonishment rose on his face.

"You are sure of what you say?" asked the Coroner sternly.

"Quite sure, sir."

"Are you in the habit of selling strychnine indiscriminately over the counter?"

The wretched young man wilted visibly under the Coroner's frown.

"Oh, no, sir—of course not. But, seeing it was Mr. Inglethorp of the Hall, I thought there was no harm in it. He said it was to poison a dog."

Inwardly I sympathized. It was only human nature to endeavour to please "The Hall"—especially when it might result in custom being transferred from Coot's to the local establishment.

"Is it not customary for anyone purchasing poison to sign a book?"

"Yes, sir, Mr. Inglethorp did so."

"Have you got the book here?"

"Yes, sir."

It was produced; and, with a few words of stern censure, the Coroner dismissed the wretched Mr. Mace.

Then, amidst a breathless silence, Alfred Inglethorp was called.

Did he realize, I wondered, how closely the halter was being drawn around his neck?.

The Coroner went straight to the point.

"On Monday evening last, did you purchase strychnine for the purpose of poisoning a dog?".

Inglethorp replied with perfect calmness:

"No, I did not. There is no dog at Styles, except an outdoor sheepdog, which is in perfect health.".

"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.

"Certainly I do. The hand-writing is quite different from mine. I will show you."

He took an old envelope out of his pocket, and wrote his name on it, handing it to the jury. It was certainly utterly dissimilar.

"Then what is your explanation of Mr. Mace's statement?"

Alfred Inglethorp replied imperturbably:

"Mr. Mace must have been mistaken."

The Coroner hesitated for a moment, and then said:

"Mr. Inglethorp, as a mere matter of form, would you mind telling us where you were on the evening of Monday, July 16th?"

"Really—I can't remember."

"That is absurd, Mr. Inglethorp," said the Coroner sharply. "Think again."

Inglethorp shook his head.

"I cannot tell you. I have an idea that I was out walking."

"In what direction?"

"I really can't remember."

The Coroner's face grew graver.

"Were you in company with anyone?"

"No."

"Did you meet anyone on your walk?"

"No."

"That is a pity," said the Coroner dryly.

"I am to take it then that you decline to say where you were at the time that Mr. Mace positively recognized you as entering the shop to purchase strychnine?".

"If you like to take it that way, yes."

"Be careful, Mr. Inglethorp."

Poirot was fidgeting nervously.

"Sacre!" he murmured. "Does this imbecile of a man want to be arrested?".

Inglethorp was indeed creating a bad impression.

His futile denials would not have convinced a child.

The Coroner, however, passed briskly to the next point, and Poirot drew a deep breath of relief.

"You had a discussion with your wife on Tuesday afternoon?".

"Pardon me," interrupted Alfred Inglethorp, "you have been misinformed.

I had no quarrel with my dear wife. The whole story is absolutely untrue.

I was absent from the house the entire afternoon."

"Have you anyone who can testify to that?".

"You have my word," said Inglethorp haughtily.

The Coroner did not trouble to reply.

"There are two witnesses who will swear to having heard your disagreement with Mrs. Inglethorp.".

"Those witnesses were mistaken.".

I was puzzled. The man spoke with such quiet assurance that I was staggered.

I looked at Poirot. There was an expression of exultation on his face which I could not understand.

Was he at last convinced of Alfred Inglethorp's guilt?.

"Mr. Inglethorp," said the Coroner, "you have heard your wife's dying words repeated here.

Can you explain them in any way?".

"Certainly I can." "You can?".

"It seems to me very simple.

The room was dimly lighted.

Dr. Bauerstein is much of my height and build, and, like me, wears a beard.

In the dim light, and suffering as she was, my poor wife mistook him for me."

"Ah!" murmured Poirot to himself. "But it is an idea, that!".

"You think it is true?" I whispered.

"I do not say that. But it is truly an ingenious supposition.".

"You read my wife's last words as an accusation"—Inglethorp was continuing—"they were, on the contrary, an appeal to me.".

The Coroner reflected a moment, then he said:
"I believe, Mr. Inglethorp, that you yourself poured out the coffee, and took it to your wife that evening?".

"I poured it out, yes.

But I did not take it to her.

I meant to do so, but I was told that a friend was at the hall door, so I laid down the coffee on the hall table.

When I came through the hall again a few minutes later, it was gone."

This statement might, or might not, be true, but it did not seem to me to improve matters much for Inglethorp.

In any case, he had had ample time to introduce the poison.

At that point, Poirot nudged me gently, indicating two men who were sitting together near the door.

One was a little, sharp, dark, ferret-faced man, the other was tall and fair.

I questioned Poirot mutely.

He put his lips to my ear.

"Do you know who that little man is?"

I shook my head.

"That is Detective Inspector James Japp of Scotland Yard—Jimmy Japp.

The other man is from Scotland Yard too.

Things are moving quickly, my friend."

I stared at the two men intently.

There was certainly nothing of the policeman about them.

I should never have suspected them of being official personages.

I was still staring, when I was startled and recalled by the verdict being given:

"Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown."