en-fr  The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Chapter VII Easy
POIROT PAIE SES DETTES

En sortant des Stylites Arms, Poirot, d'une légère pression du bras, m'attira à l'écart.

J'en compris la raison. Il attendait les deux enquêteurs de Scotland Yard.

Ils sortirent quelques instants plus tard et Poirot, le premier, fit un pas en avant, abordant le plus petit des deux.

– Je crains que vous ne vous souveniez pas de moi, inspecteur Japp.

– Mais ne serait-ce pas M. Poirot ! s'exclama l'inspecteur.

Il se tourna vers l'autre homme. – M'avez vous entendu parler de M. Poirot ? C'était en 1904, lui et moi travaillions ensemble - l'affaire des faux d'Abercrombie - vous vous souvenez, on l'a eu à Bruxelles.

Ah ! c'était le bon temps môssieur.

Bon, vous vous souvenez du « baron » Altara ? C'était une sacrée canaille !

Il avait réussi à échapper aux traquenards que la moitié des polices d'Europe avaient tendus pour lui.

Mais on lui a mis la main au collet à Anvers - grâce à M. Poirot ici présent.

Je m'approchai alors qu'on évoquait le bon vieux temps et fus présenté au détective-inspecteur Japp qui nous présenta en retour son compagnon, le super intendant Summerhaye.

– Je n'ai pas besoin de vous demander ce que vous faites ici, messieurs, observa Poirot.

– Japp eut un clin d'œil entendu.

– Non, en effet. Je dirais que l'affaire est plutôt limpide.

Mais Poirot répondit sérieusement : – Sur ce point je ne partage pas votre avis.

– Oh ! voyons ! s'étonna Summerhaye, ouvrant la bouche pour la première fois.

– Tout ceci est sans aucun doute clair comme de l'eau de roche.

L'homme a été pris la main dans le sac.

Je suis étonné qu'il ait pu être à ce point stupide !

Mais Japp observait attentivement Poirot.

– Soyez prudent, Summerhaye, conseilla-t-il sur un ton joyeux.

— Môôsieur et moi, nous nous sommes déjà rencontrés et il n'y a nul jugement humain que je considérerais plus que le sien.

Si je ne me trompe pas, il a quelque chose sous le coude.

N'est-ce pas le cas, Môôsieur ?

Poirot sourit.

— J'ai tiré certaines conclusions... oui.

Summerhaye avait toujours l'air un peu sceptique, mais Japp continuait à scruter Poirot avec minutie.

— Disons-le ainsi, fit-il, jusqu'à présent, nous n'avons vu l'affaire que de l'extérieur.

C'est là que Scotland yard est désavantagé dans une affaire de ce genre, quand le meurtre n'est démontré, pour ainsi dire, qu'après l'enquête.

Cela exige, pour une grande part, d'être sur place dès le départ, et c'est là que M. Poirot nous dame le pion..

Nous n'aurions pas pu nous trouver ici aussi vite que cela, s'il n'y avait eu un docteur futé sur place, qui nous a refilé le tuyau par l'intermédiaire du coroner.

Mais vous étiez sur place dès le début, vous avez peut-être relevé quelques petits indices.

D'après les témoignages obtenus lors de l'enquête, M.Inglethorp a assassiné sa femme aussi sûrement que je me trouve ici, et si quelqu'un d'autre que vous laissait entendre le contraire, je lui rirais au nez

Je dois dire que j'ai été surpris que le jury n'ait pas requis contre lui l'accusation de meurtre prémédité.

Je pense qu'ils l'auraient fait, sans le coroner qui a semblé les retenir.

— Peut-être, cependant, avez-vous un mandat d'arrêt dans votre poche, suggéra Poirot.

Le visage expressif de Japp fut comme masqué par un lourd rideau de fer administratif qui se serait brutalement abaissé.

— P'têt ben qu'oui, p'têt ben qu'non, fit-il remarquer en normand.

Poirot le regarda d'un air pensif.

— J'ai bien peur, messieurs, qu'il ne soit pas arrêté.

— J'aimerais voir ça, fit observer sarcastiquement Summerhaye.

Japp regardait Poirot avec une perplexité comique.

— Pouvez pas nous en dire un peu plus, M. Poirot ? Un p'tit clin d'œil ou un p'tit coup de pouce... d'vot'part. Vous étiez sur place et Scotland Yard ne veut pas commettre d'erreur, vous savez.

Poirot hocha gravement la tête.

— C'est exactement ce que je pensais. Bon, écoutez ça.

Utilisez votre mandat : arrêtez M. Inglethorp.

Mais ne vous attendez pas à en tirer gloire... les poursuites contre lui seront immédiatement rejetées ! Comme ça* ! Et il claqua des doigts de façon très éloquente.

Le visage de Japp devint grave tandis que Summerhaye émit un grognement dubitatif.

Pour ma part, l'étonnement me laissait sans voix.

Je n'en tirais qu'une seule conclusion : Poirot était fou.

Japp avait sorti un mouchoir de sa poche et tranquillement s'épongeait le front.

— Je n'ose entreprendre cette démarche, M. Poirot.

Je pourrais vous croire sur parole, mais certains de mes supérieurs vont me demander qu'est-ce qui m'a pris, par Toutatis.

Ne pourriez-vous pas me donner un peu de grain à moudre ?

Poirot réfléchit un instant.

Et finit par lâcher : oui, c'est possible.

Toutefois, à contrecœur.

On me force la main.

Pour l'heure, j'aurais préféré œuvrer dans l'ombre, mais ce que vous dites est très juste... la parole d'un enquêteur belge à la retraite n'est pas suffisante. Et Alfred Inglethorp ne doit pas être appréhendé.

C'est ce que j'ai promis, comme mon ami Hastings peut l'attester.

Bien, mon bon Japp, vous comptez vous rendre immédiatement à Styles ?

— Eh bien, dans environ une demi-heure. Nous allons d'abord aller voir le coroner et le médecin.

— Bien. Venez me voir en passant... la dernière maison du village.

Je vous accompagnerai. À Styles, M. Inglethorp vous donnera, ou s'il s'y refuse, comme c'est probable, je vous donnerai les preuves qui vous convaincront que l'accusation ne peut être retenue contre lui.

Marché conclu ?

— Marché conclu, répondit Japp enthousiaste.

— Et, au nom du Yard, je vous suis très reconnaissant, même si je dois avouer que je ne vois pas pour l'instant la moindre faille dans le faisceau de preuves, mais vous avez toujours un tel talent. Eh bien, à plus tard, Môssieur.

Les deux détectives se sont éloignés, un sourire incrédule flottait sur le visage de Summerhaye.

— Eh bien, mon cher ami, s'exclama Poirot avant que je puisse prononcer un mot, qu'en pensez-vous ? Doux Jésus ! J'ai eu des sueurs froides au tribunal, je ne m'imaginais pas que l'homme serait entêté au point de refuser de dire quoi que ce soit.

C'est assurément la politique d'un imbécile.

— Mmm! Il y a d'autres explications que celle de l'imbécillité, remarquai-je.

Car, si les accusations portées contre lui sont fondées, comment pourrait-il se défendre autrement que par le silence ?

— Mais il existe mille autres façons ingénieuses, s'écria Poirot.

"See; say that it is I who have committed this murder, I can think of seven most plausible stories! Far more convincing than Mr. Inglethorp's stony denials!".

I could not help laughing.

"My dear Poirot, I am sure you are capable of thinking of seventy! But, seriously, in spite of what I heard you say to the detectives, you surely cannot still believe in the possibility of Alfred Inglethorp's innocence?".

"Why not now as much as before? Nothing has changed.".

"But the evidence is so conclusive."

"Yes, too conclusive.".

We turned in at the gate of Leastways Cottage, and proceeded up the now familiar stairs.

"Yes, yes, too conclusive," continued Poirot, almost to himself.

"Real evidence is usually vague and unsatisfactory.

It has to be examined—sifted. But here the whole thing is cut and dried.
No, my friend, this evidence has been very cleverly manufactured—so cleverly that it has defeated its own ends.".

"How do you make that out?".

"Because, so long as the evidence against him was vague and intangible, it was very hard to disprove. But, in his anxiety, the criminal has drawn the net so closely that one cut will set Inglethorp free."

I was silent. And in a minute or two, Poirot continued: "Let us look at the matter like this.

Here is a man, let us say, who sets out to poison his wife.

He has lived by his wits as the saying goes.

Presumably, therefore, he has some wits.

He is not altogether a fool. Well, how does he set about it? He goes boldly to the village chemist's and purchases strychnine under his own name, with a trumped up story about a dog which is bound to be proved absurd.

He does not employ the poison that night. No, he waits until he has had a violent quarrel with her, of which the whole household is cognisant, and which naturally directs their suspicions upon him.

He prepares no defence—no shadow of an alibi, yet he knows the chemist's assistant must necessarily come forward with the facts.

Bah! do not ask me to believe that any man could be so idiotic! Only a lunatic, who wished to commit suicide by causing himself to be hanged, would act so!".

"Still—I do not see—" I began.

"Neither do I see. I tell you, mon ami, it puzzles me. Me—Hercule Poirot!".

"But if you believe him innocent, how do you explain his buying the strychnine?"

"Very simply. He did not buy it.".

"But Mace recognized him!"

"I beg your pardon, he saw a man with a black beard like Mr. Inglethorp's, and wearing glasses like Mr. Inglethorp, and dressed in Mr. Inglethorp's rather noticeable clothes.

He could not recognize a man whom he had probably only seen in the distance, since, you remember, he himself had only been in the village a fortnight, and Mrs. Inglethorp dealt principally with Coot's in Tadminster.".

"Then you think——" "Mon ami, do you remember the two points I laid stress upon?.

Leave the first one for the moment, what was the second?".

"The important fact that Alfred Inglethorp wears peculiar clothes, has a black beard, and uses glasses," I quoted.


"Exactly. Now suppose anyone wished to pass himself off as John or Lawrence Cavendish.
Would it be easy?".

"No," I said thoughtfully. "Of course an actor——".

But Poirot cut me short ruthlessly.

"And why would it not be easy? I will tell you, my friend: Because they are both clean-shaven men.

To make up successfully as one of these two in broad daylight, it would need an actor of genius, and a certain initial facial resemblance.

But in the case of Alfred Inglethorp, all that is changed.

His clothes, his beard, the glasses which hide his eyes—those are the salient points about his personal appearance.

Now, what is the first instinct of the criminal?.

To divert suspicion from himself, is it not so?

And how can he best do that? By throwing it on some one else.

In this instance, there was a man ready to his hand.

Everybody was predisposed to believe in Mr. Inglethorp's guilt.

It was a foregone conclusion that he would be suspected; but, to make it a sure thing there must be tangible proof—such as the actual buying of the poison, and that, with a man of the peculiar appearance of Mr. Inglethorp, was not difficult.

Remember, this young Mace had never actually spoken to Mr. Inglethorp.

How should he doubt that the man in his clothes, with his beard and his glasses, was not Alfred Inglethorp?".

"It may be so," I said, fascinated by Poirot's eloquence.

"But, if that was the case, why does he not say where he was at six o'clock on Monday evening?".

"Ah, why indeed?" said Poirot, calming down.

"If he were arrested, he probably would speak, but I do not want it to come to that.

I must make him see the gravity of his position.

There is, of course, something discreditable behind his silence.

If he did not murder his wife, he is, nevertheless, a scoundrel, and has something of his own to conceal, quite apart from the murder.".

"What can it be?" I mused, won over to Poirot's views for the moment, although still retaining a faint conviction that the obvious deduction was the correct one.

"Can you not guess?" asked Poirot, smiling.

"No, can you?"

"Oh, yes, I had a little idea sometime ago—and it has turned out to be correct.".

"You never told me," I said reproachfully.

Poirot spread out his hands apologetically.

"Pardon me, mon ami, you were not precisely sympathique. " He turned to me earnestly. "Tell me—you see now that he must not be arrested?".

"Perhaps," I said doubtfully, for I was really quite indifferent to the fate of Alfred Inglethorp, and thought that a good fright would do him no harm.

Poirot, who was watching me intently, gave a sigh.

"Come, my friend," he said, changing the subject, "apart from Mr. Inglethorp, how did the evidence at the inquest strike you?".

"Oh, pretty much what I expected.".

"Did nothing strike you as peculiar about it?".

My thoughts flew to Mary Cavendish, and I hedged: "In what way?".

"Well, Mr. Lawrence Cavendish's evidence for instance?"

I was relieved.

"Oh, Lawrence! No, I don't think so. He's always a nervous chap.".

"His suggestion that his mother might have been poisoned accidentally by means of the tonic she was taking, that did not strike you as strange—hein?".

"No, I can't say it did.

The doctors ridiculed it of course.

But it was quite a natural suggestion for a layman to make.".

"But Monsieur Lawrence is not a layman.

You told me yourself that he had started by studying medicine, and that he had taken his degree.".

"Yes, that's true. I never thought of that." I was rather startled. "It is odd.".

Poirot nodded.

"From the first, his behaviour has been peculiar.

Of all the household, he alone would be likely to recognize the symptoms of strychnine poisoning, and yet we find him the only member of the family to uphold strenuously the theory of death from natural causes.

If it had been Monsieur John, I could have understood it.

He has no technical knowledge, and is by nature unimaginative.

But Monsieur Lawrence—no! And now, to-day, he puts forward a suggestion that he himself must have known was ridiculous.

There is food for thought in this, mon ami!".

"It's very confusing," I agreed.

"Then there is Mrs. Cavendish," continued Poirot.

"That's another who is not telling all she knows! What do you make of her attitude?".

"I don't know what to make of it. It seems inconceivable that she should be shielding Alfred Inglethorp. Yet that is what it looks like."

Poirot nodded reflectively.

"Yes, it is queer. One thing is certain, she overheard a good deal more of that 'private conversation' than she was willing to admit.".

"And yet she is the last person one would accuse of stooping to eavesdrop!".

"Exactly. One thing her evidence has shown me. I made a mistake. Dorcas was quite right. The quarrel did take place earlier in the afternoon, about four o'clock, as she said."

I looked at him curiously. I had never understood his insistence on that point.

"Yes, a good deal that was peculiar came out to-day," continued Poirot.

"Dr.Bauerstein, now, what was he doing up and dressed at that hour in the morning? It is astonishing to me that no one commented on the fact.".

"He has insomnia, I believe," I said doubtfully.

"Which is a very good, or a very bad explanation," remarked Poirot. "It covers everything, and explains nothing. I shall keep my eye on our clever Dr.Bauerstein.".

"Any more faults to find with the evidence?" I inquired satirically.

"Mon ami," replied Poirot gravely, "when you find that people are not telling you the truth—look out!.

Now, unless I am much mistaken, at the inquest to-day only one—at most, two persons were speaking the truth without reservation or subterfuge.".


"Oh, come now, Poirot! I won't cite Lawrence, or Mrs.Cavendish.

But there's John—and Miss Howard, surely they were speaking the truth?"

"Both of them, my friend? One, I grant you, but both——!".

His words gave me an unpleasant shock.

Miss Howard's evidence, unimportant as it was, had been given in such a downright straightforward manner that it had never occurred to me to doubt her sincerity.

Still, I had a great respect for Poirot's sagacity—except on the occasions when he was what I described to myself as "foolishly pig-headed.".

"Do you really think so?" I asked.

"Miss Howard had always seemed to me so essentially honest—almost uncomfortably so.".

Poirot gave me a curious look, which I could not quite fathom.

He seemed to speak, and then checked himself.

"Miss Murdoch too," I continued, "there's nothing untruthful about her."

"No. But it was strange that she never heard a sound, sleeping next door; whereas Mrs.Cavendish, in the other wing of the building, distinctly heard the table fall.".

"Well, she's young. And she sleeps soundly.".

"Ah, yes, indeed! She must be a famous sleeper, that one!".

I did not quite like the tone of his voice, but at that moment a smart knock reached our ears, and looking out of the window we perceived the two detectives waiting for us below.

Poirot seized his hat, gave a ferocious twist to his moustache, and, carefully brushing an imaginary speck of dust from his sleeve, motioned me to precede him down the stairs; there we joined the detectives and set out for Styles.

I think the appearance of the two Scotland Yard men was rather a shock—especially to John, though of course after the verdict, he had realized that it was only a matter of time.

Still, the presence of the detectives brought the truth home to him more than anything else could have done.

Poirot had conferred with Japp in a low tone on the way up, and it was the latter functionary who requested that the household, with the exception of the servants, should be assembled together in the drawing-room.

I realized the significance of this. It was up to Poirot to make his boast good.

Personally, I was not sanguine. Poirot might have excellent reasons for his belief in Inglethorp's innocence, but a man of the type of Summerhaye would require tangible proofs, and these I doubted if Poirot could supply.

Before very long we had all trooped into the drawing-room, the door of which Japp closed.

Poirot politely set chairs for every one.

The Scotland Yard men were the cynosure of all eyes.

I think that for the first time we realized that the thing was not a bad dream, but a tangible reality.

We had read of such things—now we ourselves were actors in the drama.

To-morrow the daily papers, all over England, would blazon out the news in staring headlines: "MYSTERIOUS TRAGEDY IN ESSEX" "WEALTHY LADY POISONED".


There would be pictures of Styles, snap-shots of "The family leaving the Inquest"—the village photographer had not been idle!.

All the things that one had read a hundred times—things that happen to other people, not to oneself.

And now, in this house, a murder had been committed. In front of us were "the detectives in charge of the case.".

The well-known glib phraseology passed rapidly through my mind in the interval before Poirot opened the proceedings.

I think every one was a little surprised that it should be he and not one of the official detectives who took the initiative.

"Mesdames and messieurs," said Poirot, bowing as though he were a celebrity about to deliver a lecture, "I have asked you to come here all together, for a certain object.

That object, it concerns Mr. Alfred Inglethorp.".

Inglethorp was sitting a little by himself—I think, unconsciously, every one had drawn his chair slightly away from him—and he gave a faint start as Poirot pronounced his name.

"Mr.Inglethorp," said Poirot, addressing him directly, "a very dark shadow is resting on this house—the shadow of murder.".

Inglethorp shook his head sadly.

"My poor wife," he murmured. "Poor Emily! It is terrible.".

"I do not think, monsieur," said Poirot pointedly, "that you quite realize how terrible it may be—for you.".

And as Inglethorp did not appear to understand, he added: "Mr.Inglethorp, you are standing in very grave danger."

The two detectives fidgeted. I saw the official caution "Anything you say will be used in evidence against you," actually hovering on Summerhaye's lips.

Poirot went on.

"Do you understand now, monsieur?"

"No; What do you mean?"

"I mean," said Poirot deliberately, "that you are suspected of poisoning your wife."

A little gasp ran round the circle at this plain speaking.

"Good heavens!" cried Inglethorp, starting up. "What a monstrous idea! I—poison my dearest Emily!".

"I do not think"—Poirot watched him narrowly—"that you quite realize the unfavourable nature of your evidence at the inquest.

Mr.Inglethorp, knowing what I have now told you, do you still refuse to say where you were at six o'clock on Monday afternoon?"

With a groan, Alfred Inglethorp sank down again and buried his face in his hands.

Poirot approached and stood over him.

"Speak!" he cried menacingly.

With an effort, Inglethorp raised his face from his hands.

Then, slowly and deliberately, he shook his head.

"You will not speak?"

"No. I do not believe that anyone could be so monstrous as to accuse me of what you say."

Poirot nodded thoughtfully, like a man whose mind is made up.

"Soit!" he said. "Then I must speak for you."

Alfred Inglethorp sprang up again.

"You? How can you speak? You do not know——" he broke off abruptly.

Poirot turned to face us. "Mesdames and messieurs! I speak! Listen! I, Hercule Poirot, affirm that the man who entered the chemist's shop, and purchased strychnine at six o'clock on Monday last was not Mr.Inglethorp, for at six o'clock on that day Mr.Inglethorp was escorting Mrs. Raikes back to her home from a neighbouring farm.

I can produce no less than five witnesses to swear to having seen them together, either at six or just after and, as you may know, the Abbey Farm, Mrs.Raikes's home, is at least two and a half miles distant from the village.

There is absolutely no question as to the alibi! ".
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POIROT PAYS HIS DEBTS.
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As we came out of the Stylites Arms, Poirot drew me aside by a gentle pressure of the arm.
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I understood his object.
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He was waiting for the Scotland Yard men.
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"I fear you do not remember me, Inspector Japp.".
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"Why, if it isn't Mr.
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Poirot!"
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cried the Inspector.
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He turned to the other man.
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"You've heard me speak of Mr. Poirot?
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Ah, those were great days, moosier.
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Then, do you remember 'Baron' Altara?
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There was a pretty rogue for you!.
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He eluded the clutches of half the police in Europe.
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But we nailed him in Antwerp—thanks to Mr. Poirot here.".
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"I need hardly ask what you are doing here, gentlemen," remarked Poirot.
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Japp closed one eye knowingly.
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"No, indeed.
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Pretty clear case I should say.".
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But Poirot answered gravely: "There I differ from you.".
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"Oh, come!"
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said Summerhaye, opening his lips for the first time.
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"Surely the whole thing is clear as daylight.
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The man's caught red-handed.
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How he could be such a fool beats me!".
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But Japp was looking attentively at Poirot.
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"Hold your fire, Summerhaye," he remarked jocularly.
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"Me and Moosier here have met before—and there's no man's judgment I'd sooner take than his.
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If I'm not greatly mistaken, he's got something up his sleeve.
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Isn't that so, moosier?".
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Poirot smiled.
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"I have drawn certain conclusions—yes.".
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Summerhaye was still looking rather sceptical, but Japp continued his scrutiny of Poirot.
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"It's this way," he said, "so far, we've only seen the case from the outside.
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A lot depends on being on the spot first thing, and that's where Mr.Poirot's had the start of us.
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But you've been on the spot from the first, and you may have picked up some little hints.
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I must say I was surprised the jury didn't bring it in Wilful Murder against him right off.
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I think they would have, if it hadn't been for the Coroner—he seemed to be holding them back."
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"Perhaps, though, you have a warrant for his arrest in your pocket now," suggested Poirot.
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A kind of wooden shutter of officialdom came down from Japp's expressive countenance.
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"Perhaps I have, and perhaps I haven't," he remarked dryly.
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Poirot looked at him thoughtfully.
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"I am very anxious, Messieurs, that he should not be arrested."
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"I dare say," observed Summerhaye sarcastically.
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Japp was regarding Poirot with comical perplexity.
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"Can't you go a little further, Mr.Poirot?
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unit 53
A wink's as good as a nod—from you.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 3 weeks ago
unit 54
You've been on the spot—and the Yard doesn't want to make any mistakes, you know."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 3 weeks ago
unit 55
Poirot nodded gravely.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 3 weeks ago
unit 56
"That is exactly what I thought.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 3 weeks ago
unit 57
Well, I will tell you this.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 3 weeks ago
unit 58
Use your warrant: Arrest Mr.Inglethorp.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 3 weeks ago
unit 59
But it will bring you no kudos—the case against him will be dismissed at once!
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 3 weeks ago
unit 60
Comme ca!"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 3 weeks ago
unit 61
And he snapped his fingers expressively.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 62
Japp's face grew grave, though Summerhaye gave an incredulous snort.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 63
As for me, I was literally dumb with astonishment.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 64
I could only conclude that Poirot was mad.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 65
Japp had taken out a handkerchief, and was gently dabbing hisbrow.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 66
"I daren't do it, Mr.Poirot.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 67
I'd take your word, but there's others over me who'll be asking what the devil I mean by it.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 68
Can't you give me a little more to go on?"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 69
Poirot reflected a moment.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 70
"It can be done," he said at last.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 71
"I admit I do not wish it.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 72
It forces my hand.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 74
And Alfred Inglethorp must not be arrested.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 month, 2 weeks ago
unit 75
That I have sworn, as my friend Hastings here knows.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 76
See, then, my good Japp, you go at once to Styles?"
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 77
"Well, in about half an hour.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 78
We're seeing the Coroner and the doctor first."
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 79
"Good.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 80
Call for me in passing—the last house in the village.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 81
I will go with you.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 83
Is that a bargain?".
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 84
"That's a bargain," said Japp heartily.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 86
So long, then, moosier.".
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 87
The two detectives strode away, Summerhaye with an incredulous grin on his face.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 88
"Well, my friend," cried Poirot, before I could get in a word, "what do you think?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 89
Mon Dieu!
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 91
Decidedly, it was the policy of an imbecile.".
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 92
"H'm!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 93
There are other explanations besides that of imbecility," I remarked.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 94
"For, if the case against him is true, how could he defend himself except by silence?".
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 95
"Why, in a thousand ingenious ways," cried Poirot.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 2 weeks, 4 days ago
unit 97
Far more convincing than Mr. Inglethorp's stony denials!".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 98
I could not help laughing.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 99
"My dear Poirot, I am sure you are capable of thinking of seventy!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 101
"Why not now as much as before?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 102
Nothing has changed.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 103
"But the evidence is so conclusive."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 104
"Yes, too conclusive.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 106
"Yes, yes, too conclusive," continued Poirot, almost to himself.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 107
"Real evidence is usually vague and unsatisfactory.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 108
It has to be examined—sifted.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 109
But here the whole thing is cut and dried.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 111
"How do you make that out?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 114
I was silent.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 116
Here is a man, let us say, who sets out to poison his wife.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 117
He has lived by his wits as the saying goes.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 118
Presumably, therefore, he has some wits.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 119
He is not altogether a fool.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 120
Well, how does he set about it?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 122
He does not employ the poison that night.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 125
Bah!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 126
do not ask me to believe that any man could be so idiotic!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 128
"Still—I do not see—" I began.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 129
"Neither do I see.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 130
I tell you, mon ami, it puzzles me.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 131
Me—Hercule Poirot!".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 133
"Very simply.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 134
He did not buy it.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 135
"But Mace recognized him!"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 139
Leave the first one for the moment, what was the second?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 141
"Exactly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 142
unit 143
Would it be easy?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 144
"No," I said thoughtfully.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 145
"Of course an actor——".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 146
But Poirot cut me short ruthlessly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 147
"And why would it not be easy?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 148
I will tell you, my friend: Because they are both clean-shaven men.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 150
But in the case of Alfred Inglethorp, all that is changed.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 152
Now, what is the first instinct of the criminal?.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 153
To divert suspicion from himself, is it not so?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 154
And how can he best do that?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 155
By throwing it on some one else.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 156
In this instance, there was a man ready to his hand.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 157
Everybody was predisposed to believe in Mr. Inglethorp's guilt.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 159
Remember, this young Mace had never actually spoken to Mr. Inglethorp.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 161
"It may be so," I said, fascinated by Poirot's eloquence.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 163
"Ah, why indeed?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 164
said Poirot, calming down.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 166
I must make him see the gravity of his position.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 167
There is, of course, something discreditable behind his silence.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 169
"What can it be?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 171
"Can you not guess?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 172
asked Poirot, smiling.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 173
"No, can you?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 175
"You never told me," I said reproachfully.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 176
Poirot spread out his hands apologetically.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 177
"Pardon me, mon ami, you were not precisely sympathique. "
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 178
He turned to me earnestly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 179
"Tell me—you see now that he must not be arrested?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 181
Poirot, who was watching me intently, gave a sigh.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 183
"Oh, pretty much what I expected.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 184
"Did nothing strike you as peculiar about it?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 185
My thoughts flew to Mary Cavendish, and I hedged: "In what way?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 186
"Well, Mr. Lawrence Cavendish's evidence for instance?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 187
I was relieved.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 188
"Oh, Lawrence!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 189
No, I don't think so.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 190
He's always a nervous chap.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 192
"No, I can't say it did.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 193
The doctors ridiculed it of course.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 194
But it was quite a natural suggestion for a layman to make.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 195
"But Monsieur Lawrence is not a layman.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 197
"Yes, that's true.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 198
I never thought of that."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 199
I was rather startled.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 200
"It is odd.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 201
Poirot nodded.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 202
"From the first, his behaviour has been peculiar.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 204
If it had been Monsieur John, I could have understood it.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 205
He has no technical knowledge, and is by nature unimaginative.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 206
But Monsieur Lawrence—no!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 208
There is food for thought in this, mon ami!".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 209
"It's very confusing," I agreed.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 210
"Then there is Mrs. Cavendish," continued Poirot.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 211
"That's another who is not telling all she knows!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 212
What do you make of her attitude?".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 213
"I don't know what to make of it.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 214
It seems inconceivable that she should be shielding Alfred Inglethorp.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 215
Yet that is what it looks like."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 216
Poirot nodded reflectively.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 217
"Yes, it is queer.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 219
unit 220
"Exactly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 221
One thing her evidence has shown me.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 222
I made a mistake.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 223
Dorcas was quite right.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 225
I looked at him curiously.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 226
I had never understood his insistence on that point.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 227
"Yes, a good deal that was peculiar came out to-day," continued Poirot.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 229
It is astonishing to me that no one commented on the fact.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 230
"He has insomnia, I believe," I said doubtfully.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 231
"Which is a very good, or a very bad explanation," remarked Poirot.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 232
"It covers everything, and explains nothing.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 233
I shall keep my eye on our clever Dr.Bauerstein.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 234
"Any more faults to find with the evidence?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 235
I inquired satirically.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 238
"Oh, come now, Poirot!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 239
I won't cite Lawrence, or Mrs.Cavendish.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 240
unit 241
"Both of them, my friend?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 242
One, I grant you, but both——!".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 243
His words gave me an unpleasant shock.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 246
"Do you really think so?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 247
I asked.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 249
Poirot gave me a curious look, which I could not quite fathom.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 250
He seemed to speak, and then checked himself.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 251
"Miss Murdoch too," I continued, "there's nothing untruthful about her."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 252
"No.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 254
"Well, she's young.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 255
And she sleeps soundly.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 256
"Ah, yes, indeed!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 257
She must be a famous sleeper, that one!".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 263
I realized the significance of this.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 264
It was up to Poirot to make his boast good.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 265
Personally, I was not sanguine.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 268
Poirot politely set chairs for every one.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 269
The Scotland Yard men were the cynosure of all eyes.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 271
We had read of such things—now we ourselves were actors in the drama.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 275
And now, in this house, a murder had been committed.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 276
In front of us were "the detectives in charge of the case.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 280
That object, it concerns Mr. Alfred Inglethorp.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 283
Inglethorp shook his head sadly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 284
"My poor wife," he murmured.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 285
"Poor Emily!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 286
It is terrible.".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 289
The two detectives fidgeted.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 291
Poirot went on.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 292
"Do you understand now, monsieur?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 293
"No; What do you mean?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 295
A little gasp ran round the circle at this plain speaking.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 296
"Good heavens!"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 297
cried Inglethorp, starting up.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 298
"What a monstrous idea!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 299
I—poison my dearest Emily!".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 303
Poirot approached and stood over him.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 304
"Speak!"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 305
he cried menacingly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 306
With an effort, Inglethorp raised his face from his hands.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 307
Then, slowly and deliberately, he shook his head.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 308
"You will not speak?"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 309
"No.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 311
Poirot nodded thoughtfully, like a man whose mind is made up.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 312
"Soit!"
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 313
he said.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 314
"Then I must speak for you."
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 315
Alfred Inglethorp sprang up again.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 316
"You?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 317
How can you speak?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 318
You do not know——" he broke off abruptly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 319
Poirot turned to face us.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 320
"Mesdames and messieurs!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 321
I speak!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 322
Listen!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 325
There is absolutely no question as to the alibi!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 326
".
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
francevw 15516  translated  unit 92  2 weeks, 4 days ago
francevw 15516  commented on  unit 89  2 weeks, 4 days ago
francevw 15516  translated  unit 89  2 weeks, 4 days ago
francevw 15516  translated  unit 79  2 weeks, 5 days ago
Oplusse 16468  commented on  unit 67  1 month, 2 weeks ago
Oplusse 16468  translated  unit 60  1 month, 3 weeks ago
francevw 15516  commented on  unit 39  1 month, 3 weeks ago
Oplusse 16468  translated  unit 34  1 month, 3 weeks ago
Vadrouilleuse • 6191  commented on  unit 15  1 month, 3 weeks ago
francevw 15516  commented on  unit 15  1 month, 3 weeks ago
Vadrouilleuse • 6191  translated  unit 8  1 month, 3 weeks ago

POIROT PAYS HIS DEBTS.

As we came out of the Stylites Arms, Poirot drew me aside by a gentle pressure of the arm.

I understood his object. He was waiting for the Scotland Yard men.

In a few moments, they emerged, and Poirot at once stepped forward, and accosted the shorter of the two.

"I fear you do not remember me, Inspector Japp.".

"Why, if it isn't Mr. Poirot!" cried the Inspector.

He turned to the other man. "You've heard me speak of Mr. Poirot? It was in 1904 he and I worked together—the Abercrombie forgery case—you remember, he was run down in Brussels.

Ah, those were great days, moosier.

Then, do you remember 'Baron' Altara? There was a pretty rogue for you!.

He eluded the clutches of half the police in Europe.

But we nailed him in Antwerp—thanks to Mr. Poirot here.".

As these friendly reminiscences were being indulged in, I drew nearer, and was introduced to Detective-Inspector Japp, who, in his turn, introduced us both to his companion, Superintendent Summerhaye.

"I need hardly ask what you are doing here, gentlemen," remarked Poirot.

Japp closed one eye knowingly.

"No, indeed. Pretty clear case I should say.".

But Poirot answered gravely:

"There I differ from you.".

"Oh, come!" said Summerhaye, opening his lips for the first time.

"Surely the whole thing is clear as daylight.

The man's caught red-handed.

How he could be such a fool beats me!".

But Japp was looking attentively at Poirot.

"Hold your fire, Summerhaye," he remarked jocularly.

"Me and Moosier here have met before—and there's no man's judgment I'd sooner take than his.

If I'm not greatly mistaken, he's got something up his sleeve.

Isn't that so, moosier?".

Poirot smiled.

"I have drawn certain conclusions—yes.".

Summerhaye was still looking rather sceptical, but Japp continued his scrutiny of Poirot.

"It's this way," he said, "so far, we've only seen the case from the outside.

That's where the Yard's at a disadvantage in a case of this kind, where the murder's only out, so to speak, after the inquest.

A lot depends on being on the spot first thing, and that's where Mr.Poirot's had the start of us.

We shouldn't have been here as soon as this even, if it hadn't been for the fact that there was a smart doctor on the spot, who gave us the tip through the Coroner.

But you've been on the spot from the first, and you may have picked up some little hints.

From the evidence at the inquest, Mr.Inglethorp murdered his wife as sure as I stand here, and if anyone but you hinted the contrary I'd laugh in his face.

I must say I was surprised the jury didn't bring it in Wilful Murder against him right off.

I think they would have, if it hadn't been for the Coroner—he seemed to be holding them back."

"Perhaps, though, you have a warrant for his arrest in your pocket now," suggested Poirot.

A kind of wooden shutter of officialdom came down from Japp's expressive countenance.

"Perhaps I have, and perhaps I haven't," he remarked dryly.

Poirot looked at him thoughtfully.

"I am very anxious, Messieurs, that he should not be arrested."

"I dare say," observed Summerhaye sarcastically.

Japp was regarding Poirot with comical perplexity.

"Can't you go a little further, Mr.Poirot? A wink's as good as a nod—from you. You've been on the spot—and the Yard doesn't want to make any mistakes, you know."

Poirot nodded gravely.

"That is exactly what I thought. Well, I will tell you this.

Use your warrant: Arrest Mr.Inglethorp.

But it will bring you no kudos—the case against him will be dismissed at once! Comme ca!" And he snapped his fingers expressively.

Japp's face grew grave, though Summerhaye gave an incredulous snort.

As for me, I was literally dumb with astonishment.

I could only conclude that Poirot was mad.

Japp had taken out a handkerchief, and was gently dabbing hisbrow.

"I daren't do it, Mr.Poirot.

I'd take your word, but there's others over me who'll be asking what the devil I mean by it.

Can't you give me a little more to go on?"

Poirot reflected a moment.

"It can be done," he said at last.

"I admit I do not wish it.

It forces my hand.

I would have preferred to work in the dark just for the present, but what you say is very just—the word of a Belgian policeman, whose day is past, is not enough! And Alfred Inglethorp must not be arrested.

That I have sworn, as my friend Hastings here knows.

See, then, my good Japp, you go at once to Styles?"

"Well, in about half an hour. We're seeing the Coroner and the doctor first."

"Good. Call for me in passing—the last house in the village.

I will go with you. At Styles, Mr.Inglethorp will give you, or if he refuses—as is probable—I will give you such proofs that shall satisfy you that the case against him could not possibly be sustained.

Is that a bargain?".

"That's a bargain," said Japp heartily.

"And, on behalf of the Yard, I'm much obliged to you, though I'm bound to confess I can't at present see the faintest possible loop-hole in the evidence, but you always were a marvel! So long, then, moosier.".

The two detectives strode away, Summerhaye with an incredulous grin on his face.

"Well, my friend," cried Poirot, before I could get in a word, "what do you think? Mon Dieu! I had some warm moments in that court; I did not figure to myself that the man would be so pig-headed as to refuse to say anything at all.

Decidedly, it was the policy of an imbecile.".

"H'm! There are other explanations besides that of imbecility," I remarked.

"For, if the case against him is true, how could he defend himself except by silence?".

"Why, in a thousand ingenious ways," cried Poirot.

"See; say that it is I who have committed this murder, I can think of seven most plausible stories! Far more convincing than Mr. Inglethorp's stony denials!".

I could not help laughing.

"My dear Poirot, I am sure you are capable of thinking of seventy! But, seriously, in spite of what I heard you say to the detectives, you surely cannot still believe in the possibility of Alfred Inglethorp's innocence?".

"Why not now as much as before? Nothing has changed.".

"But the evidence is so conclusive."

"Yes, too conclusive.".

We turned in at the gate of Leastways Cottage, and proceeded up the now familiar stairs.

"Yes, yes, too conclusive," continued Poirot, almost to himself.

"Real evidence is usually vague and unsatisfactory.

It has to be examined—sifted. But here the whole thing is cut and dried.
No, my friend, this evidence has been very cleverly manufactured—so cleverly that it has defeated its own ends.".

"How do you make that out?".

"Because, so long as the evidence against him was vague and intangible, it was very hard to disprove. But, in his anxiety, the criminal has drawn the net so closely that one cut will set Inglethorp free."

I was silent. And in a minute or two, Poirot continued:

"Let us look at the matter like this.

Here is a man, let us say, who sets out to poison his wife.

He has lived by his wits as the saying goes.

Presumably, therefore, he has some wits.

He is not altogether a fool. Well, how does he set about it? He goes boldly to the village chemist's and purchases strychnine under his own name, with a trumped up story about a dog which is bound to be proved absurd.

He does not employ the poison that night. No, he waits until he has had a violent quarrel with her, of which the whole household is cognisant, and which naturally directs their suspicions upon him.

He prepares no defence—no shadow of an alibi, yet he knows the chemist's assistant must necessarily come forward with the facts.

Bah! do not ask me to believe that any man could be so idiotic! Only a lunatic, who wished to commit suicide by causing himself to be hanged, would act so!".

"Still—I do not see—" I began.

"Neither do I see. I tell you, mon ami, it puzzles me. Me—Hercule Poirot!".

"But if you believe him innocent, how do you explain his buying the strychnine?"

"Very simply. He did not buy it.".

"But Mace recognized him!"

"I beg your pardon, he saw a man with a black beard like Mr. Inglethorp's, and wearing glasses like Mr. Inglethorp, and dressed in Mr. Inglethorp's rather noticeable clothes.

He could not recognize a man whom he had probably only seen in the distance, since, you remember, he himself had only been in the village a fortnight, and Mrs. Inglethorp dealt principally with Coot's in Tadminster.".

"Then you think——"

"Mon ami, do you remember the two points I laid stress upon?.

Leave the first one for the moment, what was the second?".

"The important fact that Alfred Inglethorp wears peculiar clothes, has a black beard, and uses glasses," I quoted.

"Exactly. Now suppose anyone wished to pass himself off as John or Lawrence Cavendish.
Would it be easy?".

"No," I said thoughtfully. "Of course an actor——".

But Poirot cut me short ruthlessly.

"And why would it not be easy? I will tell you, my friend: Because they are both clean-shaven men.

To make up successfully as one of these two in broad daylight, it would need an actor of genius, and a certain initial facial resemblance.

But in the case of Alfred Inglethorp, all that is changed.

His clothes, his beard, the glasses which hide his eyes—those are the salient points about his personal appearance.

Now, what is the first instinct of the criminal?.

To divert suspicion from himself, is it not so?

And how can he best do that? By throwing it on some one else.

In this instance, there was a man ready to his hand.

Everybody was predisposed to believe in Mr. Inglethorp's guilt.

It was a foregone conclusion that he would be suspected; but, to make it a sure thing there must be tangible proof—such as the actual buying of the poison, and that, with a man of the peculiar appearance of Mr. Inglethorp, was not difficult.

Remember, this young Mace had never actually spoken to Mr. Inglethorp.

How should he doubt that the man in his clothes, with his beard and his glasses, was not Alfred Inglethorp?".

"It may be so," I said, fascinated by Poirot's eloquence.

"But, if that was the case, why does he not say where he was at six o'clock on Monday evening?".

"Ah, why indeed?" said Poirot, calming down.

"If he were arrested, he probably would speak, but I do not want it to come to that.

I must make him see the gravity of his position.

There is, of course, something discreditable behind his silence.

If he did not murder his wife, he is, nevertheless, a scoundrel, and has something of his own to conceal, quite apart from the murder.".

"What can it be?" I mused, won over to Poirot's views for the moment, although still retaining a faint conviction that the obvious deduction was the correct one.

"Can you not guess?" asked Poirot, smiling.

"No, can you?"

"Oh, yes, I had a little idea sometime ago—and it has turned out to be correct.".

"You never told me," I said reproachfully.

Poirot spread out his hands apologetically.

"Pardon me, mon ami, you were not precisely sympathique.

" He turned to me earnestly. "Tell me—you see now that he must not be arrested?".

"Perhaps," I said doubtfully, for I was really quite indifferent to the fate of Alfred Inglethorp, and thought that a good fright would do him no harm.

Poirot, who was watching me intently, gave a sigh.

"Come, my friend," he said, changing the subject, "apart from Mr. Inglethorp, how did the evidence at the inquest strike you?".

"Oh, pretty much what I expected.".

"Did nothing strike you as peculiar about it?".

My thoughts flew to Mary Cavendish, and I hedged:

"In what way?".

"Well, Mr. Lawrence Cavendish's evidence for instance?"

I was relieved.

"Oh, Lawrence! No, I don't think so. He's always a nervous chap.".

"His suggestion that his mother might have been poisoned accidentally by means of the tonic she was taking, that did not strike you as strange—hein?".

"No, I can't say it did.

The doctors ridiculed it of course.

But it was quite a natural suggestion for a layman to make.".

"But Monsieur Lawrence is not a layman.

You told me yourself that he had started by studying medicine, and that he had taken his degree.".

"Yes, that's true. I never thought of that." I was rather startled. "It is odd.".

Poirot nodded.

"From the first, his behaviour has been peculiar.

Of all the household, he alone would be likely to recognize the symptoms of strychnine poisoning, and yet we find him the only member of the family to uphold strenuously the theory of death from natural causes.

If it had been Monsieur John, I could have understood it.

He has no technical knowledge, and is by nature unimaginative.

But Monsieur Lawrence—no! And now, to-day, he puts forward a suggestion that he himself must have known was ridiculous.

There is food for thought in this, mon ami!".

"It's very confusing," I agreed.

"Then there is Mrs. Cavendish," continued Poirot.

"That's another who is not telling all she knows! What do you make of her attitude?".

"I don't know what to make of it. It seems inconceivable that she should be shielding Alfred Inglethorp. Yet that is what it looks like."

Poirot nodded reflectively.

"Yes, it is queer. One thing is certain, she overheard a good deal more of that 'private conversation' than she was willing to admit.".

"And yet she is the last person one would accuse of stooping to eavesdrop!".

"Exactly. One thing her evidence has shown me. I made a mistake. Dorcas was quite right. The quarrel did take place earlier in the afternoon, about four o'clock, as she said."

I looked at him curiously. I had never understood his insistence on that point.

"Yes, a good deal that was peculiar came out to-day," continued Poirot.

"Dr.Bauerstein, now, what was he doing up and dressed at that hour in the morning? It is astonishing to me that no one commented on the fact.".

"He has insomnia, I believe," I said doubtfully.

"Which is a very good, or a very bad explanation," remarked Poirot. "It covers everything, and explains nothing. I shall keep my eye on our clever Dr.Bauerstein.".

"Any more faults to find with the evidence?" I inquired satirically.

"Mon ami," replied Poirot gravely, "when you find that people are not telling you the truth—look out!.

Now, unless I am much mistaken, at the inquest to-day only one—at most, two persons were speaking the truth without reservation or subterfuge.".

"Oh, come now, Poirot! I won't cite Lawrence, or Mrs.Cavendish.

But there's John—and Miss Howard, surely they were speaking the truth?"

"Both of them, my friend? One, I grant you, but both——!".

His words gave me an unpleasant shock.

Miss Howard's evidence, unimportant as it was, had been given in such a downright straightforward manner that it had never occurred to me to doubt her sincerity.

Still, I had a great respect for Poirot's sagacity—except on the occasions when he was what I described to myself as "foolishly pig-headed.".

"Do you really think so?" I asked.

"Miss Howard had always seemed to me so essentially honest—almost uncomfortably so.".

Poirot gave me a curious look, which I could not quite fathom.

He seemed to speak, and then checked himself.

"Miss Murdoch too," I continued, "there's nothing untruthful about her."

"No. But it was strange that she never heard a sound, sleeping next door;
whereas Mrs.Cavendish, in the other wing of the building, distinctly heard the table fall.".

"Well, she's young. And she sleeps soundly.".

"Ah, yes, indeed! She must be a famous sleeper, that one!".

I did not quite like the tone of his voice, but at that moment a smart knock reached our ears, and looking out of the window we perceived the two detectives waiting for us below.

Poirot seized his hat, gave a ferocious twist to his moustache, and, carefully brushing an imaginary speck of dust from his sleeve, motioned me to precede him down the stairs; there we joined the detectives and set out for Styles.

I think the appearance of the two Scotland Yard men was rather a shock—especially to John, though of course after the verdict, he had realized that it was only a matter of time.

Still, the presence of the detectives brought the truth home to him more than anything else could have done.

Poirot had conferred with Japp in a low tone on the way up, and it was the latter functionary who requested that the household, with the exception of the servants, should be assembled together in the drawing-room.

I realized the significance of this. It was up to Poirot to make his boast good.

Personally, I was not sanguine. Poirot might have excellent reasons for his belief in Inglethorp's innocence, but a man of the type of Summerhaye would require tangible proofs, and these I doubted if Poirot could supply.

Before very long we had all trooped into the drawing-room, the door of which Japp closed.

Poirot politely set chairs for every one.

The Scotland Yard men were the cynosure of all eyes.

I think that for the first time we realized that the thing was not a bad dream, but a tangible reality.

We had read of such things—now we ourselves were actors in the drama.

To-morrow the daily papers, all over England, would blazon out the news in staring headlines:

"MYSTERIOUS TRAGEDY IN ESSEX"
"WEALTHY LADY POISONED".

There would be pictures of Styles, snap-shots of "The family leaving the Inquest"—the village photographer had not been idle!.

All the things that one had read a hundred times—things that happen to other people, not to oneself.

And now, in this house, a murder had been committed. In front of us were "the detectives in charge of the case.".

The well-known glib phraseology passed rapidly through my mind in the interval before Poirot opened the proceedings.

I think every one was a little surprised that it should be he and not one of the official detectives who took the initiative.

"Mesdames and messieurs," said Poirot, bowing as though he were a celebrity about to deliver a lecture, "I have asked you to come here all together, for a certain object.

That object, it concerns Mr. Alfred Inglethorp.".

Inglethorp was sitting a little by himself—I think, unconsciously, every one had drawn his chair slightly away from him—and he gave a faint start as Poirot pronounced his name.

"Mr.Inglethorp," said Poirot, addressing him directly, "a very dark shadow is resting on this house—the shadow of murder.".

Inglethorp shook his head sadly.

"My poor wife," he murmured. "Poor Emily! It is terrible.".

"I do not think, monsieur," said Poirot pointedly, "that you quite realize how terrible it may be—for you.".

And as Inglethorp did not appear to understand, he added: "Mr.Inglethorp, you are standing in very grave danger."

The two detectives fidgeted. I saw the official caution "Anything you say will be used in evidence against you," actually hovering on Summerhaye's lips.

Poirot went on.

"Do you understand now, monsieur?"

"No; What do you mean?"

"I mean," said Poirot deliberately, "that you are suspected of poisoning your wife."

A little gasp ran round the circle at this plain speaking.

"Good heavens!" cried Inglethorp, starting up. "What a monstrous idea! I—poison my dearest Emily!".

"I do not think"—Poirot watched him narrowly—"that you quite realize the unfavourable nature of your evidence at the inquest.

Mr.Inglethorp, knowing what I have now told you, do you still refuse to say where you were at six o'clock on Monday afternoon?"

With a groan, Alfred Inglethorp sank down again and buried his face in his hands.

Poirot approached and stood over him.

"Speak!" he cried menacingly.

With an effort, Inglethorp raised his face from his hands.

Then, slowly and deliberately, he shook his head.

"You will not speak?"

"No. I do not believe that anyone could be so monstrous as to accuse me of what you say."

Poirot nodded thoughtfully, like a man whose mind is made up.

"Soit!" he said. "Then I must speak for you."

Alfred Inglethorp sprang up again.

"You? How can you speak? You do not know——" he broke off abruptly.

Poirot turned to face us. "Mesdames and messieurs! I speak! Listen! I, Hercule Poirot, affirm that the man who entered the chemist's shop, and purchased strychnine at six o'clock on Monday last was not Mr.Inglethorp, for at six o'clock on that day Mr.Inglethorp was escorting Mrs. Raikes back to her home from a neighbouring farm.

I can produce no less than five witnesses to swear to having seen them together, either at six or just after and, as you may know, the Abbey Farm, Mrs.Raikes's home, is at least two and a half miles distant from the village.

There is absolutely no question as to the alibi!".