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السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته هادي مجموعة روايات بالانجليزي ... ان شاء الله تعجبكم الرواية (1)agatha christie - appointment with death. 1 "You do see, don't you,

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السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته


هادي مجموعة روايات بالانجليزي ... ان شاء الله تعجبكم

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agatha christie - appointment with death.
1
"You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?"
The question floated out into the still night air, seemed to hang there a moment and then drift away down into the darkness towards the Dead Sea.
Hercule Poirot paused a minute with his hand on the window catch. Frowning, he shut it decisively, thereby excluding any injurious night air! Hercule Poirot had been brought up to believe that all outside air was best left outside, and that night air was especially dangerous to the health.
As he pulled the curtains neatly over the window and walked to his bed, he smiled tolerantly to himself. "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?" Curious words for one Hercule Poirot, detective, to overhear on his first night in Jerusalem.
"Decidedly, wherever I go, there is something to remind me of crime!" he murmured to himself. His smile continued as he remembered a story he had once heard concerning Anthony Trollope, the novelist.
Trollope was crossing the Atlantic at the time and had overheard two fellow passengers discussing the last published installment of one of his novels.
"Very good," one man had declared. "But he ought to kill off that tiresome old woman."
With a broad smile the novelist had addressed them: "Gentlemen, I am much obliged to you! I will go and kill her immediately!"
Hercule Poirot wondered what had occasioned the words he had just overheard. A collaboration, perhaps, over a play or a book. He thought, still smiling: "Those words might be remembered one day, and be given a more sinister meaning."
There had been, he now recollected, a curious nervous intensity in the voicea tremor that spoke of some intense emotional strain. A man's voiceor a boy's . . .
Hercule Poirot thought to himself as he turned out the light by his bed: "I should know that voice again. . . ."
Their elbows on the windowsill, their heads close together, Raymond and Carol Boynton gazed out into the blue depths of the night. Nervously, Raymond repeated his former words: "You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?"
Carol Boynton stirred slightly. She said, her voice deep and hoarse: "It's horrible. . . ."
"It's not more horrible than this!"
"I suppose not. . . ."
Raymond said violently: "It can't go on like thisit can't. . . . We must do something. . . . And there isn't anything else we can do. . . ." Carol saidbut her voice was unconvincing and she knew it: "If we could get away somehow . . . ?"
"We can't." His voice was empty and hopeless. "Carol, you know we can't . . ."
The girl shivered.
"I know Ray I know."
He gave a sudden short bitter laugh. "People would say we were crazynot to be able just to walk out"
Carol said slowly: "Perhaps we are crazy!"
"I daresay. Yes, I daresay we are. Anyway we soon shall be . . . I suppose some people would say we are already. Here we are calmly planning, in cold blood, to kill our own mother!"
Carol said sharply: "She isn't our own mother!"
"No, that's true."
There was a pause and then Raymond said, his voice now quietly matter-of-fact: "You do agree, Carol?"
Carol answered steadily: "I think she ought to dieyes . . ." Then she broke out suddenly: "She's mad . . . I'm quite sure she's mad . . . Sheshe couldn't torture us like she does if she were sane. For years we've been saying: 'This can't go on!' And it has gone on! We've said, 'She'll die sometime'but she hasn't died! I don't think she ever will die unless"
Raymond said steadily: "Unless we kill her . . ."
"Yes."
She clenched her hands on the windowsill in front of her.
Her brother went on in a cool matter-of-fact tone, with just a slight tremor denoting his deep underlying excitement: "You see why it's got to be one of us, don't you? With Lennox, there's Nadine to consider. And we couldn't bring Jinny into it."
Carol shivered. "Poor Jinny . . . I'm so afraid . . ."
"I know. It's getting pretty bad, isn't it? That's why something's got to be done quicklybefore she goes right over the edge."
Carol stood up suddenly, pushing back the tumbled chestnut hair from her forehead. "Ray," she said. "You don't think it's really wrong, do you?"
He answered in that same would-be dispassionate tone: "No. I think it's just like killing a mad dogsomething that's doing harm in the world and must be stopped. This is the only way of stopping it."
Carol murmured: "But they'dthey'd send us to the chair just the same . . . I mean we couldn't explain what she's like . . . It would sound fantastic . . . In a way, you know, it's all in our own minds!"
Raymond said: "Nobody will ever know. I've got a plan. I've thought it all out. We shall be quite safe."
Carol turned suddenly round on him. "Raysomehow or otheryou're different. Something's happened to you . . . What's put all this into your head?"
"Why should you think anything's 'happened' to me?" He turned his head away, staring out into the night.
"Because it has . . . Ray, was it that girl on the train?"
"No, of course notwhy should it be? Oh, Carol, don't talk nonsense. Let's get back again toto"
"To your plan? Are you sure it's a good plan?"
"Yes. I think so . . . We must wait for the right opportunity, of course. And thenif it goes all rightwe shall be freeall of us."
"Free?" Carol gave a little sigh. She looked up at the stars. Then suddenly she shook from head to foot in a sudden storm of weeping.
"Carol, what's the matter?"
She sobbed out brokenly: "It's so lovelythe night and the blueness and the stars. If only we could be part of it all . . . If only we could be like other people instead of being as we areall queer and warped and wrong."
"But we shall be all rightwhen she's dead!"

"Are you sure? Isn't it too late? Shan't we always be queer and different?"
"No, no, no."
"I wonder"
"Carol, if you'd rather not"
She pushed his comforting arm aside. "No, I'm with youdefinitely I'm with you! Because of the othersespecially Jinny. We must save Jinny!"
Raymond paused a moment. "Thenwe'll go on with it?"
"Yes!"
"Good. I'll tell you my plan . . ."
He bent his head to hers.


2
Miss Sarah King, M.B., stood by the table in the writing-room of the Solomon Hotel in Jerusalem idly turning over the papers and magazines. A frown contracted her brows and she looked preoccupied.
The tall, middle-aged Frenchman who entered the room from the hall watched her for a moment or two before strolling up to the opposite side of the table. When their eyes met, Sarah made a little gesture of smiling recognition.
She remembered that this man had come to her help when traveling from Cairo and had carried one of her suitcases at a moment when no porter appeared to be available.
"You like Jerusalem, yes?" asked Dr. Gerard, after they had exchanged greetings.
"It's rather terrible in some ways," said Sarah, and added: "Religion is very odd!"
The Frenchman looked amused. "I know what you mean." His English was very nearly perfect. "Every imaginable sect squabbling and fighting!"
"And the awful things they've built, too!" Said Sarah.
"Yes, indeed."
Sarah sighed. "They turned me out of one place today because I had on a sleeveless dress," she said ruefully. "Apparently the Almighty doesn't like my arms in spite of having made them."
Dr. Gerard laughed. Then he said: "I was about to order some coffee. You will join me, Miss?"
"King, my name is. Sarah King."
"And minepermit me." He whipped out a card.
Taking it, Sarah's eyes widened in delighted awe. "Dr. Theodore Gerard? Oh! I am excited to meet you. I've read all your works, of course. Your views on schizophrenia are frightfully interesting."
"Of course?" Gerard's eyebrows rose inquisitively.
Sarah explained rather diffidently. "You seeI'm by way of being a doctor myself. Just got my M.B.."
"Ah! I see."
Dr. Gerard ordered coffee and they sat down in a corner of the lounge. The Frenchman was less interested in Sarah's medical achievements than in the black hair that rippled back from her forehead and the beautifully shaped red mouth. He was amused at the obvious awe with which she regarded him.
"You are staying here long?" he asked conversationally.
"A few days. That is all. Then I want to go to Petra."
"Aha? I, too, was thinking of going there if it does not take too long. You see, I have to be back in Paris on the 14th."
"It takes about a week, I believe. Two days to go, two days there and two days back again."
"I must go to the travel bureau in the morning and see what can be arranged."
A party of people entered the lounge and sat down.
Sarah watched them with some interest. She lowered her voice: "Those people who have just come indid you notice them on the train the other night? They left Cairo the same time as we did."
Dr. Gerard screwed in an eyeglass and directed his glance across the room. "Americans?"
Sarah nodded.
"Yes. An American family. Butrather an unusual one, I think."
"Unusual? How unusual?"
"Well, look at them. Especially at the old woman." Dr. Gerard complied. His keen professional glance flitted swiftly from face to face. He noticed first a tall, rather loose-boned manage about thirty. The face was pleasant but weak and his manner seemed oddly apathetic. Then there were two good-looking youngstersthe boy had almost a Greek head. "Something the matter with him, too," thought Dr. Gerard. "Yesa definite state of nervous tension." The girl was clearly his sister, a strong resemblance, and she also was in an excitable condition. There was another girl younger stillwith golden red hair that stood out like a halo; her hands were very restless; they were tearing and pulling at the handkerchief in her lap. Yet another woman, young, calm, dark-haired with a creamy pallor, a placid face not unlike a Luini Madonna. Nothing jumpy about her! And the center of the group"Heavens!" thought Dr. Gerard, with a Frenchman's candid repulsion. "What a horror of a woman!" Old, swollen, bloated, sitting there immovable in the midst of thema distorted old spider in the center of a web!
To Sarah he said: "La Manian, she is not beautiful, eh?" And he shrugged his shoulders.
"There's something rathersinister about her, don't you think?" asked Sarah.
Dr. Gerard scrutinized her again. This time his eye was professional, not aesthetic. "Dropsycardiac" He added a glib medical phrase.
"Oh, yes, that!" Sarah dismissed the medical side. "But there is something odd in their attitude to her, don't you think?"
"Who are they, do you know?"
"Their name is Boynton. Mother, married son, his wife, one younger son and two younger daughters."
Dr. Gerard murmured: "La famille Boynton sees the world."
"Yes, but there's something odd about the way they're seeing it. They never speak to anyone else. And none of them can do anything unless the old woman says so!"
"She is of the matriarchal type," said Gerard thoughtfully.
"She's a complete tyrant, I think," said Sarah.
Dr. Gerard shrugged his shoulders and remarked that the American woman ruled the earththat was well known.
"Yes, but it's more than just that." Sarah was persistent. "She's Oh, she's got them all so, so cowedso positively under her thumbthat it's, it's indecent!"
"To have too much power is bad for women," Gerard agreed, with sudden gravity. He shook his head. "It is difficult for a woman not to abuse power." He shot a quick sideways glance at Sarah. She was watching the Boynton familyor rather she was watching one particular member of it. Dr. Gerard smiled a quick comprehending Gallic smile. Ah! so it was like that, was it?
He murmured tentatively: "You have spoken with themyes?"
"Yesat least with one of them."
"The young manthe younger son?"
"Yes. On the train coming here from Kantara. He was standing in the corridor. I spoke to him." There was no self-consciousness in Sarah's manner. There was, indeed, no self-consciousness in her attitude to life. She was interested in humanity and was of a friendly though impatient disposition.
"What made you speak to him?" asked Gerard.
Sarah shrugged her shoulders. "Why not? I often speak to people traveling. I'm interested in peoplein what they do and think and feel."
"You put them under the microscope, that is to say!"
"I suppose you might call it that," the girl admitted.
"And what were your impressions in this case?"
"Well"she hesitated"it was rather odd. . . . To begin with, the boy flushed right up to the roots of his hair."
"Is that so remarkable?" asked Gerard dryly.
Sarah laughed. "You mean that he thought I was a shameless hussy making advances to him? Oh, no, I don't think he thought that. Men can always tell, can't they?"
She gave him a frank, questioning glance. Dr. Gerard nodded his head.
"I got the impression," said Sarah, speaking slowly and frowning a little, "that he washow shall I put it?both excited and appalled. Excited out of all proportionand quite absurdly apprehensive at the same time. Now that's odd, isn't it, because I've always found Americans unusually self-possessed. An American boy of twenty, say, has infinitely more knowledge of the world and far more savoir-faire than an English boy of the same age. And this boy must be over twenty."
"About twenty-three or four, I should say."
"As much as that?"
"I should think so."
"Yes . . . perhaps you're right . . . only, somehow, he seems very young. . . ."
"Maladjustment mentally. The 'child' factor persists."
"Then I am right? I mean, there is something not quite normal about him?"
Dr. Gerard shrugged his shoulders, smiling a little at her earnestness. "My dear young lady, are any of us quite normal? But I grant you that there is probably a neurosis of some kind."
"Connected with that horrible old woman, I'm sure!"
"You seem to dislike her very much," said Gerard, looking at her curiously.
"I do. She's got aoh, a malevolent eye!"
Gerard murmured: "So have many mothers when their sons are attracted to fascinating young ladies!"
Sarah shrugged an impatient shoulder. Frenchmen were all alike, she thought, obsessed by sex! Though, of course, as a conscientious psychologist she herself was bound to admit that there was always an underlying basis of sex to most phenomena. Sarah's thoughts ran along a familiar psychological track. She came out of her meditations with a start. Raymond Boynton was crossing the room to the center table. He selected a magazine. As he passed her chair on his return journey she looked up at him and spoke: "Have you been busy sightseeing today?"
She selected her words at random; her real interest was to see how they would be received.
Raymond half stopped, flushed, shied like a nervous horse and his eyes went apprehensively to the center of his family group. He muttered: "Ohoh, yeswhy, yes, certainly. I" Then, as suddenly as though he had received the prick of a spur, he hurried back to his family, holding out the magazine.
The grotesque Buddha-like figure held out a fat hand for it, but as she took it her eyes, Dr. Gerard noticed, were on the boy's face. She gave a grunt, certainly no audible thanks. The position of her head shifted very slightly. The doctor saw that she was now looking hard at Sarah. Her face was quite impassive, it had no expression in it. Impossible to tell what was passing in the woman's mind.
Sarah looked at her watch and uttered an exclamation. "It's much later than I thought." She got up. "Thank you so much. Dr. Gerard, for standing me coffee. I must write some letters now."
He rose and took her hand.
"We shall meet again, I hope," he said.
"Oh, yes! Perhaps you will come to Petra?"
"I shall certainly try to do so."
Sarah smiled at him and turned away. Her way out of the room led her past the Boynton family.
Dr. Gerard, watching, saw Mrs. Boynton's gaze shift to her son's face. He saw the boy's eyes meet hers. As Sarah passed, Raymond Boynton half turned his headnot towards her but away from her. . . . It was a slow unwilling motion and conveyed the idea that old Mrs. Boynton had pulled an invisible string.
Sarah King noticed the avoidance, and was young enough and human enough to be annoyed by it. They had had such a friendly talk together in the swaying corridor of the Wagon-Lit. They had compared notes on Egypt, had laughed at the ridiculous language of the donkey boys and street touts. Sarah had described how a camel man, when he had started hopefully and impudently, "You English lady or American?" had received the answer: "No, Chinese," and her pleasure in seeing the man's complete bewilderment as he stared at her. The boy had been, she thought, like a nice eager schoolboythere had been, perhaps, something almost pathetic about his eagerness. And now for no reason at all, he was shy, boorishpositively rude.
"I shan't take any more trouble with him," said Sarah indignantly. For Sarah, without being unduly conceited, had a fairly good opinion of herself. She knew herself to be definitely attractive to the opposite sex, and she was not one to take a snubbing lying down! She had been, perhaps, a shade over-friendly to this boy because, for some obscure reason, she had felt sorry for him.
But now, it was apparent, he was merely a rude, stuck-up, boorish young American! Instead of writing the letters she had mentioned, Sarah King sat down in front of her dressing-table, combed the hair back from her forehead, looked into a pair of troubled hazel eyes in the glass, and took stock of her situation in life.
She had just passed through a difficult emotional crisis. A month ago she had broken off her engagement to a young doctor some four years her senior. They had been very much attracted to each other, but had been too much alike in temperament. Disagreements and quarrels had been of common occurrence. Sarah was of too imperious a temperament herself to brook a calm assertion of autocracy.
Like many high-spirited women, Sarah believed herself to admire strength. She had always told herself that she wanted to be mastered. When she met a man capable of mastering her she found that she did not like it at all! To break off her engagement had cost her a good deal of heart burning, but she was clear-sighted enough to realize that mere mutual attraction was not a sufficient basis on which to build a lifetime of happiness. She had treated herself deliberately to an interesting holiday abroad in order to help on forgetfulness before she went back to start working in earnest.
Sarah's thoughts came back from the past to the present.
"I wonder," she thought, "if Dr. Gerard will let me talk to him about his work? He's done such marvelous work. If only he'll take me seriously . . . Perhapsif he comes to Petra" Then she thought again of the strange, boorish young American.
She had no doubt that it was the presence of his family which had caused him to react in such a peculiar manner, but she felt slightly scornful of him, nevertheless. To be under the thumb of one's family like thatit was really rather ridiculousespecially for a man! And yet . . .
A queer feeling passed over her. Surely there was something a little odd about it all?
She said suddenly out loud: "That boy wants rescuing! I'm going to see to it!"


3
When Sarah had left the lounge Dr. Gerard sat where he was for some minutes. Then he walked over to the table, picked up the latest number of Le Matin and strolled with it to a chair a few yards away from the Boynton family. His curiosity was aroused.
He had at first been amused by the English girl's interest in this American family, shrewdly diagnosing that it was inspired by interest in one particular member of the group. But now something out of the ordinary about this family party awakened in him the deeper, more impartial interest of the scientist. He sensed that there was something here of definite psychological interest.
Very discreetly, under the cover of his paper, he took stock of them. First, the boy in whom that attractive English girl took such a decided interest. Yes, thought Gerard, definitely the type to appeal to her temperamentally. Sarah King had strengthshe possessed well-balanced nerves, cool wits and a resolute will. Dr. Gerard judged the young man to be sensitive, perceptive, diffident and intensely suggestible. He noted with a physician's eye the obvious fact that the boy was at the moment in a state of high nervous tension. Dr. Gerard wondered why. He was puzzled. Why should a young man whose physical health was obviously good, who was abroad ostensibly enjoying himself, be in such a condition that a nervous breakdown was imminent?
The doctor turned his attention to the other members of the party. The girl with the chestnut hair was obviously Raymond's sister. They were of the same racial type, small-boned, well-shaped, aristocratic-looking. They had the same slender, well-formed hands, the same clean line of jaw, and the same poise of the head on a long slender neck. And the girl, too, was nervous. . . . She made slight involuntary nervous movements, her eyes were deeply shadowed underneath and over-bright. Her voice, when she spoke, was too quick and a shade breathless. She was watchfulalertunable to relax.
"And she is afraid, too," decided Dr. Gerard. "Yes, she is afraid!"
He overheard scraps of conversationa very ordinary normal conversation.
"We might go to Solomon's Stables."
"Would that be too much for Mother?"
"The Weeping Wall in the morning?"
"The Temple, of coursethe Mosque of Omar they call it. I wonder why?"
"Because it's been made into a Moslem mosque, of course, Lennox."
Ordinary, commonplace tourists' talk. And yet, somehow, Dr. Gerard felt a queer conviction that these overheard scraps of dialogue were all singularly unreal. They were a maska cover for something that surged and eddied underneathsomething too deep and formless for words . . . .
Again he shot a covert glance from behind the shelter of Le Matin.
Lennox? That was the elder brother. The same family likeness could be traced, but there was a difference. Lennox was not so highly strung; he was, Gerard decided, of a less nervous temperament. But about him, no, there seemed something odd. There was no sign of muscular tension about him as there was about the other two. He sat relaxed, limp. Puzzling, searching among memories of patients he had seen sitting like that in hospital wards, Gerard thought: "He is exhaustedyes, exhausted with suffering. That look in the eyesthe look you see in a wounded dog or a sick horsedumb bestial endurance. . . . It is odd, that. . . . Physically there seems nothing wrong with him. . . . Yet there is no doubt that lately he has been through much sufferingmental suffering. Now he no longer suffershe endures dumblywaiting, I think, for the blow to fall. . . . What blow? Am I fancying all this? No, the man is waiting for something, for the end to come. So cancer patients lie and wait, thankful that an anodyne dulls the pain a little. . . ."
Lennox Boynton got up and retrieved a ball of wool that the old lady had dropped.
"Here you are. Mother."
"Thank you."
What was she knitting, this monumental, impassive old woman? Something thick and coarse. Gerard thought: "Mittens for inhabitants of a workhouse!" and smiled at his own fantasy.
He turned his attention to the youngest member of the partythe girl with the golden red hair. She was, perhaps, seventeen. Her skin had the exquisite clearness that often goes with red hair. Although over-thin, it was a beautiful face. She was sitting smiling to herselfsmiling into space. There was something a little curious about that smile. It was so far removed from the Solomon Hotel, from Jerusalem. . . . It reminded Dr. Gerard of something . . . Presently it came to him in a flash. It was the strange unearthly smile that lifts the lips of the Maidens in the Acropolis at Athenssomething remote and lovely and a little inhuman. . . . The magic of the smile, her exquisite stillness, gave him a little pang.
And then with a shock, Dr. Gerard noticed her hands. They were concealed from the group around her by the table, but he could see them clearly from where he sat. In the shelter of her lap they were pickingpickingtearing a delicate handkerchief into tiny shreds.
It gave him a horrible shock.
The aloof remote smilethe still bodyand the busy destructive hands . . .


4
There was a slow asthmatic wheezing coughthen the monumental knitting woman spoke.
"Ginevra, you're tired; you'd better go to bed."
The girl started; her fingers stopped their mechanical action.
"I'm not tired. Mother."
Gerard recognized appreciatively the musical quality of her voice. It had the sweet singing quality that lends enchantment to the most commonplace utterances.
"Yes, you are. I always know. I don't think you'll be able to do any sightseeing tomorrow."
"Oh! But I shall. I'm quite all right."
In a thick hoarse voice, almost a grating voice, her mother said: "No, you're not. You're going to be ill."
"I'm not! I'm not!" The girl began trembling violently.
A soft calm voice said: "I'll come up with you. Jinny." The quiet young woman with wide, thoughtful gray eyes and neatly coiled dark hair rose to her feet.
Old Mrs. Boynton said: "No. Let her go up alone."
The girl cried: "I want Nadine to come!"
"Then of course I will." The young woman moved a step forward.
The old woman said: "The child prefers to go by herselfdon't you Jinny?"
There was a pausea pause of a momentthen Ginevra Boynton said, her voice suddenly flat and dull: "YesI'd rather go alone. Thank you, Nadine."
She walked away, a tall angular figure that moved with a surprising grace.
Dr. Gerard lowered his paper and took a full satisfying gaze at old Mrs. Boynton. She was looking after her daughter and her fat face was creased into a peculiar smile. It was a caricature of the lovely unearthly smile that had transformed the girl's face so short a time before. Then the old woman transferred her gaze to Nadine.
The latter had just sat down again. She raised her eyes and met her mother-in-law's glance. Her face was quite imperturbable. The old woman's glance was malicious.
Dr. Gerard thought: "What an absurdity of an old tyrant!"
And then, suddenly, the old woman's eyes were full on him, and he drew in his breath sharply. Small, black, smoldering eyes they were, but something came from thema power, a definite force, a wave of evil malignancy. Dr. Gerard knew something about the power of personality. He realized that here was no spoilt tyrannical invalid indulging petty whims. This old woman was a definite force. In the malignancy of her glare he felt a resemblance to the effect produced by a cobra. Mrs. Boynton might be old, infirm, a prey to disease, but she was not powerless.
She was a woman who knew the meaning of power, who recognized a lifetime of power and who had never once doubted her own force. Dr. Gerard had once met a woman who performed a most dangerous and spectacular act with tigers. The great slinking brutes had crawled to their places and performed their degrading and humiliating tricks. Their eyes and subdued snarls told of hatred, bitter fanatical hatred, but they had obeyed, cringed. That had been a young woman, a woman with an arrogant dark beauty, but the look had been the same.
"Une dompteuse!" said Dr. Gerard to himself. And he understood now what that undercurrent to the harmless family talk had been. It was hatreda dark eddying stream of hatred.
He thought: "How fanciful and absurd most people would think me! Here is a commonplace devoted American family reveling in Palestineand I weave a story of black magic round it!"
Then he looked with interest at the quiet young woman who was called Nadine. There was a wedding ring on her left hand, and as he watched her, he saw her give one swift betraying glance at the fair-haired, loose-limbed Lennox. He knew, then . . . They were man and wife, those two. But it was a mother's glance rather than a wife'sa true mother's glanceprotecting, anxious. And he knew something more. He knew that out of that group, Nadine Boynton alone was unaffected by her mother-in-law's spell. She may have disliked the old woman, but she was not afraid of her. The power did not touch her.
She was unhappy, deeply concerned about her husband, but she was free.
Dr. Gerard said to himself: "All this is very interesting."


5
INTO THESE DARK imaginings a breath of the commonplace came with almost ludicrous effect.
A man came into the lounge, caught sight of the Boyntons and came across to them.
He was a pleasant middle-aged American of a strictly conventional type. He was carefully dressed, with a long, clean-shaven face and he had a slow, pleasant, somewhat monotonous voice.
"I was looking around for you all," he said. Meticulously he shook hands with the entire family.
"And how do you find yourself, Mrs. Boynton? Not too tired by the journey?"
Almost graciously, the old lady wheezed out: "No, thank you. My health's never good, as you know"
"Why, of course; too badtoo bad."
"But I'm certainly no worse." Mrs. Boynton added with a slow reptilian smile: "Nadine, here, takes good care of me; don't you, Nadine?"
"I do my best." Her voice was expressionless.
"Why, I'll bet you do," said the stranger heartily. "Well, Lennox, and what do you think of King David's city?"
"Oh, I don't know." Lennox spoke apatheticallywithout interest.
"Find it kind of disappointing, do you? I'll confess it struck me that way at first. But perhaps you haven't been around much yet?"
Carol Boynton said: "We can't do very much because of Mother."
Mrs. Boynton explained: "A couple of hours' sightseeing is about all I can manage every day."
The stranger said heartily: "I think it's wonderful you manage to do all you do, Mrs. Boynton."
Mrs. Boynton gave a slow wheezy chuckle; it had an almost gloating sound. "I don't give in to my body! It's the mind that matters! Yes, it's the mind. . . ."
Her voice died away. Gerard saw Raymond Boynton give a nervous jerk.
"Have you been to the Weeping Wall yet, Mr. Cope?" he asked.
"Why, yes, that was one of the first places I visited. I hope to have done Jerusalem thoroughly in a couple more days and I'm letting them get me out an itinerary at Cook's so as to do the Holy Land thoroughlyBethlehem, Nazareth, Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee. It's all going to be mighty interesting. Then there's Jerash; there are some very interesting ruins thereRoman, you know. And I'd very much like to have a look at the Rose Red City of Petra, a most remarkable natural phenomenon, I believe that is, and right off the beaten track; but it takes the best part of a week to get there and back and do it properly."
Carol said: "I'd love to go there. It sounds marvelous."
"Why I should say it was definitely worth seeingyes, definitely worth seeing." Mr. Cope paused, shot a somewhat dubious glance at Mrs. Boynton, and then went on in a voice that to the listening Frenchman was palpably uncertain: "I wonder now if I couldn't persuade some of you people to come with me? Naturally I know you couldn't manage it, Mrs. Boynton, and naturally some of your family would want to remain with you; but if you were to divide forces, so to speak"
He paused. Gerard heard the even click of Mrs. Boynton's knitting needles. Then she said: "I don't think we'd care to divide up. We're a very homey group." She looked up. "Well, children, what do you say?"
There was a queer ring in her voice. The answers came promptly: "No, Mother."
"Oh, no."
"No, of course not."
Mrs. Boynton said, smiling that very odd smile of hers: "You seethey won't leave me. What about you, Nadine? You didn't say anything."
"No, thank you, Mother, not unless Lennox cares about it."
Mrs. Boynton turned her head slowly towards her son. "Well, Lennox, what about it; why don't you and Nadine go? She seems to want to."
He started. Looked up.
"Iwellno, II think we'd better all stay together." Mr. Cope said genially: "Well, you are a devoted family!" But something in his geniality rang a little hollow and forced.
"We keep to ourselves," said Mrs. Boynton. She began to wind up her ball of wool. "By the way, Raymond, who was that young woman who spoke to you just now?"
Raymond started nervously. He flushed, then went white. "II don't know her name. Sheshe was on the train the other night."
Mrs. Boynton began slowly to try and heave herself out of her chair. "I don't think we'll have much to do with her," she said.
Nadine rose and assisted the old woman to struggle out of her chair. She did it with a professional deftness that attracted Gerard's attention.
"Bedtime," said Mrs. Boynton. "Good night, Mr. Cope."
"Good night, Mrs. Boynton. Good night, Mrs. Lennox."
They went offa little procession. It did not seem to occur to any of the younger members of the party to stay behind.
Mr. Cope was left looking after them. The expression on his face was an odd one.
As Dr. Gerard knew by experience, Americans are disposed to be a friendly race. They have not the uneasy suspicion of the traveling Briton. To a man of Dr. Gerard's tact, making the acquaintance of Mr. Cope presented few difficulties. The American was lonely and was, like most of his race, disposed to friendliness. Dr. Gerard's card-case was again to the fore.
Reading the name on it, Mr. Jefferson Cope was duly impressed.
"Why surely. Dr. Gerard, you were over in the States not very long ago?"
"Last Autumn. I was lecturing at Harvard."
"Of course. Yours, Dr. Gerard, is one of the most distinguished names in your profession. You're pretty well at the head of your subject in Paris."
"My dear sir, you are far too kind! I protest."
"No, no, this is a great privilegemeeting you like this. As a matter of fact, there are several very distinguished people here in Jerusalem just at present. There's yourself and there's Lord Welldon, and Sir Gabriel Steinbaum, the financier. Then there's the veteran English archaeologist, Sir Manders Stone. And there's Lady Westholme who's very prominent in English politics. And there's that famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot."
"Little Hercule Poirot? Is he here?"
"I read his name in the local paper as having lately arrived. Seems to me all the world and his wife are at the Solomon Hotel. A mighty fine hotel it is, too. And very tastefully decorated."
Mr. Jefferson Cope was clearly enjoying himself. Dr. Gerard was a man who could display a lot of charm when he chose. Before long the two men had adjourned to the bar.
After a couple of highballs Gerard said: "Tell me, is that a typical American family to whom you were talking?"
Jefferson Cope sipped his drink thoughtfully. Then he said: "Why, no, I wouldn't say it was exactly typical."
"No? A very devoted family, though."
Cope said slowly: "You mean they all seem to revolve round the old lady? That's true enough. She's a very remarkable old lady, you know."
"Indeed?"
Mr. Cope needed very little encouragement. The gentle invitation was enough. "I don't mind telling you, Dr. Gerard, I've been having that family a good deal on my mind lately. I've been thinking about them a lot. If I may say so, it would ease my mind to talk to you about the matter. If it won't bore you, that is?"
Dr. Gerard disclaimed boredom. Mr. Jefferson Cope went on slowly, his pleasant clean-shaven face creased with perplexity.
"I'll tell you straight away that I'm just a little worried. Mrs. Boynton, you see, is an old friend of mine. That is to say, not the old Mrs. Boynton, the young one. Mrs. Lennox Boynton."
"Ah, yes, that very charming dark-haired young lady."
"That's right. That's Nadine. Nadine Boynton, Dr. Gerard, is a very lovely character. I knew her before she was married. She was in hospital then, working to be a trained nurse. Then she went for a vacation to stay with the Boyntons and she married Lennox."
"Yes?"
Mr. Jefferson Cope took another sip of highball and went on. "I'd like to tell you, Dr. Gerard, just a little of the Boynton family history."
"Yes? I should be most interested."
"Well, you see, the late Elmer Boyntonhe was quite a well-known man and a very charming personwas twice married. His first wife died when Carol and Raymond were tiny toddlers. The second Mrs. Boynton, so I've been told, was a handsome woman when he married her, though not very young. Seems odd to think she can ever have been handsome to look at her now, but that's what I've been told on very good authority. Anyway, her husband thought a lot of her and adopted her judgment on almost every point. He was an invalid for some years before he died, and she practically ruled the roost. She's a very capable woman with a fine head for business. A very conscientious woman, too. After Elmer died, she devoted herself absolutely to these children. There's one of her own, tooGinevrapretty red-haired girl but a bit delicate. Well, as I was telling you, Mrs. Boynton devoted herself entirely to her family. She just shut out the outside world entirely. Now, I don't know what you think, Dr. Gerard, but I don't think that's always a very sound thing."
"I agree with you. It is most harmful to developing mentalities."
"Yes, I should say that just about expresses it. Mrs. Boynton shielded these children from the outside world and never let them make any outside contacts. The result of that is that they've grown upwell, kind of nervy. They're jumpy, if you know what I mean. Can't make friends with strangers. It's bad, that."
"It is very bad."
"I we no doubt Mrs. Boynton meant well. It was just over-devotion on her part."
"They all live at home?" asked the doctor.
"Yes."
"Do neither of the sons work?"
"Why, no. Elmer Boynton was a rich man. He left all his money to Mrs. Boynton for her lifetimebut it was understood that it was for the family upkeep generally."
"So they are dependent on her financially?"
"That is so. And she's encouraged them to live at home and not go out and look for jobs. Well, maybe that's all right; there's plenty of money. They don't need to take jobs but I think for the male sex, anyway, work's a good tonic. Then there's another thingthey've none of them got any hobbies. They don't play golf. They don't belong to any country club. They don't go around to dances or do anything with the other young people. They live in a great barrack of a house way down in the country, miles from anywhere. I tell you. Dr. Gerard, it seems all wrong to me."
"I agree with you," said Dr. Gerard.
"Not one of them has got the least social sense. The community spiritthat's what's lacking! They may be a very devoted family but they're all bound up in themselves."
"There has never been any question of one or the other of them branching out for him- or herself?"
"Not that I've heard of. They just sit around."
"Do you put the blame for that on them or on Mrs. Boynton?"
Jefferson Cope shifted uneasily. "Well, in a sense I feel she is more or less responsible. It's bad bringing up on her part. All the same, when a young fellow comes to maturity it's up to him to kick over the traces of his own accord. No boy ought to keep on being tied to his mother's apron strings. He ought to choose to be independent."
Dr. Gerard said thoughtfully: "That might be impossible."
"Why impossible?"
"There are methods, Mr. Cope, of preventing a tree from growing."
Cope stared. "They're a fine healthy lot, Dr. Gerard."
"The mind can be stunted and warped as well as the body."
"They're bright mentally too."
Gerard sighed.
Jefferson Cope went on: "No, Dr. Gerard, take it from me, a man has got the control of his own destiny right there in his own hands. A man who respects himself strikes out on his own and makes something of his life. He doesn't just sit round and twiddle his thumbs. No woman ought to respect a man who does that."
Gerard looked at him curiously for a minute or two, then he said: "You refer particularly, I think, to Mr. Lennox Boynton?"
"Why, yes, it was Lennox I was thinking of. Raymond's only a boy still. But Lennox is just on thirty. Time he showed he was made of something."
"It is a difficult life, perhaps, for his wife?"
"Of course it's a difficult life for her! Nadine is a very fine girl. I admire her more than I can say. She's never let drop one word of complaint. But she's not happy, Dr. Gerard. She's just as unhappy as she can be."
Gerard nodded his head. "Yes, I think that well might be."
"I don't know what you think about it, Dr. Gerard, but I think that there's a limit to what a woman ought to put up with! If I were Nadine I'd put it to young Lennox straight. Either he sets to and proves what he's made of, or else"
"Or else, you think, she should leave him?"
"She's got her own life to live. Dr. Gerard. If Lennox doesn't appreciate her as she ought to be appreciated, well, there are other men who will."
"There isyourself, for instance?"
The American flushed. Then he looked straight at the other with a certain simple dignity. "That's so," he said. "I'm not ashamed of my feelings for that lady. I respect her and I am very, very deeply attached to her. All I want is her happiness. If she were happy with Lennox, I'd sit right back and fade out of the picture."
"But as it is?"
"But as it is, I'm standing by! If she wants me, I'm here!"
"You are, in fact, the 'parfait gentil' knight," murmured Gerard.
"Pardon?"
"My dear sir, chivalry only lives nowadays in the American nation! You are ******* to serve your lady without hope of reward! It is most admirable, that! What exactly do you hope to be able to do for her?"
"My idea is to be right here at hand if she needs me."
"And what, may I ask, is the older Mrs. Boynton's attitude towards you?"
Jefferson Cope said slowly: "I'm never quite sure about that old lady. As I've told she isn't fond of making outside contacts. But she's been different to me, she's always very gracious and treats we quite like one of the family."
"In fact, she approves of your friendship with Mrs. Lennox?"
"She does."
Dr. Gerard shrugged his shoulders. "That is, perhaps, a little odd?"
Jefferson Cope said stiffly: "Let me assure you, Dr. Gerard, there is nothing dishonorable in that friendship. It is purely platonic."
"My dear sir, I am quite sure of that. I repeat, though, that for Mrs. Boynton to encourage that friendship is a curious action on her part. You know, Mr. Cope, Mrs. Boynton interests meshe interests me greatly."
"She is certainly a remarkable woman. She has great force of charactera most prominent personality. As I say Elmer Boynton had the greatest faith in her judgment."
"So much so that he was ******* to leave his children completely at her mercy from the financial point of view. In my country, Mr. Cope, it is impossible by law to do such a thing."
Mr. Cope rose. "In America," he said, "we're great believers in absolute freedom."
Dr. Gerard rose also. He was unimpressed by the remark. He had heard it made before by people of many different nationalities. The illusion that freedom is the prerogative of one's own particular race is fairly widespread.
Dr. Gerard was wiser. He knew that no race, no country and no individual could be described as free. But he also knew that there were different degrees of bondage.
He went up to bed thoughtful and interested.


6
Sarah King stood in the precincts of the Temple, the Haram-esh-Sherif. Her back was to the Dome of the Rock. The splashing of fountains sounded in her ears. Little groups of tourists passed by without disturbing the peace of the oriental atmosphere.
Strange, thought Sarah, that once a Jebusite should have made this rocky summit into a threshing floor and that David should have purchased it for six hundred shekels of gold and made it a Holy Place. And now the loud chattering tongues of sightseers of all nations could be heard . . .
She turned and looked at the Mosque which now covered the shrine and wondered if Solomon's temple would have looked half as beautiful.
There was a clatter of footsteps and a little party came out from the interior of the Mosque. It was the Boyntons escorted by a voluble dragoman. Mrs. Boynton was supported between Lennox and Raymond. Nadine and Mr. Cope walked behind. Carol came last. As they were moving off, the latter caught sight of Sarah.
She hesitated, then, on a sudden decision, she wheeled around and ran swiftly and noiselessly across the courtyard.
"Excuse me," she said breathlessly.
"I must II felt I must speak to you."
"Yes?" said Sarah.
Carol was trembling violently. Her face was quite white. "It's aboutmy brother. When youyou spoke to him last night you must have thought him very rude. But he didn't mean to behehe couldn't help it. Oh, do please believe me."
Sarah felt that the whole scene was ridiculous. Both her pride and her good taste were offended. Why should a strange girl suddenly rush up and tender a ridiculous apology for a boorish brother?
An offhand reply trembled on her lipsand then, quickly, her mood changed. There was something out of the ordinary here. This girl was in deadly earnest. That something in Sarah which had led her to adopt a medical career reacted to the girl's need. Her instinct told her there was something badly wrong.
She said encouragingly: "Tell me about it."
"He spoke to you on the train, didn't he?" began Carol.
Sarah nodded. "Yesat least I spoke to him."
"Oh, of course. It would be that way around. But, you see, last night. Ray was afraid" She stopped.
"Afraid?"
Carol's white face crimsoned. "Oh, I know it sounds absurdmad. You see, my mothershe'sshe's not welland she doesn't like us making friends outside. Butbut I know Ray wouldwould like to be friends with you."
Sarah was interested. Before she could speak, Carol went on. "I know what I'm saying sounds very silly, but we are rather an odd family." She cast a quick look aroundit was a look of fear. "II mustn't stay," she murmured. "They may miss me."
Sarah made up her mind. She spoke. "Why shouldn't you stayif you want to? We might walk back together."
"Oh no." Carol drew back. "II couldn't do that."
"Why not?" said Sarah.
"I couldn't really. My mother would bewould be"
Sarah said clearly and calmly: "I know it's awfully difficult sometimes for parents to realize that their children are grown up. They will go on trying to run their lives for them. But it's a pity, you know, to give in! One must stand up for one's rights."
Carol murmured: "You don't understandyou don't understand in the least. . . ." Her hands twisted together nervously.
Sarah went on: "One gives in sometimes because one is afraid of rows. Rows are very unpleasant, but I think freedom of action is always worth fighting for."
"Freedom?" Carol stared at her. "None of us has ever been free. We never will be."
"Nonsense!" said Sarah clearly.
Carol leaned forward and touched her arm. "Listen. I must try and make you understand! Before her marriage my mothershe's my stepmother reallywas a wardress in a prison. My father was the Governor and he married her. Well, it's been like that ever since. She's gone on being a wardressto us. That's why our life is justbeing in prison!" Her head jerked around again. "They've missed me. II must go."
Sarah caught her by the arm as she was darting off. "One minute. We must meet again and talk."
"I can't. I shan't be able to."
"Yes, you can." She spoke authoritatively. "Come to my room after you go to bed. It's 319. Don't forget; 319." She released her hold. Carol ran off after her family.
Sarah stood staring after her. She awoke from her thoughts to find Dr. Gerard by her side.
"Good morning, Miss King. So you've been talking to Miss Carol Boynton?"
"Yes, we had the most extraordinary conversation. Let me tell you."
She repeated the substance of her conversation with the girl.
Gerard pounced on one point. "Wardress in a prison, was she, that old hippopotamus? That is significant, perhaps."
Sarah said: "You mean that that is the cause of her tyranny? It is the habit of her former profession?"
Gerard shook his head. "No, that is approaching it from the wrong angle. There is some deep underlying compulsion. She does not love tyranny because she has been a wardress. Let us rather say that she became a wardress because she loved tyranny. In my theory it was a secret desire for power over other human beings that led her to adopt that profession."
His face was very grave. "There are such strange things buried down in the unconscious. A lust for powera lust for crueltya savage desire to tear and rendall the inheritance of our past racial memories . . . They are all there, Miss King, all the cruelty and savagery and lust . . . We shut the door on them and deny them conscious life, but sometimes they are too strong."
Sarah shivered. "I know."
Gerard continued: "We see it all around us todayin political creeds, in the conduct of nations. A reaction from humanitarianism, from pity, from brotherly good will. The creeds sound well sometimes, a wise regime, a beneficent governmentbut imposed by forceresting on a basis of cruelty and fear. They are opening the door, these apostles of violence, they are letting out the old savagery, the old delight in cruelty for its own sake! Oh, it is difficult. Man is an animal very delicately balanced. He has one prime necessityto survive. To advance too quickly is as fatal as to lag behind. He must survive! He must, perhaps, retain some of the old savagery, but he must notno, definitely he must notdeify it!"
There was a pause. Then Sarah said: "You think old Mrs. Boynton is a kind of Sadist?"
"I am almost sure of it. I think she rejoices in the infliction of painmental pain, mind you, not physical. That is very much rarer and very much more difficult to deal with. She likes to have control of other human beings and she likes to make them suffer."
"It's pretty beastly," said Sarah.
Gerard told her of his conversation with Jefferson Cope.
"He doesn't realize what is going on?" she said thoughtfully.
"How should he? He is not a psychologist."
"True. He hasn't got our disgusting minds!"
"Exactly. He has a nice, upright, sentimental, normal American mind. He believes in good rather than evil. He sees that the atmosphere of the Boynton family is all wrong, but he credits Mrs. Boynton with misguided devotion rather than active maleficence."
"That must amuse her," said Sarah.
"I should imagine it does!"
Sarah said impatiently: "But why don't they break away? They could."
Gerard shook his head. "No, there you are wrong. They cannot. Have you ever seen the old experiment with a cock? You chalk a line on the floor and put the cock's beak to it. The cock believes he is tied there. He cannot raise his head. So with these unfortunates. She has worked on them, remember, since they were children. And her dominance has been mental. She has hypnotized them to believe that they cannot disobey her. Oh, I know most people would say that was nonsensebut you and I know better. She has made them believe that utter dependence on her is inevitable. They have been in prison so long that if the prison door stood open they would no longer notice! One of them, at least, no longer even wants to be free! And they would all be afraid of freedom."
Sarah asked practically: "What will happen when she dies?"
Gerard shrugged his shoulders. "It depends on how soon that happens. If it happened, well, I think it might not be too late. The boy and the girl are still youngimpressionable. They would become, I believe, normal human beings. With Lennox, possibly, it has gone too far. He looks to me like a man who has parted company with hopehe lives and endures like a brute beast."
Sarah said impatiently: "His wife ought to have done something! She ought to have yanked him out of it."
"I wonder. She may have triedand failed."
"Do you think she's under the spell too?"
Gerard shook his head. "No. I don't think the old lady has any power over her, and for that reason she hates her with a bitter hatred. Watch her eyes."
Sarah frowned. "I can't make her outthe young one, I mean. Does she know what is going on?"
"I think she must have a pretty shrewd idea."
"Hm," said Sarah. "That old woman ought to be murdered! Arsenic in her early morning tea would be my prescription."
Then she said abruptly: "What about the youngest girlthe red-haired one with the rather fascinating vacant smile?"
Gerard frowned. "I don't know. There is something queer there. Ginevra Boynton is the old woman's own daughter, of course."
"Yes. I suppose that would be differentor wouldn't it?"
Gerard said slowly: "I do not believe that when once the mania for power (and the lust for cruelty) has taken possession of a human being that it can spare anybodynot even its nearest and dearest."
He was silent for a moment then he said: "Are you a Christian, Mademoiselle?"
Sarah said slowly: "I don't know. I used to think that I wasn't anything. But nowI'm not sure. I feeloh, I feel that if I could sweep all this away" she made a violent gesture, "all the buildings and the sects and the fierce squabbling churchesthatthat I might see Christ's quiet figure riding into Jerusalem on a donkeyand believe in him."
Dr. Gerard said gravely: "I believe at least in one of the chief tenets of the Christian faith*******ment with a lowly place. I am a doctor and I know that ambitionthe desire to succeedto have powerleads to most ills of the human soul. If the desire is realized it leads to arrogance, violence and final satiety; and if it is deniedah! If it is denied let all the asylums for the insane rise up and give their testimony! They are filled with human beings who were unable to face being mediocre, insignificant, ineffective and who therefore created for themselves ways of escape from reality so to be shut off from life itself forever."
Sarah said abruptly: "It's a pity the old Boynton woman isn't in an asylum."
Gerard shook his head. "Noher place is not there among the failures. It is worse than that. She has succeeded, you see! She has accomplished her dream."
Sarah shuddered.
She cried passionately: "Such things ought not to be!"


7
Sarah wondered very much whether Carol Boynton would keep her appointment that night. On the whole, she rather doubted it. She was afraid that Carol would have a sharp reaction after her semi-confidences of the morning.
Nevertheless, she made her preparations, slipping on a blue satin dressing gown and getting out her little spirit lamp and boiling up water. She was just on the point of giving Carol up (it was after one o'clock) and going to bed, when there was a tap on her door. She opened it and drew quickly back to let Carol come in.
The latter said breathlessly: "I was afraid you might have gone to bed . . ."
Sarah's manner was carefully matter-of-fact. "Oh, no. I was waiting for you. Have some tea, will you? It's real Lapsang Souchong."
She brought over a cup. Carol had been nervous and uncertain of herself. Now she accepted the cup and a biscuit and her manner became calmer.
"This is rather fun," said Sarah, smiling.
Carol looked a little startled.
"Yes," she said doubtfully. "Yes, I suppose it is."
"Rather like the midnight feasts we used to have at school," went on Sarah. "I suppose you didn't go away to school?"
Carol shook her head. "We never left home. We had a governessdifferent governesses. They never stayed long."
"Did you never go away at all?"
"We've lived always in the same house. This coming abroad is the first time I've ever been away."
Sarah said casually: "It must have been a great adventure."
"Oh, it was. Itit's all been like a dream."
"What made youryour stepmother decide to come abroad?"
At the mention of Mrs. Boynton's name, Carol had flinched. Sarah said quickly: "You know, I'm by way of being a doctor. I've just taken my M.B.. Your motheror stepmother ratheris very interesting to meas a case, you know. I should say she was quite definitely a pathological case."
Carol stared. It was clearly a very unexpected point of view to her. Sarah had spoken as she had with deliberate intent. She realized that to her family Mrs. Boynton loomed as a kind of powerful obscene idol. It was Sarah's object to rob her of her more terrifying aspect.
"Yes," she said. "There's a kind of disease ofof grandeurthat gets hold of people. They get very autocratic and insist on everything being done exactly as they say and are altogether very difficult to deal with."
Carol put down her cup. "Oh," she cried, "I'm so glad to be talking to you. You know, I believe Ray and I have been getting quitewell, quite queer. We'd got terribly worked up about things."
"Talking with an outsider is always a good thing," said Sarah. "Inside a family one is apt to get too intense." Then she asked casually: "If you are unhappy, haven't you ever thought of leaving home?"
Carol looked startled. "Oh, no! How could we? II mean, Mother would never allow it."
"But she couldn't stop you," said Sarah gently. "You're over age."
"I'm twenty-three."
"Exactly."
"But still, I don't see howI mean I wouldn't know where to go and what to do." Her tone seemed bewildered. "You see," she said, "we haven't got any money."
"Haven't you any friends you could go to?"
"Friends?" Carol shook her head. "Oh, no, we don't know anyone!"
"Did none of you ever think of leaving home?"
"NoI don't think so. Ohohwe couldn't."
Sarah changed the subject. She found the girl's bewilderment pitiful.
She said: "Are you fond of your stepmother?"
Slowly Carol shook her head. She whispered in a low scared voice: "I hate her. So does Ray . . . We'vewe've often wished she would die."
Again Sarah changed the subject. "Tell me about your elder brother."
"Lennox? I don't know what's the matter with Lennox. He hardly ever speaks now. He goes about in a kind of daydream. Nadine's terribly worried about him."
"You are fond of your sister-in-law?"
"Yes Nadine is different. She's always kind. But she's very unhappy."
"About your brother?"
"Yes."
"Have they been married long?"
"Four years."
"And they've always lived at home?"
"Yes."
Sarah asked: "Does your sister-in-law like that?"
"No." There was a pause. Then Carol said: "There was an awful fuss once about four years ago now. You see, as I told you, none of us ever goes outside the house at home. I mean we go into the grounds, but nowhere else. But Lennox did. He got out at night. He went into Fountain Springsthere was a sort of dance going on. Mother was frightfully angry when she found out. It was terrible. And then, after that, she asked Nadine to come and stay. Nadine was a very distant cousin of father's. She was very poor and was training to be a hospital nurse. She came and stayed with us for a month. I can't tell you how exciting it was to have someone to stay! And she and Lennox fell in love with each other. And Mother said they'd better be married quickly and live on with us."
"And was Nadine willing to do that?"
Carol hesitated. "I don't think she wanted to do that very much, but she didn't really mind. Then, later, she wanted to go awaywith Lennox, of course"
"But they didn't go?" asked Sarah.
"No, Mother wouldn't hear of it." Carol paused and then said: "I don't think she likes Nadine any longer. Nadine is funny. You never know what she's thinking. She tries to help Jinny and Mother doesn't like it."
"Jinny is your younger sister?"
"Yes. Ginevra is her real name."
"Is sheunhappy too?"
Carol shook her head doubtfully. "Jinny's been very queer lately. I don't understand her. You see, she's always been rather delicateandand Mother fusses about her andand it makes her worse. And lately Jinny has been very queer indeed. Sheshe frightens me sometimes. Sheshe doesn't always know what she's doing."
"Has she seen a doctor?"
"No; Nadine wanted her to, but Mother said no, and Jinny got very hysterical and screamed and said she wouldn't see a doctor. But I'm worried about her." Suddenly Carol rose. "I mustn't keep you up. It'sit's very good of you letting me come and talk to you. You must think us very odd as a family."
"Oh, everybody's odd, really," said Sarah lightly. "Come again, will you? And bring your brother, if you like."
"May I really?"
"Yes; we'll do some secret plotting. I'd like you to meet a friend of mine, too; a Dr. Gerard, an awfully nice Frenchman."
The color came into Carol's cheeks. "Oh what fun it sounds. If only Mother doesn't find out!"
Sarah suppressed her original retort and said instead, "Why should she? Good night. Shall we say tomorrow night at the same time?"
"Oh yes. The day after, you see, we may be going away."
"Then let's have a definite date for tomorrow. Good night."
"Good night and thank you."
Carol went out of the room and slipped noiselessly along the corridor. Her own room was on the floor above. She reached it, opened the doorand stood appalled on the threshold.
Mrs. Boynton was sitting in an armchair by the fireplace in a crimson wool dressing gown. A little cry escaped from Carol's lips. "Oh!"
A pair of black eyes bored into hers. "Where have you been, Carol?"
"II"
"Where have you been?" A soft husky voice with that queer menacing undertone in it that always made Carol's heart beat with unreasoning terror.
"To see a Miss KingSarah King."
"The girl who spoke to Raymond the other evening?"
"Yes, Mother."
"Have you made any plans to see her again?"
Carol's lips moved soundlessly. She nodded assent. Frightgreat sickening waves of fright . . .
"When?"
"Tomorrow night."
"You are not to go. You understand?"
"Yes, Mother."
"You promise?"
"Yesyes."
Mrs. Boynton struggled to get up. Mechanically Carol came forward and helped her. Mrs. Boynton walked slowly across the room supporting herself on her stick. She paused in the doorway and looked back at the cowering girl.
"You are to have nothing more to do with this Miss King. You understand?"
"Yes, Mother."
"Repeat it."
"I am to have nothing more to do with her."
"Good."
Mrs. Boynton went out and shut the door.
Stiffly, Carol moved across the bedroom. She felt sick, her whole body felt wooden and unreal. She dropped onto the bed and suddenly she was shaken by a storm of weeping. It was as though a vista had opened before hera vista of sunlight and trees and flowers. . . . Now the black walls had closed around her once more. . . .


8
"Can I speak to you a minute?"
Nadine Boynton turned in surprise, staring into the dark eager face of an entirely unknown young woman.
"Why, certainly." But as she spoke, almost unconsciously she threw a quick nervous glance over her shoulder.
"My name is Sarah King," went on the other.
"Oh, yes?"
"Mrs. Boynton, I'm going to say something rather odd to you. I talked to your sister-in-law for quite a long time the other evening."
A faint shadow seemed to ruffle the serenity of Nadine Boynon's face. "You talked to Ginevra?"
"No, not to Ginevrato Carol."
The shadow lifted.
"Oh, I seeto Carol."
Nadine Boynton seemed pleased, but very much surprised.
"How did you manage that?"
Sarah said: "She came to my roomquite late." She saw the faint raising of the penciled brows on the white forehead. She said, with some embarrassment: "I'm sure it must seem very odd to you."
"No," said Nadine Boynton. "I am very glad. Very glad indeed. It is very nice for Carol to have a friend to talk to."
"Wewe got on very well together." Sarah tried to choose her words carefully. "In fact we arranged toto meet again the following night."
"Yes?"
"But Carol didn't come."
"Didn't she?"
Nadine's voice was coolreflective. Her face, so quiet and gentle, told Sarah nothing.
"No. Yesterday she was passing through the hall. I spoke to her and she didn't answer. Just looked at me once, and then away again, and hurried on."
"I see."
There was a pause. Sarah found it difficult to go on.
Nadine Boynton said presently: "I'mvery sorry. Carol israther a nervous girl."
Again that pause. Sarah took her courage in both hands. "You know, Mrs. Boynton, I'm by way of being a doctor. I thinkI think it would be good for your sister-in-law not tonot to shut herself away too much from people."
Nadine Boynton looked thoughtfully at Sarah. She said: "I see. You're a doctor. That makes a difference."
"You see what I mean?" Sarah urged.
Nadine bent her head. She was still thoughtful. "You are quite right, of course," she said after a minute or two. "But there are difficulties. My mother-in-law is in bad health and she has what I can only describe as a morbid dislike of any outsiders penetrating into her family circle."
Sarah said mutinously: "But Carol is a grown-up woman."
Nadine Boynton shook her head. "Oh no," she said. "In body, but not in mind. If you talked to her you must have noticed that. In an emergency she would always behave like a frightened child."
"Do you think that's what happened? Do you think she becameafraid?"
"I should imagine, Miss King, that my mother-in-law insisted on Carol having nothing more to do with you."
"And Carol gave in?"
Nadine Boynton said quietly: "Can you really imagine her doing anything else?"
The eyes of the two women met. Sarah felt that behind the mask of conventional words, they understood each other. Nadine, she felt, understood the position. But she was clearly not prepared to discuss it in any way. Sarah felt discouraged. The other evening it had seemed to her as though half the battle were won. By means of secret meetings she would imbue Carol with the spirit of revoltyes, and Raymond, too. (Be honest, now; wasn't it Raymond really she had had in mind all along?)
And now, in the very first round of the battle she had been ignominiously defeated by that hulk of shapeless flesh with her evil gloating eyes. Carol had capitulated without a struggle.
"It's all wrong!" cried Sarah.
Nadine did not answer. Something in her silence went home to Sarah like a cold hand laid on her heart. She thought: "This woman knows the hopelessness of it much better than I do. She's lived with it!"
The elevator doors opened. The elder Mrs. Boynton emerged. She leaned on a stick and Raymond supported her on the other side.
Sarah gave a slight start. She saw the old woman's eyes sweep from her to Nadine and back again. She had been prepared for dislike in those eyesfor hatred even. She was not prepared for what she sawa triumphant and malicious enjoyment.
Sarah turned away. Nadine went forward and joined the other two.
"So there you are, Nadine," said Mrs. Boynton. "I'll sit down and rest a little before I go out."
They settled her in a high-backed chair. Nadine sat down beside her.
"Who were you talking to, Nadine?"
"A Miss King."
"Oh, yes. The girl who spoke to Raymond the other night. Well, Ray, why don't you go and speak to her now? She's over there at the writing table."
The old woman's mouth widened into a malicious smile as she looked at Raymond. His face flushed. He turned his head away and muttered something.
"What's that you say, son?"
"I don't want to speak to her."
"No, I thought not. You won't speak to her. You couldn't, however much you wanted to!"
She coughed suddenlya wheezing cough. "I'm enjoying this trip, Nadine," she said. "I wouldn't have missed it for anything."
"No?" Nadine's voice was expressionless.
"Ray."
"Yes, Mother?"
"Get me a piece of notepaperfrom the table over there in the corner."
Raymond went off obediently. Nadine raised her head. She watched, not the boy, but the old woman. Mrs. Boynton was leaning forward, her nostrils dilated as though with pleasure. Ray passed close by Sarah. She looked up, a sudden hope showing in her face. It died down as he brushed past her, took some notepaper from the case and went back across the room.
There were little beads of sweat on his forehead as he rejoined them and his face was dead white. Very softly Mrs. Boynton murmured: "Ah . . ." as she watched his face. Then she saw Nadine's eyes fixed on her. Something in them made her own snap with sudden anger. "Where's Mr. Cope this morning?" she said.
Nadine's eyes dropped again. She answered in her gentle expressionless voice: "I don't know. I haven't seen him."
"I like him," said Mrs. Boynton. "I like him very much. We must see a good deal of him. You'll like that, won't you?"
"Yes," said Nadine. "I, too, like him very much."
"What's the matter with Lennox lately? He seems very dull and quiet. Nothing wrong between you, is there?"
"Oh, no. Why should there be?"
"I wondered. Married people don't always hit it off. Perhaps you'd be happier living in a home of your own?"
Nadine did not answer.
"Well, what do you say to the idea? Does it appeal to you?"
Nadine shook her head. She said, smiling: "I don't think it would appeal to you. Mother."
Mrs. Boynton's eyelids flickered. She said sharply and venomously: "You've always been against me, Nadine."
The younger woman replied evenly: "I'm sorry you should think that."
The old woman's hand closed on her stick. Her face seemed to get a shade more purple. She said, with a change of tone: "I forgot my drops. Get them for me, Nadine."
"Certainly."
Nadine got up and crossed the lounge to the elevator. Mrs. Boynton looked after her. Raymond sat limply in a chair, his eyes glazed with dull misery. Nadine went upstairs and along the corridor. She entered the sitting room of their suite. Lennox was sitting by the window. There was a book in his hand, but he was not reading. He roused himself as Nadine came in. "Hullo, Nadine."
"I've come up for Mother's drops. She forgot them." She went on into Mrs. Boynton's bedroom. From a bottle on the washstand she carefully measured a dose into a small medicine glass, filling it up with water. As she passed through the sitting room again she paused. "Lennox."
It was a moment or two before he answered her. It was as though the message had a long way to travel. Then he said: "I beg your pardon. What is it?"
Nadine Boynton set down the glass carefully on the table. Then she went over and stood beside him. "Lennox, look at the sunshine out there, through the window. Look at life. It's beautiful. We might be out instead of being here looking through a window."
Again there was a pause. Then he said: "I'm sorry. Do you want to go out?"
She answered him quickly: "Yes I want to go outwith youout into the sun! Go out into lifeand livethe two of us together."
He shrank back into his chair. His eyes looked restless, hunted. "Nadine, my dear, must we go into all this again"
"Yes, we must. Let us go away and lead our own life somewhere."
"How can we? We've no money."
"We can earn money."
"How could we? What could we do? I'm untrained. Thousands of menqualified mentrained menare out of jobs as it is. We couldn't manage it."
"I would earn money for both of us."
"My dear child, you've never even completed your training. It's hopelessimpossible."
"No; what is hopeless and impossible is our present life."
"You don't know what you are talking about. Mother is very good to us. She gives us every luxury."
"Except freedom. Lennox, make an effort. Come with me now, today"
"Nadine, I think you're quite mad."
"No, I'm sane. Absolutely and completely sane. I want a life of my own, with you, in the sunshine, not stifled in the shadow of an old woman who is a tyrant and who delights in making you unhappy."
"Mother may be rather an autocrat"
"Your mother is mad! She's insane!"
He answered mildly: "That's not true. She's got a remarkably good head for business."
"Perhapsyes."
"And you must realize, Nadine, she can't live forever. She's sixty-odd and she's in very bad health. At her death my father's money is to be divided equally among us, share and share alike. You remember, she read us the will?"
"When she dies," said Nadine. "It may be too late."
"Too late?"
"Too late for happiness."
Lennox murmured: "Too late for happiness." He shivered suddenly. Nadine went closer to him. She put her hand on his shoulder.
"Lennox, I love you. It's a battle between me and your mother. Are you going to be on her side or mine?"
"On yours, on yours!"
"Then do what I ask."
"It's impossible!"
"No, it's not impossible. Think, Lennox, we could have children . . ."
"Mother wants us to have children, anyway. She has said so."
"I know, but I won't bring children into the world to live in the shadow you have all been brought up in. Your mother can influence you, but she's no power over me."
Lennox murmured: "You make her angry sometimes, Nadine; it isn't wise."
"She is only angry because she knows that she can't influence my mind or dictate my thoughts!"
"I know you are always polite and gentle with her. You're wonderful. You're too good for me. You always have been. When you said you would marry me it was like an unbelievable dream."
Nadine said quietly: "I was wrong to marry you."
Lennox said hopelessly: "Yes, you were wrong."
"You don't understand. What I mean is that if I had gone away then and asked you to follow me you would have done so. Yes, I really believe you would. . . . I was not clever enough then to understand your mother and what she wanted."
She paused, then she said: "You refuse to come away? Well, I can't make you. But I am free to go! I thinkI think I shall go. . . ."
He stared up at her incredulously. For the first time his reply came quickly, as though at last the sluggish current of his thoughts was accelerated. He stammered: "Butbutyou can't do that. MotherMother would never hear of it."
"She couldn't stop me."
"You've no money."
"I could make, borrow, beg or steal it. Understand Lennox, your mother has no power over me! I can go or stay at my will. I am beginning to feel that I have borne this life long enough."
"Nadinedon't leave medon't leave me. . . ."
She looked at him thoughtfullyquietlywith an inscrutable expression.
"Don't leave me, Nadine." He spoke like a child. She turned her head away, so he should not see the sudden pain in her eyes.
She knelt down beside him. "Then come with me. Come with me! You can. Indeed you can if you only will!"
He shrank back from her. "I can't! I can't! I tell you. I haven'tGod help meI haven't the courage. . . ."


9
Dr. Gerard walked into the office of Messrs. Castle the tourist agents, and found Sarah King at the counter.
She looked up.
"Oh, good morning. I'm fixing up my tour to Petra. I've just heard you are going after all."
"Yes, I find I can just manage it."
"How nice."
"Shall we be a large party, I wonder?"
"They say just two other womenand you and me. One car load."
"That will be delightful," said Gerard with a little bow. Then he, in turn, attended to his business. Presently, holding his mail in his hands, he joined Sarah as she stepped out of the office. It was a crisp sunny day, with a slight cold tang in the air.
"What news of our friends, the Boyntons?" asked Dr. Gerard. "I have been to Bethlehem and Nazareth and other placesa tour of three days."
Slowly and rather unwillingly, Sarah narrated her abortive efforts to establish contact. "Anyhow I failed," she finished. "And they're leaving today."
"Where are they going?"
"I've no idea."
She went on vexedly: "I feel, you know, that I've made rather a fool of myself."
"In what way?"
"Interfering in other people's business."
Gerard shrugged his shoulders. "That is a matter of opinion."
"You mean whether one should interfere or not?"
"Yes."
"Do you?"
The Frenchman looked amused. "You mean, is it my habit to concern myself with other people's affairs? I will say to you franklyno."
"Then you think I'm wrong to have tried butting in?"
"No, no, you misunderstand me." Gerard spoke quickly and energetically. "It is, I think, a moot question. Should one, if one sees a wrong being done, attempt to put it right? One's interference may do goodbut it may also do incalculable harm! It is impossible to lay down any ruling on the subject. Some people have a genius for interferencethey do it well! Some people do it clumsily and had therefore better leave it alone! Then there is, too, the question of age. Young people have the courage of their ideals and convictions, their values are more theoretical than practical. They have not experienced, as yet, that fact contradicts theory! If you have a belief in yourself and in the rightness of what you are doing, you can often accomplish things that are well worthwhile! (Incidentally you often do a good deal of harm!) On the other hand, the middle-aged person has experience, he has found that harm as well as, and perhaps more often than, good comes of trying to interfere and so, very wisely, he refrains! So the result is eventhe earnest young do both harm and goodthe prudent middle-aged do neither!"
"All that isn't very helpful," objected Sarah.
"Can one person ever be helpful to another? It is your problem not mine."
"You mean you are not going to do anything about the Boyntons?"
"No. For me, there would be no chance of success."
"Then there isn't for me either?"
"For you, there might be."
"Why?"
"Because you have special qualifications. The appeal of your youth and sex."
"Sex? Oh, I see."
"One comes always back to sex, does one not? You have failed with the girl. It does not follow that you would fail with her brother. What you have just told me, (what the girl Carol told you), shows very clearly the one menace to Mrs. Boynton's autocracy. The eldest son, Lennox, defied her in the force of his young manhood. He played truant from home, went to local dances. The desire of a man for a mate was stronger than the hypnotic spell. But the old woman was quite aware of the power of sex. (She will have seen something of it in her career.) She dealt with it very cleverly, brought a pretty but penniless girl into the house, encouraged a marriage. And so acquired yet another slave."
Sarah shook her head. "I don't think young Mrs. Boynton is a slave."
Gerard agreed. "No, perhaps not. I think that because she was a quiet docile young girl, old Mrs. Boynton underestimated her force of will and character. Nadine Boynton was too young and inexperienced at the time to appreciate the true position. She appreciates it now, but it is too late."
"Do you think she has given up hope?"
Dr. Gerard shook his head doubtfully. "If she has plans no one would know about them. There are, you know, certain possibilities where Cope is concerned. Man is a naturally jealous animaland jealousy is a strong force. Lennox Boynton might still be roused from the inertia in which he is sinking."
"And you think"Sarah purposely made her tone very businesslike and professional"that there's a chance I might be able to do something about Raymond?"
"I do."
Sarah sighed. "I suppose I might have tried Oh, well, it's too late now, anyway. Andand I don't like the idea."
Gerard looked amused. "That is because you are English! The English have a complex about sex. They think it is 'not quite nice.'"
Sarah's indignant response failed to move him. "Yes, yes, I know you are very modern, that you use freely in public the most unpleasant words you can find in the dictionary, that you are professional and entirely uninhibited! Tout de merne, I repeat, you have the same racial characteristics as your mother and your grandmother. You are still the blushing English Miss although you do not blush!"
"I never heard such rubbish!"
Dr. Gerard, a twinkle in his eyes, and quite unperturbed, added: "And it makes you very charming."
This time Sarah was speechless.
Dr. Gerard hastily raised his hat. "I take my leave," he said, "before you have time to begin to say all that you think."
He escaped into the hotel.
Sarah followed him more slowly. There was a good deal of activity going on. Several cars loaded with luggage were in process of departing. Lennox and Nadine Boynton and Mr. Cope were standing by a big saloon car superintending arrangements. A fat dragoman was standing talking to Carol with quite unintelligible fluency.
Sarah passed them and went into the hotel. Mrs. Boynton, wrapped in a thick coat, was sitting in a chair, waiting to depart. Looking at her, a queer revulsion of feeling swept over Sarah.
She had felt that Mrs. Boynton was a sinister figure, an incarnation of evil malignancy. Now, suddenly, she saw the old woman as a pathetic ineffectual figure. To be born with such a lust for power, such a desire for dominion, and to achieve only a petty domestic tyranny! If only her children could see her as Sarah saw her that minutean object of pitya stupid, malignant, pathetic, posturing old woman.
On an impulse Sarah went up to her.
"Goodbye, Mrs. Boynton," she said. "I hope you'll have a nice trip."
The old lady looked at her. Malignancy struggled with outrage in those eyes.
"You've wanted to be very rude to me," said Sarah. (Was she crazy, she wondered? What on earth was urging her on to talk like this?) "You've tried to prevent your son and daughter making friends with me. Don't you think, really, that that is all very silly and childish? You like to make yourself out a kind of ogre, but really, you know, you're just pathetic and rather ludicrous. If I were you I'd give up all this silly play-acting. I expect you'll hate me for saying this, but I mean itand some of it may stick. You know you could have a lot of fun still. It's really much better to be friendly and kind. You could be if you tried."
There was a pause. Mrs. Boynton had frozen into a deadly immobility. At last she passed her tongue over her dry lips, her mouth opened. . . . Still for a moment no words came. "Go on," said Sarah encouragingly. "Say it! It doesn't matter what you say to me. But think over what I've said to you."
The words came at lastin a soft, husky, but penetrating voice. Mrs. Boynton's basilisk eyes looked, not at Sarah, but oddly over her shoulder. She seemed to address, not Sarah, but some familiar spirit.
"I never forget," she said. "Remember that. I've never forgotten anything, not an action, not a name, not a face. . . ." There was nothing in the words themselves, but the venom with which they were spoken made Sarah retreat a step.
And then Mrs. Boynton laughed. It was, definitely, rather a horrible laugh.
Sarah shrugged her shoulders. "You poor old thing," she said. She turned away. As she went towards the elevator she almost collided with Raymond Boynton. On an impulse she spoke quickly: "Goodbye; I hope you'll have a lovely time. Perhaps we'll meet again some day."
She smiled at him, a warm friendly smile, and passed quickly on.
Raymond stood as though turned to stone. So lost in his own thoughts was he that a small man with big moustaches, endeavoring to pass out of the elevator, had to speak several times.
"Pardon."
At last it penetrated. Raymond stepped aside. "So sorry," he said. "II was thinking."
Carol came towards him. "Ray, get Jinny, will you? She went back to her room. We're going to start."
"Right; I'll tell her she's got to come straight away." Raymond walked into the elevator.
Hercule Poirot stood for a moment looking after him, his eyebrows raised, his head a little on one side as though he were listening. Then he nodded his head as though in agreement. Walking through the lounge he took a good look at Carol who had joined her mother. Then he beckoned the head waiter who was passing.
"Pardon, can you tell me the name of those people over there?"
"The name is Boynton, Monsieur; they are Americans."
"Thank you," said Hercule Poirot.
On the third floor Dr. Gerard, going to his room, passed Raymond Boynton and Ginevra walking towards the waiting elevator. Just as they were about to get into it Ginevra said: "Just a minute. Ray; wait for me in the elevator." She ran back, turned a corner, caught up with the walking man. "PleaseI must speak to you."
Dr. Gerard looked up in astonishment. The girl came up close to him and caught his arm. "They're taking me away! They may be going to kill me. . . . I don't really belong to them, you know. My name isn't really Boynton. . . ." She hurried on, her words coming fast and tumbling over each other. "I'll trust you with the secret. I'mI'm Royal, really! I'm the heiress to a throne. That's why there are enemies all around me. They try to poison me, all sorts of things . . . If you could help meto get away" She broke off. Footsteps.
"Jinny"
Beautiful in her sudden startled gesture, the girl put a finger to her lips, threw Gerard an imploring glance, and ran back. "I'm coming, Ray."
Dr. Gerard walked on with his eyebrows raised. Slowly, he shook his head and frowned.


10
It was the morning of the start to Petra.
Sarah came down to find a big masterful woman with a rocking-horse nose whom she had already noticed in the hotel, outside the main entrance objecting fiercely to the size of the car.
"A great deal too small! Four passengers? And a dragoman? Then of course we must have a much larger saloon. Please take that car away and return with one of an adequate size."
In vain did the representative of Messrs. Castle's raise his voice in explanation. That was the size of car always provided. It was really a most comfortable car. A larger car was not so suitable for desert travel. The large woman, metaphorically speaking, rolled over him like a large steamroller. Then she turned her attention to Sarah. "Miss King? I am Lady Westholme. I am sure you agree with me that that car is grossly inadequate as to size?"
"Well," said Sarah cautiously, "I agree that a larger one would be more comfortable!"
The young man from Castle's murmured that a larger car would add to the price.
"The price," said Lady Westholme firmly, "is inclusive and I shall certainly refuse to sanction any addition to it. Your prospectus distinctly states 'in comfortable saloon car.' You will keep to the terms of your agreement."
Recognizing defeat, the young man from Castle's murmured something about seeing what he could do and wilted away from the spot. Lady Westholme turned to Sarah, a smile of triumph on her weather-beaten countenance, her large red rocking-horse nostrils dilated exultantly.
Lady Westholme was a very well-known figure in the English political world. When Lord Westholme, a middle-aged, simple-minded peer, whose only interests in life were hunting, shooting and fishing, was returning from a trip to the United States, one of his fellow passengers was a Mrs. Vansittart. Shortly afterwards Mrs. Vansittart became Lady Westholme. The match was often cited as one of the examples of the danger of ocean voyages. The new Lady Westholme lived entirely in tweeds and stout brogues, bred dogs, bullied the villagers and forced her husband pitilessly into public life. It being borne in upon her, however, that politics was not Lord Westholme's métier in life and never would be, she graciously allowed him to resume his sporting activities and herself stood for Parliament. Being elected with a substantial majority, Lady Westholme threw herself with vigor into political life, being especially active at Question time. Cartoons of her soon began to appear (always a sure sign of success). As a public figure she stood for the old-fashioned values of Family Life, Welfare work amongst Women, and was an ardent supporter of the League of Nations. She had decided views on questions of Agriculture, Housing and Slum Clearance. She was much respected and almost universally disliked! It was highly possible that she would be given an Under Secretaryship when her Party returned to power. At the moment a Liberal Government (owing to a split in the National Government between Labor and Conservatives) was somewhat unexpectedly in power. Lady Westholme looked with grim satisfaction after the departing car. "Men always think they can impose upon women," she said.
Sarah thought that it would be a brave man who thought he could impose upon Lady Westholme! She introduced Dr. Gerard who had just come out of the hotel.
"Your name is, of course, familiar to me," said Lady Westholme, shaking hands. "I was talking to Professor Clemenceaux the other day in Paris. I have been taking up the question of the treatment of pauper lunatics very strongly lately. Very strongly, indeed. Shall we come inside while we wait for a better car to be obtained?"
A vague little middle-aged lady with wisps of gray hair who was hovering near by turned out to be Miss Annabel Pierce, the fourth member of the party. She too was swept into the lounge under Lady Westholme's protecting wing.
"You are a professional woman Miss King?"
"I've just taken my M.B.."
"Good," said Lady Westholme with condescending approval. "If anything is to be accomplished, mark my words, it is women who will do it."
Uneasily conscious for the first time of her sex, Sarah followed Lady Westholme meekly to a seat. There, as they sat waiting, Lady Westholme informed them that she had refused an invitation to stay with the High Commissioner during her stay in Jerusalem.
"I did not want to be hampered by officialdom. I wished to look into things for myself."
"What things?" Sarah wondered.
Lady Westholme went on to explain that she was staying at the Solomon Hotel so as to remain unhampered. She added that she had made several suggestions to the Manager for the more competent running of his hotel.
"Efficiency," said Lady Westholme, "is my Watchword."
It certainly seemed to be! In a quarter of an hour a large and extremely comfortable car arrived and in due courseafter advice from Lady Westholme as to how the luggage should be bestowedthe party set off.
Their first halt was the Dead Sea. They had lunch at Jericho. Afterwards when Lady Westholme armed with a Baedeker had gone off with Miss Pierce, the doctor and the fat dragoman to do a tour of old Jericho, Sarah remained in the garden of the hotel.
Her head ached slightly and she wanted to be alone. A deep depression weighed her downa depression for which she found it hard to account. She felt suddenly listless and uninterested, disinclined for sightseeing, bored by her companions. She wished at this moment that she had never committed herself to this Petra tour. It was going to be very expensive and she felt quite sure she wasn't going to enjoy it! Lady Westholme's booming voice, Miss Pierce's endless twitterings, and the anti-Zionist lamentation of the dragoman were already fraying her nerves to a frazzle. She disliked almost as much Dr. Gerard's amused air of knowing exactly how she was feeling.
She wondered where the Boyntons were nowperhaps they had gone on to Syriathey might be at Baalbek or Damascus. Raymond. She wondered what Raymond was doing. Strange how clearly she could see his face, its eagerness, its diffidence, its nervous tension. . . . Oh! Hell, why go on thinking of people she would probably never see again? That scene the other day with the old womanwhat could have possessed her to march up to the old lady and spurt out a lot of nonsense. Other people must have heard some of it. She fancied that Lady Westholme had been quite close by. Sarah tried to remember exactly what it was she had said. Something that probably sounded quite absurdly hysterical. Goodness, what a fool she had made of herself! But it wasn't her fault reallyit was old Mrs. Boynton's. There was something about her that made you lose your sense of proportion.
Dr. Gerard entered and plumped down in a chair, wiping his hot forehead. "Phew! That woman should be poisoned!" he declared.
Sarah started. "Mrs. Boynton?"
"Mrs. Boynton! No, I meant that Lady Westholme! It is incredible to me that she has had a husband for many years and that he has not already done so. What can he be made of, that husband?"
Sarah laughed. "Oh, he's the 'huntin', fishin', shootin'' kind," she explained.
"Psychologically that is very sound! He appeases his lust to kill on the (so-called) lower creations."
"I believe he is very proud of his wife's activities."
The Frenchman suggested: "Because they take her a good deal away from home? That is understandable." Then he went on. "What did you say just now? Mrs. Boynton? Undoubtedly it would be a very good idea to poison her, too. Undeniably the simplest solution of that family problem! In fact, a great many women would be better poisoned. All women who have grown old and ugly." He made an expressive face.
Sarah cried out, laughing: "Oh, you Frenchmen! You've got no use for any woman who isn't young and attractive."
Gerard shrugged his shoulders. "We are more honest about it, that is all. Englishmen, they do not get up in tubes and trains for ugly womenno, no."
"How depressing life is," said Sarah with a sigh.
"There is no need for you to sigh. Mademoiselle."
"Well, I feel thoroughly disgruntled today."
"Naturally."
"What do you meannaturally?" snapped Sarah.
"You could find the reason very easily if you examine your state of mind honestly."
"I think it's our fellow travelers who depress me," said Sarah. "It's awful, isn't it, but I do hate women! When they're inefficient and idiotic like Miss Pierce, they infuriate me, and when they're efficient like Lady Westholme, they annoy me more still."
"It is, I should say, unavoidable that these two people should annoy you. Lady Westholme is exactly fitted to the life she leads and is completely happy and successful. Miss Pierce has worked for years as a nursery governess and has suddenly come into a small legacy which has enabled her to fulfill her lifelong wish and travel. So far, travel has lived up to her expectations. Consequently you, who have just been thwarted in obtaining what you want, naturally resent the existence of people who have been more successful in life than you are."
"I suppose you're right," said Sarah gloomily. "What a horribly accurate mind reader you are. I keep trying to humbug myself and you won't let me."
At this moment the others returned. The guide seemed the most exhausted of the three. He was quite subdued and hardly exuded any information on the way to Amman. He did not even mention the Jews. For which everyone was profoundly grateful. His voluble and frenzied account of their iniquities had done much to try everyone's temper on the journey from Jerusalem.
Now the road wound upward from the Jordan, twisting and turning with clumps of oleanders showing rose-colored flowers.
They reached Amman late in the afternoon and after a short visit to the Graeco-Roman theatre, went to bed early. They were to make an early start the next morning as it was a full day's motor run across the desert to Ma'an.
They left soon after eight o'clock. The party was inclined to be silent. It was a hot airless day and by noon when a halt was made for a picnic lunch to be eaten, it was really, stiflingly hot. The irritation on a hot day of being boxed up closely with four other human beings had got a little on everyone's nerves.
Lady Westholme and Dr. Gerard had a somewhat irritable argument over the League of Nations. Lady Westholme was a fervent supporter of the League. The Frenchman, on the other hand, chose to be witty at the League's expense. From the attitude of the League concerning Abyssinia and Spain they passed to the Lithuania boundary dispute of which Sarah had never heard and from there to the activities of the League in suppressing dope gangs.
"You must admit they have done wonderful work. Wonderful!" snapped Lady Westholme.
Dr. Gerard shrugged his shoulders. "Perhaps. And at wonderful expense, too!"
"The matter is a very serious one. Under the Dangerous Drugs Act" The argument waged on.
Miss Pierce twittered to Sarah: "It is really most interesting traveling with Lady Westholme."
Sarah said acidly: "Is it?" but Miss Pierce did not notice the acerbity and twittered happily on: "I've so often seen her name in the papers. So clever of women to go into public life and hold their own. I'm always so glad when a woman accomplishes something!"
"Why?" demanded Sarah ferociously.
Miss Pierce's mouth fell open and she stammered a little. "Oh, becauseI meanjust becausewellit's so nice that women are able to do things!"
"I don't agree," said Sarah. "It's nice when any human being is able to accomplish something worthwhile! It doesn't matter a bit whether it's a man or a woman. Why should it?"
"Well, of course" said Miss Pierce. "YesI confessof course, looking at it in that light" But she looked slightly wistful. Sarah said more gently: "I'm sorry, but I do hate this differentiation between the sexes. 'The modern girl has a thoroughly businesslike attitude to life!' That sort of thing. It's not a bit true! Some girls are businesslike and some aren't. Some men are sentimental and muddle-headed, others are clear-headed and logical. There are just different types of brains. Sex only matters where sex is directly concerned."
Miss Pierce flushed a little at the word sex and adroitly changed the subject. "One can't help wishing that there were a little shade," she murmured. "But I do think all this emptiness is so wonderful, don't you?"
Sarah nodded. Yes, she thought, the emptiness was marvelous . . . Healing . . . Peaceful . . . No human beings to agitate one with their tiresome inter-relationships . . . No burning personal problems! Now, at last, she felt, she was free of the Boyntons. Free of that strange compelling wish to interfere in the lives of people whose orbit did not remotely touch her own. She felt soothed and at peace. Here was loneliness, emptiness, spaciousness . . . In fact, peace . . . Only, of course, one wasn't alone to enjoy it. Lady Westholme and Dr. Gerard had finished with drugs and were now arguing about guileless young women who were exported in a sinister manner to Argentinean cabarets. Dr. Gerard had displayed throughout the conversation a levity which Lady Westholme, who, being a true politician, had no sense of humor, found definitely deplorable.
"We go on now, yes?" announced the tar-bushed dragoman and began to talk about the iniquities of Jews again.
It was about an hour off sunset when they reached Ma'an at last. Strange wild-faced men crowded around the car. After a short halt they went on. Looking over the flat desert country Sarah was at a loss as to where the rocky stronghold of Petra could be. Surely they could see for miles and miles all around them? There were no mountains, no hills anywhere. Were they then still many miles from their journey's end?
They reached the village of Am Musa where the cars were to be left. Here horses were waiting for themsorry looking thin beasts. The inadequacy of her striped wash frock disturbed Miss Pierce greatly. Lady Westholme was sensibly attired in riding breeches, not perhaps a particularly becoming style to her type of figure, but certainly practical.
The horses were led out of the village along a slippery path with loose stones. The ground fell away and the horses zigzagged down. The sun was close on setting.
Sarah was very tired with the long hot journey in the car. Her senses felt dazed. The ride was like a dream. It seemed to her afterwards that it was like the pit of Hell opening at one's feet. The way wound downdown into the ground. The shapes of rock rose up around them, down, down into the bowels of the earth, through a labyrinth of red cliffs. They towered now on either side. Sarah felt stifled, menaced by the ever-narrowing gorge. She thought confusedly to herself: "Down into the valley of deathdown into the valley of death. . . ."
On and on. It grew dark, the vivid red of the walls faded, and still on, winding in and out, imprisoned, lost in the bowels of the earth.
She thought: "It's fantastic and unbelievable . . . a dead city."
And again like a refrain came the words: "The valley of death. . . ."
Lanterns were lit now. The horses wound along through the narrow ways. Suddenly they came out into a wide spacethe cliffs receded. Far ahead of them was a cluster of lights.
"That is camp!" said the guide.
The horses quickened their pace a littlenot very muchthey were too starved and dispirited for that, but they showed just a shade of enthusiasm. Now the way ran along a gravelly waterbed. The lights grew nearer. They could see a cluster of tents, a higher row up against the face of a cliff. Caves, too, hollowed out in the rock.
They were arriving. Bedouin servants came running out.
Sarah stared up at one of the caves. It held a sitting figure. What was it? An idol? A gigantic squatting image?
No, that was the flickering lights that made it loom so large. But it must be an idol of some kind, sitting there immovable, brooding over the place. . . . And then, suddenly, her heart gave a leap of recognition.
Gone was the feeling of peaceof escapethat the desert had given her. She had been led from freedom back into captivity. She had ridden down into this dark winding valley and here, like an arch priestess of some forgotten cult, like a monstrous swollen female Buddha, sat Mrs. Boynton. . . .


11
Mrs. Boynton was here, at Petra!
Sarah answered mechanically questions that were addressed to her. Would she have dinner straight awayit was readyor would she like to wash first? Would she prefer to sleep in a tent or a cave?
Her answer to that came quickly. A tent. She flinched at the thought of a cave; the vision of that monstrous squatting figure recurred to her. (Why was it that something about the woman seemed hardly human?) Finally she followed one of the native servants. He wore khaki breeches much patched and untidy puttees and a ragged coat very much the worse for wear. On his head the native headdress, the cheffiyah, its long folds protecting the neck and secured in place with a black silk twist fitting tightly to the crown of his head. Sarah admired the easy swing with which he walked, the careless proud carriage of his head. Only the European part of his costume seemed tawdry and wrong. She thought: "Civilization's all wrongall wrong! But for civilization there wouldn't be a Mrs. Boynton! In savage tribes they'd probably have killed and eaten her years ago!"
She realized, half humorously, that she was overtired and on edge. A wash in hot water and a dusting of powder over her face and she felt herself againcool, poised, and ashamed of her recent panic.
She passed a comb through her thick black hair, squinting sideways at her reflection in the wavering light of a small oil lamp in a very inadequate glass.
Then she pushed aside the tent flap and came out into the night prepared to descend to the big marquee below.
"Youhere?"
It was a low crydazed, incredulous. She turned to look straight into Raymond Boynton's eyes. So amazed they were! And something in them held her silent and almost afraid. Such an unbelievable joy. . . . It was as though he had seen a vision of Paradisewondering, dazed, thankful, humble! Never, in all her life, was Sarah to forget that look. So might the damned look up and see Paradise. . . .
He said again: "You . . ."
It did something to herthat low vibrant tone. It made her heart turn over in her breast. It made her feel shy, afraid, humble and yet suddenly arrogantly glad.
She said quite simply: "Yes."
He came nearerstill dazedstill only half believing. Then suddenly he took her hand. "It is you," he said. "You're real. I thought at first you were a ghostbecause I'd been thinking about you so much." He paused and then said: "I love you, you know. . . . I have from the moment I saw you in the train. I know that now. And I want you to know it so thatso that you'll know it isn't methe real mewhowho behaves so caddishly. You see, I can't answer for myself even now. I might doanything! I might pass you by or cut youbut I do want you to know that it isn't methe real mewho is responsible for that. It's my nerves. I can't depend on them. . . . When she tells me to do thingsI do them! My nerves make me! You will understand, won't you? Despise me if you have to"
She interrupted him. Her voice was low and unexpectedly sweet. "I won't despise you."
"All the same, I'm pretty despicable! I ought toto be able to behave like a man."
It was partly an echo of Gerard's advice, but more out of her own knowledge and hope that Sarah answeredand behind the sweetness of her voice there was a ring of certainty and conscious authority. "You will now."
"Shall I?" His voice was wistful. "Perhaps. . . ."
"You'll have courage now. I'm sure of it."
He drew himself upflung back his head. "Courage? Yesthat's all that's needed. Courage!"
Suddenly he bent his head, touched her hand with his lips. A minute later he had left her.


12
Sarah went down to the big marquee. She found her three fellow travelers there. They were sitting at table eating. The guide was explaining that there was another party here.
"They come two days ago. Go day after tomorrow. Americans. The mother very fat, very difficult get here! Carried in chair by bearersthey say very hard workthey get very hotyes."
Sarah gave a sudden spurt of laughter. Of course, take it properly, the whole thing was funny! The fat dragoman looked at her gratefully. He was not finding his task too easy. Lady Westholme had contradicted him out of Baedeker three times that day and had now found fault with the type of bed provided. He was grateful to the one member of his party who seemed to be unaccountably in a good temper.
"Ha!" said Lady Westholme. "I think these people were at the Solomon. I recognized the old mother as we arrived here. I think I saw you talking to her at the hotel. Miss King."
Sarah blushed guiltily, hoping Lady Westholme had not overheard much of that conversation.
"Really, what possessed me!" she thought to herself in an agony. In the meantime Lady Westholme had made a pronouncement.
"Not interesting people at all. Very provincial," she said.
Miss Pierce made eager sycophantish noises and Lady Westholme embarked on a history of various interesting and prominent Americans whom she had met recently. The weather being so unusually hot for the time of year, an early start was arranged for the morrow.
The four assembled for breakfast at six o'clock. There were no signs of any of the Boynton family. After Lady Westholme had commented unfavorably on the absence of fruit, they consumed tea, tinned milk and fried eggs in a generous allowance of fat, flanked by extremely salty bacon.
Then they started forth. Lady Westholme and Dr. Gerard discussing with animation on the part of the former the exact value of vitamins in diet and the proper nutrition of the working classes.
Then there was a sudden hail from the camp and they halted to allow another person to join the party. It was Mr. Jefferson Cope who hurried after them, his pleasant face flushed with the exertion of running.
"Why, if you don't mind, I'd like to join your party this morning. Good morning, Miss King. Quite a surprise meeting you and Dr. Gerard here. What do you think of it?" He made a gesture indicating the fantastic red rocks that stretched in every direction.
"I think it's rather wonderful and just a little horrible," said Sarah. "I always thought of it as romantic and dreamlikethe 'rose red city.' But it's much more real than thatit's as real asas raw beef."
"And very much the color of it," agreed Mr. Cope.
"But it's marvelous, too," admitted Sarah.
The party began to climb. Two Bedouin guides accompanied them. Tall men, with an easy carriage, they swung upward unconcernedly in their hobnailed boots, completely foot-sure on the slippery slope. Difficulties soon began. Sarah had a good head for ******s and so had Dr. Gerard. But both Mr. Cope and Lady Westholme were far from happy, and the unfortunate Miss Pierce had to be almost carried over the precipitous places, her eyes shut, her face green, while her voice rose ceaselessly in a perpetual wail: "I never could look down places. Neverfrom a child!"
Once she declared her intention of going back, but on turning to face the descent, her skin assumed an even greener tinge, and she reluctantly decided that to go on was the only thing to be done.
Dr. Gerard was kind and reassuring. He went up behind her, holding his stick between her and the sheer drop like a balustrade, and she confessed that the illusion of a rail did much to conquer the feeling of vertigo.
Sarah, panting a little, asked the dragoman, Mahmoud, who in spite of his ample proportions showed no signs of distress: "Don't you ever have trouble getting people up here? Elderly ones, I mean."
"Alwaysalways we have trouble," agreed Mahmoud serenely.
"Do you always try and take them?"
Mahmoud shrugged his thick shoulders. "They like to come. They have paid money to see these things. They wish to see them. The Bedouin guides are very cleververy surefootedalways they manage."
They arrived at last at the summit. Sarah drew a deep breath. All around and below stretched the blood-red rocksa strange and unbelievable country unparalleled anywhere. Here in the exquisite pure morning air, they stood like gods, surveying a baser worlda world of flaring violence.
Here was, as the guide told them, the "Place of Sacrifice"the "High Place."
He showed them the trough cut in the flat rock at their feet. Sarah strayed away from the rest, from the glib phrases that flowed so readily from the dragoman's tongue. She sat on a rock, pushed her hands through her thick black hair, and gazed down on the world at her feet. Presently she was aware of someone standing by her side.
Dr. Gerard's voice said: "You appreciate the appositeness of the devil's temptation in the New Testament. Satan took Our Lord up to the summit of a mountain and showed him the world. 'All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.' How much greater the temptation up on high to be a God of Material Power."
Sarah assented, but her thoughts were so clearly elsewhere that Gerard observed her in some surprise. "You are pondering something very deeply," he said.
"Yes, I am." She turned a perplexed face to him. "It's a wonderful ideato have a place of sacrifice up here. I think, sometimes, don't you, that a sacrifice is necessary. . . . I mean, one can have too much regard for life. Death isn't really so important as we make out."
"If you feel that, Miss King, you should not have adopted our profession. To us, death isand must always bethe Enemy."
Sarah shivered. "Yes, I suppose you're right. And yet, so often, death might solve a problem. It might even mean fuller life. . . ."
"'It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people!'" quoted Gerard gravely.
Sarah turned a startled face on him. "I didn't mean"
She broke off. Jefferson Cope was approaching them. "Now this is really a most remarkable spot," he declared. "Most remarkable, and I'm only too pleased not to have missed it. I don't mind confessing that though Mrs. Boynton is certainly a most remarkable woman. I greatly admire her pluck in being determined to come here. It does certainly complicate matters traveling with her. Her health is poor, and I suppose it naturally makes |her a little inconsiderate of other people's feelings, but it does not seem to occur to her that her family might like occasionally to go on excursions without her. She's just so used to them clustering round her that I suppose she doesn't think" Mr. Cope broke off. His nice kindly face looked a little disturbed and uncomfortable, "You know," he said, "I heard a piece of information about Mrs. Boynton that disturbed me greatly."
Sarah was lost in her own thoughts again. Mr. Cope's voice just flowed pleasantly in her ears like the agreeable murmur of a remote stream, but Dr. Gerard said: "Indeed? What was it?"
"My informant was a lady I came across in the hotel at Tiberias. It concerned a servant girl who had been in Mrs. Boynton's employ. This girl, I gather, washad" Mr. Cope paused, glanced delicately at Sarah and lowered his voice. "She was going to have a child. The old lady, it seemed, discovered this but was apparently quite kind to the girl. Then a few weeks before the child was born she turned her out of the house."
Dr. Gerard's eyebrows went up. "Ah," he said reflectively.
"My informant seemed very positive of her facts. I don't know whether you agree with me, but that seems to me a very cruel and heartless thing to do. I cannot understand"
Dr. Gerard interrupted him. "You should try to. That incident, I have no doubt, gave Mrs. Boynton a good deal of quiet enjoyment."
Mr. Cope turned a shocked face on him. "No, sir," he said with emphasis. "That I cannot believe. Such an idea is quite inconceivable."
Softly Dr. Gerard quoted: "'So I returned and did consider all the oppressions done beneath the sun. And there was weeping and whining from those that were oppressed and had no comfort; for with their oppressors there was power, so that no one came to comfort them. Then I did praise the dead which are already dead, yea, more than the living which linger still in life; yea, he that is not is better than dead or living; for he doth not know of the evil that is wrought forever on earth. . . .'" He broke off and said: "My dear sir, I have made a life's study of the strange things that go on in the human mind. It is no good turning one's face only to the fairer side of life. Below the decencies and conventions of everyday life, there lies a vast reservoir of strange things. There is such a thing, for instance, as delight in cruelty for its own sake. But when you have found that, there is something deeper still. The desire, profound and pitiful, to be appreciated. If that is thwarted, if through an unpleasing personality a human being is unable to get the response it needs, it turns to other methodsit must be feltit must countand so to innumerable strange perversions. The habit of cruelty, like any other habit, can be cultivated, can take hold of one"
Mr. Cope coughed. "I think, Dr. Gerard, that you are slightly exaggerating. Really, the air up here is too wonderful. . . ." He edged away. Gerard smiled a little. He looked again at Sarah. She was frowningher face was set in a youthful sternness. She looked, he thought, like a young judge delivering sentence. . . .
He turned as Miss Pierce tripped unsteadily towards him.
"We are going down now," she fluttered. "Oh, dear! I am sure I shall never manage it, but the guide says the way down is quite a different route and much easier. I do hope so, because from a child I never have been able to look down from ******s. . . ."
The descent was down the course of a waterfall. Although there were loose stones which were a possible source of danger to ankles, it presented no dizzy vistas.
The party arrived back at the camp weary but in good spirits and with an excellent appetite for a late lunch. It was past two o'clock. The Boynton family was sitting around the big table in the marquee. They were just finishing their meal.
Lady Westholme addressed a gracious sentence to them in her most condescending manner. "Really a most interesting morning," she said. "Petra is a wonderful spot."
Carol, to whom the words seemed addressed, shot a quick look at her mother, and murmured: "Oh, yesyes, it is," and relapsed into silence.
Lady Westholme, feeling she had done her duty, addressed herself to her food. As they ate, the four discussed plans for the afternoon.
"I think I shall rest most of the afternoon," said Miss Pierce. "It is important, I think, not to do too much."
"I shall go for a walk and explore," said Sarah. "What about you Dr. Gerard?"
"I will go with you."
Mrs. Boynton dropped a spoon with a ringing clatter and everyone jumped.
"I think," said Lady Westholme, "that I shall follow your example Miss Pierce. Perhaps half an hour with a book, then I shall lie down and take an hour's rest at least. After that, perhaps, a short stroll."
Slowly, with the help of Lennox, old Mrs. Boynton struggled to her feet. She stood for a moment and then spoke. "You'd better all go for a walk this afternoon," she said with unexpected amiability.
It was, perhaps, slightly ludicrous to see the startled faces of her family.
"But, Mother, what about you?"
"I don't need any of you. I like sitting alone with my book. Jinny had better not go. She'll lie down and have a sleep."
"Mother, I'm not tired. I want to go with the others."
"You are tired. You've got a headache! You must be careful of yourself. Go and lie down and sleep. I know what's best for you."
Her head thrown back, the girl stared rebelliously. Then her eyes droppedfaltered. . . .
"Silly child," said Mrs. Boynton. "Go to your tent."
She stumped out of the marqueethe others followed.
"Dear me," said Miss Pierce. "What very peculiar people. Such a very odd color, the mother. Quite purple. Heart, I should imagine. This heat must be very trying for her."
Sarah thought: "She's letting them go free this afternoon. She knows Raymond wants to be with me. Why? Is it a trap?"
After lunch, when she had gone to her tent and had changed into a fresh linen dress, the thought still worried her. Since last night, her feeling towards Raymond had swelled into a passion of protective tenderness. This, then, was love, this agony on another's behalf, this desire to avert, at all costs, pain from the beloved. . . . Yes, she loved Raymond Boynton. It was St. George and the Dragon reversed. It was she who was the rescuer and Raymond who was the chained victim.
And Mrs. Boynton was the Dragon. A dragon whose sudden amiability was, to Sarah's suspicious mind, definitely sinister.
It was about a quarter past three when Sarah strolled down to the marquee.
Lady Westholrne was sitting on a chair. Despite the heat of the day she was still wearing her serviceable Harris tweed skirt. On her lap was the report of a Royal Commission. Dr. Gerard was talking to Miss Pierce who was standing by her tent holding a book entitled The Love Quest and described on its wrapper as a thrilling tale of passion and misunderstanding.
"I don't think it's wise to lie down too soon after lunch," explained Miss Pierce. "One's digestion, you know. Quite cool and pleasant in the shadow of the marquee. Oh, dear, do you think that old lady is wise to sit in the sun up there?"
They all looked at the ridge in front of them. Mrs. Boynton was sitting as she had sat last night, a motionless Buddha in the door of her cave. There was no other human creature in sight. All the camp personnel were asleep. A short distance away, following the line of the valley, a little group of people walked together.
"For once," said Dr. Gerard, "the good Mamma permits them to enjoy themselves without her. A new devilment on her part, perhaps?"
"Do you know," said Sarah, "that's just what I thought."
"What suspicious minds we have. Come, let us join the truants."
Leaving Miss Pierce to her exciting reading, they set off. Once around the bend of the valley, they caught up the other party who were walking slowly. For once, the Boyntons looked happy and carefree.
Lennox and Nadine, Carol and Raymond, Mr. Cope with a broad smile on his face and the last arrivals, Gerard and Sarah, were soon all laughing and talking together.
A sudden wild hilarity was born. In everyone's mind was the feeling that this was a snatched pleasurea stolen treat to enjoy to the full. Sarah and Raymond did not draw apart. Instead, Sarah walked with Carol and Lennox. Dr. Gerard chatted to Raymond close behind them. Nadine and Jefferson Cope walked a little apart.
It was the Frenchman who broke up the party. His words had been coming spasmodically for some time. Suddenly he stopped.
"A thousand excuses. I fear I must go back."
Sarah looked at him. "Anything the matter?"
He nodded. "Yes, fever. It's been coming on ever since lunch."
Sarah scrutinized him. "Malaria?"
"Yes. I'll go back and take quinine. Hope this won't be a bad attack. It is a legacy from a visit to the Congo."
"Shall I come with you?" asked Sarah.
"No, no. I have my case of drugs with me. A confounded nuisance. Go on, all of you."
He walked quickly back in the direction of the camp. Sarah looked undecidedly after him for a minute, then she met Raymond's eyes, smiled at him, and the Frenchman was forgotten.
For a time the six of them, Carol, herself, Lennox, Cope, Nadine and Raymond, kept together. Then, somehow or other, she and Raymond had drifted apart. They walked on, climbing up rocks, turning ledges and rested at last in a shady spot. There was a silence. Then Raymond said: "What's your name? It's King, I know. But your other name."
"Sarah."
"Sarah. May I call you that?"
"Of course."
"Sarah, will you tell me something about yourself?"
Leaning back against the rocks she talked, telling him of her life at home in Yorkshire, of her dogs and the aunt who had brought her up.
Then, in his turn, Raymond told her a little, disjointedly, of his own life. After that, there was a long silence. Their hands strayed together. They sat, like children, hand in hand, strangely *******.
Then, as the sun grew lower, Raymond stirred. "I'm going back now," he said. "No, not with you. I want to go back by myself. There's something I have to say and do. Once that's done, once I've proved to myself that I'm not a cowardthenthenI shan't be ashamed to come to you and ask you to help me. I shall need help, you know. I shall probably have to borrow money from you."
Sarah smiled. "I'm glad you're a realist. You can count on me."
"But first I've got to do this alone."
"Do what?"
The young boyish face grew suddenly stern. Raymond Boynton said: "I've got to prove my courage. It's now or never." Then, abruptly, he turned and strode away.
Sarah leaned back against the rock and watched his receding figure. Something in his words had vaguely alarmed her. He had seemed so intenseso terribly in earnest and strung up. For a moment she wished she had gone with him. . . . But she rebuked herself sternly for that wish. Raymond had desired to stand alone, to test his newfound courage. That was his right.
But she prayed with all her heart that that courage would not fail. . . .
The sun was setting when Sarah came once more in sight of the camp. As she came nearer in the dim light, she could make out the grim figure of Mrs. Boynton still sitting in the mouth of the cave. Sarah shivered a little at the sight of that grim motionless figure. . . .
She hurried past on the path below and came into the lighted marquee.
Lady Westholme was sitting knitting a navy blue jumper, a skein of wool hung around her neck. Miss Pierce was embroidering a table mat with anemic blue forget-me-nots, and being instructed on the proper reform of the Divorce Laws.
The servants came in and out preparing for the evening meal. The Boyntons were at the far end of the marquee in deck chairs reading. Mahmoud appeared, fat and dignified, and was plaintively reproachful. Very nice after tea ramble had been arranged to take place but everyone absent from camp. . . . The programme was now entirely thrown out. Very instructive visit to Nabatean architecture.
Sarah said hastily that they had all enjoyed themselves very much. She went off to her tent to wash for supper. On the way back she paused by Dr. Gerard's tent, calling in a low voice: "Dr. Gerard!"
There was no answer. She lifted the flap and looked in. The doctor was lying motionless on his bed. Sarah withdrew noiselessly, hoping he was asleep. A servant came to her and pointed to the marquee. Evidently supper was ready. She strolled down again.
Everyone was assembled there around the table with the exception of Dr. Gerard and Mrs. Boynton. A servant was dispatched to tell the old lady dinner was ready. Then there was a sudden commotion outside. Two frightened servants came in and spoke excitedly to the dragoman in Arabic.
Mahmoud looked around him in a flustered manner and went outside. On an impulse Sarah joined him.
"What's the matter?" she asked.
Mahmoud replied: "The old lady. Abdul says she is illcannot move."
"I'll come and see."
Sarah quickened her step. Following Mahmoud, she climbed the rocks and walked along until she came to the squat lounging chair, touched the puffy hand, felt for the pulse, bent over her. . . .
When she straightened herself she was paler. She re-trod her steps back to the marquee. In the doorway she paused a minute, looking at the group at the far end of the table.
Her voice when she spoke sounded to herself brusque and unnatural. "I'm so sorry," she said. She forced herself to address the head of the family, Lennox. "Your mother is dead, Mr. Boynton."
And curiously, as though from a great distance, she watched the faces of five people to whom that announcement meant freedom. . . .


Book Two
1
Colonel Carbury smiled across the table at his guest and lifted his glass. "Well, to crime!"
Hercule Poirot's eyes twinkled in acknowledgment of the toast.
He had come to Amman with a letter of introduction to Colonel Carbury from Colonel Race.
Carbury seemed interested to see this world-famous investigator person [a few unreadable pages here] Yet in Transjordania he was a power.
"There s Jerash," he said. "Care about that sort of thing?"
"I am interested in everything!"
"Yes" said Carbury. "That's the only way to react to life."
"Tell me, d'you ever find your own special job has a way of following you around?"
"Pardon?"
"Wellto put it plainlydo you come to places expecting a holiday from crimeand find instead bodies cropping up?"
"It has happened, yesmore than once."
"Hm," said Colonel Carbury, and looked particularly abstracted. Then he roused himself with a jerk. "Got a body now I'm not very happy about," he said.
"Indeed?"
"Yes. Here in Amman. Old American woman. Went to Petra with her family. Trying journey, unusual heat for time of year, old woman suffered from heart trouble, difficulties of the journey a bit harder for her than she imagined, extra strain on heartshe popped off!"
"Herein Amman?"
"No, down at Petra. They brought the body here today."
"Ah!"
"All quite natural. Perfectly possible. Likeliest thing in the world to happen. Only"
"Yes? Only?"
Colonel Carbury scratched his bald head. "I've got the idea," he said, "that her family did her in!"
"Aha! And what makes you think that?"
Colonel Carbury did not reply to that question directly. "Unpleasant old woman, it seems. No loss. General feeling all around that her popping off was a good thing. Anyway, very difficult to prove anything so long as the family stick together and if necessary lie like hell. One doesn't want complicationsor international unpleasantness. Easiest thing to dolet it go! Nothing really to look upon. Knew a doctor chap once. He told meoften had suspicions in cases of his patientshurried into the next world a little ahead of time! He saidbest thing to do keep quiet unless you really had something damned good to go upon! Otherwise beastly stink, case not proved, black mark against an earnest hard-working G.P.. Something in that. All the same" He scratched his head again. "I'm a tidy man," he said unexpectedly.
Colonel Carbury's tie was under his left ear, his socks were wrinkled, his coat was stained and torn. Yet Hercule Poirot did not smile. He saw, clearly enough, the inner neatness of Colonel Carbury's mind, his neatly docketed facts, his carefully sorted impressions.
"Yes. I'm a tidy man," said Carbury. He waved a vague hand. "Don't like a mess. When I come across a mess I want to clear it up. See?"
Hercule Poirot nodded gravely. He saw. "There was no doctor down there?" he asked.
"Yes, two. One of 'em was down with malaria, though. The other's a girljust out of the medical student stage. Still, she knows her job, I suppose. There wasn't anything odd about the death. Old woman had got a dicky heart. She'd been taking heart medicine for some time. Nothing really surprising about her conking out suddenly like she did."
"Then what, my friend, is worrying you?" asked Poirot gently.
Colonel Carbury turned a harassed blue eye on him. "Heard of a Frenchman called Gerard? Theodore Gerard?"
"Certainly. A very distinguished man in his own line."
"Loony bins," confirmed Colonel Carbury. "Passion for a charwoman at the age of four makes you insist you're the Archbishop of Canterbury when you're thirty-eight. Can't see why and never have, but these chaps explain it very convincingly."
"Dr. Gerard is certainly an authority on certain forms of deep-seated neurosis," agreed Poirot with a smile. "Iserareerhis views on the happening at Petra based on that line of argument?"
Colonel Carbury shook his head vigorously. "No, no. Shouldn't have worried about them if they had been! Not, mind you, that I don't believe it's all true. It's just one of those things I don't understandlike one of my Bedouin fellows who can get out of a car in the middle of a flat desert, feel the ground with his hand and tell you to within a mile or two where you are. It isn't magic, but it looks like it. No, Dr. Gerard's story is quite straightforward. Just plain facts. I think, if you're interestedyou are interested?"
"Yes, yes."
"Good man. Then I think I'll just phone over and get Gerard along here and you can hear his story for yourself."
When the Colonel had dispatched an orderly on this quest, Poirot said: "Of what does this family consist?"
"Name's Boynton. There are two sons, one of 'em married. His wife's a nice-looking girlthe quiet sensible kind. And there are two daughters. Both of 'em quite good-looking in totally different styles. Younger one a bit nervybut that may be just shock."
"Boynton," said Poirot. His eyebrows rose. "That is curiousvery curious."
Carbury cocked an inquiring eye at him. But as Poirot said nothing more, he himself went on: "Seems pretty obvious mother was a pest! Had to be waited on hand and foot and kept the whole lot of them dancing attendance. And she held the purse strings. None of them had a penny of their own."
"Aha! All very interesting. Is it known how she left her money?"
"I did just slip that question incasual like, you know. It gets divided equally among the lot of them."
Poirot nodded his head. Then he asked: "You are of opinion that they are all in it?"
"Don't know. That's where the difficulty's going to lie. Whether it was a concerted effort, or whether it was one bright member's idea. I don't know. Maybe the whole thing's a mare's nest! What it comes to is this: I'd like to have your professional opinion. Ah, here comes Gerard."


2
The Frenchman came in with a quick yet unhurried tread. As he shook hands with Colonel Carbury, he shot a keen interested glance at Poirot.
Carbury said: "This is M. Hercule Poirot. Staying with me. Been talking to him about this business down at Petra."
"Ah, yes?" Gerard's quick eyes looked Poirot up and down. "You are interested?"
Hercule Poirot threw up his hands. "Alas! One is always incurably interested in one's own subject."
"True," said Gerard.
"Have a drink?" said Carbury.
He poured out a whisky and soda and placed it by Gerard's elbow. He held up the decanter inquiringly but Poirot shook his head. Colonel Carbury set it down again and drew his chair a little nearer. "Well," he said. "Where are we?"
"I gather," said Poirot to Gerard, "that Colonel Carbury is not satisfied."
Gerard made an expressive gesture. "And that," he said, "is my fault! And I may be wrong. Remember that, Colonel Carbury; I may be entirely wrong."
Carbury gave a grunt. "Give Poirot the facts," he said.
Dr. Gerard began with a brief recapitulation of the events preceding the journey to Petra. He gave a short sketch of the various members of the Boynton family and described the condition of emotional strain under which they were laboring.
Poirot listened with interest.
Then Gerard proceeded to the actual events of their first day at Petra, describing how he had returned to the camp. "I was in for a bad bout of malariacerebral type," he explained. "For that I proposed to treat myself by an intravenous injection of quinine. That is the usual method."
Poirot nodded his comprehension.
"The fever was on me badly. I fairly staggered into my tent. I could not at first find my case of drugs, someone had moved it from where I had originally placed it. Then, when I had found that I could not find my hypodermic syringe, I hunted for it for some time, then gave it up and took a large dose of quinine by the mouth and flung myself on my bed."
Gerard paused, then went on: "Mrs. Boynton's death was not discovered until after sunset. Owing to the way in which she was sitting and the support the chair gave to her body no change occurred in her position and it was not until one of the boys went to summon her to dinner at six-thirty that it was noticed that anything was wrong."
He explained in full detail the position of the cave and its distance away from the big marquee. "Miss King, who is a qualified doctor, examined the body. She did not disturb me, knowing that I had fever. There was, indeed, nothing that could be done. Mrs. Boynton was deadand had been dead for some little time."
Poirot murmured: "How long exactly?"
Gerard said slowly: "I do not think that Miss King paid much attention to that point. She did not, I presume, think it of any importance."
"One can say, at least, when she was last definitely known to be alive?" said Poirot.
Colonel Carbury cleared his throat and referred to an official-looking document. "Mrs. Boynton was spoken to by Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce shortly after four P.M.. Lennox Boynton spoke to his mother about four-thirty. Mrs. Lennox Boynton had a long conversation with her about five minutes later. Carol Boynton had a word with her mother at a time she is unable to state preciselybut which, from the evidence of others, would seem to have been about ten minutes past five."
"Jefferson Cope, an American friend of the family, returning to the camp with Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce, saw her asleep. He did not speak to her. That was about twenty to six. Raymond Boynton, the younger son, seems to have been the last person to see her alive. On his return from a walk he went and spoke to her at about ten minutes to six. The discovery of the body was made at six-thirty when a servant went to tell her dinner was ready."
"Between the time that Mr. Raymond Boynton spoke to her and half-past six did no one go near her?" asked Poirot.
"I understand not."
"But someone might have done so?" Poirot persisted.
"Don't think so. From close on six and up to six-thirty servants were moving about the camp, people were going to and from their tents. No one can be found who saw anyone approaching the old lady."
"Then Raymond Boynton was definitely the last person to see his mother alive?" said Poirot.
Dr. Gerard and Colonel Carbury interchanged a quick glance. Colonel Carbury drummed on the table with his fingers.
"This is where we begin to get into deep waters," he said. "Go on, Gerard. This is your pigeon."
Dr. Gerard said: "As I mentioned just now, Sarah King, when she examined Mrs. Boynton, saw no reason for determining the exact time of death. She merely said that Mrs. Boynton had been dead 'some little time'; but when, on the following day for reasons of my own, I endeavored to narrow things down and happened to mention that Mrs. Boynton was last seen alive by her son, Raymond, at a little before six, Miss King, to my great surprise, said point blank that that was impossible, that at that time Mrs. Boynton must already have been dead."
Poirot's eyebrows rose. "Odd. Extremely odd. And what does M. Raymond Boynton say to that?"
Colonel Carbury said abruptly: "He swears that his mother was alive. He went up to her and said: 'I'm back. Hope you have had a nice afternoon?' Something of that kind. He says she just grunted 'Quite all right,' and he went on to his tent."
Poirot frowned perplexedly. "Curious," he said. "Extremely curious. Tell meit was growing dusk by then?"
"The sun was just setting."
"Curious," said Poirot again. "And you, Dr. Gerard, when did you see the body?"
"Not until the following day. At nine A.M., to be precise."
"And your estimate of the time death had occurred?"
The Frenchman shrugged his shoulders. "It is difficult to be exact after that length of time. There must necessarily be a margin of several hours. Were I giving evidence on oath I could only say that she had been dead certainly twelve hours and not longer than eighteen. You see, that does not help at all!"
"Go on, Gerard," said Colonel Carbury. "Give him the rest of it."
"On getting up in the morning," said Dr. Gerard, "I found my hypodermic syringeit was behind a case of bottles on my dressing table." He leaned forward. "You may say, if you like, that I had overlooked it the day before. I was in a miserable state of fever and wretchedness, shaking from head to foot, and how often does one look for a thing that is there all the time and yet be unable to find it! I can only say that I am quite positive the syringe was not there then."
"There's something more still," said Carburv. "Yes, two facts for what they are worth and they mean a great deal. There was a mark on the dead woman's wrista mark such as would be caused by the insertion of a hypodermic syringe. Her daughter explains it as having been caused by the prick of a pin"
Poirot stirred. "Which daughter?"
"Her daughter, Carol."
"Yes, continue, I pray you."
"And there is the last fact. Happening to examine my little case of drugs I noticed that my stock of digitoxin was very much diminished."
"Digitoxin," said Poirot, "is a heart poison, is it not?"
"Yes. It is obtained from digitalis purpureathe common foxglove. There are four active principlesdigitalindigitonindigitaleinand digitoxin. Of these, digitoxin is considered the most active poisonous constituent of digitalis leaves. According to Kopp's experiments, it is from six to ten times stronger than digitalin or digitalein. It is official in Francebut not in the British Pharmacopoeia."
"And a large dose of digitoxin?"
Dr. Gerard said gravely: "A large dose of digitoxin thrown suddenly on the circulation by intravenous injection would cause sudden death by quick palsy of the heart. It has been estimated that four milligrams might prove fatal to an adult man."
"And Mrs. Boynton already suffered with heart trouble?"
"Yes; as a matter of fact, she was actually taking a medicine containing digitalis."
"That," said Poirot, "is extremely interesting."
"D'you mean," asked Colonel Carbury, "that her death might have been attributed to an overdose of her own medicine?"
"Thatyes. But I meant more than that. In some senses," said Dr. Gerard, "digitalis may be considered a cumulative drug. Moreover, as regards postmortem appearance, the active principles of the digitalis may destroy life and leave no appreciative sign."
Poirot nodded slow appreciation. "Yes, that is cleververy clever. Almost impossible to prove satisfactorily to a jury. Ah, but let me tell you, gentlemen, if this is a murder, it is a very clever murder! The hypodermic replaced, the poison employed being one which the victim was already takingthe possibilities of a mistakeor accidentare overwhelming. Oh, yes, there are brains here. There is thoughtcaregenius."
For a moment he sat in silence, then he raised his head. "And yet, one thing puzzles me."
"What is that?"
"The theft of the hypodermic syringe."
"It was taken," said Dr. Gerard quickly.
"Takenand returned?"
"Yes."
"Odd," said Poirot. "Very odd. Otherwise everything fits so well . . ."
Colonel Carbury looked at him curiously. "Well?" he said. "What's your expert opinion? Was it murderor wasn't it?"
Poirot held up a hand. "One moment. We have not yet arrived at that point. There is still some evidence to consider."
"What evidence? You've had it all."
"Ah! But this is evidence that I, Hercule Poirot, bring to you." He nodded his head and smiled a little at their two astonished faces. ''Yes it is droll, that! That I, to whom you tell the story, should in return present you with a piece of evidence about which you do not know. It was like this. In the Solomon Hotel, one night, I go to the window to make sure it is closed"
"Closedor open?" asked Carbury.
"Closed," said Poirot firmly. "It was open, so naturally, I go to close it. But before I do so, as my hand is on the latch, I hear a voice speakingan agreeable voice, low and clear with a tremor in it of nervous excitement. I say to myself it is a voice I will know again. And what does it say, this voice? It says these words: 'You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?'"
He paused.
"At the moment, naturellement, I do not take those words as referring to a killing of flesh and blood. I think it is an author or perhaps a playwright who speaks. But now I am not so sure. That is to say, I am sure it was nothing of the kind."
Again he paused before saying: "Messieurs, I will tell you thisto the best of my knowledge and belief those words were spoken by a young man whom I saw later in the lounge of the hotel and who was, so they told me on inquiring, a young man of the name of Raymond Boynton."


3
"RAYMOND BOYNTON SAID THAT?" The exclamation broke from the Frenchman.
"You think it unlikelypsychologically speaking?" Poirot inquired placidly.
Gerard shook his head. "No, I should not say that. I was surprised, yes. If you follow me, I was surprised just because Raymond Boynton was so eminently fitted to be a suspect."
Colonel Carbury sighed. "These psychological fellers!" the sigh seemed to say. "Question is," he murmured, "what are we going to do about it?"
Gerard shrugged his shoulders. "I do not see what you can do," he confessed. "The evidence is bound to be inconclusive. You may know that murder has been done but it will be difficult to prove it."
"I see," said Colonel Carbury. "We suspect that murder's been done and we just sit back and twiddle our fingers! Don't like it!" He added, as if in extenuation, his former odd plea: "I'm a tidy man."
"I know. I know," Poirot nodded his head sympathetically. "You would like to clear this up. You would like to know definitely exactly what occurred and how it occurred. And you. Dr. Gerard? You have said that there is nothing to be donethat the evidence is bound to be inconclusive? That is probably true. But are you satisfied that the matter should rest so?"
"She was a bad life," said Gerard slowly. "In any case she might have died very shortlya weeka montha year."
"So you are satisfied?" persisted Poirot.
Gerard went on: "There is no doubt that her death washow shall we put it?beneficial to the community. It has brought freedom to her family. They will have scope to developthey are all, I think, people of good character and intelligence. They will be, now, useful members of society! The death of Mrs. Boynton, as I see it, has resulted in nothing but good."
Poirot repeated for the third time: "So you are satisfied?"
"No." Dr. Gerard pounded a fist suddenly on the table. "I am not 'satisfied,' as you put it! It is my instinct to preserve lifenot to hasten death. Therefore, though my conscious mind may repeat that this woman's death was a good thing, my unconscious mind rebels against it! It is not well, gentlemen, that a human being should die before his or her time has come."
Poirot smiled. He leaned back, *******ed with the answer he had probed for so patiently.
Colonel Carbury said unemotionally: "He don't like murder! Quite right! No more do I." He rose and poured himself out a stiff whisky and soda. His guests' glasses were still full. "And now," he said, returning to the subject, "let's get down to brass tacks. Is there anything to be done about it? We don't like itno! But we may have to lump it! No good making a fuss if you can't deliver the goods."
Gerard leaned forward. "What is your professional opinion, M. Poirot? You are the expert."
Poirot took a little time to speak. Methodically he arranged an ashtray or two and made a little heap of used matches. Then he said: "You desire to know, do you not, Colonel Carbury, who killed Mrs. Boynton? (That is, if she was killed and did not die a natural death.) Exactly how and when she was killedand, in fact, the whole truth of the matter?"
"I should like to know that, yes." Carbury spoke unemotionally.
Hercule Poirot said slowly: "I see no reason why you should not know it!"
Dr. Gerard looked incredulous. Colonel Carbury looked mildly interested. "Oh," he said. "So you don't, don't you? That's interestin'. How d'you propose to set about it?"
"By methodical sifting of the evidence, by a process of reasoning."
"Suits me," said Colonel Carbury.
"And by a study of the psychological possibilities."
"Suits Dr. Gerard, I expect," said Carbury. "And after that, after you've sifted the evidence and done some reasoning and paddled in psychologyhey, presto!you think you can produce the rabbit out of the hat?"
"I should be extremely surprised if I could not do so," said Poirot calmly.
Colonel Carbury stared at him over the rim of his glass. Just for a moment the vague eyes were no longer vague they measuredand appraised. He put down his glass with a grunt. "What do you say to that, Dr. Gerard?"
"I admit that I am skeptical of success . . . yet I know that M. Poirot has great powers."
"I am giftedyes," said the little man. He smiled modestly.
Colonel Carbury turned away his head and coughed.
Poirot said: "The first thing to decide is whether this is a composite murderplanned and carried out by the Boynton family as a whole, or whether it is the work of one of them only. If the latter, which is the most likely member of the family to have attempted it?"
Dr. Gerard said: "There is your own evidence. One must, I think, consider first Raymond Boynton."
"I agree," said Poirot. "The words I overheard and the discrepancy between his evidence and that of the young woman doctor puts him definitely in the forefront of the suspects. He was the last person to see Mrs. Boynton alive. That is his own story, Sarah King contradicts that. Tell me, Dr. Gerard, is thereeh?you know what I meana little tendresse, shall we saythere?"
The Frenchman nodded. "Emphatically so."
"Alas! Is she, this young lady, a brunette with hair that goes back from her foreheadsoand big hazel eyes and a manner very decided?"
Dr. Gerard looked rather surprised. "Yes, that describes her very well."
"I think I have seen herin the Solomon Hotel. She spoke to this Raymond Boynton and afterwards he remained planté lain a dreamblocking the exit from the lift. Three times I had to say 'Pardon' before he heard me and moved."
Poirot remained in thought for some moments. Then he said: "So, to begin with, we will accept the medical evidence of Miss Sarah King with certain mental reservations. She is an interested party." He pausedthen went on: "Tell me, Dr. Gerard, do you think Raymond Boynton is of the temperament that could commit murder easily?"
Gerard said slowly: "You mean deliberate, planned murder? Yes, I think it is possiblebut only under conditions of intense emotional strain."
"Those conditions were present?"
"Definitely. This journey abroad undoubtedly ******ened the nervous and mental strain under which all these people were living. The contrast between their own lives and those of other people was more apparent to them. And in Raymond Boynton's case"
"Yes?"
"There was the additional complication of being strongly attracted to Sarah King."
"That would give him an additional motive? And an additional stimulus?"
"That is so."
Colonel Carbury coughed. "Like to butt in a moment. That sentence of his you overheard'You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?'must have been spoken to someone."
"A good point," said Poirot. "I had not forgotten it. Yes, to whom was Raymond Boynton speaking? Undoubtedly to a member of his family. But which member? Can you tell us something, Doctor, of the mental conditions of the other members of the family?"
Gerard replied promptly. "Carol Boynton was, I should say, in very much the same state as Raymonda state of rebellion accompanied by severe nervous excitement, but uncomplicated in her case by the introduction of a sex factor. Lennox Boynton had passed the stage of revolt. He was sunk in apathy. He was finding it, I think, difficult to concentrate. His method of reaction to his surroundings was to retire further and further within himself. He was definitely an introvert."
"And his wife?"
"His wife, though tired and unhappy, showed no signs of mental conflict. She was, I believe, hesitating on the brink of a decision."
"Such a decision being?"
"Whether or not to leave her husband."
He repeated the conversation he had held with Jefferson Cope.
Poirot nodded in comprehension. "And what of the younger girl, Ginevra her name is, is it not?"
The Frenchman's face was grave. He said: "I should say that mentally she is in an extremely dangerous condition. She has already begun to display symptoms of schizophrenia. Unable to bear the suppression of her life, she is escaping into a realm of fantasy. She has advanced delusions of persecutionthat is to saw, she claims to be a Royal Personage in danger, enemies surrounding her, all the usual things!"
"And that is dangerous?"
"Very dangerous. It is the beginning of what is often homicidal mania. The sufferer killsnot for the lust of killingbut in self-defense. He or she kills in order not to be killed themselves. From their point of view it is eminently rational."
"So you think that Ginevra Boynton might have killed her mother?"
"Yes. But I doubt if she would have had the knowledge or the constructiveness to do it the way it was done. The cunning of that class of mania is usually very simple and obvious. And I am almost certain she would have chosen a more spectacular method."
"But she is a possibility?" Poirot insisted.
"Yes," admitted Gerard.
"And afterwardswhen the deed was done? Do you think the rest of the family knew who had done it?"
"They know!" said Colonel Carbury unexpectedly. "If ever I came across a bunch of people who had something to hide these are they! They're putting something over, all right."
"We will make them tell us what it is," said Poirot.
"Third degree?" said Colonel Carbury, raising his eyebrows.
"No." Poirot shook his head. "Just ordinary conversation. On the whole, you know, people tell you the truth. Because it is easier! Because it is less strain on the inventive faculties! You can tell one lieor two lies, or three or even four liesbut you cannot lie all the time. The truth becomes plain."
"Something in that," agreed Carbury. Then he said bluntly: "You'll talk to them, you say? That means you're willing to take this on?"
Poirot bowed his head. "Let us be very clear about this," he said. "What you demand, and what I undertake to supply, is the truth. But mark this, even when we have got the truth, there may be no proof. That is to say, no proof that would be accepted in a court of law. You comprehend?"
"Quite," said Carbury. "You satisfy me of what really happened, then it's up to me to decide whether action is possible or nothaving regard to the International aspects. Anyway it will be cleared upno mess. Don't like a mess."
Poirot smiled.
"One more thing," said Carbury. "I can't give you much time. Can't detain these people here indefinitely."
Poirot said quietly: "You can detain them twenty-four hours. You shall have the truth by tomorrow night."
Colonel Carbury stared hard at him. "Pretty confident, aren't you?" he asked.
"I know my own ability," murmured Poirot.
Rendered uncomfortable by this un-British attitude, Colonel Carbury looked away and fingered his untidy moustache. "Well," he mumbled. "It's up to you."
"And if you succeed, my friend," said Dr. Gerard, "you are indeed a marvel!"


4
Sarah King looked long and searchingly at Hercule Poirot. She saw the egg-shaped head, the gigantic moustaches, the dandified appearance and the suspicious blackness of his hair. A look of doubt crept into her eyes.
"Well, Mademoiselle, are you satisfied?"
Sarah flushed as he met the amused ironical glance of his eyes. "I beg your pardon," she said awkwardly.
"Du tout! To use an expression I have recently learnt, you give me the one over, is it not so?"
Sarah smiled a little. "Well, at any rate you can do the same to me," she said.
"Assuredly. I have not neglected to do so."
She glanced at him sharply. Something in his tone But Poirot was twirling his moustaches complacently and Sarah thought (for the second time), "The man's a mountebank!"
Her self-confidence restored, she sat up a little straighter and said inquiringly: "I don't think I quite understand the object of this interview?"
"The good Dr. Gerard did not explain?"
Sarah said, frowning: "I don't understand Dr. Gerard. He seems to think"
"That there is something rotten in the state of Denmark." quoted Poirot. "You see, I know your Shakespeare."
Sarah waved aside Shakespeare. "What exactly is all this fuss about?" she demanded.
"Eh bien, one wants, does one not, to get at the truth of this affair?"
"Are you talking about Mrs. Boynton's death?"
"Yes."
"Isn't it rather a fuss about nothing? You, of course, are a specialist, M. Poirot. It is natural for you"
Poirot finished the sentence for her. "It is natural for me to suspect crime whenever I can possibly find an excuse for doing so?"
"Wellyesperhaps."
"You have no doubt yourself as to Mrs. Boynton's death?"
Sarah shrugged her shoulders. "Really, M. Poirot, if you had been to Petra you would realize that the journey there is a somewhat strenuous business for an old woman whose cardiac condition was unsatisfactory."
"It seems a perfectly straightforward business to you?"
"Certainly. I can't understand Dr. Gerard's attitude. He didn't even know anything about it. He was down with fever. I'd bow to his superior medical knowledge naturally, but in this case he had nothing whatever to go on. I suppose they can have a p.m. in Jerusalem if they like, if they're not satisfied with my verdict."
Poirot was silent for a moment, then he said: "There is a fact, Miss King, that you do not yet know. Dr. Gerard has not told you of it."
"What fact?" demanded Sarah.
"A supply of a drugdigitoxinis missing from Dr. Gerard's traveling medicine case."
"Oh!" Quickly Sarah took in this new aspect of the case. Equally quickly she pounced on the one doubtful point. "Is Dr. Gerard quite sure of that?"
Poirot shrugged his shoulders. "A doctor, as you should know, Mademoiselle, is usually fairly careful in making his statements."
"Oh, of course. That goes without saying. But Dr. Gerard had malaria at the time."
"That is so, of course."
"Has he any idea when it could have been taken?"
"He had occasion to go to his case on the night of his arrival in Petra. He wanted some phenacetin as his head was aching badly. When he replaced the phenacetin on the following morning and shut up the case he is almost certain that all the drugs were intact."
"Almost" said Sarah.
Poirot shrugged.
"Yes, there is a doubt! There is the doubt that any man, who is honest, would be likely to feel."
Sarah nodded. "Yes, I know. One always distrusts those people who are over-sure. But all the same, M. Poirot, the evidence is very slight. It seems to me" She paused.
Poirot finished the sentence for her. "It seems to you that an inquiry on my part is ill-advised!"
Sarah looked him squarely in the face. "Frankly, it does. Are you sure, M. Poirot, that this is not a case of Roman Holiday?"
Poirot smiled. "The private lives of a family upset and disturbedso that Hercule Poirot can play a little game of detection to amuse himself?"
"I didn't mean to be offensivebut isn't it a little like that?"
"You, then, are on the side of the famille Boynton, Mademoiselle?"
"I think I am. They've suffered a good deal. Theythey oughtn't to have to stand any more."
"And la Maman, she was unpleasant, tyrannical, disagreeable and decidedly better dead than alive? That alsohm?"
"When you put it like that" Sarah paused, flushed, went on: "One shouldn't, I agree, take that into consideration."
"But all the same one does! That is, you do. Mademoiselle! I do not! To me, it is all the same. The victim may be one of the good God's saintsor, on the contrary, a monster of infamy. It moves me not. The fact is the same. A life taken! I say it always, I do not approve of murder."
"Murder!" Sarah drew in her breath sharply. "But what evidence of that is there? The flimsiest imaginable! Dr. Gerard himself cannot be sure!"
Poirot said quietly: "But there is other evidence, Mademoiselle."
"What evidence?" Her voice was sharp.
"The mark of a hypodermic puncture upon the dead woman's wrist. And something more stillsome words that I overheard spoken in Jerusalem on a clear still night when I went to close my bedroom window. Shall I tell you what those words were, Miss King? They were these: I heard Mr. Raymond Boynton say: 'You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?'" He saw the color drain slowly from Sarah's face.
She said: "You heard that?"
"Yes."
The girl stared straight ahead of her. She said at last: "It would be you who heard it!"
He acquiesced. "Yes, it would be me. These things happen. You see now why I think there should be an investigation?"
Sarah said quietly: "I think you are quite right."
"Ah! And you will help me?"
"Certainly."
Her tone was matter-of-fact, unemotional. Her eyes met his coolly.
Poirot bowed. "Thank you, Mademoiselle. Now, I will ask you to tell me in your own words exactly what you can remember of that particular day."
Sarah considered for a moment. "Let me see. I went on an expedition in the morning. None of the Boyntons were with us. I saw them at lunch. They were finishing as we came in. Mrs. Boynton seemed in an unusually good temper."
"She was not usually amiable, I understand."
"Very far from it," said Sarah with a slight grimace. She then described how Mrs. Boynton had released her family from attendance on her.
"That, too, was unusual?"
"Yes. She usually kept them around her."
"Do you think, perhaps, that she suddenly felt remorseful, that she had what is called un bon moment?"
"No, I don't," said Sarah bluntly.
"What did you think, then?"
"I was puzzled. I suspected it was something of the cat and mouse order."
"If you would elaborate, Mademoiselle?"
"A cat enjoys letting a mouse away and then catching it again. Mrs. Boynton had that kind of mentality. I thought she was up to some new deviltry or other."
"What happened next, Mademoiselle?"
"The Boyntons started off"
"All of them?"
"No; the youngest, Ginevra, was left behind. She was told to go and rest."
"Did she wish to do so?"
"No. But that didn't matter. She did what she was told. The others started off. Dr. Gerard and I joined them"
"When was this?"
"About half-past three."
"Where was Mrs. Boynton then?"
"Nadineyoung Mrs. Boyntonhad settled her in her chair outside her cave."
"Proceed."
When we got around the bend Dr. Gerard and I caught up with the others. We all walked together. Then, after a while Dr. Gerard turned back. He had been looking rather queer for some time. I could see he had fever. I wanted to go back with him, but he wouldn't hear of it."
"What time was this?"
"Oh, about four, I suppose."
"And the rest?"
"We went on."
"Were you all together?"
"At first. Then we split up." Sarah hurried on as though foreseeing the next question. "Nadine Boynton and Mr. Cope went one way and Carol, Lennox, Raymond and I went another."
"And you continued like that?"
"Wellno. Raymond Boynton and I separated from the others. We sat down on a slab of rock and admired the wildness of the scenery. Then he went off and I stayed where I was for some time longer. It was about half-past five when I looked at my watch and realized I had better get back. I reached the camp at six o'clock. It was just about sunset."
"You passed Mrs. Boynton on the way?"
"I noticed she was still in her chair up on the ridge."
"That did not strike you as odd, that she had not moved?"
"No, because I had seen her sitting there the night before when we arrived."
"I see. Continuez."
"I went into the marquee. The others were all thereexcept Dr. Gerard. I washed and then came back. They brought in dinner and one of the servants went to tell Mrs. Boynton. He came running back to say she was ill. I hurried out. She was sitting in her chair just as she had been, but as soon as I touched her I realized she was dead."
"You had no doubt at all as to her death being natural?"
"None whatever. I had heard that she suffered from heart trouble, though no specified disease had been mentioned."
"You simply thought she had died sitting there in her chair?"
"Yes."
"Without calling out for assistance?"
"Yes. It happens that way sometimes. She might even have died in her sleep. She was quite likely to have dozed off. In any case, all the camp was asleep most of the afternoon. No one would have heard her unless she had called very loud."
"Did you form an opinion as to how long she had been dead?"
"Well, I didn't really think very much about it. She had clearly been dead some time."
"What do you call some time?" asked Poirot.
"Wellover an hour. It might have been much longer. The refraction off the rock would keep her body from cooling quickly."
"Over an hour? Are you aware, Mademoiselle King, that Mr. Raymond Boynton spoke to her only a little over half an hour earlier and that she was then alive and well?"
Now her eyes no longer met his. But she shook her head. "He must have made a mistake. It must have been earlier than that."
"No, Mademoiselle, it was not." She looked at him point-blank. He noticed again the set of her mouth.
"Well," said Sarah. "I'm young and I haven't had much experience with dead bodies but I know enough to be quite sure of one thing: Mrs. Boynton had been dead at least an hour when I examined her body!"
"That," said Hercule Poirot unexpectedly, "is your story and you are going to stick to it!"
"It's the truth," said Sarah.
"Then can you explain why Mr. Boynton should say his mother was alive when she was, in point of fact, dead?"
"I've no idea," said Sarah. "They're probably rather vague about time, all of them! They're a very nervous family."
"On how many occasions, Mademoiselle, have you spoken with them?"
Sarah was silent a moment, frowning a little. "I can tell you exactly," she said. "I talked to Raymond Boynton in the Wagon-Lit corridor coming to Jerusalem. I had two conversations with Carol Boyntonone at the Mosque of Omar and one late that evening in my bedroom. I had a conversation with Mrs. Lennox Boynton the following morning. That's all, up to the afternoon of Mrs. Boynton's death, when we all went walking together."
"You did not have any conversation with Mrs. Boynton herself?"
Sarah flushed uncomfortably. "Yes. I exchanged a few words with her the day she left Jerusalem." She paused and then blurted out: "As a matter of fact, I made a fool of myself."
"Ah?"
The interrogation was so patent that, stiffly and unwillingly, Sarah gave an account of the conversation.
Poirot seemed interested and cross-examined her closely. "The mentality of Mrs. Boynton, it is very important in this case," he said. "And you are an outsideran unbiased observer. That is why your account of her is very significant."
Sarah did not reply. She still felt hot and uncomfortable when she thought of that interview. "Thank you, Mademoiselle," said Poirot. "I will now converse with the other witnesses."
Sarah rose. "Excuse me, M. Poirot, but if I might make a suggestion"
"Certainly. Certainly."
"Why not postpone all this until an autopsy can be made and you discover whether or not your suspicions are justified. I think all this is rather like putting the cart before the horse."
Poirot waved a grandiloquent hand. "This is the method of Hercule Poirot," he announced.
Pressing her lips together, Sarah left the room.


5
LADY WESTHOLME ENTERED the room with the assurance of a transatlantic liner coming into dock. Miss Annabel Pierce, an indeterminate craft, followed in the liner's wake and sat down in an inferior make of chair slightly in the background.
"Certainly, M. Poirot," boomed Lady Westholme, "I shall be delighted to assist you by any means in my power. I have always considered that in matters of this kind one has a public duty to perform"
When Lady Westholme's public duty had held the stage for some minutes, Poirot was adroit enough to get in a question.
"I have a perfect recollection of the afternoon in question," replied Lady Westholme. "Miss Pierce and I will do all we can to assist you."
"Oh, yes," sighed Miss Pierce, almost ecstatically. "So tragic, was it not? Deadjust like thatin the twinkle of an eye!"
"If you will tell me exactly what occurred on the afternoon in question?"
"Certainly," said Lady Westholme. "After we had finished lunch I decided to take a brief siesta. The morning excursion had been somewhat fatiguing. Not that I was really tiredI seldom am. I do not really know what fatigue is. One has so often, on public occasions, no matter what one really feels"
[unreadable] an adroit murmur from Poirot.
"I saw, I was in favor of a siesta. Miss Pierce agreed with me."
"Oh, yes," sighed Miss Pierce. "And I was terribly tired all the morning. Such a dangerous climband although interesting, most exhausting. I'm afraid I'm not quite as strong as Lady Westholme."
"Fatigue," said Lady Westholme, "can be conquered like everything else. I make a point of never giving in to my bodily needs."
Miss Pierce looked at her admiringly.
Poirot said: "After lunch, then, you two ladies went to your tents?"
"Yes."
"Mrs. Boynton was then sitting at the mouth of her cave?"
"Her daughter-in-law assisted her there before she herself went off."

"You could both see her?"
"Oh yes," said Miss Pierce. "She was opposite, you knowonly of course a little way along and up above."
Lady Westholme elucidated the statement. "The caves opened onto a ledge. Below that ledge were some tents. Then there was a small stream and across that stream was the big marquee and some other tents. Miss Pierce and I had tents near the marquee. She was on the right side of the marquee and I was on the left. The openings of our tents faced the ledge, but of course it was some distance away."
"Nearly two hundred yards, I understand."
"Possibly."
"I have here a plan," said Poirot, "concocted with the help of the dragoman, Mahmoud."
Lady Westholme remarked that in that case it was probably wrong! "That man is grossly inaccurate. I have checked his statements from my Baedeker. Several times his information was definitely misleading."
"According to my plan," said Poirot, "the cave next to Mrs. Boynton's was occupied by her son, Lennox, and his wife. Raymond, Carol and Ginevra Boynton had tents just below but more to the rightin fact almost opposite the marquee. On the right of Ginevra Boynton's was Dr. Gerard's tent and next to his was that of Miss King. On the other sidenext to the marquee on the leftyou and Mr. Cope had tents. Miss Pierce's, as you mentioned, was on the right of the marquee. Is that correct?"
Lady Westholme admitted grudgingly that as far as she knew it was.
"I thank you. That is perfectly clear. Pray continue, Lady Westholme."
Lady Westholme smiled graciously on him and went on: "At about a quarter to four I strolled along to Miss Pierce's tent to see if she were awake yet and felt like a stroll. She was sitting in the doorway of the tent reading. We agreed to start in about half an hour when the sun was less hot. I went back to my tent and read for about twenty-five minutes. Then I went along and joined Miss Pierce. She was ready and we started out. Everyone in the camp seemed asleep; there was no one about and, seeing Mrs. Boynton sitting up there alone, I suggested to Miss Pierce that we should ask her if she wanted anything before we left."
"Yes, you did. Most thoughtful of you, I considered it," murmured Miss Pierce.
"I felt it to be my duty," said Lady Westholme with a rich complacency.
"And then for her to be so rude about it!" exclaimed Miss Pierce.
Poirot looked inquiring.
"Our path passed just under the ledge," explained Lady Westholme, "and I called up to her, saying that we were going for a stroll and asking could we do anything for her before we went. Do you know, M. Poirot, absolutely the only answer she gave us was a grunt! A grunt! She just looked at us as though we wereas though we were dirt!"
"Disgraceful it was!" said Miss Pierce, flushing.
"I must confess," said Lady Westholme, reddening a little, "that I then made a somewhat uncharitable remark."
"I think you were quite justified," said Miss Pierce.
"Quiteunder the circumstances."
"What was this remark?" asked Poirot.
"I said to Miss Pierce that perhaps she drank! Really, her manner was most peculiar. It had been all along. I thought it possible that drink might account for it. The evils of alcoholic indulgence, as I very well know"
Dexterously Poirot steered the conversation away from the drink question.
"Had her manner been very peculiar on this particular day? At lunch time, for instance?"
"No," said Lady Westholme, considering. "No, I should say that then her manner had been fairly normalfor an American of that type, that is to say," she added condescendingly.
"She was very abusive to that servant," said Miss Pierce
"Which one?"
"Not very long before we started out."
"Oh, yes, I remember. She did seem extraordinarily annoyed with him! Of course," went on Lady Westholme "to have servants about who cannot understand a word of English is very trying, but what I say is that when one is traveling one must make allowances."
"What servant was this?" asked Poirot.
"One of the Bedouin servants attached to the camp. He went up to her. I think she must have sent him to fetch her something and I suppose he brought the wrong thing. I don't really know what it was, but she was very angry about it. The poor man slunk away as fast as he could, and she shook her stick at him and called out."
"What did she call out?"
"We were too far away to hear. At least I didn't hear anything distinctly. Did you, Miss Pierce?"
"No, I didn't. I think she'd sent him to fetch something from her younger daughter's tentor perhaps she was angry with him for going into her daughter's tentI couldn't say exactly."
"What did he look like?"
Miss Pierce, to whom the question was addressed, shook her head vaguely. "Really, I couldn't say. He was too far away. All these Arabs look alike to me."
"He was a man of more than average ******," said Lady Westholme, "and wore the usual native headdress. He had on a pair of very torn and patched breechesreally disgraceful they wereand his puttees were wound most untidilyall anyhow! These men need discipline!"
"You could point the man out among the camp servants?"
"I doubt it. We didn't see his faceit was too far away. And, as Miss Pierce says, really, these Arabs all look alike."
"I wonder," said Poirot thoughtfully, "what it was he did to make Mrs. Boynton so angry?"
"They are very trying to the patience sometimes," said Lady Westholme. "One of them took my shoes away, though I had expressly told himby pantomime toothat I preferred to clean my shoes myself."
"Always I do that too," said Poirot, diverted for a moment from his interrogation. "I take everywhere my little shoe-cleaning outfit. Also, I take a duster."
"So do I." Lady Westholme sounded quite human. "Because these Arabs they do not remove the dust from one's belongings"
"Never! Of course one has to dust one's things three or four times a day"
"But it is well worth it."
"Yes, indeed. I cannot stand dirt!" Lady Westholme looked positively militant. She added with feeling: "The fliesin the bazaarsterrible!"
"Well, well," said Poirot, looking slightly guilty. "We can soon inquire from this man what it was that irritated Mrs. Boynton. To continue with your story?"
"We strolled along slowly," said Lady Westholme. "And then we met Dr. Gerard. He was staggering along and looked very ill. I could see at once he had fever."
"He was shaking," put in Miss Pierce. "Shaking all over."
"I saw at once he had an attack of malaria coming on," said Lady Westholme. "I offered to come back with him and get him some quinine but he said he had his own supply with him."
"Poor man," said Miss Pierce. "You know it always seems so dreadful to me to see a doctor ill. It seems all wrong, somehow."
"We strolled on," continued Lady Westholme. "And then we sat down on a rock."
Miss Pierce murmured: "Reallyso tired after the morning's exertionthe climbing"
"I never feel fatigue," said Lady Westholme firmly. "But there was no point in going further. We had a very good view of all the surrounding scenery."
"Were you out of sight of the camp?"
"No, we were sitting facing towards it."
"So romantic," murmured Miss Pierce. "A camp pitched in the middle of a wilderness of rose-red rocks." She sighed and shook her head.
"That camp could be much better run than it is," said Lady Westholme. Her rocking-horse nostrils dilated. "I shall take up the matter with Castle's. I am not at all sure that the drinking water is boiled as well as filtered. It should be. I shall point that out to them."
Poirot coughed and led the conversation quickly away from the subject of drinking water. "Did you see any other members of the party?" he inquired.
"Yes. The elder Mr. Boynton and his wife passed us on their way back to the camp."
"Were they together?"
"No, Mr. Boynton came first. He looked a little as though he had had a touch of the sun. He was walking as though he were slightly dizzy."
"The back of the neck," said Miss Pierce. "One must protect the back of the neck! I always wear a thick silk handkerchief."
"What did Mr. Lennox Boynton do on his return to camp?" asked Poirot.
For once Miss Pierce managed to get in first before Lady Westholme could speak. "He went right up to his mother, but he didn't stay long with her."
"How long?"
"Just a minute or two."
"I should put it at just over a minute myself," said Lady Westholme. "Then he went on into his cave and after that he went down to the marquee."
"And his wife?"
"She came along about a quarter of an hour later. She stopped a minute and spoke to usquite civilly."
"I think she's very nice," said Miss Pierce. "Very nice indeed."
"She is not so impossible as the rest of the family," allowed Lady Westholme.
"You watched her return to the camp?"
'Yes. She went up and spoke to her mother-in-law. Then she went into her cave and brought out a chair and sat by her talking for some timeabout ten minutes, I should say."
"And then?"
"Then she took the chair back to the cave and went down to the marquee where her husband was."
"What happened next?"
"That very peculiar American came along," said Lady Westholme. "Cope, I think his name is. He told us that there was a very good example of the debased architecture of the period just round the bend of the valley. He said we ought not to miss it. Accordingly we walked there. Mr. Cope had with him quite an interesting article on Petra and the Nabateans."
"It was all most interesting," declared Miss Pierce fervently.
Lady Westholme continued: "We strolled back to the camp, it being then about twenty minutes to six. It was growing quite chilly."
"Mrs. Boynton was still sitting where you had left her?"
"Yes."
"Did you speak to her?"
"No. As a matter of fact, I hardly noticed her."
"What did you do next?"
"I went to my tent, changed my shoes and got out my own packet of China tea. I then went to the marquee. The guide person was there and I directed him to make some tea for Miss Pierce and myself with the tea I had brought and to make quite sure that the water with which it was made was boiling. He said that dinner would be ready in about half an hourthe boys were laying the table at the timebut I said that made no difference."
"I always say a cup of tea makes all the difference," murmured Miss Pierce vaguely.
"Was there anyone in the marquee?"
"Oh, yes. Mr. and Mrs. Lennox Boynton were sitting at one end reading. And Carol Boynton was there too."
"And Mr. Cope?"
"He joined us at our tea," said Miss Pierce. "Though he said tea drinking wasn't an American habit."
Lady Westholme coughed. "I became just a little afraid that Mr. Cope was going to be a nuisancethat he might fasten himself upon me. It is a little difficult sometimes to keep people at arm's length when one is traveling. I find they are inclined to presume. Americans, especially, are sometimes rather dense."
Poirot murmured suavely: "I am sure. Lady Westholme, that you are quite capable of dealing with situations of that kind. When traveling acquaintances are no longer of any use to you, I am sure you are an adept at dropping them."
"I think I am capable of dealing with most situations," said Lady Westholme complacently.
The twinkle in Poirot's eye was quite lost upon her. "If you will just conclude your recital of the day's happenings?" murmured Poirot.
"Certainly. As far as I can remember, Raymond Boynton and the red-haired Boynton girl came in shortly afterwards. Miss King arrived last. Dinner was then ready to be served. One of the servants was dispatched by the dragoman to announce the fact to old Mrs. Boynton. The man came running back with one of his comrades in a state of some agitation and spoke to the dragoman in Arabic. There was some mention of Mrs. Boynton being taken ill. Miss King offered her services. She went out with the dragoman. She came back and broke the news to the members of Mrs. Boynton's family."
"She did it very abruptly," put in Miss Pierce. "Just blurted it out. I think myself it ought to have been done more gradually."
"And how did Mrs. Boynton's family take the news?" asked Poirot.
For once both Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce seemed a little at a loss. The former said at last, in a voice lacking its usual self-assurance: "Wellreallyit is difficult to say. Theythey were very quiet about it."
"Stunned," said Miss Pierce. She offered the word more as a suggestion than as a fact.
"They all went out with Miss King," said Lady Westholme. "Miss Pierce and I very sensibly remained where we were."
A faintly wistful look was observable in Miss Pierce's eye at this point.
"I detest vulgar curiosity!" continued Lady Westholme. The wistful look became more pronounced. It was clear that Miss Pierce had had perforce to hate vulgar curiosity too!
"Later," concluded Lady Westholme, "the dragoman and Miss King returned. I suggested that dinner should be served immediately to the four of us, so that the Boynton family could dine later in the marquee without the embarrassment of strangers being present. My suggestion was adopted and immediately after the meal I retired to my tent. Miss King and Miss Pierce did the same. Mr. Cope, I believe, remained in the marquee; he is a friend of the family and thought he might be of some assistance to them. That is all I know, M. Poirot."
"When Miss King had broken the news, all the Boynton family accompanied her out of the marquee?"
"Yesno, I believe, now that you come to mention it, that the red-haired girl stayed behind. Perhaps you can remember. Miss Pierce?"
"Yes, I thinkI am quite sure she did."
Poirot asked: "What did she do?"
Lady Westholme stared at him. "What did she do, M. Poirot? She did not do anything, as far as I can remember."
"I mean was she sewing, or reading, did she look anxious, did she say anything?"
"Well, really" Lady Westholme frowned. "Sheershe just sat there, as far as I can remember."
"She twiddled her fingers," said Miss Pierce suddenly. "I remember noticingpoor thing; I thought, it shows what she's feeling! Not that there was anything to show in her face, you knowjust her hands turning and twisting."
"Once," went on Miss Pierce conversationally, "I remember tearing up a pound note that waynot thinking of what I was doing. 'Shall I catch the first train and go to her?' I thought (it was a great aunt of minetaken suddenly ill), 'or shall I not?' And I couldn't make up my mind one way or the other and then I looked down, and instead of the telegram I was tearing up a pound notea pound note!into tiny pieces!" Miss Pierce paused dramatically.
Not entirely approving of this sudden bid for the limelight on the part of her satellite Lady Westholme said coldly: "Is there anything else, M. Poirot?"
With a start, Poirot seemed to come out of a brown study. "Nothing, nothing. You have been most clearmost definite."
"I have an excellent memory," said Lady Westholme with satisfaction.
"One last little demand. Lady Westholme," said Poirot. "Please continue to sit as you are sittingwithout looking around. Now, would you be so kind as to describe to me just what Miss Pierce is wearing todaythat is, if Miss Pierce does not object?"
"Oh, no, not in the least!" twittered Miss Pierce. "Really, M. Poirot, is there any object"
"Please be so kind as to do as I ask, Madame."
Lady Westholme shrugged her shoulders and then said with a rather bad grace: "Miss Pierce has on a striped brown and white cotton dress and is wearing with it a Sudanese belt of red, blue and beige leather. She is wearing beige silk stockings and brown glace strap shoes. There is a ladder in her left stocking. She has a necklace of cornelian beads and one of bright royal blue beads and is wearing a brooch with a pearl butterfly on it. She has an imitation scarab ring on the third finger of her right hand. On her head she has a double terai of pink and brown felt." She pauseda pause of quiet competence. Then: "Is there anything further?" she asked coldly.
Poirot spread out his hands in a wide gesture. "You have my entire admiration, Madame. Your observation is of the highest order."
"Details rarely escape me." Lady Westholme rose, made a slight inclination of her head and left the room. As Miss Pierce was following her, gazing down ruefully at her left leg, Poirot said: "A little moment, please, Mademoiselle?"
"Yes?" Miss Pierce looked up, a slightly apprehensive look upon her face.
Poirot leaned forward confidentially. "You see this bunch of wild flowers on the table here?"
"Yes," said Miss Pierce staring.
"And you noticed that, when you first came into the room, I sneezed once or twice?"
"Yes."
"Did you notice if I had just been sniffing those flowers?"
"WellreallynoI couldn't say."
"But you remember my sneezing?"
"Oh, yes, I remember that!"
"Ah, wellno matter. I wondered, you see, if these flowers might induce the hay fever. No matter!"
"Hay fever!" cried Miss Pierce. "I remember a cousin of mine was a martyr to it! She always said that if you sprayed your nose daily with a solution of boracic"
With some difficulty Poirot shelved the cousin's nasal treatment and got rid of Miss Pierce. He shut the door and came back into the room with his eyebrows raised.
"But I did not sneeze," he murmured. "So much for that. No, I did not sneeze."


6
Lennox Boynton came into the room with a quick resolute step. Had he been there, Dr. Gerard would have been surprised at the change in the man. The apathy was gone. His bearing was alertalthough he was plainly nervous. His eyes had a tendency to shift rapidly from point to point about the room.
"Good morning, M. Boynton." Poirot rose and bowed ceremoniously. Lennox responded somewhat awkwardly. "I much appreciate your giving me this interview."
Lennox Boynton said rather uncertainly: "ErColonel Carbury said it would be a good thing. Advised it. Some formalities he said."
"Please sit down, M. Boynton."
Lennox sat down on the chair lately vacated by Lady Westholme.
Poirot went on conversationally: "This has been a great shock to you, I am afraid."
"Yes, of course. Well, no, perhaps not . . . We always knew that my mother's heart was not strong."
"Was it wise, under those circumstances, to allow her to undertake such an arduous expedition?"
Lennox Boynton raised his head. He spoke not without a certain sad dignity. "My mother, M.er, Poirot, made her own decisions. If she had made up her mind to anything it was no good our opposing her." He drew in his breath sharply as he said the last words. His face suddenly grew rather white.
"I know well," admitted Poirot, "that elderly ladies are sometimes headstrong."
Lennox said irritably: "What is the purpose of all this? That is what I want to know. Why have all these formalities arisen?"
"Perhaps you do not realize, M. Boynton, that in cases of sudden and unexplained deaths, formalities must necessarily arise."
Lennox said sharply: "What do you mean by 'unexplained'?"
Poirot shrugged his shoulders. "There is always the question to be considered: Is a death natural or might it perhaps be suicide?"
"Suicide?" Lennox Boynton stared.
Poirot said lightly: "You, of course, would know best about such possibilities. Colonel Carbury, naturally, is in the dark. It is necessary for him to decide whether to order an inquiryan autopsyall the rest of it. As I was on the spot and as I have much experience of these matters, he suggested that I should make a few inquiries and advise him upon the matter. Naturally, he does not wish to cause you inconvenience if it can be helped."
Lennox Boynton said angrily: "I shall wire to our Consul in Jerusalem."
Poirot said noncommittally: "You are quite within your rights in doing so, of course." There was a pause. Then Poirot said, spreading out his hands: "If you object to answering my questions"
Lennox Boynton said quickly: "Not at all. Onlyit seemsall so unnecessary."
"I comprehend. I comprehend perfectly. But it is all very simple, really. A matter, as they say, of routine. Now, on the afternoon of your mother's death, M. Boynton, I believe you left the camp at Petra and went for a walk?"
"Yes. We all went, with the exception of my mother and my younger sister."
"Your mother was then sitting in the mouth of her cave?"
"Yes, just outside it. She sat there every afternoon."
"Quite so. You startedwhen?"
"Soon after three, I should say."
"You returned from your walkwhen?"
"I really couldn't say what time it wasfour o'clockfive o'clock perhaps."
"About an hour to two hours after you set out?"
"Yesabout that, I should think."
"Did you pass anyone on your way back?"
"Did I what?"
"Pass anyone. Two ladies sitting on a rock, for instance?"
"I don't know. Yes, I think I did."
"You were, perhaps, too absorbed in your thoughts to notice?"
"Yes, I was."
"Did you speak to your mother when you got back to the camp?"
"Yesyes, I did."
"She did not then complain of feeling ill?"
"Nono, she seemed perfectly all right."
"May I ask what passed between you?"
Lennox paused a minute. "She said I had come back soon. I said, yes, I had." He paused again in an effort of concentration. "I said it was hot. Sheshe asked me the timesaid her wristwatch had stopped. I took it from her, wound it up, set it and put it back on her wrist."
Poirot interrupted gently: "And what time was it?"
"Eh?" said Lennox.
"What time was it when you set the hands of the wristwatch?"
"Oh, I see. Itit was twenty-five minutes to five."
"So you do know exactly the time you returned to the camp!" said Poirot gently.
Lennox flushed. "Yes, what a fool I am! I'm sorry, M. Poirot, my wits are all astray, I'm afraid. All this worry"
Poirot chimed in quickly: "Oh! I understandI understand perfectly! It is all of the most disquieting! And what happened next?"
"I asked my mother if she wanted anything. A drinktea, coffee, etc.. She said no. Then I went to the marquee. None of the servants seemed to be about, but I found some soda water and drank it. I was thirsty. I sat there reading some old numbers of the Saturday Evening Post. I think I must have dozed off."
"Your wife joined you in the marquee?"
"Yes, she came in not long after."
"And you did not see your mother again alive?"
"No."
"She did not seem in any way agitated or upset when you were talking to her?"
"No, she was exactly as usual."
"She did not refer to any trouble or annoyance with one of the servants?"
Lennox stared. "No, nothing at all."
"And that is all you can tell me?"
"I am afraid soyes."
"Thank you, M. Boynton." Poirot inclined his head as a sign that the interview was over.
Lennox did not seem very willing to depart. He stood hesitating by the door. "Erthere's nothing else?"
"Nothing. Perhaps you would be so good as to ask your wife to come here?"
Lennox went slowly out. On the pad beside him Poirot wrote "L. B. 4:35 P.M."


7
Poirot looked with interest at the tall dignified young woman who entered the room. He rose and bowed to her politely.
"Mrs. Lennox Boynton? Hercule Poirot, at your service."
Nadine Boynton sat down. Her thoughtful eyes were on Poirot's face.
"I hope you do not mind, Madame, my intruding on your sorrow in this way?"
Her gaze did not waver. She did not reply at once. Her eyes remained steady and grave. At last, she gave a sigh and said: "I think it is best for me to be quite frank with you, M. Poirot."
"I agree with you, Madame."
"You apologized for intruding upon my sorrow. That sorrow, M. Poirot, does not exist and it is idle to pretend that it does. I had no love for my mother-in-law and I cannot honestly say that I regret her death."
"Thank you, Madame, for your plain speaking."
Nadine went on: "Still, although I cannot pretend sorrow, I can admit to another feelingremorse."
"Remorse?" Poirot's eyebrows went up.
"Yes. Because, you see, it was I who brought about her death. For that I blame myself bitterly."
"What is this that you are saying, Madame?"
"I am saying that I was the cause of my mother-in-law's death. I was acting, as I thought, honestlybut the result was unfortunate. To all intents and purposes, I killed her."
Poirot leaned back in his chair. "Will you be so kind as to elucidate this statement, Madame?"
Nadine bent her head. "Yes, that is what I wish to do. My first reaction, naturally, was to keep my private affairs to myself, but I see that the time has come when it would be better to speak out. I have no doubt, M. Poirot, that you have often received confidences of a somewhat intimate nature?"
"That, yes."
"Then I will tell you quite simply what occurred. My married life, M. Poirot, has not been particularly happy. My husband is not entirely to blame for thathis mother's influence over him has been unfortunatebut I have been feeling for some time that my life was becoming intolerable,"
She paused and then went on: "On the afternoon of my mother-in-law's death I came to a decision. I have a frienda very good friend. He has suggested more than once that I should throw in my lot with his. On that afternoon I accepted his proposal."
"You decided to leave your husband?"
"Yes."
"Continue, Madame."
Nadine said in a lower voice: "Having once made my decision I wanted toto establish it as soon as possible. I walked home to the camp by myself. My mother-in-law was sitting alone, there was one about, and I decided to break the news to her right there. I got a chair, sat down by her and told her abruptly what I had decided."
"She was surprised?"
"Yes I am afraid it was a great shock to her. She was both surprised and angryvery angry. Sheshe worked herself into quite a state about it! Presently I refused to discuss the matter any longer. I got up and walked away." Her voice dropped. "II never saw her again alive."
Poirot nodded his head slowly. He said: "I see." Then he said: "You think her death was the result of the shock?"
"It seems to me almost certain. You see, she had already overexerted herself considerably getting to this place. My news, and her anger at it, would do the rest. . . . I feel additionally guilty because I have had a certain amount of training in illness and so I, more than anyone else, ought to have realized the possibility of such a thing happening."
Poirot sat in silence for some minutes, then he said: "What exactly did you do when you left her?"
"I took the chair I had brought out back into my cave, then I went down to the marquee. My husband was there."
Poirot watched her closely as he said: "Did you tell him of your decision? Or had you already told him?"
There was a pause, an infinitesimal pause, before Nadine said: "I told him then."
"How did he take it?"
She answered quietly: "He was very upset."
"Did he urge you to reconsider your decision?"
She shook her head. "Hehe didn't say very much. You see, we had both known for some time that something like this might happen."
Poirot said: "You will pardon me, but the other man was, of course, M. Jefferson Cope?"
She bent her head. "Yes."
There was a long pause, then, without any change of voice, Poirot asked: "Do you own a hypodermic syringe, Madame?"
"Yesno."
His eyebrows rose.
She explained. "I have an old hypodermic amongst other things in a traveling medicine chest, but it is in our big luggage which we left in Jerusalem."
"I see."
There was a pause, then she said with a shiver of uneasiness: "Why did you ask me that, M. Poirot?"
He did not answer the question. Instead he put one of his own. "Mrs. Boynton was, I believe, taking a mixture containing digitalis?"
"Yes."
He thought that she was definitely watchful now. "That was for her heart trouble?"
"Yes."
"Digitalis is, to some extent, a cumulative drug?"
"I believe it is. I do not know very much about it."
"Mrs. Boynton had taken a big overdose of digitalis"
She interrupted him quickly but with decision. "She did not. She was always most careful. So was I, if I measured the dose for her."
"There might have been an overdose in this particular bottle. A mistake of the chemist who made it up?"
"I think that is very unlikely," she replied quietly.
"Ah well, the analysis will soon tell us."
Nadine said: "Unfortunately the bottle was broken."
Poirot eyed her with sudden interest. "Indeed! Who broke it?"
"I'm not quite sure. One of the servants, I think. In carrying my mother-in-law's body into her cave, there was a good deal of confusion and the light was very poor. A table got knocked over."
Poirot eyed her steadily for a minute or two. "That," he said, "is very interesting."
Nadine Boynton shifted wearily in her chair. "You are suggesting, I think, that my mother-in-law did not die of shock, but of an overdose of digitalis?" she said and went on: "That seems to me most improbable."
Poirot leaned forward. "Even when I tell you that Dr. Gerard, the French physician who was staying in the camp, had missed an appreciable quantity of a preparation of digitoxin from his medicine chest?"
Her face grew very pale. He saw the clutch of her other hand on the table. Her eyes dropped. She sat very still. She was like a Madonna carved in stone.
"Well, Madame," said Poirot at last. "What have you say to that?"
The seconds ticked on but she did not speak. It was quite two minutes before she raised her head, and he started a little when he saw the look in her eyes.
"M. Poirot, I did not kill my mother-in-law. That you know! She was alive and well when I left her. There are many people who can testify to that! Therefore, being innocent of the crime, I can venture to appeal to you. Why must you mix yourself up in this business? If I swear to you on my honor that justice and only justice has been done. Will you not abandon this inquiry? There has been so much sufferingyou do not know. Now that at last there is peace and the possibility of happiness, must you destroy it all?"
Poirot sat up very straight. His eyes shone with a green light. "Let me be clear, Madame. What are you asking me to do?"
"I am telling you that my mother-in-law died a natural death and I am asking you to accept that statement."
"Let us be definite. You believe that your mother-in-law was deliberately killed, and you are asking me to condonemurder!"
"I am asking you to have pity!"
"Yeson someone who had no pity!"
"You don't understandit was not like that."
"Did you commit the crime yourself, Madame, that you know so well?"
Nadine shook her head. She showed no signs of guilt. "No," she said quietly. "She was alive when I left her."
"Then what happened? You knowor you suspect"
Nadine said passionately: "I have heard, M. Poirot, that once, in that affair of the Orient Express, you accepted an official verdict of what had happened?"
Poirot looked at her curiously. "I wonder who told you that."
"Is it true?"
He said slowly: "That case wasdifferent."
"No. No, it was not different! The man who was killed was evil," her voice dropped, "as she was. . . ."
Poirot said: "The moral character of the victim has nothing to do with it! A human being who has exercised the right of private judgment and taken the life of another human being is not safe to exist amongst the community. I tell you that! I, Hercule Poirot!"
"How hard you are!"
"Madame, in some ways I am adamant. I will not condone murder! That is the final word of Hercule Poirot."
She got up. Her dark eyes flashed with sudden fire. "Then go on! Bring ruin and misery into the lives of innocent people! I have nothing more to say."
"But II think, Madame, that you have a lot to say."
"No, nothing more."
"What happened, Madame, after you left your mother-in-law? Whilst you and your husband were in the marquee together?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "How should I know?"
"You do knowor you suspect."
She looked him straight in the eyes. "I know nothing, M. Poirot." Turning, she left the room.


8
After noting on his pad "N. B. 4:40," Poirot opened the door and called to the orderly whom Colonel Carbury had left at his disposal, an intelligent man with a good knowledge of English. He asked him to fetch Miss Carol Boynton.
Poirot looked with some interest at the girl as she entered: at the chestnut hair, the poise of the head on the long neck, the nervous energy of the beautifully shaped hands.
He said: "Sit down Mademoiselle."
She sat down obediently. Her face was colorless and expressionless.
Poirot began with a mechanical expression of sympathy to which the girl acquiesced without any change of expression.
"And now, Mademoiselle, will you recount to me how you spent the afternoon of the day in question?"
Her answer came promptly, raising the suspicion that it had already been well rehearsed.
"After luncheon we all went for a stroll. I returned to the camp"
Poirot interrupted. "A little minute. Were you all together until then?"
"No, I was with my brother Raymond and Miss King or most of the time. Then I strolled off on my own."
"Thank you. And you were saying you returned to the camp. Do you know the approximate time?"
"I believe it was just about ten minutes past five."
Poirot put down "C. B. 5:10."
"And what then?"
"My mother was still sitting where she had been when we set out. I went up and spoke to her and then went on to my tent."
"Can you remember exactly what passed between you?"
"I just said it was very hot and that I was going to lie down. My mother said she would remain where she was. That was all."
"Did anything in her appearance strike you as out of the ordinary?"
"No. At leastthat is" She paused doubtfully, staring at Poirot.
"It is not from me that you can get the answer, Mademoiselle," said Poirot quietly.
She flushed and looked away. "I was just considering. I hardly noticed at the time, but now, looking back"
"Yes?"
Carol said slowly: "It is trueshe was a funny colorher face was very redmore so than usual."
"She might, perhaps, have had a shock of some kind." Poirot suggested.
"A shock?" She stared at him.
"Yes, she might have had, let us say, some trouble with one of the Arab servants."
"Oh!" Her face cleared. "Yesshe might."
"She did not mention such a thing having happened?"
"No, no, nothing at all."
Poirot went on: "And what did you do next Mademoiselle?"
"I went to my tent and lay down for about half an hour. Then I went down to the marquee. My brother and his wife were there reading."
"And what did you do?"
"Oh! I had some sewing to do. And then I picked up a magazine."
"Did you speak to your mother again on your way to the marquee?"
"No, I went straight down. I don't think I even glanced in her direction."
"And then?"
"I remained in the marquee untiluntil Miss King told us she was dead."
"And that is all you know, Mademoiselle?"
"Yes."
Poirot leaned forward. His tone was the same, light and conversational. "And what did you feel, Mademoiselle?"
"What did I feel?"
"Yes, when you found that your motherpardonyour stepmother was she not?what did you feel when you learned she was dead?"
She stared at him. "I don't understand what you mean!"
"I think you understand very well."
Her eyes dropped. She said, uncertainly: "It wasa great shock."
"Was it?"
The blood rushed to her face. She stared at him helplessly.
Now he saw fear in her eyes. "Was it such a great shock, Mademoiselle? Remembering a certain conversation you had with your brother Raymond one night in Jerusalem?"
His shot proved right. He saw it in the way the color drained out of her cheeks again. "You know about that?" she whispered.
"Yes, I know."
"But howhow?"
"Part of your conversation was overheard."
"Oh!" Carol Boynton buried her face in her hands. Her sobs shook the table. Hercule Poirot waited a minute, then he said quietly: "You were planning together to bring about your stepmother's death."
Carol sobbed out brokenly: "We were madmadthat evening!"
"Perhaps."
"It's impossible for you to understand the state we were in!" She sat up, pushing back the hair from her face. "It would sound fantastic. It wasn't so bad in Americabut traveling brought it home to us so."
"Brought what home to you?" His voice was kind now, sympathetic.
"Our being different fromother people! Wewe got desperate about it. And there was Jinny."
"Jinny?"
"My sister. You haven't seen her. She was goingwellqueer. And Mother was making her worse. She didn't seem to realize. We were afraid, Ray and I, that Jinny was going quite mad! And we saw [unreadable]
Poirot nodded his head slowly. "Yes, it has seemed so, I know, to many. That is, by history."
"That's how Ray and I felt that night. . . ." She put her hand on the table. "But we didn't really do it. Of course we didn't do it! When daylight came the thing seemed absurd, melodramatic. Oh, yes, and wicked too! Indeed, indeed, M. Poirot, Mother died naturally of heart failure. Ray and I had nothing to do with it."
Poirot said quietly: "Will you swear to me, Mademoiselle, as your salvation after death, that Mrs. Boynton did not die as a result of any action of yours?"
She lifted her head. Her voice came steadily "I swear," said Carol, "as I hope for salvation I never harmed her. . . ."
Poirot leaned back in his chair. "No," he said, "that is that."
There was silence. Poirot thoughtfully caressed his moustache. Then he said: "What exactly was your plan?"
"Plan?"
"Yes, you and your brother must have had a plan."
In his mind he ticked off the seconds before her answer came. One, two, three.
"We had no plan," said Carol at last. "We never got as far as that."
Hercule Poirot got up.
"That is all, Mademoiselle. Will you be so good as to send your brother to me."
Carol rose. She stood undecidedly for a minute. "M. Poirot, you doyou do believe me?"
"Have I said," asked Poirot, "that I do not?"
"No, but" She stopped.
He said: "You will ask your brother to come here?"
"Yes."
She went slowly towards the door. She stopped as she got to it, turning around passionately. "I have told you the truthI have!"
Hercule Poirot did not answer and Carol Boynton went slowly out of the room.


9
Poirot noted the likeness between brother and sister as Raymond Boynton came into the room.
His face was stern and set. He did not seem nervous or afraid. He dropped into a chair, stared hard at Poirot and said: "Well?"
Poirot said gently: "Your sister has spoken with you?"
Raymond nodded. "Yes, when she told me to come here. Of course I realize that your suspicions are quite justified. If our conversation was overheard that night, the fact that my stepmother died rather suddenly certainly would seem suspicious! I can only assure you that that conversation was the madness of an evening! We were, at the time, under an intolerable strain. This fantastic plan of killing my stepmother didoh, how shall I put it?it let off steam somehow!"
Hercule Poirot bent his head slowly. "That," he said, "is possible."
"In the morning, of course, it all seemed rather absurd! I swear to you, M. Poirot, that I never thought of the matter again!"
Poirot did not answer.
Raymond said quickly: "Well, yes, I know that that is easy enough to say. I cannot expect you to believe me on my bare word. But consider the facts. I spoke to my mother just a little before six o'clock. She was certainly alive and well then. I went to my tent, had a wash and joined the others in the marquee. From that time onwards neither Carol nor I moved from the place. We were in full sight of everyone. You must see, M. Poirot, that my mother's death was natural, a case of heart failure. It couldn't be anything else! There were servants about, a lot of coming and going. Any other idea is absurd."
Poirot said quietly: "Do you know, M. Boynton, that Miss King is of the opinion that when she examined the bodyat six-thirtydeath had occurred at least an hour and a half and probably two hours earlier?"
Raymond stared at him. He looked dumbfounded. "Sarah said that?" he gasped.
Poirot nodded. "What have you to say now?"
"Butit's impossible!"
"That is Miss King's testimony. Now you come and tell me that your mother was alive and well only forty minutes before Miss King examined the body."
Raymond said: "But she was!"
"Be careful, M. Boynton."
"Sarah must be mistaken! There must be some factor she didn't take into account. Refraction off the rocksomething. I can assure you, M. Poirot, that my mother was alive at just before six and that I spoke to her."
Poirot's face showed nothing.
Raymond leaned forward earnestly. "M. Poirot, I know how it must seem to you, but look at it fairly. You are a biased person. You are bound to be by the nature of things. You live in an atmosphere where even sudden death must seem to you a possible murder. Can't you realize that your sense of proportion is to be relied upon? People die every dayespecially those with weak heartsand there is nothing in the least sinister about such deaths."
Poirot sighed. "So you would teach me my business, is that it?"
"No of course not. But I do think that you are prejudicedbecause of that unfortunate conversation. There is nothing really about my mother's death to awaken suspicion except that unlucky hysterical conversation between Carol and myself."
Poirot shook his head. "You are in error," he said. "There is something else. There is the poison taken from Dr. Gerard's medicine chest."
"Poison?" Ray stared at him. "Poison!" He pushed his chair back a little. He looked completely stupefied. "Is that what you suspect?"
Poirot gave him a minute or two. Then he said quietly, almost indifferently: "Your plan was differenteh?"
"Oh, yes." Raymond answered mechanically. "That's why this changes everything. . . . II can't think clearly."
"What was your plan?"
"Our plan? It was" Raymond stopped abruptly. His eyes became alert, suddenly watchful. "I don't think," he said, "that I'll say any more." He got up.
"As you please," said Poirot.
He watched the young man out of the room. He drew his pad towards him and in small neat characters made a final entry. "R. B. 5:55."
Then, taking a large sheet of paper, he proceeded to write. His task completed, he sat back with his head on one side contemplating the result. It ran as follows:
Boyntons and Jefferson Cope leave the camp 3:05 (approx.)
Dr. Gerard and Sarah King leave the camp 3:15 (approx.)
Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce leave the camp 4:15
Dr. Gerard returns to camp 4:20 (approx.)
Lennox Boynton returns to camp 4:35
Nadine Boynton returns to camp and talks to Mrs. Boynton 4:40
Nadine Boynton leaves her mother-in-law and goes to marquee 4:50 (approx.)
Carol Boynton returns to camp 5:10
Lady Westholme, Miss Pierce and M. Jefferson Cope return to camp 5:40.
Raymond Boynton returns to camp 5:50
Sarah King returns to camp 6:00
Body discovered 6:30


10
"I wonder," said Hercule Poirot. He folded up the list, went to the door and ordered Mahmoud to be brought to him. The stout dragoman was voluble. Words dripped from him in a rising flood.
"Always, always, I am blamed. When anything happens, say always my fault. Always my fault. When Lady Ellen Hunt sprain her ankle coming down from Place of Sacrifice, it my fault, though she would go high-heeled shoes and she sixty at leastperhaps seventy. My life all one misery! Ah! What with miseries and iniquities Jews do to us"
At last Poirot succeeded in stemming the flood and in getting in his question.
"Half-past five o'clock, you say? No, I not think any of servants were about then. You see, lunch it latetwo o'clock. And then to clear it away. After the lunch all afternoon sleep. Yes, Americans, they not take tea. We all settle sleep by half-past three. At five I, who am soul of efficiencyalwaysalways I watch for the comfort of ladies and gentlemen I serving, I come out knowing that time all English ladies want tea. But no one there. They all gone walking. For me, that is very wellbetter than usual. I can go back sleep. At quarter to six trouble beg. Large English ladyvery grand ladycome back and want tea although boys are now laying dinner. She makes quite fusssays water must be boilingI am see myself. Ah, my good gentleman! What a lifewhat life! I do all I canalways I blamedI"
Poirot cut short the recriminations. "There is another small matter. The dead lady was angry with one of the boys. Do you know which one it was and what it was about?"
Mahmoud's hands rose to heaven. "Should I know? But naturally not. Old lady did not complain to me."
"Could you find out?"
"No, my good gentleman, that would be impossible. None of the boys admit it for a moment. Old lady angry, you say? Then naturally boys would not tell. Abdul say it Mohammed, and Mohammed say it Aziz, and Aziz say it Aissa, and so on. They are all very stupid Bedouinunderstand nothing." He took a breath and continued: "Now I, I have advantage of Mission education. I recite to you KeatsShelleyladadoveandasweedovedied"
Poirot flinched. Though English was not his native tongue he knew it well enough to suffer from the strange enunciation of Mahmoud.
"Superb!" he said hastily. "Superb! Definitely I recommend you to all my friends." He contrived to escape from the dragoman's eloquence. Then he took his list to Colonel Carbury, whom he found in his office.
Carbury pushed his tie a little more askew and asked: "Got anything?"
Poirot sat down. "Shall I tell you a theory of mine?"
"If you like," said Colonel Carbury, and sighed. One and another he had heard a good many theories in the course of his existence.
"My theory is that criminology is the easiest science in the world! One has only to let the criminal talksooner or later he will tell you everything."
"I remember you said something of the kind before. Who's been telling you things?"
"Everybody."
Briefly, Poirot retailed the interviews he had had that morning.
"Hm," said Carbury. "Yes, you've got hold of a pointer or two, perhaps. Pity of it is, they all seem to point in opposite directions. Have we got a case, that's what I want to know?"
"No."
Carbury sighed again.
"I was afraid not."
"But before nightfall," said Poirot, "you shall have the truth!"
"Well, that's all you ever promised me," said Colonel Carbury. "And I rather doubted your getting that! Sure of it?"
"I am very sure."
"Must be nice to feel like that," commented the other. If there was a faint twinkle in his eye, Poirot appeared unaware of it. He produced his list.
"Neat," said Colonel Carbury approvingly.
He bent over it. After a minute or two he said: "Know what I think?"
"I should be delighted if you would tell me."
"Young Raymond Boynton's out of it."
"Ah! You think so?"
"Yes. Clear as a bell what he thought. We might have known he'd be out of it. Being, as in detective stories the most likely person. Since you practically overheard him saving he was going to bump off the old ladywe might have known that meant he was innocent!"
"You read the detective stories, yes?"
"Thousands of them," said Colonel Carbury. He added and his tone was that of a wistful schoolboy: "I suppose you couldn't do the things the detective does in books? Write a list of significant factsthings that don't seem to mean anything but are really frightfully importantthat sort of thing?"
"Ah," said Poirot kindly. "You like that kind of detective story? But certainly, I will do it for you with pleasure."
He drew a sheet of paper towards him and wrote quickly and neatly:


SIGNIFICANT POINTS
1. Mrs. Boynton was taking a mixture containing digitalis.
2. Dr. Gerard missed a hypodermic syringe.
3. Mrs. Boynton took definite pleasure in keeping her family from enjoying themselves with other people.
4. Mrs. Boynton, on the afternoon in question, encouraged her family to go away and leave her.
5. Mrs. Boynton was a mental sadist.
6. The distance from the marquee to the place where Mrs. Boynton was sitting is (roughly) two hundred yards. Mr Lennox Boynton said at first he did not know what time he returned to the camp, but later he admitted having set his mother's wristwatch to the right time.
8 Dr. Gerard and Miss Ginevra Boynton occupied tents next door to each other. At half-past six, when dinner was ready, a servant was dispatched to announce the fact to Mrs. Boynton.
The Colonel perused this with great satisfaction. "Capital!" he said. "Just the thing! You've made it difficultand seemingly irrelevantabsolutely the authentic touch! By the way, it seems to me there are one or two rather noticeable omissions. But that, I suppose, is what you tempt the mug with?"
Poirot's eyes twinkled a little but he did not answer.
"Point two, for instance," said Colonel Carbury tentatively. "Dr. Gerard missed a hypodermic syringeyes. He also missed a concentrated solution of digitalisor something of that kind."
"The latter point," said Poirot, "is not important in the way the absence of his hypodermic syringe is important."
"Splendid!" said Colonel Carbury, his face irradiated with smiles. "I don't get it at all. I should have said the digitalis was much more important than the syringe! And what about that servant motif that keeps cropping upa servant being sent to tell her dinner was ready. And that story of her shaking her stick at a servant earlier in the afternoon? You're not going to tell me one of my poor desert mutts bumped her off after all? Because," added Colonel Carburv sternly, "if so, that would be cheating."
Poirot smiled but did not answer. As he left the office, he murmured to himself: "Incredible! The English never grow up!"


11
Sarah King sat on a hilltop absently plucking up wild flowers. Dr. Gerard sat on a rough wall of stones near her. She said, suddenly and fiercely: "Why did you start all this? If it hadn't been for you"
Dr. Gerard said slowly: "You think I should have kept silence?"
"Yes."
"Knowing what I knew?"
"You didn't know," said Sarah.
The Frenchman sighed. "I did know. But I admit one can never be absolutely sure."
"Yes, one can," said Sarah uncompromisingly.
The Frenchman shrugged his shoulders. "You, perhaps!"
Sarah said: "You had fevera high temperatureyou couldn't be clearheaded about the business. The syringe was probably there all the time. And you may have made a mistake about the digitoxin or one of the servants may have meddled with the case."
Gerard said cynically: "You need not worry! The evidence is almost bound to be inconclusive. You will see, your friends the Boyntons will get away with it!"
Sarah said fiercely: "I don't want that, either."
He shook his head. "You are illogical!"
"Wasn't it you"Sarah demanded"in Jerusalem who said a great deal about not interfering? And now look!"
"I have not interfered. I have only told what I know!"
"And I say you don't know it. Oh, dear, there we are back again! I'm arguing in a circle."
Gerard said gently: "I am sorry, Miss King."
Sarah said in a low voice: "You see, after all, they haven't escapedany of them! She's still there! Even from her grave she can still reach out and hold them. There was something terrible about her. She's just as terrible now she's dead! I feelI feel she's enjoying all this!"
She clenched her hands. Then she said in an entirely different tone, a light everyday voice: "That little man's coming up the hill."
Dr. Gerard looked over his shoulder, "Ah! He comes in search of us, I think."
"Is he as much of a fool as he looks?" asked Sarah.
Dr. Gerard said gravely: "He is not a fool at all."
"I was afraid of that," said Sarah King. With somber eyes she watched the uphill progress of Hercule Poirot.
He reached them at last and wiped his forehead. Then he looked sadly down at his patent leather shoes.
"Alas," he said. "This stony country! My poor shoes."
"You can borrow Lady Westholme's shoe-cleaning apparatus," said Sarah unkindly. "And her duster. She travels with a kind of patent housemaid's equipment."
"That will not remove the scratches, Mademoiselle." Poirot shook his head sadly.
"Perhaps not. Why on earth do you wear shoes like that in this sort of country?"
Poirot put his head a little on one side. "I like to have the appearance soigne," he said.
"I should give up trying for that in the desert," said Sarah.
"Women do not look their best in the desert," said Dr. Gerard dreamily. "Miss King here, yesshe always looks neat and well turned out. But that Lady Westholme in her great thick coats and skirts and those terribly unbecoming riding breeches and bootsquelle horreur de femme! And the poor Miss Pierceher clothes so limp, like faded cabbage leaves, and the chains and the beads that clink! Even young Mrs. Boynton, who is a good-looking woman, is not what you call chic! Her clothes are uninteresting."
Sarah said restively: "Well, I don't suppose M. Poirot climbed up here to talk about clothes!"
"True," said Poirot. "I came to consult Dr. Gerardhis opinion should be of value to meand yours too, Mademoiselle. You are young and up to date in your psychology. I want to know, you see, all that you can tell me of Mrs. Boynton."
"Don't you know all that by heart now?" asked Sarah.
"No. I have a feelingmore than a feelinga certainty that the mental equipment of Mrs. Boynton is very important in this case. Such types as hers are no doubt familiar to Dr. Gerard."
"From my point of view she was certainly an interesting study," said the doctor.
"Tell me."
Dr. Gerard was nothing loath. He described his interest in the family group, his conversation with Jefferson Cope, and the latter's complete misreading of the situation.
"He is a sentimentalist, then," said Poirot thoughtfully.
"Oh, essentially! He has idealsbased, really, on a deep instinct of laziness. To take human nature at its best and the world as a pleasant place is undoubtedly the easiest course in life! Jefferson Cope has, consequently, not the least idea what people are really like."
"That might be dangerous sometimes," said Poirot.
Dr. Gerard went on: "He persisted in regarding what I may describe as 'the Boynton situation' as a case of mistaken devotion. Of the underlying hate, rebellion, slavery and misery he had only the faintest notion."
"It is stupid, that," Poirot commented.
"All the same," went on Dr. Gerard, "even the most willfully obtuse of sentimental optimists cannot be quite blind. I think, on the journey to Petra, Mr. Jefferson Cope's eyes were being opened."
And he described the conversation he had had with the American on the morning of Mrs. Boynton's death.
"That is an interesting story, that story of a servant girl, said Poirot thoughtfully. "It throws light on the old woman's methods."
Gerard said: "It was altogether an odd, strange morning, that! You have not been to Petra, M. Poirot? If you go, you must certainly climb to the Place of Sacrifice. It has anhow could I say?an atmosphere!" He described the scene in detail adding: "Mademoiselle here sat like a young judge, speaking of the sacrifice of one to save many. You remember, Miss King?"
Sarah shivered. "Don't! Don't let's talk of that day."
"No, no," said Poirot. "Let us talk of events further back in the past. I am interested, Dr. Gerard, in your sketch of Mrs. Boynton's mentality. What I do not quite understand is this. Having brought her family into absolute subjection, why did she then arrange this trip abroad where surely there was danger of outside contacts and of her authority being weakened?"
Dr. Gerard leaned forward excitedly. "But, mon vieux, that is just it! Old ladies are the same all the world over. They get bored! If their specialty is placing patience, they sicken of the patience they know too well. They want to learn a new patience. And it is just the same with an old lady whose recreation (incredible as it may sound) is the dominating and tormenting of human creatures! Mrs. Boyntonto speak of her as une dompteusehad tamed her tigers. There was perhaps some excitement as they passed through the stage of adolescence. Lennox's marriage to Nadine was an adventure. But then, suddenly, all was stale. Lennox is so sunk in melancholy that it is practically impossible to wound or stress him. Raymond and Carol show no signs of rebellion."
"GinevraAh! La pauvre Ginevrashe, from her mother's point of view, gives the poorest sport of all! Ginevra has found a way of escape! She escapes from reality into fantasy. The more her mother goads her the more easily she gets a secret thrill out of being a persecuted heroine! From Mrs. Boynton's point of view it is all deadly dull. She seeks, like Alexander, new worlds to conquer. And so she plans the voyage abroad. There will be the danger of her tamed beasts rebelling, there will be opportunities for inflicting fresh pain! It sounds absurd does it not, but it was so! She wanted a new thrill."
Poirot took a deep breath. "It is perfect, that. Yes, I see exactly what you mean. It was so. It all fits in. She chose to live dangerously, la Maman Boynton and she paid the penalty!"
Sarah leaned forward, her pale intelligent face very serious.
"You mean," she said, "that she drove her victims too far andand they turned on heroror one of them did?"
Poirot bowed his head.
Sarah said, and her voice was a little breathless: "Which of them?"
Poirot looked at her, at her hands clenched fiercely on the wild flowers, at the pale rigidity of her face.
He did not answerwas indeed saved from answeringfor at that moment Gerard touched his shoulder and said: "Look."
A girl was wandering along the side of the hill. She moved with a strange rhythmic grace that somehow gave the impression that she was not quite real. The gold-red of her hair shone in the sunlight, a strange secretive smile lifted the beautiful corners of her mouth.
Poirot drew in his breath. He said: "How beautiful. . . How strangely, movingly beautiful. That is how Ophelia should be playedlike a young goddess straying from another world, happy because she has escaped out of the bondage of human joys and griefs."
"Yes, yes, you are right," said Gerard. "It is a face to dream of, is it not? I dreamt of it. In my fever I opened my eves and saw that facewith its sweet unearthly smile. . . . It was a good dream. I was sorry to wake. . . ."
Then, with a return to his commonplace manner: "That is Ginevra Boynton," he said.


12
In another minute the girl had reached them. Dr. Gerard performed the introduction.
"Miss Boynton, this is M. Hercule Poirot."
"Oh!" She looked at him uncertainly. Her fingers joined together, twined themselves uneasily in and out. The enchanted nymph had come back from the country of enchantment. She was now just an ordinary, awkward girl, slightly nervous and ill at ease.
Poirot said: "It is a piece of good fortune meeting you here, Mademoiselle. I tried to see you in the hotel."
"Did you?" Her smile was vacant. Her fingers began plucking at the belt of her dress.
He said gently: "Will you walk with me a little way?"
She moved docilely enough, obedient to his whim. Presently she said, rather unexpectedly, in a queer hurried voice: "You areyou are a detective, aren't you?"
"Yes, Mademoiselle,"
"A very well-known detective?"
"The best detective in the world," said Poirot, stating it as a simple truth, no more, no less.
Ginevra Boynton breathed very softly: "You have come here to protect me?"
Poirot stroked his moustache thoughtfully. He said: "Are you then in danger, Mademoiselle?"
"Yes. Yes!" She looked around with a quick suspicious dance. "I told Dr. Gerard about it in Jerusalem. He was very clever. He gave no sign at the time. But he followed me to that terrible place with the red rocks." She shivered. "They meant to kill me there. I have to be continually on my guard."
Poirot nodded gently and indulgently.
Ginevra Boynton said: "He is kindand good. He is in love with me!"
"Yes?"
"Oh, yes. He says my name in his sleep. . . ." Her face softenedagain a kind of trembling, unearthly beauty hovered there. "I saw him lying there turning and tossing and saying my name. . . . I stole away quietly." She paused. "I thought, perhaps, he had sent for you? I have a terrible lot of enemies, you know. They are all around me. Sometimes they are disguised."
"Yes, yes," said Poirot gently. "But you are safe herewith all your family around you."
She drew herself up proudly. "They are not my family! I have nothing to do with them. I cannot tell you who I really amthat is a great secret. It would surprise you if you knew."
He said gently: "Was your mother's death a great shock to you, Mademoiselle?"
Ginevra stamped her foot. "I tell you she wasn't my mother! My enemies paid her to pretend she was and to see I did not escape!"
"Where were you on the afternoon of her death?"
She answered readily: "I was in the tent. . . . It was hot in there, but I didn't dare come out. . . . They might have got me. . . ." She gave a little quiver. "One of them looked into my tent. He was disguised, but I knew him. I pretended to be asleep. The Sheikh had sent him. The Sheikh wanted to kidnap me, of course."
For a few moments Poirot walked in silence, then he said: "They are very pretty, these histories you recount to yourself."
She stopped. She glared at him. "They're true. They're all true." Again she stamped an angry foot.
"Yes," said Poirot, "they are certainly ingenious."
She cried out: "They are truetrue" Then, angrily, she turned from him and ran down the hillside.
Poirot stood looking after her. In a minute or two he heard a voice close behind him. "What did you say to her?"
Poirot turned to where Dr. Gerard, a little out of breath, stood beside him. Sarah was coming towards them both, but she came at a more leisurely pace.
Poirot answered Gerard's question. "I told her," he said, "that she had imagined to herself some pretty stories."
The doctor nodded his head thoughtfully. "And she was angry! That is a good sign. It shows, you see, that she has not yet completely passed through the gate. Still knows that it is not the truth! I shall cure her."
[unreadable]
"Yes. I have discussed the matter with young Mrs. Boynton and her husband. Ginevra will come to Paris and enter one of my clinics. Afterwards she will have her training for the stage."
"The stage?"
"Yes, there is a possibility there for her, of great success. And that is what she needswhat she must have! In many essentials she has the same nature as her mother."
"No!" cried Sarah, revolted.
"It seems impossible to you, but certain fundamental traits are the same. They were both born with a great yearning for importance, they both demand that their personalities shall impress! This poor child has been thwarted and suppressed at every turn, she has been given no outlet for her fierce ambition, for her love of life, for the expressing of her vivid romantic personality." He gave a little laugh. "Nous voullons changer tout pa!"
Then, with a little bow, he murmured: "You will excuse me?" And he hurried down the hill after the girl.
Sarah said: "Dr. Gerard is tremendously keen on his job."
"I perceive his keenness," said Poirot.
Sarah said with a frown: "All the same, I can't bear his comparing her to that horrible old woman although once I felt sorry for Mrs. Boynton myself."
"When was that, Mademoiselle?"
"That time I told you about in Jerusalem. I suddenly felt as though I'd got the whole business wrong. You know that feeling one has sometimes when just for a short time you see everything the other way round? I got all 'het up' about it and went and made a fool of myself!"
"Oh, nonot that!"
Sarah, as always, when she remembered her conversation with Mrs. Boynton, was blushing acutely. "I felt all exalted as though I had a mission! And then later, when Lady W. fixed a fishy eye on me and said she had seen me talking to Mrs. Boynton, I thought she had probably overheard, and I felt the most complete ass."
Poirot said: "What exactly was it that old Mrs. Boynton said to you? Can you remember the exact words?"
"I think so. They made rather an impression on me. 'I never forget.' That's what she said. 'Remember that. I've never forgotten anythingnot an action, not a name, not a face.'" Sarah shivered. "She said it so malevolentlynot even looking at me. I feelI feel as if, even now, I can hear her. . . ."
Poirot said gently: "It impressed you very much?"
"Yes. I'm not easily frightened but sometimes I dream of her saying just these words and I can see her evil, leering, triumphant face. Ugh!" She gave a quick shiver. Then she turned suddenly to him.
"M. Poirot, perhaps I ought not to ask, but have you come to a conclusion about this business? Have you found out anything definite?"
"Yes."
He saw her lips tremble as she asked: "What?"
"I have found out to whom Raymond Boynton spoke that night in Jerusalem. It was to his sister Carol."
"Carolof course!" Then she went on: "Did you tell himdid you ask him" It was no use. She could not go on. Poirot looked at her gravely and compassionately. He said quietly: "It means so much to you, Mademoiselle?"
"It means just everything!" said Sarah. Then she squared her shoulders. "But I've got to know."
Poirot said quietly: "He told me that it was a hysterical outburstno more! That he and his sister were worked up. He told me that in daylight such an idea appeared fantastic to them both."
"I see. . . ."
Poirot said gently: "Miss Sarah, will you not tell me what it is you fear?"
Sarah turned a white despairing face upon him. "That afternoon we were together. And he left me sayingsaying he wanted to do something nowwhile he had the courage. I thought he meant just toto tell her. But supposing he meant . . ." Her voice died away. She stood rigid, fighting for control.


13
NADINE BOYNTON CAME out of the hotel. As she hesitated uncertainly, a waiting figure sprang forward. Mr. Jefferson Cope was immediately at his lady's side "Shall we walk up this way? I think it's the pleasantest."
She acquiesced.
They walked along and Mr. Cope talked. His words came freely, if a trifle monotonously. It is not certain whether he perceived that Nadine was not listening. As they turned aside onto the stony flower-covered hillside she interrupted him.
"Jefferson, I'm sorry. I've got to talk to you." Her face had grown pale.
"Why, certainly, my dear. Anything you like, but don't distress yourself."
She said, "You're cleverer than I thought. You know, don't you, what I'm going to say?"
"It is undoubtedly true," said Mr. Cope, "that circumstances alter cases. I do feel, very profoundly, that in the present circumstances, decisions may have to be reconsidered." He sighed. "You've got to go right ahead, Nadine, and do just what you feel."
She said, with real emotion: "You're so good, Jefferson. So patient! I feel I've treated you very badly. I really have been downright mean to you."
"Now, look here, Nadine, let's get this right. I've always known what my limitations were where you were concerned. I've had the deepest affection and respect for you since I've known you. All I want is your happiness. That's all I've ever wanted. Seeing you unhappy has very nearly driven me crazy. And I may say that I've blamed Lennox. I've felt that he didn't deserve to keep you if he didn't value your happiness a little more than he seemed to do."
Mr. Cope took a breath and went on: "Now I'll admit that after traveling with you to Petra, I felt that perhaps Lennox wasn't quite so much to blame as I thought. He wasn't so much selfish where you were concerned, as too unselfish where his mother was concerned. I don't want to say anything against the dead, but I do think that your mother-in-law was perhaps an unusually difficult woman."
"Yes, I think you may say that," murmured Nadine.
"Anyway," went on Mr. Cope, "you came to me yesterday and told me that you'd definitely decided to leave Lennox. I applauded your decision. It wasn't rightthe life you were leading. You were quite honest with me. You didn't pretend to be more than just mildly fond of me. Well, that was all right with me. All I asked was the chance to look after you and treat you as you should be treated. I may say that afternoon was one of the happiest in my life."
Nadine cried out: "I'm sorryI'm sorry."
"No, my dear, because all along I had a kind of feeling that it wasn't real. I felt it was quite on the cards that you would have changed your mind by the next morning. Well, things are different now. You and Lennox can lead a life of your own."
Nadine said quietly: "Yes. I can't leave Lennox. Please forgive me."
"Nothing to forgive," declared Mr. Cope. "You and I will go back to being old friends. We'll just forget about that afternoon."
Nadine placed a gentle hand on his arm. "Dear Jefferson, thank you. I'm going to find Lennox now."
She turned and left him. Mr. Cope went on alone.
Nadine found Lennox sitting at the top of the Graeco-Roman Theatre. He was in such a brown study that he hardly noticed her till she sank breathless at his side. "Lennox."
"Nadine." He half turned.
She said: "We haven't been able to talk until now. But you know, don't you, that I am not leaving you?"
He said gravely: "Did you ever really mean to, Nadine?"
She nodded. "Yes. You see, it seemed to be the only possible thing left to do. I hopedI hoped that you would come after me. Poor Jefferson, how mean I have been to him."
Lennox gave a sudden curt laugh. "No, you haven't. Anyone who is as unselfish as Cope, ought to be given full scope for his nobility! And you were right, you know, Nadine. When you told me that you were going away with him you gave me the shock of my life. You know, honestly, I think I must have been going queer or something lately. Why the hell didn't I snap my fingers in Mother's face and go off with you when you wanted me to?"
She said gently: "You couldn't, my dear, you couldn't."
Lennox said musingly: "Mother was a damned queer character. . . . I believe she'd got us all half hypnotized."
"She had."
Lennox mused a minute or two longer. Then he said: "When you told me that afternoonit was just like being hit a crack on the head! I walked back half dazed, and then, suddenly I saw what a damned fool I'd been! I realized that there was only one thing to be done if I didn't want to lose you."
He felt her stiffen. His tone became grimmer. "I went and"
"Don't . . ."
He gave her a quick glance. "I went and argued with her." He spoke with a complete change of tonecareful and rather toneless. "I told her that I'd got to choose between her and youand that I chose you."
There was a pause. He repeated, in a tone of curious self-approval: "Yes, that's what I said to her."


14
Poirot met two people on his way home. The first was Mr. Jefferson Cope.
"M. Hercule Poirot? My name's Jefferson Cope."
The two men shook hands ceremoniously. Then, falling into step beside Poirot, Mr. Cope explained: "It's just got around to me that you're making a kind of routine inquiry into the death of my old friend, Mrs. Boynton. That certainly was a shocking business. Of course, mind you, the old lady ought never to have undertaken such a fatiguing journey. But she was headstrong, M. Poirot. Her family could do nothing with her. She was by way of being a household tyranthad had her own way too long, I guess. It certainly is true that what she said went! Yes, sir, that certainly was true."
There was a momentary pause.
"I'd just like to tell you, M. Poirot, that I'm an old friend of the Boynton family. Naturally, they're all a good deal upset over this business, they're a trifle nervous and highly strung too, you know, so if there are any arrangements to be made: necessary formalities, arrangements for the funeral, transport of the body to Jerusalem, why, I'll take as much trouble as I can on their hands. Just call upon me for anything that needs doing."
"I am sure the family will appreciate your offer," said Poirot. He added: "You are, I think, a special friend of young Mrs. Boynton's."
Mr. Jefferson Cope went a little pink. "Well. We won't say much about that, M. Poirot. I hear you had an interview with Mrs. Lennox Boynton this morning and she may have given you a hint how things were between us, but that's all over now. Mrs. Boynton is a very fine woman and she feels that her first duty is to her husband in his sad bereavement."
There was a pause. Poirot received the information by a delicate gesture of the head. Then he murmured: "It is the desire of Colonel Carbury to have a clear statement concerning the afternoon of Mrs. Boynton's death. Can you give me an account of that afternoon?"
"Why, certainly. After our luncheon and a brief rest we set out for a kind of informal tour around. We escaped, I'm glad to say, without that pestilential dragoman. That man's just crazy on the subject of the Jews. I don't think he's quite sane on that point. Anyway, as I was saying, we set out. It was then that I had my interview with Nadine. Afterwards, she wished to be alone with her husband to discuss matters with him. I went off on my own, working gradually back towards the camp. About half way there I met the two English ladies who had been on the morning expedition. One of them's an English peeress, I understand."
Poirot said that such was the case.
"Ah, she's a fine woman, a very powerful intellect and very well informed. The other seemed to me rather a weak sister, and she looked about dead with fatigue. That expedition in the morning was very strenuous for an elderly lady, especially when she doesn't like ******s. Well, as I was saying, I met these two ladies and was able to give them some information on the subject of the Nabateans. We went around a bit and got back to the camp about six. Lady Westholme insisted on having tea and I had the pleasure of having a cup with her. The tea was kind of weak but it had an interesting flavor. Then the boys laid the table for supper and sent out for the old lady, only to find that she was sitting there dead in her chair."
"Did you notice her as you walked home?"
"I did just notice she was thereit was her usual seat in the afternoon and evening, but I didn't pay special attention. I was just explaining to Lady Westholme the conditions of our recent slump. I had to keep an eye on Miss Pierce, too. She was so tired she kept turning her ankles."
"Thank you, Mr. Cope. May I be so indiscreet as to ask if Mrs. Boynton is likely to have left a large fortune?"
"A very considerable one. That is to say, strictly speaking, it was not hers to leave. She had a life interest in it and at her death it is divided among the late Elmer Boynton's children. Yes, they will all be very comfortably off now."
"Money," murmured Poirot, "makes a lot of difference. How many crimes have been committed for it!"
Mr. Cope looked a little startled. "Why, that's so, I suppose," he admitted.
Poirot smiled sweetly and murmured: "But there are so many motives for murder, are there not? Thank you, Mr. Cope, for your kind cooperation."
"You're welcome, I'm sure," said Mr. Cope. "Do I see Miss King sitting up there? I think I'll go and have a word with her."
Poirot continued to descend the hill. He met Miss Pierce fluttering up it. She greeted him breathlessly.
"Oh M. Poirot, I'm so glad to meet you. I've been talking to that very odd Boynton girlthe youngest one, you know. She has been saying the strangest thingsabout enemies and some Sheikh who wanted to kidnap her and how she has spies all around her. Really, it sounded most romantic! Lady Westholme says it is all nonsense and that she once had a redheaded kitchen maid who told lies just like that, but I think sometimes that Lady Westholme is rather hard. And after all, it might be true, mightn't it, M. Poirot? I read some years ago that one of the Czar's daughters was not killed in the Revolution in Russia but escaped secretly to America. The Grand Duchess Tatiana, I think it was. If so, this might be her daughter, mightn't it? She did hint at something Royal. And she has a look, don't you think? Rather Slavic, those cheekbones. How thrilling it would be!"
Miss Pierce looked wistful and excited. Poirot said, somewhat sententiously: "It is true that there are many strange things in life."
"I didn't really take in this morning who you are," said Miss Pierce, clasping her hands. "Of course you are that very famous detective! I read all about the A.B.C. case. It was so thrilling. I had actually a post as governess near Doncaster at the time."
Poirot murmured something. Miss Pierce went on with growing agitation: "That is why I felt that perhaps I had been wrong this morning. One must always tell everything, must one, of even the smallest detail, however unrelated it may seem. Because, of course, if you are mixed up in this, poor Mrs. Boynton must have been murdered! I see that now. I suppose Mr. Mah MoodI cannot remember his namebut the dragoman, I meanI suppose he could not be a Bolshevik agent? Or even, perhaps, Miss King's? I believe many quite well brought up young girls of good family belong to these dreadful Communists! That's why I wondered if I ought to tell youbecause, you see, it was rather peculiar when one comes to think of it."
"Precisely," said Poirot. "And therefore you will tell me all about it."
"Well, it's not really anything very much. It's only that on the next morning after Mrs. Boynton's death I was up rather early and I looked out of my tent to see the effect of the sunrise, you know. Only of course it wasn't actually sunrise because the sun must have risen quite an hour before. But it was early"
"Yes, yes. And you saw?"
"That's the curious thingat least at the time it didn't seem much. It was only that I saw that Boynton girl come out of her tent and fling something right out into the stream. Nothing in that, of course, but it glittered in the sunlight! As it went through the air. It glittered, you know."
"Which Boynton girl was it?"
"I think it was the one they call Carola very nice-looking girlso like her brother. Really they might be twins. Or, of course, it might have been the youngest one. The sun was in my eyes so I couldn't quite see. But I don't think the hair was redjust bronze. I'm so fond or that coppery bronze hair! Red hair always says carrots to me!" She tittered.
"And she threw away a brightly glittering object?" said Poirot.
"Yes. And, of course, as I said, I didn't think much of it at the time. But later I had walked along the stream and Miss King was there. And there amongst a lot of other very unsuitable thingseven a tin or twoI saw a little bright metal box. Not an exact square. A sort of long square if you understand what I mean"
"But, yes, I understand perfectly. About so long?"
"Yes, how clever of you! And I thought to myself, 'I suppose that's what the Boynton girl threw away, but it's a nice little box.' And just out of curiosity I picked it up and opened it. It had a kind of syringe insidethe same thing they stuck into my arm when I was being inoculated for typhoid. And I thought how curious to throw it away like that because it didn't seem broken or anything. But just as I was wondering Miss King spoke behind me. I hadn't heard her come up. And she said, 'Oh, thank youthat's my hypodermic. I was coming to look for it.' So I gave it to her and she went back to the camp with it."
Miss Pierce paused and then went on hurriedly: "And, of course, I expect there is nothing in itonly it did seem a little curious that Carol Boynton should throw away Miss King's syringe. I mean, it was odd, if you know what I mean. Though of course I expect there is a very good explanation."
She paused, looking expectantly at Poirot.
His face was grave. "Thank you Mademoiselle. What you have told me may not be important in itself, but I will tell you this! It completes my case! Everything is now clear and in order."
"Oh, really?" Miss Pierce looked as flushed and pleased as a child.
Poirot escorted her to the hotel.
Back in his own room he added one line to his memorandum:
"Point No. 10. I never forget. Remember that I've never forgotten anything. . . ."
He nodded his head. "Mais oui," he said. "It is all clear now!"


15
"My preparations are complete," said Hercule Poirot. With a little sigh, he stepped back a pace or two and contemplated his arrangement of one of the unoccupied hotel bedrooms.
Colonel Carbury, leaning inelegantly against the bed which had been pushed against the wall, smiled as he puffed at his pipe.
"Funny feller, aren't you, Poirot?" he said. "Like to dramatize things."
"Perhaps that is true," admitted the little detective. "But, indeed, it is not all self-indulgence. If one plays a comedy, one must first set the scene."
"Is this a comedy?"
"Even if it is a tragedythere, too, the decor must be correct."
Colonel Carbury looked at him curiously. "Well," he said. "It's up to you! I don't know what you're driving at. I gather, though, that you've got something."
"I shall have the honor to present to you what you asked me forthe truth!"
"Do you think we can get a conviction?"
"That, my friend, I did not promise you."
"True enough. Maybe I'm glad you haven't. It depends."
"My arguments are mainly psychological," said Poirot.
Colonel Carburv sighed. "I was afraid they might be."
"But they will convince you," Poirot reassured him. "Oh, yes, they will convince you. The truth, I have always thought, is curious and beautiful."
"Sometimes," said Colonel Carbury, "it's damned unpleasant."
"No, no." Poirot was earnest. "You take there the personal view. Take instead, the abstract, the detached point of vision. Then the absolute logic of events is fascinating and orderly."
"I'll try and look on it that way," said the Colonel.
Poirot glanced at his watch, a large grotesque turnip of a watch.
"Family heirloom?" inquired Carbury interestedly.
"But, yes, indeed, it belonged to my grandfather."
"Thought it might have done."
"It is time to commence our proceedings," said Poirot. "You, mon Colonel, will sit here behind this table in an official position."
"Oh, all right," Carbury grunted. "You don't want me to put my uniform on, do you?"
"No, no. If you would permit that I straightened your tie."
He suited the action to the word. Colonel Carbury grinned again, sat down in the chair indicated and a moment later, unconsciously, tweaked his tie around under his left ear again.
"Here," continued Poirot, slightly altering the position of the chairs, "we place la famille Boynton. And over here," he went on, "we will place the three outsiders who have a definite stake in the case. Dr. Gerard, on whose evidence the case for the prosecution depends. Miss Sarah King, who has two separate interests in the case, a personal one and that of medical examiner. Also M. Jefferson Cope, who was on intimate terms with the Boyntons and so may be definitely described as an interested party."
He broke off. "Ahahere they come."
He opened the door to admit the party.
Lennox Boynton and his wife came in first. Raymond and Carol followed. Ginevra walked by herself, a faint faraway smile on her lips. Dr. Gerard and Sarah King brought up the rear. Mr. Jefferson Cope was a few minutes late and came in with an apology.
When he had taken his place, Poirot stepped forward.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "this is an entirely informal gathering. It has come about through the accident of my presence in Amman. Colonel Carbury did me the honor to consult me"
Poirot was interrupted. The interruption came from what was seemingly the most unlikely quarter. Lennox Boynton said suddenly and pugnaciously: "Why? Why the devil should he bring you into this business?"
Poirot waved a hand gracefully. "Me, I am often called in cases of sudden death."
Lennox Boynton said: "Doctors send for you whenever there is a case of heart failure?"
Poirot said gently: "Heart failure is such a very loose and unscientific term."
Colonel Carbury cleared his throat. It was an official noise. He spoke in an official tone: "Best to make it quite clear. Circumstances of death reported to me. Very natural occurrence. Weather unusually hot. Journey a very trying one for an elderly lady in bad health. So far all quite clear. But Dr. Gerard came to me and volunteered a statement" He looked inquiringly at Poirot. Poirot nodded.
"Dr. Gerard is a very eminent physician with a worldwide reputation. Any statement he makes is bound to be received with attention. Dr. Gerard's statement was as follows: On the morning after Mrs. Boynton's death, he noticed that a certain quantity of a powerful drug acting on the heart was missing from his medical supplies. On the previous afternoon he had noted the disappearance of a hypodermic syringe. Syringe was returned during the night. Final pointthere was a puncture on the dead woman's wrist corresponding to the mark of a hypodermic syringe."
Colonel Carbury paused. "In these circumstances I considered that it was the duty of those in authority to inquire into the matter. M. Hercule Poirot was my guest and very considerately offered his highly specialized services. I gave him full authority to make any investigations he pleased. We are assembled here now to hear his report on the matter."
There was silence. A silence so acute that you could have heardas the saying isa pin drop. Actually, somebody in the next room did drop what was probably a shoe. It sounded like a bomb in the hushed atmosphere.
Poirot cast a quick glance at the little group of three people on his right, then turned his gaze to the five people huddled together on his lefta group of people with frightened eyes.
Poirot said quietly: "When Colonel Carbury mentioned this business to me, I gave him my opinion as an expert. I told him that it might not be possible to bring proofsuch proof as would be admissible in a court of lawbut I told him very definitely that I was sure I could arrive at the truth simply by questioning the people concerned. For let me tell you this, my friends, to investigate a crime it is only necessary to let the guilty party or parties talk. Always, in the end, they tell you what you want to know!"
He paused. "So, in this case, although you have lied to me, you have also, unwittingly, told me the truth."
He heard a faint sigh, the scrape of a chair on the floor to his right, but he did not look around. He continued to look at the Boyntons.
"First, I examined the possibility of Mrs. Boynton's having died a natural deathand I decided against it. The missing drug, the hypodermic syringe, and above all, the attitude of the dead lady's family all convinced me that that supposition could not be entertained. Not only was Mrs. Boynton killed in cold bloodbut every member of her family was aware of the fact! Collectively they reacted as guilty parties."
"But there are degrees in guilt. I examined the evidence carefully with a view to ascertaining whether the murderyes, it was murder!had been committed by the old lady's family acting on a concerted plan. There was, I may say, overwhelming motive. One and all stood to gain by her deathboth in the financial sensefor they would at once attain financial independence and indeed enjoy very considerable wealthand also in the sense of being freed from what had become an almost insupportable tyranny."
"To continue: I decided, almost immediately, that the concerted theory would not hold water. The stories of the Boynton family did not dovetail neatly into each other and no system of workable alibis had been arranged. The facts seemed more to suggest that oneor possibly two members of the family had acted in collusion and that the others were accessories after the fact."
"I next considered which particular member or members were indicated. Here, I may say, I was inclined to be biased by a certain piece of evidence known only to myself."
Here Poirot recounted his experience in Jerusalem.
"Naturally, that pointed very strongly to M. Raymond Boynton as the prime mover in the affair. Studying the family I came to the conclusion that the most likely recipient of his confidences that night would be his sister Carol. They strongly resembled each other in appearance and temperament, and so would have a keen bond of sympathy and they also possessed the nervous rebellious temperament necessary for the conception of such an act. That their motives were partly unselfishto free the whole family and particularly their younger sisteronly made the planning of the deed more plausible."
Poirot paused a minute.
Raymond Boynton half opened his lips, then shut them again. His eyes looked steadily at Poirot with a kind of dumb agony in them.
"Before I go into the case against Raymond Boynton, I would like to read to you a list of significant points which I drew up and submitted to Colonel Carbury this afternoon:


SIGNIFICANT POINTS
1. Mrs. Boynton was taking a mixture containing digitalis.
2. Dr. Gerard missed a hypodermic syringe.
3. Mrs. Boynton took definite pleasure in keeping her family from enjoying themselves with other people.
4. Mrs. Boynton, on the afternoon in question, encouraged her family to go away and leave her.
5. Mrs. Boynton was a mental sadist.
6. The distance from the marquee to the place where Mrs. Boynton was sitting is (roughly) two hundred yards.
7. M. Lennox Boynton said at first he did not know what time he returned to the camp, but later he admitted having set his mother's wristwatch to the right time.
8. Dr. Gerard and Miss Ginevra Boynton occupied tents next door to each other.
9. At half-past six, when dinner was ready, a servant was dispatched to announce the fact to Mrs. Boynton.
10. Mrs. Boynton, in Jerusalem, used these words: 'I never forget. Remember that. I've never forgotten anything.'
Although I have numbered the points separately, occasionally they can be bracketed in pairs. That is the case, for instance, with the first two. Mrs. Boynton was taking a mixture containing digitalis. Dr. Gerard had missed a hypodermic syringe. Those two points were the first thing that struck me about the case, and I may say to you that I found them most extraordinaryand quite irreconcilable. You do not see what I mean? No matter. I will return to the point presently. Let it suffice that I noted those two points as something that had definitely got to be explained satisfactorily."
"I will conclude now with my study of the possibility of Raymond Boynton's guilt. The following are the facts: He had been heard to discuss the possibility of taking Mrs. Boynton's life. He was in a condition of great nervous excitement. He hadMademoiselle will forgive me"he bowed apologetically to Sarah"just passed through a moment of great emotional crisis. That is, he had fallen in love. The exaltation of his feelings might lead him to act in one of several ways. He might feel mellowed and softened towards the world in general, including his stepmother, he might feel the courage at last to defy her and shake off her influence or he might find just the additional spur to turn his crime from theory to practice. That is the psychology! Let us now examine the facts."
"Raymond Boynton left the camp with the others about three-fifteen. Mrs. Boynton was then alive and well. Before long Raymond and Sarah King had a tête-à-tête interview. Then he left her. According to him, he returned to the camp at ten minutes to six. He went up to his mother, exchanged a few words with her, then went to his tent and afterwards down to the marquee. He says that at ten minutes to six Mrs. Boynton was alive and well."
"But we now come to a fact which directly contradicts that statement. At half-past six Mrs. Boynton's death was discovered by a servant. Miss King, who holds a medical degree, examined her body and she swears definitely that at that time, though she did not pay any special attention to the time when death had occurred, it had most certainly and decisively taken place at least an hour (and probably a good deal more) before six o'clock."
"We have here, you see, two conflicting statements. Setting aside the possibility that Miss King may have made a mistake"
Sarah interrupted him. "I don't make mistakes. That is, if I had, I would admit to it." Her tone was hard and clear.
Poirot bowed to her politely.
"Then there are only two possibilitieseither Miss King or M. Boynton is lying! Let us examine Raymond Boynton's reasons for so doing. Let us assume that Miss King was not mistaken and not deliberately lying. What then was the sequence of events? Raymond Boynton returns to the camp, sees his mother sitting at the mouth of her cave, goes up to her and finds she is dead. What does he do? Does he call for help? Does he immediately inform the camp of what has happened? No, he waits a minute or two, then passes on to his tent and joins his family in the marquee and says nothing. Such conduct is exceedingly curious, is it not?"
Raymond said, in a nervous sharp voice: "It would be idiotic, of course. That ought to show you that my mother was alive and well, as I've said. Miss King was flustered and upset and made a mistake."
"One asks oneself," said Poirot, calmly sweeping on, whether there could possibly be a reason for such conduct? It seems, on the face of it, that Raymond Boynton cannot be guilty, since at the only time he was known to approach his stepmother that afternoon, she had already been dead for some time. Now, supposing, therefore, that Raymond Boynton is innocent, can we explain his conduct?"
"And I say, that on the assumption that he is innocent we can! For I remember that fragment of conversation I overheard. 'You do see, don't you, that she's got to be killed?' He comes back from his walk and finds her dead and at once his guilty memory envisages a certain possibility. The plan has been carried out, not by him, but by his fellow planner. Tout simplement he suspects that his sister, Carol Boynton, is guilty."
"It's a lie," said Raymond in a low, trembling voice.
Poirot went on: "Let us now take the possibility of Carol Boynton being the murderess. What is the evidence against her? She has the same highly-strung temperamentthe kind of temperament that might see such a deed colored with heroism. It was she to whom Raymond Boynton was talking that night in Jerusalem. Carol Boynton returned to the camp at ten minutes past five. According to her own story, she went up and spoke to her mother. No one saw her do so. The camp was desertedthe boys were asleep. Lady Westholme, Miss Pierce and M. Cope were exploring caves out of sight of the camp. There was no witness to Carol Boynton's possible action. The time would agree well enough. The case, then, against Carol Boynton, is a perfectly possible one."
He paused. Carol had raised her head. Her eyes looked steadily and sorrowfully into his.
"There is one other point. The following morning, very early, Carol Boynton was seen to throw something into the stream. There is reason to believe that that 'something' was a hypodermic syringe."
"Comment?" Dr. Gerard looked up surprised. "But my hypodermic was returned. Yes, yes, I have it now."
Poirot nodded vigorously.
"Yes, yes. This second hypodermic, it is very curiousvery interesting. I have been given to understand that this hypodermic belonged to Miss King. Is that so?"
Sarah paused for a fraction of a second.
Carol spoke quickly: "It was not Miss King's syringe," she said. "It was mine."
"Then you admit throwing it away, Mademoiselle?"
She hesitated just a second. "Yes, of course. Why shouldn't I?"
"Carol!" It was Nadine. She leaned forward, her eyes wide and distressed. "Carol. . . Oh, I don't understand. . . ."
Carol turned and looked at her. There was something hostile in her glance. "There's nothing to understand! I threw away an old hypodermic. I never touched thethe poison."
Sarah's voice broke in. "It is quite true what Miss Pierce told you, M. Poirot. It was my syringe."
Poirot smiled.
"It is very confusing, this affair of the hypodermicand yet, I think, it could be explained. Ah, well, we have now two cases made outthe case for the innocence of Raymond Boyntonthe case for the guilt of his sister Carol. But me, I am scrupulously fair. I look always on both sides. Let us examine what occurred if Carol Boynton was innocent."
"She returns to the camp, she goes up to her stepmother, and she finds hershall we saydead! What is the first thing she will think? She will suspect that her brother Raymond may have killed her. She does not know what to do. So she says nothing. And presently, about an hour later, Raymond Boynton returns and, having presumably spoken to his mother, says nothing of anything being amiss. Do you not think that then her suspicions would become certainties? Perhaps she goes to his tent and finds there a hypodermic syringe. Then, indeed she is sure! She takes it quickly and hides it. Early in the morning she flings it as far away as she can."
"There is one more indication that Carol Boynton is innocent. She assures me, when I question her, that she and her brother never seriously intended to carry out their plan. I ask her to swearand she swears immediately and with the utmost solemnity that she is not guilty of the crime! You see, that is the way she puts it. She does not swear that they are not guilty. She swears for herself, not her brotherand thinks that I will not pay special attention to the pronoun."
"Eh bien, that is the case for the innocence of Carol Boynton. And now let us go back a step and consider not the innocence but the possible guilt of Raymond. Let us suppose that Carol is speaking the truth, that Mrs. Boynton was alive at five-ten. Under what circumstances can Raymond be guilty? We can suppose that he killed his mother at ten minutes to six when he went up to speak to her. There were boys about the camp, true, but the light was failing. It might have been managed but it then follows that Miss King lied. Remember, she came back to the camp only five minutes after Raymond. From the distance she would see him go up to his mother. Then, when later she is found dead, Miss King realizes that Raymond has killed her. To save him, she liesknowing that Dr. Gerard is down with fever and cannot expose her lie!"
"I did not lie!" said Sarah clearly.
"There is yet another possibility. Miss King, as I have said, reached the camp a few minutes after Raymond. If Raymond Boynton found his mother alive, it may have been Miss King who administered the fatal injection. She believed that Mrs. Boynton was fundamentally evil. She may have seen herself as a just executioner. That would equally well explain her lying about the time of death."
Sarah had grown very pale. She spoke in a low steady voice: "It is true that I spoke of the expediency of one person dying to save many. It was the Place of Sacrifice that suggested the idea to me. But I can swear to you that I never harmed that disgusting old womannor would the idea of doing so ever have entered my head!"
"And yet," said Poirot softly, "one of you two must be lying."
Raymond Boynton shifted in his chair. He cried out impetuously: "You win, M. Poirot! I'm the liar. Mother was dead when I went up to her. Itit quite knocked me out. You see, I'd been going to have it out with her. To tell her that from henceforth I was a free agent. I was all set, you understand. And there she wasdead! Her hand all cold and flabby. And I thoughtjust what you said. I thought maybe Carolyou see, there was the mark on her wrist"
Poirot said quickly: "That is the one point on which I am not yet completely informed. What was the method you counted on employing? You had a methodand it was connected with a hypodermic syringe. That much I know. If you want me to believe you, you must tell me the rest."
Raymond said hurriedly: "It was a way I read in a bookan English detective story. You stuck an empty hypodermic syringe into someone and it did the trick. It sounded perfectly scientific. II thought we'd do it that way."
"Ah," said Poirot. "I comprehend. And you purchased a syringe?"
"No. As a matter of fact, we pinched Nadine's."
Poirot shot a quick look at her. "The syringe that is in your baggage in Jerusalem?" he murmured.
A faint color showed in the young woman's face. "II wasn't sure what had become of it," she said,
Poirot murmured: "You are so quick-witted, Madame."


16
There was a pause. Then, clearing his throat with a slightly affected sound, Poirot went on: "We have now solved the mystery of what I might term the second hypodermic. That belonged to Mrs. Lennox Boynton, was taken by Raymond Boynton before leaving Jerusalem, was taken from Raymond by Carol after the discovery' of Mrs. Boynton's dead body, was thrown away by her, found by Miss Pierce, and claimed by Miss King as hers. I presume Miss King has it now."
"I have," said Sarah.
"So that when you said it was yours just now, you were doing what you told us you do not doyou told a lie."
Sarah said calmly: "That's a different kind of lie. It isn'tit isn't a professional lie."
Gerard nodded appreciation. "Yes, it is a point that. I understand you perfectly Mademoiselle."
"Thanks," said Sarah.
Again Poirot cleared his throat: "Let us now review our time table: Thus:
Boyntons and Jefferson Cope leave the camp 3:05 (approx.)
Dr. Gerard and Sarah King leave the camp 3:15 (approx.)
Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce leave the camp 4:15
Dr. Gerard returns to camp 4:20 (approx.)
Lennox Boynton returns to camp 4:35
Nadine Boynton returns to camp and talks to Mrs. Boynton 4:40 (approx.)
Nadine Boynton leaves her mother-in-law and goes to marquee 4:50 (approx.)
Carol Boynton returns to camp 5:10
Lady Westholme, Miss Pierce and M. Jefferson Cope return to camp 5:40
Raymond Boynton returns to camp 5:50
Sarah King returns to camp 6:00
Body discovered 6:30
"There is, you will notice, a gap of twenty minutes between four-fifty, when Nadine Boynton left her mother-in-law, and five-ten when Carol returned. Therefore, if Carol is speaking the truth, Mrs. Boynton must have been killed in that twenty minutes."
"Now who could have killed her? At that time Miss King and Raymond Boynton were together. Mr. Cope (not that he had any perceivable motive for killing her) has an alibi. He was with Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce. Lennox Boynton was with his wife in the marquee. Dr. Gerard was groaning with fever in his tent. The camp is deserted, the boys are asleep. It is a suitable moment for a crime! Was there a person who could have committed it?"
His eyes went thoughtfully to Ginevra Boynton.
"There was one person. Ginevra Boynton was in her tent all the afternoon. That is what we have been toldbut actually there is evidence that she was not in her tent all the time: Ginevra Boynton made a very significant remark. She said that Dr. Gerard spoke her name in his fever. And Dr. Gerard has also told us that he dreamt in his fever of Ginevra Boynton's face. But it was not a dream! It was actually her face he saw, standing there by his bed. He thought it an effect of feverbut it was the truth. Ginevra was in Dr. Gerard's tent. Is it not possible that she had come to put back the hypodermic syringe after using it?"
Ginevra Boynton raised her head with its crown of red-gold hair. Her wide beautiful eyes stared at Poirot. They were singularly expressionless. She looked like a vague saint.
"Ah! Me non!" cried Dr. Gerard.
"Is it then so psychologically impossible?" inquired Poirot.
The Frenchman's eyes dropped.
Nadine Boynton said sharply: "It's quite impossible!"
Poirot's eyes came quickly round to her. "Impossible, Madame?"
"Yes." She paused, bit her lip, then went on: "I will not hear of such a disgraceful accusation against my young sister-in-law. Weall of usknow it to be impossible."
Ginevra moved a little on her chair. The lines of her mouth relaxed into a smilethe touching, innocent, half-unconscious smile of a very young girl.
Nadine said again: "Impossible."
Her gentle face had hardened into lines of determination. The eyes that met Poirot's were hard and unflinching.
Poirot leaned forward in what was half a bow. "Madame is very intelligent," he said.
Nadine said quietly: "What do you mean by that, M. Poirot?"
"I mean, Madame, that all along I have realized you have what I believe is called an 'excellent headpiece.'"
"You flatter me."
"I think not. All along you have envisaged the situation calmly and collectedly. You have remained on outwardly good terms with your husband's mother, deeming that the best thing to be done, but inwardly you have judged and condemned her. I think that some time ago you realized that the only chance for your husband's happiness was for him to make an effort to leave homestrike out on his own, no matter how difficult and penurious such a life might be. You were willing to take all risks and you endeavored to influence him to exactly that course of action. But you failed, Madame. Lennox Boynton had no longer the will to freedom. He was ******* to sink into a condition of apathy and melancholy."
"Now, I have no doubt at all, Madame, but that you love your husband. Your decision to leave him was not actuated by a greater love for another man. It was, I think, a desperate venture undertaken as a last hope. A woman in your position could only try three things. She could try appeal. That, as I have said, failed. She could threaten to leave her husband. But it is possible that even that threat would not have moved Lennox Boynton. It would plunge him deeper in misery but it would not cause him to rebel. There was one last desperate throw. You could go away with another man. Jealousy and the instinct of possession are two of the most deeply rooted fundamental instincts in man. You showed your wisdom in trying to reach that deep, underground, savage instinct. If Lennox Boynton would let you go to another man without an effortthen he must indeed be beyond human aid, and you might as well then try to make a new life for yourself elsewhere."
"But let us suppose that even that last desperate remedy failed. Your husband was terribly upset at your decision, but in spite of that he did not, as you had hoped, react as a primitive man might have done, with an uprush of the possessive instinct. Was there anything at all that could save your husband from his own rapidly failing mental condition? Only one thing. If his stepmother were to die, it might not be too late. He might be able to start life anew as a free man, building up in himself independence and manliness once more."
Poirot paused, then repeated gently: "If your mother-in-law were to die . . ."
Nadine's eyes were still fixed on his. In an unmoved gentle voice she said: "You are suggesting that I helped to bring that event about, are you not? But you cannot do so, M. Poirot. After I had broken the news of my impending departure to Mrs. Boynton, I went straight to the marquee and joined Lennox. I did not leave there again until my mother-in-law was found dead. Guilty of her death I may be, in the sense that I gave her a shockthat of course presupposes a natural death. But if, as you say(though so far you have no direct evidence of it and cannot have until an autopsy has taken place)she was deliberately killed, then I had no opportunity of doing so."
Poirot said: "You did not leave the marquee again until your mother-in-law was found dead? That is what you have just said. That, Mrs. Boynton, was one of the points I found curious about this case."
"What do you mean?"
"It is here on my list. Point 9. At half-past six, when dinner was ready, a servant was dispatched to announce the fact to Mrs. Boynton."
Raymond said: "I don't understand."
Carol said: "No more do I."
Poirot looked from one to the other of them. "You do not, eh? 'A servant was sent'. Why a servant? Were you not, all of you, most assiduous in your attendance on the old lady as a general rule? Did not one or another of you always escort her to meals? She was infirm. It was difficult for her to rise from a chair without assistance. Always one or another of you was at her elbow. I suggest then, that on dinner being announced, the natural thing would have been for one or another of her family to go out and help her. But not one of you offered to do so. You all sat there, paralyzed, watching each other, wondering perhaps, why no one went."
Nadine said sharply: "All this is absurd, M. Poirot! We were all tired that evening. We ought to have gone, I admit, buton that eveningwe just didn't!"
"Preciselypreciselyon that particular evening! You, Madame, did perhaps more waiting on her than anyone else. It was one of the duties that you accepted mechanically. But that evening you did not offer to go out to help her in. Why? That is what I asked myselfwhy? And I tell you my answer. Because you knew quite well that she was dead. . . ."
"No, no, do not interrupt me, Madame." He raised an impassioned hand. "You will now listen to meHereule Poirot! There were witnesses to your conversation with your mother-in-law. Witnesses who could see but who could not hear! Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce were a long way off. They saw you apparently having a conversation with your mother-in-law, but what actual evidence is there of what occurred? I will propound to you instead a little theory. You have brains, Madame. If in your quiet, unhurried fashion you have decided onshall we say the elimination of your husband's mother?you will carry it out with intelligence and with due preparation. You have access to Dr. Gerard's tent during his absence on the morning excursion. You are fairly sure that you will find a suitable drug. Your nursing training helps you there. You choose digitoxinthe same kind of drug that the old lady is taking. You also take his hypodermic syringe since, to your annoyance, your own has disappeared. You hope to replace the latter before the doctor notices its absence."
"Before proceeding to carry out your plan, you make one last attempt to stir your husband into action. You tell him of your intention to marry Jefferson Cope. Though your husband is terribly upset, he does not react as you had hoped so you are forced to put your plan of murder into action. You return to the camp, exchanging a pleasant natural word with Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce as you pass. You go up to where your mother-in-law is sitting. You have the syringe with the drug in it ready. It is easy to seize her wrist andproficient as you are with your nurse's trainingforce home the plunger. It is done before your mother-in-law realizes what you are doing. From far down the valley the others only see you talking to her, bending over her. Then, deliberately, you go and fetch a chair and sit there, apparently engaged in an amicable conversation for some minutes. Death must have been almost instantaneous. It is a dead woman to whom you sit talking, but who shall guess that? Then you put away the chair and go down to the marquee where you find your husband reading a book. And you are careful not to leave that marquee! Mrs. Boynton's death, you are sure, will be put down to heart trouble. (It will, indeed, be due to heart trouble.) In only one thing have your plans gone astray. You cannot return the syringe to Dr. Gerard's tent because the doctor is in there shivering with malariaand although you do not know it, he has already missed the syringe. That, Madame, was the flaw in an otherwise perfect crime."
There was silencea moment's dead silencethen Lennox Boynton sprang to his feet.
"No!" he shouted. "That's a damned lie. Nadine did nothing. She couldn't have done anything. My mothermy mother was already dead."
"Ah!" Poirot's eyes came gently around to him. "So, after all, it was you who killed her, M. Boynton?"
Again a moment's pausethen Lennox dropped back into his chair and raised trembling hands to his face.
"Yesthat's rightI killed her."
"You took the digitoxin from Dr. Gerard's tent?"
"Yes."
"When?"
"Asasyou saidin the morning."
"And the syringe?"
"The syringe? Yes."
"Why did you kill her?"
"Can you ask?"
"I am asking, M. Boynton!"
"But you know my wife was leaving mewith Cope"
"Yes, but you only learned that in the afternoon!"
Lennox stared at him.
"Of course. When we were out"
"But you took the poison and the syringe in the morningbefore you knew?"
"Why the hell do you badger me with questions?" He paused and passed a shaking hand across his forehead. "What does it matter, anyway?"
"It matters a great deal. I advise you, M. Lennox Boynton, to tell me the truth."
"The truth?" Lennox stared at him.
Nadine suddenly turned abruptly in her chair and gazed into her husband's face.
"That is what I saidthe truth."
"By God, I will," said Lennox suddenly. "But I don't know whether you will believe me." He drew a deep breath. "That afternoon, when I left Nadine, I was absolutely all to pieces. I'd never dreamed she'd go from me to someone else. I wasI was nearly mad! I felt as though I was drunk or recovering from a bad illness."
Poirot nodded. He said: "I noted Lady Westholme's description of your gait when you passed her. That is why I knew your wife was not speaking the truth when she said she told you after you were both back at the camp. Continue, M. Boynton."
"I hardly knew what I was doing. . . . But as I got near, my brain seemed to clear. It flashed over me that I had only myself to blame! I'd been a miserable worm! I ought to have defied my stepmother and cleared out years ago. And it came to me that it mightn't be too late even now. There she was, the old devil, sitting up like an obscene idol against the red cliffs. I went right up to have it out with her. I meant to tell her just what I thought and to announce that I was clearing out. I had a wild idea I might get away at once that eveningclear out with Nadine and get as far as Ma'an anyway that night."
"Oh, Lennoxmy dear" It was a long soft sigh.
He went on: "And then, my Godyou could have struck me down with a touch! She was dead. Sitting theredead. . . . II didn't know what to do. I was dumbdazed. Everything I was going to shout out at her bottled up inside meturning to leadI can't explain. . . . Stonethat's what it felt likebeing turned to stone. I did something mechanically. I picked up her wristwatch (it was lying in her lap) and put it around her wristher horrid, limp, dead wrist. . . ."
He shuddered.
"God! It was awful! Then I stumbled down, went into the marquee. I ought to have called someone, I suppose but I couldn't. I just sat there, turning the pageswaiting. . . ."
He stopped.
"You won't believe thatyou can't. Why didn't I call someone? Tell Nadine? I don't know."
Dr. Gerard cleared his throat. "Your statement is perfectly plausible, M. Boynton," he said. "You were in a bad nervous condition. Two severe shocks administered in rapid succession would be quite enough to put you in the condition you have described It is the Weissenhalter reactionbest exemplified in the case of a bird that has dashed its head against a window. Even after its recovery it refrains instinctively from all actiongiving itself time to readjust the nerve centers. I do not express myself well in English, but what I mean is this: You could not have acted any other way. Any decisive action of any kind would have been quite impossible for you! You passed through a period of mental paralysis."
He turned to Poirot. "I assure you, my friend, that is so!"
"Oh, I do not doubt it," said Poirot. "There was a little fact I had already notedthe fact that M. Boynton had replaced his mother's wristwatch. That was capable of two explanationsit might have been a cover for the actual deed, or it might have been observed and misinterpreted by young Mrs. Boynton. She returned only five minutes after her husband. She must therefore have seen that action. When she got up to her mother-in-law and found her dead, with the mark of a hypodermic syringe on her wrist, she would naturally jump to the conclusion that her husband had committed the deedthat her announcement of her decision to leave him had produced a reaction in him different from that for which she had hoped. Briefly. Nadine Boynton believed that she had inspired her husband to commit murder."
He looked at Nadine. "That is so, Madame?"
She bowed her head. Then she asked: "Did you really suspect me, M. Poirot?"
"I thought you were a possibility, Madame."
She leaned forward. "And now? What really happened, M. Poirot?"


17
"What really happened?" Poirot repeated.
He reached behind him, drew forward a chair and sat down. His manner was now friendlyinformal. "It is a question, is it not? For the digitoxin was taken, the syringe was missing. There was the mark of a hypodermic on Mrs. Boynton's wrist."
"It is true that in a few days' time we shall know definitelythe autopsy will tell uswhether Mrs. Boynton died of an overdose of digitalis or not. But then it may be too late! It would be better to reach the truth tonightwhile the murderer is here under our hand."
Nadine raised her head sharply. "You mean that you still believe that one of us here in this room" Her voice died away.
Poirot was slowly nodding to himself. "The truththat is what I promised Colonel Carbury. And so, having cleared our path we are back again where I was earlier in the day, writing down a list of printed facts and being faced straight away with two glaring inconsistencies."
Colonel Carbury spoke for the first time.
"Suppose, now, we hear what they are?" he suggested.
Poirot said with dignity: "I am about to tell you. We will take once more those first two facts on my list. Mrs. Boynton was taking a mixture of digitalis and Dr. Gerard missed a hypodermic syringe. Take those facts and set them against the undeniable fact with which I was immediately confronted: that the Boynton family showed unmistakably guilty reactions. It would seem therefore certain that one of the Boynton family must have committed the crime! And yet those two facts I mentioned were all against that theory. For, see you, to take a concentrated solution of digitalisthat, yes, it is a clever idea, because Mrs. Boynton was already taking the drug. But what would a member of her family do then? Ah, ma foi! There was only one sensible thing to do. Put the poison into her bottle of medicine! That is what anyoneanyone with a grain of sense and who had access to the medicinewould certainly do!"
"Sooner or later Mrs. Boynton takes a dose and diesand even if the digitoxin is discovered in the bottle it may be set down as a mistake of the chemist who made it up. Certainly nothing can be proved!"
"Why, then, the theft of the hypodermic needle?"
"There can be only two explanations of that. Either Dr. Gerard overlooked the syringe and it was never stolen, or else the syringe was taken because the murderer had not got access to the medicinethat is to say, the murderer was not a member of the Boynton family. The two first facts point overwhelmingly to an outsider as having committed the crime!"
"I saw that but I was puzzled, as I say, by the strong evidences of guilt displayed by the Boynton family. Was it possible that, in spite of that consciousness of guilt, the Bovntons were innocent? I set out to prove, not the guilt, but the innocence of those people!"
"That is where we stand now. The murder was committed by an outsiderthat is, by someone who was not sufficiently intimate with Mrs. Boynton to enter her tent or to handle her medicine bottle."
He paused.
"There are three people in this room who are, technically, outsiders, but who have a definite connection with the case."
"M. Cope whom we will consider first, has been closely associated with the Boynton family for some time. Can we discover motive and opportunity on his part? It seems not. Mrs. Boynton's death has affected him adverselysince it has brought about the frustration of certain hopes. Unless M. Cope's motive was an almost fanatical desire to benefit others, we can find no reason for his desiring Mrs. Boynton's death. Unless, of course, there is a motive about which we are entirely in the dark. We do not know exactly what M. Cope's dealings with the Boynton family have been."
Mr. Cope said, with dignity: "This seems to me a little far-fetched, M. Poirot. You must remember, I had absolutely no opportunity for committing this deed, and in any case. I hold very strong views as to the sanctity of human life."
"Your position certainly seems impeccable," said Poirot with gravity. "In a work of fiction you would be strongly suspected on that account."
He turned a little in his chair. "We now come to Miss King. Miss King had a certain amount of motive and she had the necessary medical knowledge and is a person of character and determination, but since she left the camp before three-thirty with the others and did not return to it until six o'clock, it seems difficult to see where she could have had an opportunity."
"Next we must consider Dr. Gerard. Now, here we must take into account the actual time that the murder was committed. According to M. Lennox Boynton's last statement, his mother was dead at four thirty-five. According to Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce she was alive at four-fifteen, when they started on their walk. That leaves exactly twenty minutes unaccounted for. Now, as these two ladies walked away from the camp Dr. Gerard passed them going to it. There is no one to say what Dr. Gerard's movements were when he reached the camp because the two ladies' backs were towards it. They were walking away from it. Therefore it is perfectly possible for Dr. Gerard to have committed the crime. Being a doctor, he could easily counterfeit the appearance of malaria. There is, I should say, a possible motive. Dr. Gerard might have wished to save a certain person whose reason (perhaps more vital a loss than a loss of life) was in danger and he may have considered the sacrifice of an old and worn out life worth it!"
"Your ideas," said Dr. Gerard, "are fantastic!" He smiled amiably.
Without taking any notice, Poirot went on. "But if so, why did Gerard call attention to the possibility of foul play? It is quite certain that, but for his statement to Colonel Carbury, Mrs. Boynton's death would have been put down to natural causes. It was Dr. Gerard who first pointed out the possibility of murder. That, my friends," said Poirot, "does not make common sense!"
"Doesn't seem to," said Colonel Carbury gruffly. He looked curiously at Poirot.
"There is one more possibility," said Poirot. "Mrs. Lennox Boynton just now negated strongly the possibility of her young sister-in-law being guilty. The force of her objection lay in the fact that she knew her mother-in-law to be dead at the time. But remember this: Ginevra Boynton was at the camp all the afternoon. And there was a momenta moment when Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce were walking away from the camp and before Dr. Gerard had returned to it . . ."
Ginevra stirred. She leaned forward, staring into Poirot's face with a strange, innocent, puzzled stare. "I did it? You think I did it?" Then suddenly, with a movement of swift, incomparable beauty, she was up from her chair and had flung herself across the room and down on her knees beside Dr. Gerard, clinging to him, gazing up passionately into his face.
"No! No! Don't let them say it! They're making the walls close around me again! It's not true! I never did anything! They are my enemiesthey want to put me in prisonto shut me up. You must help me! You must help me!"
"There, there, my child." Gently the doctor patted her head. Then he addressed Poirot. "What you say is nonsenseabsurd."
"Delusions of persecution?" murmured Poirot.
"Yesbut she could never have done it that way. She would have done it, you must perceive, dramaticallya dagger, something flamboyant, spectacularnever this cool, calm logic! I tell you, my friends, it is so. This was a reasoned crimea sane crime."
Poirot smiled. Unexpectedly he bowed. "Je suis entierement de votre avis," he said smoothly.


18
"Come," said Hercule Poirot. "We have still a little way to go! Dr. Gerard has invoked the psychology. So let us now examine the psychological side of the case. We have taken the facts, we have established a chronological sequence of events, we have heard the evidence. There remainsthe psychology. And the most important psychological evidence concerns the dead woman. It is the psychology of Mrs. Boynton herself that is the most important thing in this case."
"Take from my list of specified facts points three and four. Mrs. Boynton took definite pleasure in keeping her family from enjoying themselves with other people. Mrs. Boynton, on the afternoon in question, encouraged her family to go away and leave her."
"These two facts, they contradict each other flatly! Why, on this particular afternoon, should Mrs. Boynton suddenly display a complete reversal of her usual policy? Was it that she felt a sudden warmth of the heartan instinct of benevolence? That, it seems to me from all I have heard, was extremely unlikely! Yet there must have been a reason. What was that reason?"
"Let us examine closely the character of Mrs. Boynton. There have been many different accounts of her. She was a tyrannical old martinet, she was a mental sadist, she was an incarnation of evil, she was crazy. Which of these views is the true one?"
"I think myself that Sarah King came nearest to the truth when in a flash of inspiration in Jerusalem she saw the old lady as intensely pathetic. But not only patheticfutile!"
"Let us, if we can, think ourselves into the mental condition of Mrs. Boynton. A human creature born with immense ambition, with a yearning to dominate and to impress her personality on other people. She neither sublimated that intense craving for power nor did she seek to master it. No, mes dames and messieurs, she fed it! But in the endlisten well to thisin the end, what did it amount to? She was not a great power! She was not feared and hated over a wide area! She was the petty tyrant of one isolated family! And as Dr. Gerard said to meshe became bored like any other old lady with her hobby and she sought to extend her activities and to amuse herself by making her dominance more precarious! But that led to an entirely different aspect of the case! By coming abroad, she realized for the first time how extremely insignificant she was!"
"And now we come directly to point number tenthe words spoken to Sarah King in Jerusalem. Sarah King, you see, had put her finger on the truth. She had revealed fully and uncompromisingly the pitiful futility of Mrs. Boynton's scheme of existence! And now listen very carefullyall of youto what her exact words to Miss King were. Miss King has said that Mrs. Boynton spoke 'so malevolently, not even looking at me.' And this is what she actually said: 'I've never forgotten anything, not an action, not a name, not a face.'"
"Those words made a great impression on Miss King. Their extraordinary intensity and the loud hoarse tone in which they were uttered! So strong was the impression they left on her mind I think that she quite failed to realize their extraordinary significance!"
"Do you see that significance, any of you?" He waited a minute. "It seems not. . . . But, mes amis, does it escape you that those words were not a reasonable answer at all to what Miss King had just been saying. 'I've never forgotten anything, not an action, not a name, not a face.' It does not make sense! If she had said: 'I never forget impertinence'something of that kindbut noa face is what she said. . . ."
"Ah!" cried Poirot, beating his hands together. "But it leaps to the eye! Those words, ostensibly spoken to Miss King, were not meant for Miss King at all! They were addressed to someone else standing behind Miss King."
He paused, noting their expressions.
"Yes, it leaps to the eye! That was, I tell you, a psychological moment in Mrs. Boynton's life! She had been exposed to herself by an intelligent young woman! She was full of baffled fury and at that moment she recognized someonea face from the pasta victim delivered bound into her hands!"
"We are back, you see, to the outsider! And now the meaning of Mrs. Boynton's unexpected amiability on the afternoon of her death is clear. She wanted to get rid of her family becauseto use a vulgarityshe had other fish to fry! She wanted the field left clear for an interview with a new victim. . . ."
"Now, from that new standpoint, let us consider the events of the afternoon! The Boynton family goes off. Mrs. Boynton sits up by her cave. Now, let us consider very carefully the evidence of Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce. The latter is an unreliable witness, she is unobservant and very suggestible. Lady Westholme, on the other hand, is perfectly clear as to her facts and meticulously observant. Both ladies agree on one fact! An Arab, one of the servants, approaches Mrs. Boynton, angers her in some way and retires hastily. Lady Westholme states definitely that the servant had first been into the tent occupied by Ginevra Boynton but you may remember that Dr. Gerard's tent was next door to Ginevra's. It is possible that it was Dr. Gerard's tent the Arab entered. . . ."
Colonel Carbury said: "D'you mean to tell me that one of those Bedouin fellows of mine murdered an old lady by sticking her with a hypodermic? Fantastic!"
"Wait, Colonel Carbury; I have not yet finished. Let us agree that the Arab might have come from Dr. Gerard's tent and not Ginevra Boynton's. What is the next thing? Both ladies agree that they could not see his face clearly enough to identify him and that they did not hear what was said. That is understandable. The distance between the marquee and the ledge is about two hundred yards. Lady Westholme gave a clear description of the man otherwise, describing in detail his ragged breeches and the untidiness with which his puttees were rolled."
Poirot leaned forward. "And that, my friends, was very odd indeed! Because, if she could not see his face or hear what was said, she could not possibly have noticed the state of his breeches and puttees! Not at two hundred yards!"
"It was an error, that, you see! It suggested a curious idea to me. Why insist so on the ragged breeches and untidy puttees. Could it be because the breeches were not torn and the puttees were non-existent? Lady Westholme and Miss Pierce both saw the manbut from where they were sitting they could not see each other. That is shown by the fact that Lady Westholme came to see if Miss Pierce was awake and found her sitting in the entrance of her tent."
"Good Lord," said Colonel Carbury, suddenly sitting up very straight. "Are you suggesting"
"I am suggesting that having ascertained just what Miss Pierce (the only witness likely to be awake) was doing, Lady Westholme returned to her tent, put on her riding breeches, boots and khaki-colored coat, made herself an Arab headdress with her checked duster and a skein of knitting wool and that, thus attired, she went boldly up to Dr. Gerard's tent, looked in his medicine chest, selected a suitable drug, took the hypodermic, filled it and went boldly up to her victim."
"Mrs. Boynton may have been dozing. Lady Westholme was quick. She caught her by the wrist and injected the stuff. Mrs. Boynton half cried outtried to risethen sank back. The 'Arab' hurried away with every evidence of being ashamed and abashed. Mrs. Boynton shook her stick, tried to rise, then fell back into her chair."
"Five minutes later Lady Westholme rejoins Miss Pierce and comments on the scene she has just witnessed, impressing her own version of it on the other. Then they go for a walk, pausing below the ledge where Lady Westholme shouts up to the old lady. She receives no answer for Mrs. Boynton is dead but she remarks to Miss Pierce: 'Very rude just to snort at us like that!' Miss Pierce accepts the suggestion. She has often heard Mrs. Boynton receive a remark with a snortshe will swear quite sincerely if necessary that she actually heard it. Lady Westholme has sat on committees often enough with women of Miss Pieree's type to know exactly how her own eminence and masterful personality can influence them. The only point where her plan went astray was the replacing of the syringe. Dr. Gerard returning so soon upset her scheme. She hoped he might not have noticed its absence, or might think he had overlooked it, and she put it back during the night."
He stopped.
Sarah said: "But why? Why should Lady Westholme want to kill old Mrs. Boynton?"
"Did you not tell me that Lady Westholme had been quite near you in Jerusalem when you spoke to Mrs. Boynton? It was to Lady Westholme that Mrs. Boynton's words were addressed. 'I've never forgotten anything, not an action, not a name, not a face.' Put that with the fact that Mrs. Boynton had been a wardress in a prison and you can get a very shrewd idea of the truth. Lord Westholme met his wife on a voyage back from America. Lady Westholme, before her marriage, had been a criminal and had served a prison sentence."
"You see the terrible dilemma she was in? Her career, her ambitions, her social positionall at stake! What the crime was for which she served a sentence in prison we do not yet know (though we soon shall) but it must have been one that would effectually blast her political career if it was made public. And remember this, Mrs. Boynton was not an ordinary blackmailer. She did not want money. She wanted the pleasure of torturing her victim for a while and then she would have enjoyed revealing the truth in the most spectacular fashion! No; while Mrs. Boynton lived Lady Westholme was not safe. She obeyed Mrs. Boynton's instructions to meet her at Petra (I thought it strange all along that a woman with such a sense of her own importance as Lady Westholme should have preferred to travel as a mere tourist), but in her own mind she was doubtless revolving ways and means of murder. She saw her chance and carried it out boldly. She only made two slips. One was to say a little too muchthe description of the torn breecheswhich first drew my attention to her, and the other was when she mistook Dr. Gerard's tent and looked first into the one where Ginevra was lying half asleep. Hence the girl's storyhalf make-believe, half trueof a Sheikh in disguise. She put it the wrong way around, obeying her instinct to distort the truth by making it more dramatic, but the indication was quite significant enough for me."
He paused. "But we shall soon know. I obtained Lady Westholme's fingerprints today without her being aware of the fact. If these are sent to the prison where Mrs. Boynton was once a wardress, we shall soon know the truth when they are compared with the files."
He stopped. In the momentary stillness a sharp sound was heard.
"What's that?" asked Dr. Gerard.
"Sounded like a shot to me," said Colonel Carbury, rising to his feet quickly. "In the next room. Who's got that room, by the way?"
Poirot murmured: "I have a little ideait is the room of Lady Westholme. . . ."


Epilogue
Extract from the Evening Shout.
We regret to announce the death of Lady Westholme, M.P., the result of a tragic accident. Lady Westholme, who was fond of traveling in out-of-the-way countries, always took a small revolver with her.
She was cleaning this when it went off accidentally and killed her. Death was instantaneous. The deepest sympathy will be felt for Lord Westholme, etc. etc.
On a warm June evening five years later Sarah Boynton and her husband sat in the stalls of a London theatre. The play was Hamlet. Sarah gripped Raymond's arm as Ophelia's words came floating over the footlights:
How should I your true love know
From another one?
By his cockle hat and staff,
And his sandal shoon.
He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a grass-green turf;
At his heels a stone.
O, ho!
A lump rose in Sarah's throat. That exquisite, witless beauty, that lovely, unearthly smile of one gone beyond trouble and grief to a region where only a floating mirage was truth. . . .
Sarah said to herself: "She's lovelylovely . . ."
That haunting, lilting voice, always beautiful in tone, but now disciplined and modulated to be the perfect instrument.
Sarah said with decision, as the curtain fell at the end of the act: "Jinny's a great actressa greatgreat actress!"
Later, they sat around a supper table at the Savoy.
Ginevra, smiling, remote, turned to the bearded man by her side.
"I was good, wasn't I, Theodore?"
"You were wonderful, cherie."
A happy smile floated on her lips.
She murmured: "You always believed in meyou always knew I could do great thingssway multitudes. . . ."
At a table not far away, the Hamlet of the evening was saying gloomily: "Her mannerisms! Of course people like it just at first but what I say is, it's not Shakespeare. Did you see how she ruined my exit?. . . ."
Nadine, sitting opposite Ginevra, said: "How exciting it is, to be here in London with Jinny acting Ophelia and being so famous!"
Ginevra said softly: "It was nice of you to come over."
"A regular family party," said Nadine, smiling, as she looked around. Then she said to Lennox: "I think the children might go to the matinee, don't you? They're quite old enough, and they do so want to see Aunt Jinny on the stage!"
Lennox, a sane, happy-looking Lennox with humorous eyes, lifted his glass. "To the newly-weds, Mr. and Mrs. Cope!"
Jefferson Cope and Carol acknowledged the toast.
"The unfaithful swain!" said Carol, laughing. "Jeff, you'd better drink to your first love as she's sitting right opposite you."
Raymond said gaily: "Jeff's blushing. He doesn't like being reminded of the old days."
His face clouded suddenly. Sarah touched his hand with hers, and the cloud lifted. He looked at her and grinned.
"Seems just like a bad dream!"
A dapper figure stopped by their table. Hercule Poirot, faultlessly and beautifully appareled, his moustaches proudly twisted, bowed regally.
"Mademoiselle," he said to Ginevra, "mes homages. You were superb!"
They greeted him affectionately, made a place for him beside Sarah. He beamed on them all and when they were all talking, he leaned a little sideways and said softly to Sarah: "Eh bien, it seems that all marches well now with la famille Boynton?"
"Thanks to you." said Sarah.
"He becomes very eminent, your husband. I read today an excellent review of his last book."
"It's really rather goodalthough I do say it! Did you know that Carol and Jefferson Cope had made a match of it at last? And Lennox and Nadine have got two of the nicest childrencute, Raymond calls them. As for Jinnywell, I rather think Jinny's a genius."
She looked across the table at the lovely face and the red-gold crown of hair, and then she gave a tiny start. For a moment her face was grave. She raised her glass slowly to her lips.
"You drink a toast, Madame?" asked Poirot.
Sarah said slowly: "I thoughtsuddenlyof Her. Looking at Jinny I sawfor the first timethe likeness. The same thingonly Jinny is in lightwhere She was in darkness. . . ."
And from opposite, Ginevra said unexpectedly: "Poor Mother . . . She was queer. . . . Now that we're all so happy I feel kind of sorry for her. She didn't get what she wanted out of life. It must have been tough for her."
Almost without a pause, her voice quivered softly into the lines from Cymbeline while the others listened spellbound to the music of them:
Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winters rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages . . .

 
 

 

عرض البوم صور Lovely Rose   رد مع اقتباس

قديم 30-03-10, 07:35 PM   المشاركة رقم: 2
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الرواية (2)

agatha christie - the mystery of the blue train

Chapter 1
The Man with the White Hair
it was close on midnight when a man
crossed the Place de la Concorde. In spite of
the handsome fur coat which garbed his
meagre form, there was something essentially
weak and paltry about him.
A little man with a face like a rat. A man, one would say, who could never play a conspicuous
part, or rise to prominence in any
sphere. And yet, in leaping to such a conclusion, an onlooker would have been
wrong. For this man, negligible and inconspicuous
as he seemed, played a prominent
part in the destiny of the world. In an Empire
where rats ruled, he was the king of the rats.
Even now, an Embassy awaited his return.
But he had business to do first--business of
which the Embassy was not officially cognizant.
His face gleamed white and sharp in
the moonlight. There was the least hint of a
curve in the thin nose. His father had been
a Polish Jew, a journeyman tailor. It was
business such as his father would have loved
that took him abroad tonight.
He came to the Seine, crossed it, and entered
one of the less reputable quarters of
Paris. Here he stopped before a tall, dilapidated
house and made his way up to an
apartment on the fourth floor. He had barely
time to knock before the door was opened
by a woman who had evidently been awaiting
his arrival. She gave him no greeting, but
helped him off with his overcoat and then
led the way into the tawdrily furnished sitting-room.
The electric light was shaded
with dirty pink festoons, and it softened, but
could not disguise, the girl's face with its
mask of crude paint. Could not disguise, either, the broad Mongolian cast of her countenance.
There was no doubt of Olga
Demiroffs profession, nor of her nationality.

"All is well, little one?"
"All is well, Boris Ivanovitch."
He nodded murmuring: "I do not think
I have been followed."
But there was anxiety in his tone. He ^vent
to the window, drawing the curtains aside
slightly, and peering carefully out. He
started awav violently.
"There are two men--on the opposite
pavement. It looks to me----" He broke off
and began gnawing at his nails--a habit he
had when anxious.
The Russian girl was shaking her head
with a slow, reassuring action.
"They were here before you came."
"All the same, it looks to me as though
they were watching this house."
"Possibly," she admitted indifferently.
"But then----"
"What of it? Even if they know--it will
not be you they will follow from here."
A thin, cruel smile came to his lips.
"No," he admitted, "that is true."
He mused for a minute or two and then
observed.
"This damned American--he can look after
himself as well as anybody."
"I suppose so."
He went again to the window.
"Tough customers," he muttered, with a
chuckle. "Known to the police, I fear. Well, well, I wish Brother Apache good hunting."
Olga Demiroff shook her head.
"If the American is the kind of man they
say he is, it will take more than a couple of
cowardly apaches to get the better of him."
She paused. "I wonder----"
"Well?"
"Nothing. Only twice this evening a man
has passed along this street--a man with
white hair."
"What of it?"
"This. As he passed those two men, he
dropped his glove. One of them picked it up
and returned it to him. A threadbare device."
"You mean--that the white-haired man
is--their employer?"
"Something of the kind."
The Russian looked alarmed and uneasy.
"You are sure--the parcel is safe? It has
not been tampered with? There has been too
much talk . . . much too much talk."
He gnawed his nails again.
"Judge for yourself."
She bent to the fireplace, deftly removing
the coals. Underneath, from amongst the
crumpled balls of newspaper, she selected
from the very middle an oblong package
wrapped round with grimy newspaper, and
handed it to the man.
"Ingenious," he said, with a nod of approval.

"The apartment has been searched twice.
The mattress on my bed was ripped open."
"It is as I said," he muttered. "There has
been too much talk. This haggling over the
price--it was a mistake."
He had unwrapped the newspaper. Inside
was a small brown paper parcel. This in turn
he unwrapped, verified the *******s, and
quickly wrapped it up once more. As he did
so, an electric bell rang sharply.
"The American is punctual," said Olga,
with a glance at the clock.
She left the room. In a minute she returned
ushering in a stranger, a big, broadshouldered
man whose transatlantic origin
was evident. His keen glance went from one
to the other.
"M. Krassnine?" he inquired politely.
"I am he," said Boris. "I must apologize
for--for the unconventionality of this meeting-place.
But secrecy is urgent. I--I cannot
afford to be connected with this business in
any way."
"Is that so?" said the American politely.
"I have your word, have I not, that no
details of this transaction will be made public?
That is one of the conditions of--sale."
The American nodded.
"That has already been agreed upon," he
said indifferently. "Now, perhaps, you will
produce the goods."
"You have the money--in notes?"
"Yes," replied the other.
He did not, however, make any attempt
to produce it. After a moment's hesitation, Krassnine gestured towards the small parcel
on the table.
The American took it up and unrolled the
wrapping paper. The *******s he took over
to a small electric lamp and submitted them
to a very thorough examination. Satisfied, he drew from his pocket a thick leather wallet
and extracted from it a wad of notes.
These he handed to the Russian, who
counted them carefully.
"All right?"
"I thank you. Monsieur. Everything is
correct."
"Ah!" said the other. He slipped the
brown paper parcel negligently into his
pocket. He bowed to Olga. "Good evening, Mademoiselle. Good evening, M. Krass
nine."
He
went out, shutting the door behind
him. The eyes of the two in the room met.
The man passed his tongue over his dry lips.
"I wonder--will he ever get back to his
hotel?" he muttered.
By common accord, they both turned to
the window. They were just in time to see
the American emerge into the street below.
He turned to the left and marched along at
a good pace without once turning his head.
Two shadows stole from a doorway and followed
noiselessly. Pursuers and pursued
vanished into the night. Olga Demiroff
spoke.
"He will get back safely," she said. "You
need not fear--or hope--whichever it is."
"Why do you think he will be safe?" asked
Krassnine curiously.
"A man who has made as much money as
he has could not possibly be a fool," said
Olga. "And talking of money----"
She looked significantly at Krassnine.
"Eh?"
"My share, Boris Ivanovitch."
With some reluctance, Krassnine handed
over two of the notes. She nodded her
thanks, with a complete lack of emotion, and
tucked them away in her stocking.
"That is good," she remarked, with satisfaction.

He looked at her curiously.
"You have no regrets, Olga Vassilovna?"
"Regrets? For what?"
"For what has been in your keeping.
There are women--most women, I believe, who go mad over such things."
She nodded reflectively.
"Yes, you speak truth there. Most women
have that madness. I--have not. I wonder
now----" She broke off.
"Well?" asked the other curiously.
"The American will be safe with them--
yes, I am sure of that. But afterwards----"
"Eh? What are you thinking of?"
"He will give them, of course, to some
woman," said Olga thoughtfully. "I wonder
what will happen then. ..."
She shook herself impatiently and went
over to the window. Suddenly she uttered
an exclamation and called to her companion.
"See, he is going down the street now--
the man I mean."
They both gazed down together. A slim,
elegant figure was progressing along at a leisurely
pace. He wore an opera hat and a
cloak. As he passed a street lamp, the light
illumined a thatch of thick white hair.
~^r
Chapter 2
M. Le Marquis
the man with the white hair continued on
his course 5 unhurried, and seemingly indifferent
to his surroundings. He took a side
turning to the right and another one to the
left. Now and then he hummed a little air
to himself.
Suddenly he stopped dead and listened
intently. He had heard a certain sound. It
might have been the bursting of a tyre or it
might have been--a shot. A curious smile
played round his lips for a minute. Then
he resumed his leisurely walk.
On turning a corner he came upon a scene
of some activity. A representative of the law
was making notes in a pocket-book, and one
or two late passers-by had collected on the
spot. To one of these the man with the
white hair made a polite request for information.

"Something has been happening, yes?"
"Mais out. Monsieur. Two apaches set
upon an elderly American gentleman."
"They did him no injury?"
"No, indeed." The man laughed. "The
American, he had a revolver in his pocket, and before they could attack him, he fired
shots so closely round them that they took
alarm and fled. The police, as usual, arrived
too late."
"Ah!" said the inquirer.
He displayed no emotion of any kind.
Placidly and unconcernedly he resumed
his nocturnal strolling. Presently he crossed
the Seine and came into the richer areas of
the city. It was some twenty minutes later
that he came to a stop before a certain house
in a quiet but aristocratic thoroughfare.
The shop, for shop it was, was a restrained
and unpretentious one. D. Papopolous, dealer
in antiques, was so known to fame that he
needed no advertisement, and indeed most
of his business was not done over a counter.
M. Papopolous had a very handsome apartment
of his own overlooking the Champs
Ely sees, and it might reasonably be supposed
that he would have been found there
and not at his place of business at such
an hour, but the man with the white hair
seemed confident of success as he pressed
10
the obscurely placed bell, having first given
a quick glance up and down the deserted
street.
His confidence was not misplaced. The
door opened and a man stood in the aperture.
He wore gold rings in his ears and was of a
swarthy cast of countenance.
"Good evening," said the stranger. "Your
master is within?"
"The master is here, but he does not see
chance visitors at this time of night,"
growled the other.
"I think he will see me. Tell him that his
friend M. Ie Marquis is here."
The man opened the door a little wider
and allowed the visitor to enter.
The man who gave his name as M. Ie Marquis
had shielded his face with his hand as
he spoke. When the man-servant returned
with the information that M. Papopolous
would be pleased to receive the visitor a further
change had taken place in the stranger's
appearance. The man-servant must have
I been very unobservant or very well trained
for he betrayed no surprise at the small black
satin mask which hid the other's features.
Leading the way to a door at the end of the
I hall, he opened it and announced in a reI1
spectful murmur: "M. Ie Marquis."
n
The figure which rose to receive this
strange guest was an imposing one. There
was something venerable and patriarchal
about M. Papopolous. He had a high domed
forehead and a beautiful white beard. His
manner had in it something ecclesiastical and
benign.
"My dear friend," said M. Papopolous.
He spoke in French and his tones were
rich and unctuous.
"I must apologize," said the visitor, "for
the lateness of the hour."
"Not at all. Not at all," said M.
Papopolous--"an interesting time of night.
You have had, perhaps, an interesting evening?"

"Not personally," said M. Le Marquis.
"Not personally," repeated M. Papopolous, "no, no, of course not. And there is
news, eh?"
He cast a sharp glance sideways at the
other, a glance that was not ecclesiastical or
benign in the least.
"There is no news. The attempt failed. I
hardly expected anything else."
"Quite so," said M. Papopolous; "anything
crude----"
He waved his hand to express his intense
distaste for crudity in any form. There was
indeed nothing crude about M. Papopolous
nor about the goods he handled. He was well
known in most European courts, and kings
called him Demetrius in a friendly manner.
He had the reputation for the most exquisite
discretion. That, together with the nobility
of his aspect, had carried him through several
very questionable transactions.
"The direct attack----" said M. Papopolous.
He shook his head. "It answers
sometimes--but very seldom."
The other shrugged his shoulders.
"It saves time," he remarked, "and to fail
costs nothing--or next to nothing. The other
plan--will not fail."
"Ah," said M. Papopolous, looking at him
keenly.
The other nodded slowly.
"I have great confidence in your--er--
reputation," said the antique dealer.
M. Ie Marquis smiled gently.
"I think I may say," he murmured, "that
your confidence will not be misplaced."
"You have unique opportunities," said
the other, with a note of envy in his voice.
"I make them," said M. Ie Marquis.
He rose and took up the cloak which he
had thrown carelessly on the back of a chair.
"I will keep you informed, M. PapopoyTr'.,
lous, through the usual channels, but there
must be no hitch in your arrangements."
M. Papopolous was pained.
"There is never a hitch in my arrangements,"
he complained.
The other smiled, and without any further
word of adieu he left the room, closing the
door behind him.
M. Papopolous remained in thought for a
moment stroking his venerable white beard, and then moved across to a second door
which opened inwards. As he turned the
handle, a young woman, who only too clearly
had been leaning against it with her ear to
the keyhole, stumbled headlong into the
room. M. Papopolous displayed neither surprise
nor concern. It was evidently all quite
natural to him.
"Well, Zia?" he asked.
"I did not hear him go," explained Zia.
She was a handsome young woman, built
on Junoesque lines, with dark flashing eyes
and such a general air of resemblance to M.
Papopolous that it was easy to see they were
father and daughter.
"It is annoying," she continued vexedly, "that one cannot see through a keyhole and
hear through it at the same time."
"It has often annoyed me," said M. Papopolous,
with great simplicity.
"So that is M. Ie Marquis," said Zia
slowly. "Does he always wear a mask, father?"

"Always."
There was a pause.
"It is the rubies, I suppose?" asked Zia.
Her father nodded.
"What do you think, my little one?" he
inquired, with a hint of amusement in his
beady black eyes.
"Of M. Ie Marquis?"
"Yes."
"I think," said Zia slowly, "that it is a
very rare thing to find a well-bred Englishman
who speaks French as well as that."
"Ah!" said M. Papopolous, "so that is
what you think."
As usual, he did not commit himself, but
he regarded Zia with benign approval.
"I thought, too," said Zia, "that his head
was an odd shape."
"Massive," said her father--"a trifle massive.
But then that effect is always created
by a wig."
They both looked at each other and
smiled.
i e
Chapter 3
Heart of F/re
rufus van aldin passed through the revolving
doors of the Savoy, and walked to
the reception desk. The desk clerk smiled a
respectful greeting.
"Pleased to see you back again, Mr. Van
Aldin," he said.
The American millionaire nodded his
head in a casual greeting.
"Everything all right?" he asked.
"Yes, sir. Major Knighton is upstairs in
the suite now."
Van Aldin nodded again.
"Any mail?" he vouchsafed.
"They have all been sent up, Mr. Van
Aldin. Oh! wait a minute."
He dived into a pigeon hole, and produced
a letter.
"Just come this minute," he explained.
Rufus Van Aldin took the letter from him, and as he saw the handwriting, a woman's
flowing hand, his face was suddenly transformed.
The harsh contours of it softened, and the hard line of his mouth relaxed. He
looked a different man. He walked across to
the lift with the letter in his hand and the
smile still still on his lips.
In the drawing-room of his suite, a young
man was sitting at a desk nimbly sorting
correspondence with the ease born of long
practice. He sprang up as Van Aldin entered.
"Hallo, Knighton!"
"Glad to see you back, sir. Had a good
time?"
"So so!" said the millionaire unemotionally.
"Paris is rather a one-horse citynowadays.
Still--I got what I went over for."
He smiled to himself rather grimly.
"You usually do, I believe," said the secretary, laughing.
"That's so," agreed the other.
He spoke in a matter-of-fact manner, as one stating a well-known fact. Throwing
off his heavy overcoat, he advanced to the
desk.
"Anything urgent?"
"I don't think so, sir. Mostly the usual ^uff. I have not quite finished sorting it
out."
Van Aldin nodded briefly. He was a man
who seldom expressed either blame or
praise. His methods with those he employed
were simple; he gave them a fair trial and
dismissed promptly those who were inefficient.
His selections of people were unconventional.
Knighton, for instance, he had
met casually at a Swiss resort two months
previously. He had approved of the fellow, looked up his war record, and found in it
the explanation of the limp with which he
walked. Knighton had made no secret of the
fact that he was looking for a job, and indeed
diffidently asked the millionaire if he knew
of any available post. Van Aldin remembered, with a grim smile of amusement, the
young man's complete astonishment when
he had been offered the post of secretary to
the great man himself.
"But--but I have no experience of business,"
he had stammered.
"That doesn't matter a cuss," Van Aldin
had replied. "I have got three secretaries already
to attend to that kind of thing. But I
am likely to be in England for the next six
months, and I want an Englishman who--
well, knows the ropes--and can attend to
the social side of things for me."
So far. Van Aldin had found his judgment
confirmed. Knighton had proved quick, in telligent, and resourceful, and he had a distinct
charm of manner.
The secretary indicated three or four letters
placed by themselves on the top of the
desk.
"It might perhaps be as well, sir, if you
glanced at these," he suggested. "The top
one is about the Colton agreement----"
But Rufus Van Aldin held up a protesting
hand.
"I am not going to look at a durned thing
to-night," he declared. "They can all wait
till the morning. Except this one," he added, looking down at the letter he held in his
hand. And again that strange transforming
smile stole over his face.
Richard Knighton smiled sympathetically.

"Mrs. Kettering?" he murmured. "She
rang up yesterday and to-day. She seems
very anxious to see you at once, sir."
"Does she, now!"
The smile faded from the millionaire's
face. He ripped open the envelope which he
held in his hand and took out the enclosed
sheet. As he read it his face darkened, his mouth set grimly in the line which Wall
Street knew so well, and his brows knit
themselves ominously. Knighton turned
tactfully away, and went on opening letters
and sorting them. A muttered oath escaped
the millionaire, and his clenched fist hit the
table sharply.
"I'll not stand for this," he muttered to
himself. "Poor little girl, it's a good thing
she has her old father behind her."
He walked up and down the room for
some minutes, his brows drawn together in
a scowl. Knighton still bent assiduously over
the desk. Suddenly Van Aldin came to an
abrupt halt. He took up his overcoat from
the chair where he had thrown it.
"Are you going out again, sir?"
"Yes, I'm going round to see my daughter."

"If Colton's people ring up----"
"Tell them to go to the devil," said Van
Aldin.
"Very well," said the secretary unemotionally.

Van Aldin had his overcoat on by now.
Cramming his hat upon his head, he went
towards the door. He paused with his hand
upon the handle.
"You are a good fellow, Knighton," he
said. "You don't worry me when I am rattled."

Knighton smiled a little, but made no reply.

"Ruth is my only child," said Van Aldin,
"and there is no one on this earth who knows
quite what she means to me."
A faint smile irradiated his face. He
slipped his hand into his pocket.
"Care to see something, Knighton?"
He came back towards the secretary.
From his pocket he drew out a parcel carelessly
wrapped in brown paper. He tossed
off the wrapping and disclosed a big, shabby, red velvet case. In the centre of it were some
twisted initials surmounted by a crown. He
snapped the case open, and the secretary
drew in his breath sharply. Against the
slightly dingy white of the interior, the
stones glowed like blood.
"My God! sir," said Knighton. "Are
they--are they real?"
Van Aldin laughed a quiet little cackle of
amusement.
"I don't wonder at your asking that.
Amongst these rubies are the three largest in the world. Catherine of Russia wore them, Knighton. That centre one there is known
as Heart of Fire. It's perfect--not a flaw in
it.55
"But," the secretary murmured, "they
must be worth a fortune."
"Four or five hundred thousand dollars,"
said Van Aldin nonchalantly, "and that is
apart from the historical interest."
"And you carry them about—like that,
loose in your pocket ?"
Van Aldin laughed amusedly.
"I guess so. You see, they are my little
present for Ruthie."
The secretary smiled discreetly.
"I can understand now Mrs. Kettering's
anxiety over the telephone," he murmured.
But Van Aldin shook his head. The hard
look returned to his face.
"You are wrong there," he said. "She
doesn't know about these; they are my little
surprise for her."
He shut the case, and began slowly to wrap
it up again.
"It's a hard thing, Knighton," he said,
"how little one can do for those one loves.
I can buy a good portion of the earth for
Ruth, if it would be any use to her, but it
isn't. I can hang these things round her neck
and give her a moment or two's pleasure,
maybe, but——"
He shook his head.
"When a woman is not happy in her
home----"
He left the sentence unfinished. The secretary
nodded discreetly. He knew, none
better, the reputation of the Hon. Derek
Kettering. Van Aldin sighed. Slipping the
parcel back in his coat pocket, he nodded to
Knighton and left the room.
Chapter 4
In Curzon Street
the hon. mrs derek kettering lived in
Curzon Street. The butler who opened the
door recognized Rufus Van Aldin at once
and permitted himself a discreet smile of
greeting. He led the way upstairs to the big
double drawing-room on the first floor.
A woman who was sitting by the window
started up with a cry.
"Why, Dad, if that isn't too good for anything!
I've been telephoning Major Knighton
all day to try and get hold of you, but
he couldn't say for sure when you were expected
back."
Ruth Kettering was twenty-eight years of
age. Without being beautiful, or in the real
sense of the word even pretty, she was striking
looking because of her colouring. Van
Aldin had been called Carrots and Ginger in
his time, and Ruth's hair was almost pure
auburn. With it went dark eyes and very
black lashes--the effect somewhat enhanced
by art. She was tall and slender, and moved
well. At a careless glance it was the face of
a Raphael Madonna. Only if one looked
closely did one perceive the same line of jaw
and chin as in Van Aldin's face, bespeaking
the same hardness and determination. It
suited the man, but suited the woman less
well. From her childhood upward Ruth Van
Aldin had been accustomed to having her
own way, and any one who had ever stood
up against her soon realized that Rufus Van
Aldin's daughter never gave in.
"Knighton told me you'd 'phoned him,"
said Van Aldin. "I only got back from Paris
half an hour ago. What's all this about Derek?"
Ruth
Kettering flushed angrily.
"It's unspeakable. It's beyond all limits,"
she cried. "He--he doesn't seem to listen to
anything I say."
There was bewilderment as well as anger
in her voice.
"He'll listen to me," said the millionaire
grimly.
Ruth went on.
"I've hardly seen him for the last month.
He goes about everywhere with that woman."

"With what woman?"
"Mirelle. She dances at the Parthenon,
you know."
Van Aldin nodded.
"I was down at Leconbury last week. I—
I spoke to Lord Leconbury. He was awfully
sweet to me, sympathized entirely. He said
he'd give Derek a good talking to."
"Ah!" said Van Aldin.
"What do you mean by 'Ah!5, Dad?"
"Just what you think I mean, Ruthie,
Poor old Leconbury is a wash-out. Of course
he sympathized with you, of course he tried
to soothe you down. Having got his son and
heir married to the daughter of one of the
richest men in the States, he naturally
doesn't want to mess the thing up. But he's
got one foot in the grave already, every one
knows that, and anything he may say will
cut darned little ice with Derek."
"Can't you do anything. Dad?" urged
Ruth, after a minute or two.
"I might," said the millionaire. He waited
a second reflectively, and then went on.
"There are several things I might do, but
there's only one that will be any real good.
How much pluck have you got, Ruthie?"
She stared at him. He nodded back at her.
"I mean just what I say. Have you got the
^
grit to admit to all the world that you've
made a mistake. There's only one way out
of this mess, Ruthie. Cut your losses and
start afresh."
"You mean----"
"Divorce."
"Divorce!"
Van Aldin smiled drily.
"You say that word, Ruth, as though
you'd never heard it before. And yet your
friends are doing it all round you every day."
"Oh! I know that. But----"
She stopped, biting her lip. Her father
nodded comprehendingly.
"I know, Ruth. You're like me, you can't
bear to let go. But I've learnt, and you've
got to learn, that there are times when it's
the only way. I might find ways of whistling
Derek back to you, but it would all come to
the same in the end. He's no good, Ruth; he's
rotten through and through. And mind you, I blame myself for ever letting you marry
him. But you were kind of set on having
him, and he seemed in earnest about turning
over a new leaf--and well, I'd crossed you
once, honey ..."
He did not look at her as he said the last
words. Had he done so, he might have seen
the swift colour that came up in her face.
"You did," she said in a hard voice.
"I was too durned soft hearted to do it a
second time. I can't tell you how I wish I
had, though. You've led a poor kind of life
for the last few years, Ruth."
"It has not been very—agreeable," agreed
Mrs. Kettering.
"That's why I say to you that this thing
has got to stop!" He brought his hand down
with a bang on the table. "You may have a
hankering after the fellow still. Cut it out.
Face facts. Derek Kettering married you for
your money. That's all there is to it. Get rid
of him, Ruth."
Ruth Kettering looked down at the
ground for some moments, then she said,
without raising her head:
"Supposing he doesn't consent?"
Van Aldin looked at her in astonishment.
"He won't have a say in the matter."
She flushed and bit her lip.
"No—no—of course not. I only
meant——"
She stopped. Her father eyed her keenly.
"What did you mean?"
"I meant——" She paused, choosing her
words carefully. "He mayn't take it lying
down."
The millionaire's chin shot out grimly.
"You mean he'll fight the case? Let him!
But, as a matter of fact, you're wrong. He
won't fight. Any solicitor he consults will
tell him he hasn't a leg to stand upon."
"You don't think"--she hesitated--"I
mean--out of sheer spite against me--he
might, try to make it awkward?"
Her father looked at her in some astonishment.

"Fight the case, you mean?"
He shook his head.
"Very unlikely. You see, he would have
to have something to go upon."
Mrs. Kettering did not answer. Van Aldin
looked at her sharply.
"Come, Ruth, out with it. There's something
troubling you--what is it?"
"Nothing, nothing at all."
But her voice was unconvincing.
"You are dreading the publicity, eh? Is
that it? You leave it to me. I'll put the whole
thing through so smoothly that there will be
no fuss at all."
"Very well. Dad, if you really think it's
the best thing to be done."
"Got a fancy for the fellow still, Ruth? Is
that it?"
"No."
The word came with no uncertain em phasis. Van Aldin seemed satisfied. He patted
his daughter on the shoulder.
"It will be all right, little girl. Don't you
worry any. Now let's forget all about this. I
have brought you a present from Paris."
"For me? Something very nice?"
"I hope you'll think so," said Van Aldin, smiling.
He took the parcel from his coat pocket
and handed it to her. She unwrapped it
eagerly, and snapped open the case. A longdrawn
"Oh!" came from her lips. Ruth Kettering
loved jewels--always had done so.
"Dad, how--how wonderful!"
"Rather in a class by themselves, aren't
they?" said the millionaire, with satisfaction.
"You like them, eh?"
"Like them? Dad, they're unique. How
did you get hold of them?"
Van Aldin smiled.
"Ah! that's my secret. They had to be
bought privately, of course. They are rather
well known. See that big stone in the middle?
You have heard of it, maybe, that's the historic
'Heart of Fire.'"
"Heart of Fire!" repeated Mrs. Kettering. *
She had taken the stones from the case
and was holding them against her breast.
The millionaire watched her. He was think ing of the series of women who had worn the
jewels. The heartaches, the despairs, the
jealousies. "Heart of Fire," like all famous
stones, had left behind it a trail of tragedy
and violence. Held in Ruth Kettering's assured
hand, it seemed to lose its potency of
evil. With her cool, equable poise, this
woman of the western world seemed a negation
to tragedy or heart-burnings. Ruth
returned the stones to their case, then, jumping
up, she flung her arms round her father's
neck.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you. Dad!
They are wonderful! You do give me the
most marvelous presents always."
"That's all right," said Van Aldin, patting
her shoulder. "You are all I have, you know,
Ruthie."
"You will stay to dinner, won't you, father?"

"I don't think so. You were going out,
weren't you?"
"Yes, but I can easily put that off. Nothing
very exciting."
"No," said Van Aldin. "Keep your engagement.
I have got a good deal to attend
to. See you to-morrow, my dear. Perhaps if
I 'phone you, we can meet at Galbraiths'?"
Messrs. Galbraith, Galbraith, Cuthbert-
son, & Galbraith were Van Aldin's London
solicitors.
"Very well. Dad." She hesitated. "I suppose
it--this--won't keep me from going to
the Riviera?"
"When are you off?"
"On the fourteenth."
"Oh, that will be all right. These things
take a long time to mature. By the way, Ruth, I shouldn't take those rubies abroad
if I were you. Leave them at the bank."
Mrs. Kettering nodded.
"We don't want to have you robbed and
murdered for the sake of 'Heart of Fire,'"
said the millionaire jocosely.
"And yet you carried it about in your
pocket loose," retorted his daughter, smiling.

"Yes----"
Something, some hesitation, caught her
attention.
"What is it. Dad?"
"Nothing." He smiled. "Thinking of a
little adventure of mine in Paris."
"An adventure?"
"Yes, the night I bought these things."
He made a gesture towards the jewel case.
"Oh, do tell me."
"Nothing to tell, Ruthie. Some apache fel lows got a bit fresh and I shot at them and
they got off. That's all."
She looked at him with some pride.
"You're a tough proposition. Dad."
"You bet I am, Ruthie."
He kissed her affectionately and departed.
On arriving back at the Savoy, he gave a curt
order to Knighton.
"Get hold of a man called Goby; you'll
find his address in my private book. He's to
be here to-morrow morning at half-past
nine."
"Yes, sir."
"I also want to see Mr. Kettering. Run
him to earth for me if you can. Try his
Club--at any rate, get hold of him somehow, and arrange for me to see him here to-morrow
morning. Better make it latish, about
twelve. His sort aren't early risers."
The secretary nodded in comprehension
of these instructions. Van Aldin gave himself
into the hands of his valet. His bath was
prepared, and as he lay luxuriating in the
hot water, his mind went back over the conversation
with his daughter. On the whole
he was well satisfied. His keen mind had long
since accepted the fact that divorce was the
only possible way out. Ruth had agreed to
the proposed solution with more readiness
than he had hoped for. Yet, in spite of her
acquiescence, he was left with a vague sense
of uneasiness. Something about her manner, m
he felt, had not been quite natural. He I
frowned to himself.
"Maybe I'm fanciful," he muttered, "and
yet—I bet there's something she has not told
K &
me."
Chapter 5
A Useful Gentleman
rufus van aldin had just finished the
sparse breakfast of coffee and dry toast, which was all he ever allowed himself 3 when
Knighton entered the room.
"Mr. Goby is below, sir, waiting to see
you."
The millionaire glanced at the clock. It
was just half-past nine.
"All right," he said curtly. "He can come
up."
A minute or two later, Mr. Goby entered
the room. He was a small, elderly man, shabbily
dressed, with eyes that looked carefully
all round the room, and never at the person
he was addressing.
"Good morning. Goby," said the millionaire.
"Take a chair."
"Thank you, Mr. Van Aldin."
Mr. Goby sat down with his hands on his
knees, and gazed earnestly at the radiator.
"I have got a job for you." "Yes, Mr. Van Aldin?"
"My daughter is married to the Hon. Derek
Kettering, as you may perhaps know."
Mr. Goby transferred his gaze from the
radiator to the left-hand drawer of the desk, and permitted a deprecating smile to pass
over his face. Mr. Goby knew a great many
things, but he always hated to admit the fact.
"By my advice, she is about to file a pe~ tition for divorce. That, of course, is a solicitor's
business. But, for private reasons, I
want the fullest and most complete information."

Mr. Goby looked at the cornice and murmured:

^ "About Mr. Kettering?"
"About Mr. Kettering." ^y good, sir."
by rose to his feet.
^ you have it ready for me?" ^urry, sir?"
^rry," said the million-
-.tandingly at the
Jlock this afternoon,
"Excellent," approved the other. "Good
morning. Goby."
"Good morning, Mr. Van Aldin."
"That's a very useful man," said the millionaire
as Goby went out and his secretary
came in. "In his own line he's a specialist."
"What is his line?"
"Information. Give him twenty-four
hours and he would lay the private life of the
Archbishop of Canterbury bare for you."
"A useful sort of chap," said Knighton, with a smile.
"He has been useful to me once or twice,"
said Van Aldin. "Now then, Knighton, I'm
ready for work."
The next few hours saw a vast quantity of
business rapidly transacted. It was half-past
twelve when the telephone bell rang, and
Mr. Van Aldin was informed that Mr. Kettering
had called. Knighton looked at Van
Aldin, and interpreted his brief nod.
"Ask Mr. Kettering to come up, please."
The secretary gathered up his papers and
departed. He and the visitor passed each
other in the doorway, and Derek Kettering
stood aside to let the other go out. Then he
came in, shutting the door behind him.
"Good morning, sir. You are very anxious
^ see me, I hear. "
BE
The lazy voice with its slightly ironic inflection
roused memories in Van Aldin.
There was charm in it--there had always
been charm in it. He looked piercingly at his
son-in-law. Derek Kettering was thirty-four, lean of build, with a dark, narrow face, which had even now something indescribabiy
boyish in it.
"Come in," said Van Aldin curtly. "Sit
down."
Kettering flung himself lightly into an
arm-chair. He looked at his father-in-law
with a kind of tolerant amusement.
"Not seen you for a long time, sir," he
remarked pleasantly. "About two years, I
should say. Seen Ruth yet?"
"I saw her last night," said Van Aldin.
"Looking very fit, isn't she?" said the
other lightly.
"I didn't know you had had much opportunity
of judging," said Van Aldin drily.
Derek Kettering raised his eyebrows.
"Oh, we sometimes meet at the same night
club, you know," he said airily.
"I am not going to beat about the bush,"
Van Aldin said curtly. "I have advised Ruth
to file a petition for divorce."
Derek Kettering seemed unmoved.
"How drastic!" he murmured. "Do you
mind if I smoke, sir?"
He lit a cigarette, and puffed out a cloud
of smoke as he added nonchalantly:
"And what did Ruth say?"
"Ruth proposes to take my advice," said
her father.
"Does she really?"
"Is that all you have got to say?" demanded
Van Aldin sharply.
Kettering flicked his ash into the grate.
"I think, you know," he said, with a detached
air, "that she's making a great mistake."

"From your point of view she doubtless
is," said Van Aldin grimly.
"Oh, come now," said the other; "don't
let's be personal. I really wasn't thinking of
myself at the moment. I was thinking of
Ruth. You know my poor old Governor
really can't last much longer; all the doctors
say so. Ruth had better give it a couple more
years, then I shall be Lord Leconbury, and
she can be chatelaine of Leconbury, which
is what she married me for."
"I won't have any of your darned impudence,"
roared Van Aldin.
Derek Kettering smiled at him quite unloved.

"I agree with you. It's an obsolete idea,"
he said. "There's nothing in a title nowadays.
Still, Leconbury is a very fine old
place, and, after all, we are one of the oldest
families in England. It will be very annoying
for Ruth if she divorces me to find me marrying
again, and some other woman queening
it at Leconbury instead of her."
"I am serious, young man," said Van Aldin.
"Oh,
so am I," said Kettering. "I am in
very low water financially; it will put me in
a nasty hole if Ruth divorces me, and, after
all, if she has stood it for ten years, why not
stand it a little longer? I give you my word
of honour that the old man can't possibly
last out another eighteen months, and, as I
said before, it's a pity Ruth shouldn't get
what she married me for."
"You suggest that my daughter married
you for your title and position?"
Derek Kettering laughed a laugh that was
not all amusement.
"You don't think it was a question of a
love match?" he asked.
"I know," said Van Aldin slowly, "that
you spoke very differently in Paris ten years
ago."
"Did I? Perhaps I did. Ruth was very
beautiful, you know--rather like an angel
or a saint, or something that had stepped
down from a niche in a church. I had fine
ideas, I remember, of turning over a new
leaf, of settling down and living up to the
highest traditions of English home-life with
a beautiful wife who loved me."
He laughed again, rather more discordantly.

"But you don't believe that, I suppose?"
he said.
"I have no doubt at all that you married
Ruth for her money," said Van Aldin unemotionally.

"And that she married me for love?"
asked the other ironically.
"Certainly," said Van Aldin.
Derek Kettering stared at him for a minute
or two, then he nodded reflectively.
"I see you believe that," he said. "So did
I at the time. I can assure you, my dear
father-in-law, I was very soon undeceived."
"I don't know what you are getting at,"
said Van Aldin, "and I don't care. You have
treated Ruth darned badly."
"Oh, I have," agreed Kettering lightly, "but she's tough, you know. She's your
daughter. Underneath the pink-and-white
softness of her she's as hard as granite. You
have always been known as a hard man, so
I have been told, but Ruth is harder than
you are. You, at any rate, love one person
better than yourself. Ruth never has and
never will."
"That is enough," said Van Aldin. "I
asked you here so that I could tell you fair
and square what I meant to do. My girl has
got to have some happiness, and remember
this, I am behind her."
Derek Kettering got up and stood by the
mantelpiece. He tossed away his cigarette.
When he spoke, his voice was very quiet.
"What exactly do you mean by that, I
wonder?" he said.
"I mean," said Van Aldin, "that you had
better not try to defend the case."
"Oh," said Kettering. "Is that a threat?"
"You can take it any way you please," said
Van Aldin.
Kettering drew a chair up to the table. He
sat down fronting the millionaire.
"And supposing," he said softly, "that,
just for argument's sake, I did defend the
case?"
Van Aldin shrugged his shoulders.
"You have not got a leg to stand upon,
you young fool. Ask your solicitors, they will
soon tell you. Your conduct has been notorious, the talk of London."
"Ruth has been kicking up a row about
Mirelle, I suppose. Very foolish of her. I
don't interfere with her friends."
"What do you mean?" said Van Aldin
sharply.
Derek Kettering laughed.
"I see you don't know everything, sir,"
he said. "You are, perhaps naturally, prejudiced."

He took up his hat and stick and moved
towards the door.
"Giving advice is not much in my line."
He delivered his final thrust. "But, in this
case, I should advise most strongly perfect
frankness between father and daughter."
He passed quickly out of the room and
shut the door behind him just as the millionaire
sprang up.
"Now, what the hell did he mean by
that?" said Van Aldin as he sank back into
his chair again.
All his uneasiness returned in full force.
There was something here that he had not
yet got to the bottom of. The telephone was by his elbow; he seized it, and asked for the
number of his daughter's house.
"Hallo! Hallo! Is that Mayfair 81907?
Mrs. Kettering in? Oh, she's out, is she?
Yes, out to lunch. What time will she be in?
You don't know? Oh, very good; no, there's
no message."
He slammed the receiver down again angrily.
At two o'clock he was pacing the floor
of his room waiting expectantly for Goby.
The latter was ushered in at ten minutes past
two.
"Well?" barked the millionaire sharply.
But the little Mr. Goby was not to be hurried.
He sat down at the table, produced a
very shabby pocketbook, and proceeded to
read from it in a monotonous voice. The
millionaire listened attentively, with an increasing
satisfaction. Goby came to a full
stop, and looked attentively at the wastepaper-basket.
"Urn!"
said Van Aldin. "That seems
pretty definite. The case will go through like
winking. The hotel evidence is all right, I
suppose?"
"Cast iron," said Mr. Goby, and looked
malevolently at a gilt armchair.
"And financially he's in very low water.
He's trying to raise a loan now, you say?
Has already raised practically all he can upon
his expectations from his father. Once the
news of the divorce gets about, he won't be |
able to raise another cent, and not only that, his obligations can be bought up and pressure
can be put upon him from that quarter. We have got him. Goby; we have got him
in a cleft stick."
He hit the table a bang with his fist. His
face was grim and triumphant.
"The information," said Mr. Goby in a
thin voice, "seems satisfactory."
"I have got to go round to Curzon Street
now," said the millionaire. "I am much
obliged to you. Goby. You are the goods all
right."
A pale smile of gratification showed itself
on the little man's face.
"Thank you, Mr. Van Aldin," he said; "I
try to do my best."
Van Aldin did not go direct to Curzon
Street. He went first to the City, where he
had two interviews which added to his satisfaction.
From there he took the tube to Down Street. As he was walking along Cur- zon Street, a figure came out of No. 160, and turned up the street towards him, so that
they passed each other on the pavement. For a moment, the millionaire had fancied it "light be Derek Kettering himself; the ****** and build were not unlike. But as
they came face to face, he saw that the man
was a stranger to him. At least--no, not a
stranger; his face awoke some call of recognition
in the millionaire's mind, and it was
associated definitely with something unpleasant.
He cudgelled his brains in vain, but the
thing eluded him. He went on, shaking his
head irritably. He hated to be baffled.
Ruth Kettering was clearly expecting him.
She ran to him and kissed him when he entered.

"Well, Dad, how are things going?"
"Very well," said Van Aldin; "but I have
got a word or two to say to you, Ruth."
Almost insensibly he felt the change in
her, something shrewd and watchful replaced
the impulsiveness of her greeting. She
sat down in a big armchair.
"Well, Dad?" she asked. "What is it?"
"I saw your husband this morning," said
Van Aldin.
"You saw Derek?"
"I did. He said a lot of things, most of
which were darned cheek. Just as he was
leaving, he said something that I didn't understand.
He advised me to be sure that there
was perfect frankness between father and
daughter. What did he mean by that,
Ruthie?"
Mrs. Kettering moved a little in her chair.
"rr
- «I_I don't know. Dad. How should I?"
"Of course you know," said Van Aldin.
"He said something else, about his having
his friends and not interfering with yours. What did he mean by that?"
"I don't know," said Ruth Kettering
again.
Van Aldin sat down. His mouth set itself
in a grim line.
"See here, Ruth. I am not going into this
with my eyes closed. I am not at all sure that that husband of yours doesn't mean to make
trouble. Now, he can't do it, I am sure of
that. I have got the means to silence him, to
shut his mouth for good and all, but I have
got to know if there's any need to use those
means. What did he mean by your having
your own friends?"
Mrs. Kettering shrugged her shoulders.
"I have got lots of friends," she said uncertainly.
"I don't know what he meant, I
am sure."
"You do," said Van Aldin.
He was speaking now as he might have
spoken to a business adversary.
"I will put it plainer. Who is the man?"
"What man?"
"The man. That's what Derek was driving ^. Some special man who is a friend of
^.- * 11
yours. You needn't worry, honey, I know
there is nothing in it, but we have got to look
at everything as it might appear to the Court.
They can twist these things about a good
deal, you know. I want to know who the
man is, and just how friendly you have been
with him."
Ruth didn't answer. Her hands were
kneading themselves together in intense nervous
absorption.
"Come, honey," said Van Aldin in a softer
voice. "Don't be afraid of your old Dad. I
was not too harsh, was I, even that time in
Paris?--By gosh'"
He stopped, thunderstruck.
"That's who it was," he murmured to
himself. "I thought I knew his face."
"What are you talking about. Dad? I don't
understand."
The millionaire strode across to her and
took her firmly by the wrist.
"See here, Ruth, have you been seeing
that fellow again?"
"What fellow?"
"The one we had all that fuss about years
ago. You know who I mean well enough."
"You mean"--she hesitated--"you mean
the Comte de la Roche?"
"Comte de la Roche!" snorted Van Aldin. |
<<I told you at the time that the man was no
better than a swindler. You had entangled
yourself with him then very deeply, but I
got you out of his clutches."
"Yes, you did," said Ruth bitterly. "And
I married Derek Kettering."
"You wanted to," said the millionaire
sharply.
She shrugged her shoulders.
"And now," said Van Aldin slowly, "you
have been seeing him again--after all I told
you. He has been in the house to-day. I met
him outside, and couldn't place him for the
moment."
Ruth Kettering had recovered her composure.

"I want to tell you one thing. Dad; you
are wrong about Armand--the Comte de la
Roche, I mean. Oh, I know there were several
regrettable incidents in his youth--he
has told me about them; but--well, he has
cared for me always. It broke his heart when
you parted us in Paris, and now----"
She was interrupted by the snort of indignation
her father gave.
"So you fell for that stuff, did you? You, a daughter of mine! My God!"
He threw up his hands.
"That women can be such darned fools!"
Af\
mured. "I shall put all the passion of the
desert into it. I shall dance hung over with
jewels--ahl and, by the way, mon ami, there
is a pearl that I saw yesterday in Bond
Street--a black pearl."
She paused, looking at him invitingly.
"My dear girl," said Kettering, "it's no
use talking of black pearls to me. At the
present minute, as far as I am concerned, the fat is in the fire."
She was quick to respond to his tone. She
sat up, her big black eyes widening.
"What is that you say, Dereek? What has
happened?"
"My esteemed father-in-law," said Kettering, "is preparing to go off the deep-end."
"Eh?"
"In other words, he wants Ruth to divorce
me."
"How stupid!" said Mirelle. "Why should
she want to divorce you?"
Derek Kettering grinned.
"Mainly because of you, cherie!" he said.
Mirelle shrugged her shoulders.
"That is foolish," she observed in a matter-of-fact
voice.
"Very foolish," agreed Derek.
"What are you going to do about it?" demanded
Mirelle.
52
^My dear girl, what can 1 do? On the one
side, the man with unlimited money; on the
other side, the man with unlimited debts.
There is no question as to who will come out
on top."
"They are extraordinary, these Americans,"
commented Mirelle. "It is not as
though your wife were fond of you."
"Well," said Derek, "what are we going
to do about it?"
She looked at him inquiringly. He came
over and took both her hands in his.
"Are you going to stick to me?"
"What do you mean? After——"
"Yes," said Kettering. "After, when the
creditors come down like wolves on the fold.
I am damned fond of you, Mirelle; are you
going to let me down?"
She pulled her hands away from him.
"You know I adore you, Dereek."
He caught the note of evasion in her voice.
"So that's that, is it? The rats will leave
the sinking ship."
"Ah, Dereek!"
"Out with it," he said violently. "You will
fling me over; is that it?"
She shrugged her shoulders.
"I am fond of you, mon ami—indeed I am
53
fond of you. You are very charming—un
beau gargon, but ce n'est pas pratique."
"You are a rich man's luxury, eh? Is that
it?"
"If you like to put it that way."
She leaned back on the cushions, her head
flung back.
"All the same, I am fond of you, Dereek."
He went over to the window and stood
there some time looking out, with his back
to her. Presently the dancer raised herself
on her elbow and stared at him curiously.
"What are you thinking of, mon ami?'9
He grinned at her over his shoulder, a
curious grin, that made her vaguely uneasy.
"As it happened, I was thinking of a
woman, my dear."
"A woman, eh?"
Mirelle pounced on something that she
could understand.
"You are thinking of some other woman,
is that it?" I
"Oh, you needn't worry, it is purely a
fancy portrait. 'Portrait of a lady with grey
eyes.5"
Mirelle said sharply, "When did you meet
her?"
Derek Kettering laughed, and his laughter
had a mocking, ironical sound. |
"I ran into the lady in the corridor of the
Savoy Hotel."
"Well! what did she say?"
"As far as I can remember, I said, <I beg
your pardon,5 and she said, 'It doesn't matter.? or words to that effect."
"And then?" persisted the dancer.
Kettering shrugged his shoulders.
"And then--nothing. That was the end
of the incident."
"I don't understand a word of what you are talking about," declared the dancer.
"Portrait of a lady with grey eyes," murmured
Derek reflectively. "Just as well I am
never likely to meet her again."
"Why?"
"She might bring me bad luck. Women
do."
Mirelle slipped quickly from her couch, and came across to him, laying one long, snake-like arm round his neck.
"You are foolish, Dereek," she murmured.
"You are very foolish. You are beau gargon, and I adore you, but I am not made
to be poor--no, decidedly I am not made to be poor. Now listen to me; everything is very ^mple. You must make it up with your
wife."
"I am afraid that's not going to be actually
in the sphere of practical politics," said Derek
drily.
"How do you say? I do not understand."
"Van Aldin, my dear, is not taking any.
He is the kind of man who makes up his
mind and sticks to it."
"I have heard of him," nodded the dancer.
"He is very rich, is he not? Almost the richest
man in America. A few days ago, in Paris, he bought the most wonderful ruby in the
world--'Heart of Fire5 it is called."
Kettering did not answer. The dancer
went on musingly:
"It is a wonderful stone--a stone that
should belong to a woman like me. I love
jewels, Dereek, they say something to me.
Ah! to wear a ruby like 'Heart of Fire.""
She gave a little sigh, and then became
practical once more.
"You don't understand these thing. Dereek,
you are only a man. Van Aldin will
give these rubies to his daughter, I suppose.
Is she his only child?"
"Yes."
"Then when he dies, she will inherit all
his money. She will be a rich woman."
"She is a rich woman already," said Kettering
drily. "He settled a couple of millions
on her at her marriage."
"A couple of million! But that is immense.
And if she died suddenly, eh? That would
all come to you?"
"As things stand at present," said Kettering
slowly, "it would. As far as I know
she has not made a will."
"Mon Dieu!" said the dancer. "If she were
to die, what a solution that would be."
There was a moment's pause, and then
Derek Kettering laughed outright.
"I like your simple, practical mind, Mirelle,
but I am afraid what you desire won't
come to pass. My wife is an extremely
healthy person."
"Eh, bien!" said Mirelle; "there are accidents."

He looked at her sharply but did not answer.

She went on.
"But you are right, mon ami, we must not
dwell on possibilities. See now, my little Dereek,
there must be no more talk of this
divorce. Your wife must give up the idea."
"And if she won't?"
The dancer's eyes widened to slits.
"I think she will, my friend. She is one
of those who would not like the publicity. There are one or two pretty stories that she
would not like her friends to read in the
newspapers."
"What do you mean?" asked Kettering
sharply.
Mirelle laughed, her head thrown back.
"Parbleu! I mean the gentleman who calls
himself the Comte de la Roche. I know all
about him. I am Parisienne, you remember.
He was her lover before she married you, was he not?"
Kettering took her sharply by the shoulders.

"That is a damned lie," he said, "and
please remember that, after all, you are
speaking of my wife."
Mirelle was a little sobered.
"You are extraordinary, you English," she
complained. "All the same, I dare say that
you may be right. The Americans are so
cold, are they not? But you will permit me
to say, mon ami, that she was in love with him before she married you, and her father
stepped in and sent the Comte about his
business. And the little Mademoiselle, she
wept many tears! But she obeyed. Still, you
must know as well as I do, Dereek, that it
is a very different story now. She sees him
nearly every day, and on the fourteenth she
goes to Paris to meet him."
"How do you know all this?" demanded
Kettering.
"Me? I have friends in Paris, my dear Dereek,
who know the Comte intimately. It is
all arranged. She is going to the Riviera, so
she says, but in reality the Comte meets her
in Paris and--who knows! Yes, yes, you can
take my word for it, it is all arranged."
Derek Kettering stood motionless.
"You see," purred the dancer, "if you are
clever, you have her in the hollow of your
hand. You can make things very awkward
for her."
"Oh, for God's sake be quiet," cried Kettering.
"Shut your cursed mouth!"
Mirelle flung herself down again on the
divan with a laugh. Kettering caught up his
hat and coat and left the flat, banging the
door violently. And still the dancer sat on
the divan and laughed softly to herself. She
was not displeased with her work.
Chapter 7
Letters
"mrs. samuel harfield presents her
compliments to Miss Katherine Grey
and wishes to point out that under the
circumstances Miss Grey may not be
aware----"
Mrs. Harfield, having written so far fluently, came to a dead stop, held up by what has
proved an insuperable difficulty to many other
people--namely, the difficulty of expressing
oneself fluently in the third person.
After a minute or two of hesitation, Mrs.
Harfield tore up the sheet of notepaper and
started afresh.
"dear Miss grey,--Whilst fully appreciating
the adequate way you discharged
your duties to my Cousin Emma (whose
recent death has indeed been a severe
blow to us all), I cannot but feel----"
Again Mrs. Harfield came to a stop. Once more the letter was consigned to the wastepaper-basket.
It was not until four false
starts had been made that Mrs. Harfield at
last produced an epistle that satisfied her. It
was duly sealed and stamped and addressed
to Miss Katherine Grey, Little Crampton, St. Mary Mead, Kent, and it lay beside that
lady's plate on the following morning at
breakfast-time in company with a more important
looking communication in a long
blue envelope.
Katherine Grey opened Mrs. Harfield5 s
letter first. The finished production ran as
follows:
"dear Miss grey,--My husband and I
wish to express our thanks to you for
your services to my poor cousin, Emma.
Her death has been a great blow to us, though we were, of course, aware that
her mind has been failing for some time
past. I understand that her latter testamentary
dispositions have been of a most peculiar character, and they would
not hold good, of course, in any court of
law. I have no doubt that, with your
usual good sense, you have already real- ^ed this fact. If these matters can be ar ranged privately it is always so much
better, my husband says. We shall be
pleased to recommend you most highly
for a similar post and hope that you will
also accept a small present. Believe me,
dear Miss Grey, yours cordially,
mary anne harfield."
Katherine Grey read the letter through, smiled a little, and read it a second time. Her
face as she laid the letter down after the second
reading was distinctly amused. Then she
took up the second letter. After one brief
perusal she laid it down and stared very
straight in front of her. This time she did
not smile. Indeed, it would have been hard
for any one watching her to guess what emotions
lay behind that quiet, reflective gaze.
Katherine Grey was thirty-three. She
came of good family, but her father had lost
all his money, and Katherine had had to
work for her living from an early age. She
had been just twenty-three when she had
come to old Mrs. Harfield as companion.
It was generally recognized that old Mrs.
Harfield was "difficult." Companions came
and went with startling rapidity. They arrived
full of hope and they usually left in
tears. But from the moment Katherine Grey
set foot in Little Crampton, ten years ago, perfect peace had reigned. No one knows
how these things come about. Snake-charmers, they say, are born, not made. Katherine
Grey was born with the power of managing
old ladies, dogs, and small boys, and she did
it without any apparent sense of strain.
At twenty-three she had been a quiet girl
with beautiful eyes. At thirty-three she was
a quiet woman, with those same grey eyes, shining steadily out on the world with a kind
of happy serenity that nothing could shake.
Moreover, she had been born with, and still
possessed, a sense of humour.
As she sat at the breakfast-table, staring
in front of her, there was a ring at the bell, accompanied by a very energetic rat-a-tat-tat
at the knocker. In another minute the little
maid-servant opened the door and announced
rather breathlessly:
"Dr. Harrison."
The big, middle-aged doctor came bussing
in with the energy and breeziness that
had been foreshadowed by his onslaught on
the knocker.
"Good morning. Miss Grey."
"Good morning. Dr. Harrison." ^ "I dropped in early," began the doctor,
^ case you should have heard from one of
those Harfield cousins. Mrs. Samuel, she
calls herself--a perfectly poisonous person. '
Without a word, Katherine picked up Mrs. Harfield5 s letter from the table and
gave it to him. With a good deal of amusement
she watched his perusal of it, the drawing
together of the bushy eyebrows, the
snorts and grunts of violent disapproval. He
dashed it down again on the table.
"Perfectly monstrous," he fumed. "Don't
you let it worry you, my dear. They're talking
through their hat. Mrs. Harfield's intellect
was as good as yours or mine, and you
won't get any one to say the contrary. They
wouldn't have a leg to stand upon, and they
know it. All that talk of taking it into court
is pure bluff. Hence this attempt to get
round you in a hole-and-corner way. And
look here, my dear, don't let them get round
you with soft soap either. Don't get fancying
it's your duty to hand over the cash, or any
tomfoolery of conscientious scruples."
"I'm afraid it hasn't occurred to me to
have scruples," said Katherine. "All these
people are distant relatives of Mrs. Harfield's
husband, and they never came near her or
took any notice of her in her lifetime."
"You're a sensible woman," said the doctor.
"I know, none better, that you've had
a hard life of it for the last ten years. You're
fully entitled to enjoy the old lady's savings, such as they were."
Katherine smiled thoughtfully.
"Such as they were," she repeated.
"You've no idea of the amount, doctor?"
"Well--enough to bring in five hundred
a year or so, I suppose."
Katherine nodded.
"That's what I thought," she said. "Now
read this."
She handed him the letter she had taken
from the long blue envelope. The doctor
read and uttered an exclamation of utter astonishment.

"Impossible," he muttered. "Impossible."

"She was one of the original shareholders
in Mortaulds. Forty years ago she must have
had an income of eight or ten thousand a
year. She has never, I am sure, spent more
than four hundred a year. She was always
terribly careful about money. I always believed
that she was obliged to be careful about every penny."
"And all the time the income has accumulated
at compound interest. My dear,
You're going to be a very rich woman."
Katherine Grey nodded.
"Yes," she said, "I am."
She spoke in a detached, impersonal tone,
as though she were looking at the situation
from outside.
"Well," said the doctor, preparing to depart, "you have all my congratulations." He
flicked Mrs. Samuel Harfield's letter with
his thumb. "Don't worry about that woman
and her odious letter."
"It really isn't an odious letter," said Miss
Grey tolerantly. "Under the circumstances, I think it's really quite a natural thing to
do."
"I have the gravest suspicions of you
sometimes," said the doctor.
"Why?"
"The things that you find perfectly natural."

Katherine Grey laughed.
Doctor Harrison retailed the great news
to his wife at lunch-time. She was very excited
about it.
"Fancy old Mrs. Harfield--with all that
money. I'm glad she left it to Katherine
Grey. That girl's a saint."
The doctor made a wry face.
"Saints I always imagine must have been
difficult people. Katherine Grey is too human
for a saint."
"She's a saint with a sense of humour,"
said the doctor's wife, twinkling. "And, though I don't suppose you've ever noticed
the fact, she's extremely good looking."
"Katherine Grey?" The doctor was honestly
surprised. "She's got very nice eyes, I
know."
"Oh, you men!" cried his wife. "Blind as
bats. Katherine's got all the makings of a
beauty in her. All she wants is clothes!"
"Clothes? What's wrong with her clothes?
She always looks very nice."
Mrs. Harrison gave an exasperated sigh, and the doctor rose preparatory to starting
on his rounds.
"You might look in on her, Polly," he
suggested.
"I'm going to," said Mrs. Harrison
promptly.
She made her call about three o'clock.
"My dear, I'm so glad," she said warmly, as she squeezed Katherine's hand. "And ^ery one in the village will be glad too."
"It's very nice of you to come and tell me," ^aid Katherine. "I hoped you would come ^ because I wanted to ask about Johnnie."
"Oh! Johnnie. Well----"
Johnnie was Mrs. Harrison's youngest s01!. In another minute she was off, retailing
a long history in which Johnnie's adenoids
and tonsils bulked largely. Katherine Its' tened sympathetically. Habits die hard. Listening
had been her portion for ten years
now. "My dear, I wonder if I ever told you
about that naval ball at Portsmouth? When
Lord Charles admired my gown?" And composedly,
kindly, Katherine would reply: "I
rather think you have, Mrs. Harfield, but
I've forgotten about it. Won't you tell it me
again?" And then the old lady would start
off full swing, with numerous details. And
half of Katherine's mind would be listening, saying the right things mechanically when
the old lady paused. . . .
Now, with that same curious feeling of
duality to which she was accustomed, she
listened to Mrs. Harrison.
At the end of half an hour, the latter recalled
herself suddenly.
"I've been talking about myself all this
time," she exclaimed. "And I came here to
talk about you and your plans."
"I don't know that I've got any yet."
"My dear--you're not going to stay on here."
Katherine smiled at the horror in the other's
tone.
"No; I think I want to travel. I've never
seen much of the world, you know."
"I should think not. It must have been an
awful life for you cooped up here all these
years."
"I don't know," said Katherine. "It gave
me a lot of freedom."
She caught the other's gasp, and reddened
a little.
"It must sound foolish--saying that. Of
course, I hadn't much freedom in the downright
physical sense----"
"I should think not," breathed Mrs. Harrison, remembering that Katherine had seldom
had that useful thing as a "day off."
"But, in a way, being tied physically
gives you lots of scope mentally. You're always
free to think. I've had a lovely feeling
always of mental freedom."
Mrs. Harrison shook her head.
"I can't understand that."
"Oh! you would if you'd been in my place. ^ut, all the same, I feel I want a change. I
Want--well, I want things to happen. Oh! ^t to me--I don't mean that. But to be in ^e midst of things, exciting things--even if 1 tn only the looker-on. You know, things ^°n't happen in St. Mary Mead."
"They don't indeed," said Mrs. Harrison,
with fervour.
"I shall go to London first," said Katherine.
"I have to see the solicitors, anyway.
After that, I shall go abroad, I think." |
"Very nice."
"But, of course, first of all----"
"Yes?"
"I must get some clothes."
"Exactly what I said to Arthur this morning,"
cried the doctor's wife. "You know, Katherine, you could look possibly positively
beautiful if you tried."
Miss Grey laughed unaffectedly.
"Oh' I don't think you could ever make
a beauty out of me," she said sincerely. "But
I shall enjoy having some really good clothes.
I'm afraid I'm talking about myself an awful
lot."
Mrs. Harrison looked at her shrewdly.
"It must be quite a novel experience for
you," she said drily.
Katherine went to say good-bye to old
Miss Viner before leaving the village. Miss
Viner was two years older than Mrs. Harfield,
and her mind was mainly taken up with |
her own success in outliving her dead friend.
"You wouldn't have thought I'd have outlasted
Jane Harfield, would you?" she de manded triumphantly of Katherine. "We were at school together, she and I. And here
we are, she taken, and I left. Who would
have thought it?"
"You've always eaten brown bread for
supper, haven't you?" murmured Katherine
mechanically.
"Fancy your remembering that, my dear.
Yes; if Jane Harfield had had a slice of brown
bread every evening and taken a little stimulant
with her meals she might be here today."

The old lady paused, nodding her head
triumphantly, then added in sudden remembrance:

"And so you've come into a lot of money, I hear? Well, well. Take care of it. And
you're going up to London to have a good
time? Don't think you'll get married, though, my dear, because you won't. You're
not the kind to attract the men. And, besides,
you're getting on. How old are you
now?"
"Thirty-three," Katherine told her.
"Well," remarked Miss Viner doubtfully, 'that's not so very bad. You've lost your first freshness, of course."
"I'm afraid so," said Katherine, much en- ^rtained.
"But you're a very nice girl," said Miss
Viner kindly. "And I'm sure there's many a
man might do worse than take you for a wife
instead of one of these flibbertigibbets running
about nowadays showing more of their
legs than the Creator ever intended them to.
Good-bye, my dear, and I hope you'll enjoy
yourself, but things are seldom what they
seem in this life."
Heartened by these prophecies, Katherine
took her departure. Half the village came to
see her off at the station, including the little
maid of all work, Alice, who brought a stiff
wired nosegay and cried openly.
"There ain't a many like her," sobbed Alice
when the train had finally departed. "I'm
sure when Charlie went back on me with that
girl from the Dairy, nobody could have been
kinder than Miss Grey was, and though particular
about the brasses and the dust, she
was always one to notice when you'd give a
thing an extra rub. Cut myself in little pieces
for her, I would, any day. A real lady, that's
what I call her."
Such was Katherine's departure from St.
Mary Mead.
Chapter 8
Lady Tamplin Writes a Letter
"well," said Lady Tamplin, "well."
She laid down the continental Daily Mail and stared out across the blue waters of the
Mediterranean. A branch of golden mimosa, hanging just above her head, made an effective
frame for a very charming picture. A
golden-haired, blue-eyed lady in a very becoming
negligee. That the golden hair owed
something to art, as did the pink-and-white
complexion, was undeniable, but the blue of
the eyes was Nature's gift, and at forty-four
Lady Tamplin could still rank as a beauty.
Charming as she looked. Lady Tamplin
was, for once, not thinking of herself. That ^ to say, she was not thinking of her appearance.
She was intent on graver matters.
Lady Tamplin was a well-known figure
°n the Riviera, and her parties at the Villa Marguerite were justly celebrated. She was a Woman of considerable experience, and had
had four husbands. The first had been
merely an indiscretion, and so was seldom
referred to by the lady. He had had the good
sense to die with commendable promptitude, and his widow thereupon espoused a
rich manufacturer of buttons. He too had
departed for another sphere after three years
of married life--it was said after a congenial
evening with some boon companions. After
him came Viscount Tamplin, who had
placed Rosalie securely on those ******s
where she wished to tread. She had retained
her title when she married for a fourth time.
This fourth venture had been undertaken for
pure pleasure. Mr. Charles Evans, an extremely
good-looking young man of twentyseven,
with delightful manners, a keen love
of sport, and an appreciation of this world's
goods, had no money of his own whatsoever.
Lady Tamplin was very pleased and satisfied
with life generally, but she had occasional
faint preoccupations about money.
The button manufacturer had left his widow
a considerable fortune, but, as Lady Tamplin
was wont to say, "what with one thing
and another----" (one thing being the depreciation
of stocks owing to the War, and
the other the extravagances of the late Lord
TarnDlin"). She was still comfortably off. But
to be merely comfortably off is hardly satisfactory
to one of Rosalie Tamplin's temperament.

So, on this particular January morning, she opened her blue eyes extremely wide as
she read a certain item of news and uttered
that noncommittal monosyllable "Well."
The only other occupant of the balcony was
her daughter, the Hon. Lenox Tamplin. A
daughter such as Lenox was a sad thorn in
Lady Tamplin's side, a girl with no kind of
tact, who actually looked older than her age, and whose peculiar sardonic form of humour
was, to say the least of it, uncomfortable.
"Darling," said Lady Tamplin, "just
fancy."
"What is it?"
Lady Tamplin picked up the Daily Mail, handed it to her daughter, and indicated
with an agitated forefinger the paragraph of interest.
Lenox read it without any of the signs of agitation shown by her mother. She handed back the paper.
"What about it?" she asked. "It is the sort
°f thing that is always happening. Cheeseparing
old women are always dying in vilbges
and leaving fortunes of millions to their bumble companions."
"Yes, dear, I know," said her mother,
"and I dare say the fortune is not anything
like as large as they say it is; newspapers are
so inaccurate. But even if you cut it down
by half----"
"Well," said Lenox, "it has not been left
to us."
"Not exactly, dear," said Lady Tamplin;
"but this girl, this Katherine Grey, is actually
a cousin of mine. One of the Worcestershire
Greys, the Edgeworth lot. My very
own cousin! Fancy!"
"Ah-ha," said Lenox.
"And I was wondering----" said her
mother.
"What there was in it for us," finished
Lenox, with that sideways smile that her
mother always found difficult to understand.
"Oh, darling," said Lady Tamplin, on a
faint note of reproach.
It was very faint, because Rosalie Tamplin
was used to her daughter's outspokenness
and to what she called Lenox's uncomfortable
way of putting things.
"I was wondering," said Lady Tamplin? again drawing her artistically pencilled
brows together, "whether--oh, good morning,
Chubby darling; are you going to play
tennis? How nice!"
Chubby, thus addressed, smiled kindly at her, remarked perfunctorily, "How topping
you look in that peach-coloured thing," and
drifted past them and down the steps.
"The dear thing," said Lady Tamplin, looking affectionately after her husband.
"Let me see, what was I saying? Ah!" She
switched her mind back to business once
more. "I was wondering----"
"Oh, for God's sake get on with it. That
is the third time you have said that."
"Well, dear," said Lady Tamplin, "I was
thinking that if would be very nice if I wrote
to dear Katherine and suggested that she
should pay us a little visit out here. Naturally, she is quite out of touch with Society.
It would be nicer for her to be launched by
one of her own people. An advantage for her
and an advantage for us."
"How much do you think you would get
her to cough up?" asked Lenox.
Her mother looked at her reproachfully snd murmured.
"We should have to come to some financial
arrangement, of course. What with one
thing and another--the War--your poor father__"
'And Chubby now," said Lenox. "He is ar! expensive luxury if you like."
"She was a nice girl as I remember her,'
murmured Lady Tamplin, pursuing her own
line of thought--"quiet, never wanted to
shove herself forward, not a beauty, and
never a man-hunter."
"She will leave Chubby alone, then?" said
Lenox.
Lady Tamplin looked at her in protest.
"Chubby would never----" she began.
"No," said Lenox, "I don't believe he
would; he knows a jolly sight too well which
way his bread is buttered."
"Darling," said Lady Tamplin, "you have
such a coarse way of putting things."
"Sorry," said Lenox.
Lady Tamplin gathered up the Daily Mail and her negligee, a vanity-bag, and various
odd letters.
"I shall write to dear Katherine at once,"
she said, "and remind her of the dear old
days at Edgeworth."
She went into the house, a light of purpose
shining in her eyes.
Unlike Mrs. Samuel Harfield, correspondence
flowed easily from her pen. She covered
four sheets without pause or effort, and
on re-reading it found no occasion to alter a
word.
Katherine received it on the morning of ^
^er arrival in London. Whether she read between
the lines of it or not is another matter.
She put it in her handbag and started out to keep the appointment she had made with ^irs. Harfield's lawyers.
The firm was an old-established one in
Lincoln's Inn Fields, and after a few minutes' delay Katherine was shown into the
presence of the senior partner, a kindly, elderly
man with shrewd blue eyes and a fatherly
manner.
They discussed Mrs. HarfiekTs will and
various legal matters for some minutes, then
Katherine handed the lawyer Mrs. Samuel's
letter.
"I had better show you this, I suppose,"
she said, "though it is really rather ridiculous."

He read it with a slight smile.
"Rather a crude attempt. Miss Grey. I
need hardly tell you, I suppose, that these
people have no claim of any kind upon the estate, and if they endeavour to contest the will no court will uphold them."
"I thought as much."
"Human nature is not always very wise. h Mrs. Samuel Harfield's place, I should Have been more inclined to make an appeal to your generosity."
"That is one of the things I wanted to
speak to you about. I should like a certain
sum to go to these people."
"There is no obligation."
"I know that."
"And they will not take it in the spirit it
is meant. They will probably regard it as an
attempt to pay them off, though they will not refuse it on that account."
"I can see that, and it can't be helped."
"I should advise you, Miss Grey, to put
that idea out of your head."
Katherine shook her head. "You are quite
right, I know, but I should like it done all
the same."
"They will grab at the money and abuse
you all the more afterwards."
"Well," said Katherine, "let them if they
like. We all have our own ways of enjoying
ourselves. They were, after all, Mrs. Harfield's
only relatives, and though they despised
her as a poor relation and paid no
attention to her when she was alive, it seems
to me unfair that they should be cut off with
nothing."
She carried her point, though the lawyer
was still unwilling, and she presently went
out into the streets of London with a comfortable
assurance that she could spend
T|
money freely and make what plans she liked
for the future. Her first action was to visit
the establishment of a famous dressmaker.
A slim, elderly Frenchwoman, rather like
a dreaming duchess, received her, and Katherine
spoke with a certain nawete.
"I want, if I may, to put myself in your
hands. I have been very poor all my life and
know nothing about clothes, but now I have
come into some money and want to look
really well dressed."
The Frenchwoman was charmed. She had
an artist's temperament, which had been
soured earlier in the morning by a visit from
an Argentine meat queen, who had insisted
on having those models least suited to her
flamboyant type of beauty. She scrutinized
Katherine with keen, clever eyes. "Yes--
yes, it will be a pleasure. Mademoiselle has
a very good figure; for her the simple lines
will be best. She is also tres anglaise. Some
People it would offend them if I said that,
out Mademoiselle, no. Une belle Anglaise, ^ere is no style more delightful."
The demeanour of a dreaming duchess ^s suddenly put off. She screamed out di^ction
to various mannequins. "Clothilde,
^ginie, quickly, my little ones, the little ^illeur gris clair and the robe de soiree 'soupir
d'automne.9 Marcelle, my child, the little mimosa
suit of crepe de chine."
It was a charming morning. Marcelle,
Clothilde, Virginie, bored and scornful,
passed slowly round, squirming and wriggling
in the time-honoured fashion of mannequins.
The Duchess stood by Katherine
and made entries in a small notebook.
"An excellent choice. Mademoiselle. Mademoiselle
has great gout. Yes, indeed. Mademoiselle
cannot do better than those little
suits if she is going to the Riviera, as I suppose, this winter."
"Let me see that evening dress once
more," said Katherine--"the pinky mauve
one."
Virginie appeared, circling slowly.
"That is the prettiest of all," said Katherine, as she surveyed the exquisite draperies
of mauve and grey and blue. "What do you
call it?"
^Soupir d'automne; yes, yes, that is truly
the dress of Mademoiselle."
What was there in these words that came back to Katherine with a faint feeling of sadness
after she had left the dressmaking es'
tablishment.
c< 'Soupir d'automne; that is truly the dress
of Mademoiselle.'" Autumn, yes, it was au

tuinn for her. She who had never known
spring or summer, and would never know
them now. Something she had lost never
could be given to her again. These years of
servitude in St. Mary Mead--and all the
while life passing by.
"I am an idiot," said Katherine. "I am an
idiot. What do I want? Why, I was more
*******ed a month ago than I am now."
She drew out from her handbag the letter
she had received that morning from Lady
Tamplin. Katherine was no fool. She understood
the nuances of that letter as well as
anybody and the reason of Lady Tamplin's
sudden show of affection towards a longforgotten
cousin was not lost upon her. It
was for profit and not for pleasure that Lady
Tamplin was so anxious for the company of
her dear cousin. Well, why not? There
would be profit on both sides.
"I will go," said Katherine.
She was walking down Piccadilly at the moment, and turned into Cook's to clinch
the matter then and there. She had to wait for a few minutes. The man with whom the
clerk was engaged was also going to the Riv- ^ra. Every one, she felt, was going. Well,
^r the first time in her life, she, too, would ^ doing what "everybody did."
k. H I ^ The man in front of her turned abruptly, and she stepped into his place. She made her
demand to the clerk, but at the same time
half of her mind was busy with something
else. That man's face--in some vague way
it was familiar to her. Where had she seen
him before? Suddenly she remembered. It
was in the Savoy outside her room that morning.
She had collided with him in the passage.
Rather an odd coincidence that she
should run into him twice in a day. She
glanced over her shoulder, rendered uneasy
by something, she knew not what. The man
was standing in the doorway looking back at
her. A cold shiver passed over Katherine;
she had a haunting sense of tragedy, of doom
impending. . . .
Then she shook the impression from her
with her usual good sense and turned her
whole attention to what the clerk was saying.
Chapter 9
An Offer Refused
it was rarely that Derek Kettering allowed
his temper to get the better of him. An easygoing
insouciance was his chief characteristic
5 and it had stood him in good stead in
more than one tight corner. Even now, by
the time he had left Mirelle's flat, he had
cooled down. He had need of coolness. The
corner he was in now was a tighter one than
he had ever been in before, and unforeseen
factors had arisen with which, for the moment, he did not know how to deal.
He strolled along deep in thought. His
brow was furrowed, and there was none of
the easy, jaunty manner which sat so well ^on him. Various possibilities floated
~Trough
his mind. It might have been said
°f Derek Kettering that he was less of a fool Jhan he looked. He saw several roads that ue might take--one in particular. If he ^rank from it, it was for the moment only.
Desperate ills need desperate remedies. He
had gauged his father-in-law correctly. A war
between Derek Kettering and Rufus Van Aldin
could end only one way. Derek damned
money and the power of money vehemently
to himself. He walked up St. James's Street, across Piccadilly, and strolled along it in the
direction of Piccadilly Circus. As he passed
the offices of Messrs. Thomas Cook & Sons
his footsteps slackened. He walked on, however, still turning the matter over in his
mind. Finally, he gave a brief nod of his
head, turned sharply--so sharply as to collide
with a couple of pedestrians who were
following in his footsteps, and went back the
way he had come. This time he did not pass
Cook's, but went in. The office was comparatively
empty, and he got attended to at
once.
"I want to go to Nice next week. Will you
give me particulars?"
"What date, sir?"
"The 14th. What is the best train?"
"Well, of course, the best train is what
they call The Blue Train.' You avoid the
tiresome Customs business at Calais."
Derek nodded. He knew all this, none
better.
"The 14th," murmured the clerk; "thai
FR1;is rather soon. The Blue Train is nearly always
all booked up."
"See if there is a berth left," said Derek.
"If there is not----" He left the sentence
unfinished^ with a curious smile on his face.
The clerk disappeared for a few minutes, and presently returned. "That is all right, sir; still three berths left. I will book you
one of them. What name?"
"Pavett," said Derek. He gave the address
of his rooms in Jermyn Street.
The clerk nodded, finished writing it
down, wished Derek good morning politely, and turned his attention to the next client.
"I want to go to Nice--on the 14th. Isn't
there a train called the Blue Train?"
Derek looked round sharply.
Coincidence--a strange coincidence. He
remembered his own half-whimsical words
to Mirelle, "Portrait of a lady with grey eyes. I don't suppose I shall ever see her again." But
he had seen her again, and, what was more,
^e proposed to travel to the Riviera on the ^me day as he did.
Just for a moment a shiver passed over
It'
^m; in some ways he was superstitious. He ^sd said, half-laughingly, that this woman ^ight bring him bad luck. Suppose--supP°se
that should prove to be true. From the
doorway he looked back at her as she stood
talking to the clerk. For once his memory
had not played him false. A lady—a lady in
every sense of the word. Not very young,
not singularly beautiful. But with something—grey
eyes that might perhaps see too
much. He knew as he went out of the door
that in some way he was afraid of this
woman. He had a sense of fatality.
He went back to his rooms in Jermyn
Street and summoned his man.
"Take this cheque, Pavett, cash it first
thing in the morning, and go around to
Cook's in Piccadilly. They will have some
tickets there booked in your name, pay for
them, and bring them back."
"Very good, sir."
Pavett withdrew.
Derek strolled over to a side-table and
picked up a handful of letters. They were of
a type only too familiar. Bills, small bills and
large bills, one and all pressing for payment.
The tone of the demands was still polite.
Derek knew how soon that polite tone would
change if—if certain news became public
property.
He flung himself moodily into a large?
leather-covered chair. A damned hole—that
was what he was in. Yes, a damned hole1
^
And ways of getting out of that damned hole were not too promising.
pavett appeared with a discreet cough.
"A gentleman to see you--sir--Major
Knighton."
"Knighton, eh?"
Derek sat up, frowned, became suddenly
alert. He said in a softer tone, almost to himself:
"Knighton--I wonder what is in the
wind now?"
"Shall I--er--show him in, sir?"
His master nodded. When Knighton entered
the room he found a charming and
genial host awaiting him.
"Very good of you to look me up," said
Derek.
Knighton was nervous.
The other's keen eyes noticed that at once.
The errand on which the secretary had come
was clearly distasteful to him. He replied
almost mechanically to Derek's easy flow of
conversation. He declined a drink, and, if snything, his manner became stiffer than before.
Derek appeared at last to notice it.
"Well," he said cheerfully, "what does my ^teemed father-in-law want with me? You We come on his business, I take it?"
Knighton did not smile in reply.
"I have, yes," he said carefully. "I--I
wish Mr. Van Aldin had chosen some one
else."
Derek raised his eyebrows in mock dismay.

"Is it as bad as all that? I am not very thin
skinned, I can assure you 5 Knighton."
"No," said Knighton; "but this----"
He paused.
Derek eyed him keenly.
"Go on, out with it," he said kindly. "I
can imagine my dear father-in-law's errands
might not always be pleasant ones."
Knighton cleared his throat. He spoke formally
in tones that he strove to render free
of embarrassment.
"I am directed by Mr. Van Aldin to make
you a definite offer."
"An offer?" For a moment Derek showed
his surprise. Knighton's opening words were
clearly not what he had expected. He offered
a cigarette to Knighton, lit one himself, and
sank back in his chair, murmuring in a
slightly sardonic voice:
"An offer? That sounds rather interesting."

"Shall I go on?"
"Please. You must forgive my surprise,
but it seems to me that my dear father-in" law has rather climbed down since our chat
this morning. And climbing down is not
what one associates with strong men. Napoleons
of finance, etc. It shows--I think it
shows that he finds his position weaker than
he thought it."
Knighton listened politely to the easy, mocking voice, but no sign of any kind
showed itself on his rather stolid countenance.
He waited until Derek had finished, and then he said quietly.
"I will state the proposition in the fewest
possible words."
«/~'/v /^,»» "
LrO On.
Knighton did not look at the other. His
voice was curt and matter-of-fact.
"The matter is simply this. Mrs. Kettering, as you know, is about to file a petition
for divorce. If the case goes undefended you
will receive one hundred thousand on the
day that the decree is made absolute."
Derek, in the act of lighting his cigarette, suddenly stopped dead.
"A hundred thousand!" he said sharply. "Dollars?"
"Pounds."
There was dead silence for at least two Minutes. Kettering had his brows together Linking. A hundred thousand pounds. It ^eant Mirelle and a continuance of his pleas ant, carefree life. It meant that Van Aldin
knew something. Van Aldin did not pay for
nothing. He got up and stood by the chimney-piece.

"And in the event of my refusing his handsome
offer?" he asked, with a cold, ironical
politeness.
Knighton made a deprecating gesture.
"I can assure you, Mr. Kettering," he said
earnestly, "that it is with the utmost unwillingness
that I came here with this message."

"That's all right," said Kettering. "Don't
distress yourself; it's not your fault. Now
then--I asked you a question, will you answer
it?"
Knighton also rose. He spoke more reluctantly
than before.
"In the event of your refusing this proposition,"
he said, "Mr. Van Aldin wished
me to tell you in plain words that he proposes
to break you. Just that."
Kettering raised his eyebrows, but he retained
his light, amused manner.
"Well, well!" he said, "I suppose he can
do it. I certainly should not be able to put
up much of a fight against America's man
of millions. A hundred thousand! If you are
going to bribe a man there is nothing like
doing it thoroughly. Supposing I were to tell
you that for two hundred thousand I'd do
what he wanted, what then?"
a! would take your message back to Mr.
Van Aldin," said Knighton unemotionally.
"Is that your answer?"
"No," said Derek; "funnily enough it is
not. You can go back to my father-in-law
and tell him to take himself and his bribes
to hell. Is that clear?"
"Perfectly," said Knighton. He got up,
hesitated, and then flushed. "I—you will
allow me to say, Mr. Kettering, that I am
glad you have answered as you have."
Derek did not reply. When the other had
left the room he remained for a minute or
two lost in thought. A curious smile came
to his lips.
"And that is that," he said softly.
Chapter 10
On the Blue Train
"dad!"
Mrs. Kettering started violently. Her
nerves were not completely under control
this morning. Very perfectly dressed in a
long mink coat and a little hat of Chinese
lacquer red, she had been walking along the
crowded platform of Victoria deep in
thought, and her father's sudden appearance
and hearty greeting had an unlooked-for effect
upon her.
"Why, Ruth, how you jumped!"
"I didn't expect to see you, I suppose,
Dad. You said good-bye to me last night
and said you had a conference this morning."
"So I have," said Van Aldin, "but you are
more to me than any number of darned conferences.
I came to take a last look at you,
since I am not going to see you for some
time."
"That is very sweet of you. Dad. I wish
you were coming too."
"What would you say if I did?"
The remark was merely a joking one. He was surprised to see the quick colour flame
in Ruth's cheeks. For a moment he almost
thought he saw dismay flash out of her eyes.
She laughed uncertainly and nervously.
"Just for a moment I really thought you
meant it," she said.
"Would you have been pleased?"
"Of course." She spoke with exaggerated
emphasis.
"Well," said Van Aldin, "that's good."
"It isn't really for very long. Dad," continued
Ruth; "you know, you are coming
out next month."
"Ah!" said Van Aldin unemotionally, "sometimes I guess I will go to one of these ^g guys in Harley Street and have him tell n^ that I need sunshine and change of air
right away."
"Don't be so lazy," cried Ruth; "next ^onth is ever so much nicer than this month
°Ut there. You have got all sorts of things You can't possibly leave just now."
"Well, that's so, I suppose," said Van Al^ with a sigh. "You had better be getting
on board this train of yours, Ruth. Whe e
is your seat?"
Ruth Kettering looked vaguely up at the
train. At the door of one of the Pullman cars
a thin, tall woman dressed in black was
standing--Ruth Kettering's maid. She drew
aside as her mistress came up to her.
"I have put your dressing-case under your seat. Madam, in case you should need it.
Shall I take the rugs, or will you require
one?"
"No, no, I shan't want one. Better go and
find your own seat now. Mason."
"Yes, Madam."
The maid departed.
Van Aldin entered the Pullman car with
Ruth. She found her seat, and Van Aldin
deposited various papers and magazines on
the table in front of her. The seat opposite
to her was already taken, and the American
gave a cursory glance at its occupant. He had
a fleeting impression of attractive grey eyes
and a neat travelling costume. He indulged
in a little more desultory conversation with
Ruth, the kind of talk peculiar to those
seeing other people off by train.
Presently, as whistles blew, he glanced at
his watch.
"I had best be clearing out of here. Good bye? nlv ^ear* ^)on?t worry, I will attend to
things."
^Oh, father!"
He turned back sharply. There had been
something in Ruth's voice, something so entirely
foreign to her usual manner, that he
was startled. It was almost a cry of despair.
She had made an impulsive movement towards
him, but in another minute she was
mistress of herself once more.
"Till next month," she said cheerfully.
Two minutes later the train started.
Ruth sat very still, biting her under lip
and trying hard to keep the unaccustomed
tears from her eyes. She felt a sudden sense
of horrible desolation. There was a wild
longing upon her to jump out of the train
and to go back before it was too late. She, so calm, so self-assured, for the first time in
her life felt like a leaf swept by the wind. If
her father knew--what would he say?
Madness! Yes, just that, madness! For the
first time in her life she was swept away by lotion, swept away to the point of doing a
thing which even she knew to be incredibly
C i
Polish and reckless. She was enough Van Odin's daughter to realize her own folly, and level headed enough to condemn her own ^tion. But she was his daughter in another
sense also. She had that same iron determination
that would have what it wante^ and once it had made up its mind would not
be balked. From her cradle she had been
self-willed; the very circumstances of her life
had developed that self-will in her. It drove
her now remorselessly. Well, the die was
cast. She must go through with it now.
She looked up, and her eyes met those of
the woman sitting opposite. She had a sudden
fancy that in some way this other woman
had read her mind. She saw in those grey
eyes understanding and--yes--compassion.
It was only a fleeting impression. The
faces of both women hardened to well-bred
impassiveness. Mrs. Kettering took up a
magazine, and Katherine Grey looked out of
the window and watched a seemingly endless
vista of depressing streets and suburban
houses.
Ruth found an increasing difficulty in fixing
her mind on the printed page in front of
her. In spite of herself, a thousand apprehensions
preyed on her mind. What a fool
she had been! What a fool she wasi Like all
cool and self-sufficient people, when she did
lose her self-control she lost it thoroughly- It was too late. . . . Was it too late? Oh, for
some one to speak to, for some one to advise
her. She had never before had such a wish;
she would have scorned the idea of relying
on any judgment other than her own, but
now--what was the matter with her? Panic. Yes, that would describe it best--panic.
She, Ruth Kettering, was completely and
utterly panic stricken.
She stole a covert glance at the figure opposite.
If only she knew some one like that, some nice, cool, calm, sympathetic creature.
That was the sort of person one could talk
to. But you can't, of course, confide in a
stranger. And Ruth smiled to herself a little
at the idea. She picked up the magazine
again. Really she must control herself. After
all, she had thought all this out. She had
decided of her own free will. What happiness
had she ever had in her life up to now? She
said to herself restlessly: "Why shouldn't I
be happy? No one will ever know."
It seemed no time before Dover was reached. Ruth was a good sailor. She disliked Ae cold, and was glad to reach the shelter
of the private cabin she had telegraphed for. Although she would not have admitted the ^ct, Ruth was in some ways superstitious. She was of the order of people to whom co- ^cidence appeals. After disembarking at Ca- lais and settling herself down with her maid
in her double compartment in the Blue
Train, she went along to the luncheon car.
It was with a little shock of surprise that she
found herself set down to a small table with, opposite her, the same woman who had been
her vis-a-vis in the Pullman. A faint smile
came to the lips of both women.
"This is quite a coincidence," said Mrs.
Kettering.
"I know," said Katherine; "it is odd the
way things happen."
A flying attendant shot up to them with
the wonderful velocity always displayed by
the Compagnie Internationale des WagonsLits
and deposited two cups of soup. By the
time the omelette succeeded the soup they
were chatting together in friendly fashion.
"It will be heavenly to get into the sunshine,"
sighed Ruth.
"I am sure it will be a wonderful feeling."
"You know the Riviera well?"
"No; this is my first visit."
"Fancy that."
"You go every year, I expect?"
"Practically. January and February in
London are horrible."
"I have always lived in the country. They
are not very inspiring months there either.
Mostly mud."
"What made you suddenly decide to
travel?"
"Money," said Katherine. "For ten years
I have been a paid companion with just
enough money of my own to buy myself
strong country shoes; now I have been left
what seems to me a fortune, though I dare
say it would not seem so to you."
"Now I wonder why you say that--that
it would not seem so to me."
Katherine laughed. "I don't really know.
I suppose one forms impressions without
thinking of it. I put you down in my own
mind as one of the very rich of the earth. It
was just an impression. I dare say I am
wrong."
"No," said Ruth, "you are not wrong."
She had suddenly become very grave. "I
wish you would tell me what other impressions
you formed about me?"
"T___??
Ruth swept on disregarding the other's ^barrassment.
'Oh, please, don't be conventional. I want ^ know. As we left Victoria I looked across at you, and I had the sort of feeling that
you--well, understood what was going on in my mind."
"I can assure you I am not a mind reader,"
said Katherine, smiling.
"No; but will you tell me, please, just
what you thought." Ruth's eagerness was so
intense and so sincere that she carried her
point.
"I will tell you if you like, but you must
not think me impertinent. I thought that for
some reason you were in great distress of
mind, and I was sorry for you."
"You are right. You are quite right. I am
in terrible trouble. I—I should like to tell
you something about it, if I may."
"Oh, dear," Katherine thought to herself,
"how extraordinarily alike the world seems
to be everywhere! People were always telling
me things in St. Mary Mead, and it is just
the same thing here, and I don't really want
to hear anybody's troubles!"
She replied politely:
"Do tell me."
They were just finishing their lunch. Ruth
gulped down her coffee, rose from her seat,
and quite oblivious of the fact that Katherine
had not begun to sip her coffee, said: "Come
to my compartment with me."
They were two single compartments with
a communicating door between them. In the
second of them a thin maid, whom Kath-
erine had noticed at Victoria, was sitting very
upright on the seat, clutching a big scarlet morocco case with the initials R. V. K. on
it. Mrs. Kettering pulled the communicating
door to and sank down on the seat. Katherine
sat down beside her.
"I am in trouble and I don't know what
to do. There is a man whom I am fond of --very fond of indeed. We cared for each
other when we were young, and we were
thrust apart most brutally and unjustly. Now
we have come together again."
"Yes?"
"I--I am going to meet him now. Oh! I
dare say you think it is all wrong, but you
don't know the circumstances. My husband
is impossible. He has treated me disgracefully."

"Yes," said Katherine again.
"What I feel so badly about is this. I have
deceived my father--it was he who came to ^e me off at Victoria to-day. He wishes me ^ divorce my husband, and, of course, he ^as no idea--that I am going to meet this ^her man. He would think it extraordinarily
foolish."
"Well, don't you think it is?" L- '^--I suppose it is."
Ruth Kettering looked down at her hands;
they were shaking violently.
"But I can't draw back now."
"Why not?"
"I--it is all arranged, and it would break
his heart."
"Don't you believe it," said Katherine robustly;
"hearts are pretty tough."
"He will think I have no courage, no
strength of purpose."
"It seems to me an awfully silly thing that
you are going to do," said Katherine. "I
think you realize that yourself."
Ruth Kettering buried her face in her
hands. "I don't know--I don't know. Ever
since I left Victoria I have had a horrible
feeling of something--something that is
coming to me very soon--that I can't escape."

She clutched convulsively at Katherine's
hand.
"You must think I am mad talking to you
like this, but I tell you I know something
horrible is going to happen."
"Don't think it," said Katherine; "try to
pull yourself together. You could send your
father a wire from Paris, if you like, and he
would come to you at once."
The other brightened.
"Yes, I could do that. Dear old Dad. It
is queer--but I never knew until to-day how
terribly fond of him I am." She sat up and
dried her eyes with a handkerchief. "I have
been very foolish. Thank you so much for
letting me talk to you. I don't know why I
got into such a queer, hysterical state."
She got up. "I am quite all right now. I
suppose, really, I just needed some one to
talk to. I can't think now why I have been
making such an absolute fool of myself."
{Catherine got up too.
"I am so glad you feel better," she said, trying to make her voice sound as conventional
as possible. She was only too well
aware that the aftermath of confidences is
embarrassment. She added tactfully:
"I must be going back to my own compartment."

She emerged into the corridor at the same
time as the maid was also coming out from
the next door. The latter looked towards
Katherine, over her shoulder, and an expression
of intense surprise showed itself on her face. Katherine turned also, but by that time Whoever it was who had aroused the maid's Merest had retreated into his or her compartment, and the corridor was empty. ytherine walked down it to regain her own
place, which was in the next coach. As she
passed the end compartment the door
opened and a woman's face looked out for a
moment and then pulled the door to sharply.
It was a face not easily forgotten, as Katherine
was to know when she saw it again. A
beautiful face, oval and dark, very heavily
made up in a bizarre fashion. Katherine had
a feeling that she had seen it before somewhere.

She regained her own compartment without
other adventure and sat for some time
thinking of the confidence which had just
been made to her. She wondered idly who
the woman in the mink coat might be, wondered
also how the end of her story would
turn out.
"If I have stopped any one from making
an idiot of themselves, I suppose I have done
good work," she thought to herself. "But
who knows? That is the kind of woman who
is hard-headed and egotistical all her life, and
it might be good for her to do the other sort
of thing for a change. Oh, well--I don't suppose
I shall ever see her again. She certainly
won't want to see me again. That is the worst
of letting people tell you things. They never
do."
She hoped that she would not be given the
san^ pl^6 ^ dinner. She reflected, not without
humour, that it might be awkward for both of them. Leaning back with her head
against a cushion she felt tired and vaguely
depressed. They had reached Paris, and the
slow journey round the ceinture, with its interminable
stops and waits, was very wearisome.
When they arrived at the Gare de
Lyon she was glad to get out and walk up
and down the platform. The keen cold air
was *******ing after the steam-heated train.
She observed with a smile that her friend of
the mink coat was solving the possible awkwardness
of the dinner problem in her own
way. A dinner basket was being handed up
and received through the window by the
maid.
When the train started once more, and
dinner was announced by a violent ringing
of bells, Katherine went along to it much
relieved in mind. Her vis-a-vis to-night was
°t an entirely different kind--a small man,
distinctly foreign in appearance, with a rigidly
waxed moustache and an egg-shaped
h^d which he carried rather on one side. Catherine had taken in a book to dinner with ^r. She found the little man's eyes fixed ^PPn it with a kind of twinkling amusement.
B i i r\1^
"I see, Madame, that you have a Roman
Policier. You are fond of such things?"
"They amuse me," Katherine admitted.
The little man nodded with the air of complete
understanding.
"They have a good sale always, so I am
told. Now why is that, eh. Mademoiselle? I
ask it of you as a student of human nature
--why should that be?"
Katherine felt more and more amused.
"Perhaps they give one the illusion of living
an exciting life," she suggested.
He nodded gravely.
"Yes, there is something in that." /
"Of course, one knows that such things
don't really happen," Katherine was continuing, but he interrupted her sharply.
"Sometimes, Mademoiselle! Sometimes! I
who speak to you--they have happened to
me."
She threw him a quick, interested glance.
"Some day, who knows, you might be in
the thick of things," he went on. "It is all I
chance." '
"I don't think it is likely," said Katherine;
"Nothing of that kind ever happens to me.
He leaned forward.
"Would you like it to?"
I
^rr
The question startled her, and she drew ^ her breath sharply.
^It is my fancy, perhaps," said the little
man, as he dexterously polished one of the
forks, "but I think that you have a yearning
in you for interesting happenings. Eh bien, Mademoiselle, all through my life I have observed
one thing--'All one wants one gets!5 Who knows?" His face screwed itself up
comically. "You may get more than you bargain
for."
"Is that a prophecy?" asked Katherine, smiling as she rose from the table.
The little man shook his head.
"I never prophesy," he declared pompously.
"It is true that I have the habit of
being always right--but I do not boast of it.
Good-night, Mademoiselle, and may you
sleep well."
Katherine went back along the train amused and entertained by her little neighbour.
She passed the open door of her friend's compartment and saw the conductor baking up the bed. The lady in the mink ^at was standing looking out of the window. fhe second compartment, as Katherine saw trough the communicating door, was ^pty, with rugs and bags heaped up on the ^at. The maid was not there.
Katherine found her own bed prepared
and since she was tired, she went to bed and
switched off her light about half-past nine.
She woke with a sudden start; how much
time had passed she did not know. Glancing
at her watch, she found that it had stopped.
A feeling of intense uneasiness pervaded her
and grew stronger moment by moment. At
last she got up, threw her dressing-gown
round her shoulders, and stepped out into
the corridor. The whole train seemed
wrapped in slumber. Katherine let down the
window and sat by it for some minutes, drinking in the cool night air and trying
vainly to calm her uneasy fears. She presently
decided that she would go along to the
end and ask the conductor for the right time
so that she could set her watch. She found,
however, that his little chair was vacant.
She hesitated for a moment and then
walked through into the next coach. She
looked down the long, dim line of the corridor
and saw, to her surprise, that a man
was standing with his hand on the door of
the compartment occupied by the lady in the
mink coat. That is to say, she thought it was
the compartment. Probably, however, she
was mistaken. He stood there for a moment
or two with his back to her, seeming uncer-
rr
tain an(^ hesitating in his attitude. Then he
slowly turned, and with an odd feeling of
fatality, Katherine recognized him as the
same man whom she had noticed twice
before--once in the corridor of the Savoy Hotel and once in Cook's offices. Then he
opened the door of the compartment and
passed in, drawing it to behind him.
An idea flashed across Katherine's mind.
Could this be the man of whom the other
woman had spoken--the man she was journeying
to meet.
Then Katherine told herself that she was
romancing. In all probability she had mistaken
the compartment.
She went back to her own carriage. Five
minutes later the train slackened speed.
There was the long plaintive hiss of the
Westinghouse brake, and a few minutes later
the train came to a stop at Lyons.
Chapter 11
Murder
katherine wakened the next morning to
brilliant sunshine. She went along to breakfast
early 5 but met none of her acquaintances
of the day before. When she returned to her
compartment it had just been restored to its
daytime appearance by the conductor, a dark
man with a drooping moustache and melancholy
face.
"Madame is fortunate," he said; "the sun
shines. It is always a great disappointment
to passengers when they arrive on a grey
morning."
"I should have been disappointed, certainly," said Katherine.
The man prepared to depart.
"We are rather late, Madame," he said.
"I will let you know just before we get to
Nice."
Katherine nodded. She sat by the window;
entranced by the sunlit panorama. The pali11
trees, the deep blue of the sea, the bright yellow mimosa came with all the charm of
novelty to the woman who for fourteen years
had known only the drab winters of England.
When
they arrived at Cannes, Katherine
got out and walked up and down the platform.
She was curious about the lady in the
mink coat, and looked up at the windows of
her compartment. The blinds were still
drawn down--the only ones to be so on the
whole train. Katherine wondered a little, and
when she re-entered the train she passed
along the corridor and noticed that these two
compartments were still shuttered and
closed. The lady of the mink coat was clearly
no early riser.
Presently the conductor came to her and
told her that in a few minutes the train would
arrive at Nice. Katherine handed him a tip;
the man thanked her, but still lingered.
There was something odd about him. Katharine, who had at first wondered whether the tip had not been big enough, was now ^nvinced that something far more serious ^as amiss. His face was of a sickly pallor, Qe was shaking all over, and looked as if he ^d been frightened out of his life. He was
Veing her in a curious manner. Presently he
BE' - .
said abruptly: "Madame will excuse me, \ ut
is she expecting friends to meet her at Nice^5
"Probably," said Katherine. "Why?" '
But the man merely shook his head and
murmured something that Katherine could
not catch and moved away, not reappearing
until the train came to rest at the station,
when he started handing her belongings
down from the window.
Katherine stood for a moment or two on
the platform rather at a loss, but a fair young
man with an ingenuous face came up to her
and said rather hesitatingly:
"Miss Grey, is it not?"
Katherine said that it was, and the young
man beamed upon her seraphically and murmured:

"I am Chubby, you know--Lady Tamplin's
husband. I expect she mentioned me,
but perhaps she forgot. Have you got your billet de bagages? I lost mine when I came
out this year, and you would not believe the
fuss they made about it. Regular French red
tape!"
Katherine produced it, and was just about
to move off beside him when a very gentle
and insidious voice murmured in her ear:
"A little moment, Madame, if Y°^ please."
ICatherine turned to behold an individual
who made up for insignificance of stature by
a large quantity of gold lace and uniform.
The individual explained. "There were certain
formalities. Madame would perhaps be
so kind as to accompany him. The regulations
of the police----" He threw up his
arms. "Absurd, doubtless, but there it was."
Mr. Chubby Evans listened with a very
imperfect comprehension, his French being
of a limited order.
"So like the French," murmured Mr. Evans.
He was one of those staunch patriotic
Britons who, having made a portion of a
foreign country their own, strongly resent
the original inhabitants of it. "Always up to
some silly dodge or other. They've never
tackled people on the station before, though.
This is something quite new. I suppose
you'll have to go."
Katherine departed with her guide. Somewhat
to her surprise, he led her towards a
siding where a coach of the departed train
had been shunted. He invited her to mount ^to this, and, preceding her down the cor- ^or, held aside the door of one of the compartments.
In it was a pompous-looking
°fficial personage, and with him a nonde^ript
being who appeared to be a clerk. The
pompous-looking personage rose politely
bowed to Katherine, and said:
"You will excuse me, Madame, but there
are certain formalities to be complied with.
Madame speaks French, I trust?"
"Sufficiently, I think. Monsieur," replied
Katherine in that language.
"That is good. Pray be seated, Madame.
I am M. Caux, the Commissary of Police."
He blew out his chest importantly, and
Katherine tried to look sufficiently impressed.

"You wish to see my passport?" she inquired.
"Here it is."
The Commissary eyed her keenly and gave
a little grunt.
"Thank you, Madame," he said, taking
the passport from her. He cleared his throat.
"But what I really desire is a little infor- 11 mation."
"Information?"
| The Commissary nodded his head slowly. ; "About a lady who has been a fellow-passenger
of yours. You lunched with her yesterday."

"I am afraid I can't tell you anything about
her. We fell into conversation over our meal 5
but she is a complete stranger to me. I have
never seen her before."
"And yet," said the Commissary sharply,
«you returned to her compartment with her
after lunch and sat talking for some time?"
"Yes," said Katherine, "that is true."
The Commissary seemed to expect her to
say something more. He looked at her encouragingly.

"Yes, Madame?"
"Well, Monsieur?" said Katherine.
"You can, perhaps, give me some kind of
idea of that conversation?"
"I could," said Katherine, "but at the moment
I see no reason to do so."
In somewhat British fashion she felt annoyed.
This foreign official seemed to her
impertinent.
"No reason?" cried the Commissary. "Oh
yes, Madame, I can assure you that there is a reason."
"Then perhaps you will give it to me."
The Commissary rubbed his chin thoughtfully
for a minute or two without speaking.
"Madame," he said at last, "the reason is ^ry simple. The lady in question was found ^ad in her compartment this morning."
. "Dead!" gasped Katherine. "What was lt--heart failure?"
No," said the Commissary in a reflective,
^eainy voice. "No--she was murdered."
"Murdered!" cried Katherine.
"So you see, Madame, why we are anxious
for any information we can possibly get."
"But surely her maid----"
"The maid has disappeared."
"Ohi" Katherine paused to assemble her
thoughts.
"Since the conductor had seen you talking
with her in her compartment, he quite naturally
reported the fact to the police, and
that is why, Madame, we have detained you,
in the hope of gaining some information."
"I am very sorry," said Katherine; "I
don't even know her name."
"Her name is Kettering. That we know
from her passport and from the labels on her
luggage. If we----"
There was a knock on the compartment
door. M. Caux frowned. He opened it about
six inches.
"What is the matter?" he said peremptorily.
"I cannot be disturbed."
The egg-shaped head of Katherine5 s dinner
acquaintance showed itself in the aperture.
On his face was a beaming smile.
"My name," he said, "is Hercule Poirot."
"Not," the Commissary stammered, "n01 the Hercule Poirot?"
"The same," said Mr. Poirot. "I remein-
"7-
her meeting you once, M. Caux, at the Surete
[^ Paris, though doubtless you have forgotten
me?"
"Not at all. Monsieur, not at all," declared
the Commissary heartily. "But enter, I pray
of you. You know of this----"
"Yes, I know," said Hercule Poirot. "I
came to see if I might be of any assistance?"
"We should be flattered," replied the Commissary
promptly. "Let me present you, Mr.
Poirot, to"--he consulted the passport he still
held in his hand--"to Madame--er--Mademoiselle
Grey."
Poirot smiled across at Katherine.
"It is strange, is it not," he murmured, "that my words should have come true so
quickly?"
"Mademoiselle, alas! can tell us very little,"
said the Commissary.
"I have been explaining," said Katherine, "that this poor lady was a complete stranger
to me."
Poirot nodded.
"But she talked to you, did she not?" he
said gently. "You formed an impression-- is it not so?"
"Yes," said Katherine thoughtfully. "I ^Ppose I did."
And that impression was----"
"Yes, Mademoiselle"--the Commissary
jerked himself forward--"let us by all means
have your impressions."
Katherine sat turning the whole thing over
in her mind. She felt in a way as if she were
betraying a confidence, but with that ugly
word "Murder" ringing in her ears she dared
not keep anything back. Too much might
hang upon it. So, as nearly as she could, she
repeated word for word the conversation she
had had with the dead woman.
"That is interesting," said the Commissary, glancing at the other. "Eh, M. Poirot,
that is interesting? Whether it has anything
to do with the crime----" He left the sentence
unfinished.
"I suppose it could not be suicide," said
Katherine, rather doubtfully.
"No," said the Commissary, "it could not
be suicide. She was strangled with a length
of black cord."
"Ohi" Katherine shivered. M. Caux
spread out his hands apologetically. "It 1s not nice--no. I think that our train robbers
are more brutal than they are in your country."

"It is horrible."
"Yes, yes"--he was soothing and
apologetic--"but you have great courage
Mademoiselle. At once, as soon as I saw you, T said to myself, 'Mademoiselle has great
courage.5 That is why I am going to ask you
to do something more--something distressing; but I assure you very necessary."
Katherine looked at him apprehensively.
He spread out his hands apologetically.
"I am going to ask you. Mademoiselle, to
be so good as to accompany me to the next
compartment."
"Must I?" asked Katherine in a low voice.
"Some one must identify her," said the
Commissary, "and since the maid has
disappeared"--he coughed significantly--
"you appear to be the person who has seen
most of her since she joined the train."
"Very well," said Katherine quietly; "if
it is necessary----"
She rose. Poirot gave her a little nod of
approval.
"Mademoiselle is sensible," he said. "May
I accompany you, M. Caux?"
"Enchanted, my dear M. Poirot."
They went out into the corridor, and M. ^aux unlocked the door of the dead woman's ^mpartment. The blinds on the far side had ^en drawn half-way up to admit light. The ^ad woman lay on the berth to their left, in so natural a posture that one could have
thought her asleep. The bedclothes were
drawn up over her, and her head was turned
to the wall, so that only the red auburn curls
showed. Very gently M. Caux laid a hand
on her shoulder and turned the body back
so that the face came into view. Katherine
flinched a little and dug her nails into her
palms. A heavy blow had disfigured the fea~ tures almost beyond recognition. Poirot gave
a sharp exclamation.
"When was that done, I wonder?" he demanded.
"Before death or after?"
"The doctor says after," said M. Caux.
"Strange," said Poirot, drawing his brows
together.
He turned to Katherine. "Be brave, Mademoiselle, look at her well. Are you sure
that this is the woman you talked to in the
train yesterday?"
Katherine had good nerves. She steeled
herself to look long and earnestly at the recumbent
figure. Then she leaned forward
and took up the dead woman's hand.
"I am quite sure," she replied at length.
"The face is too disfigured to recognize, but
the build and carriage and hair are exact,
and besides I noticed this"--she pointed to
a tiny mole on the dead woman's wrist-^ "while I was talking to her."
122
^Bon," approved Poirot. "You are an excellent
witness. Mademoiselle. There is, then? n0 question as to the identity, but it
is strange, all the same." He frowned down
on the dead woman in perplexity.
M. Caux shrugged his shoulders.
"The murderer was carried away by rage, doubtless," he suggested.
"If she had been struck down, it would
have been comprehensible," mused Poirot, "but the man who strangled her slipped up
behind and caught her unawares. A little
choke--a little gurgle--that is all that would
be heard, and then afterwards--that smashing
blow on her face. Now why? Did he hope
that if the face were unrecognizable she
might not be identified? Or did he hate her
so much that he could not resist striking that
blow even after she was dead?"
Katherine shuddered, and he turned at
once to her kindly.
"You must not let me distress you. Mademoiselle,"
he said. "To you this is all very ^w and terrible. To me, alas! it is an old
story. One moment, I pray of you both."
They stood against the door watching him as he went quickly round the compartment. ^e noted the dead woman's clothes neatly j°^ed on the end of the berth, the big fur
123
coat that hung from a hook, and the little
red lacquer hat tossed up on the rack. Then
he passed through into the adjoining compartment, that in which Katherine had seen
the maid sitting. Here the berth had not been
made up. Three or four rugs were piled
loosely on the seat; there was a hat-box and
a couple of suit-cases. He turned suddenly
to Katherine.
"You were in here yesterday," he said. "Do you see anything changed, anything
missing?"
Katherine looked carefully round both
compartments.
"Yes," she said, "there is something
missing--a scarlet morocco case. It had the
initials 'R. V. K/ on it. It might have been
a small dressing-case or a big jewel-case.
When I saw it, the maid was holding it."
"Ah!" said Poirot.
"But, surely," said Katherine. "I--of
course, I don't know anything about such |
things, but surely it is plain enough, if the
maid and the jewel-case are missing?"
"You mean that it was the maid who was
the thief? No, Mademoiselle; there is a very
good reason against that."
"What?"
"The maid was left behind in Paris."
He turned to Poirot.
"I should like you to hear the conductor's
story yourself," he murmured confidentially. (<It is ^^ suggestive."
"Mademoiselle would doubtless like to
hear it also," said Poirot. "You do not object, Monsieur Ie Commissaire?"
"No," said the Commissary, who clearly
did object very much. "No, certainly, M.
Poirot, if you say so. You have finished
here?"
"I think so. One little minute."
He had been turning over the rugs, and
now he took one to the window and looked
at it, picking something off it with his fingers.

"What is it?" demanded M. Caux sharply.
"Four auburn hairs." He bent over the
dead woman. "Yes, they are from the head
ofMadame."
"And what of it? Do you attach importance
to them?"
Poirot let the rug drop back on the seat.
"What is important? What is not? One ^nnot say at this stage. But we must note ^ch little fact carefully."
They went back again into the first comP^tment,
and in a minute or two the con ductor of the carriage arrived to be
questioned.
"Your name is Pierre Michel?" said the
Commissary.
"Yes, Monsieur Ie Commissaire."
"I should like you to repeat to this
gentleman"--he indicated Poirot--"the
story that you told me as to what happened
in Paris."
"Very good. Monsieur Ie Commissaire. It
was after we had left the Gare de Lyon I
came along to make the beds, thinking that
Madame would be at dinner, but she had a
dinner-basket in her compartment. She said
to me that she had been obliged to leave her
maid behind in Paris, so that I only need
make up one berth. She took her dinnerbasket
into the adjoining compartment, and
sat there while I made up the bed; then she
told me that she did not wish to be wakened
early in the morning, that she liked to sleep
on. I told her I quite understood, and she
wished me 'goodnight.5"
"You yourself did not go into the adjoining
compartment?"
"No, Monsieur."
"Then you did not happen to notice if a scarlet morocco case was amongst the lug'
gage there?"
"No, Monsieur, I did not."
"Would it have been possible for a man
to have been concealed in the adjoining compartment?"

The conductor reflected.
"The door was half open," he said. "If a
man had stood behind that door I should not
have been able to see him, but he would, of
course, have been perfectly visible to Madame
when she went in there."
"Quite so," said Poirot, "Is there anything
more you have to tell us?"
"I think that is all. Monsieur. I can remember
nothing else."
"And now this morning?" prompted
Poirot.
"As Madame had ordered, I did not disturb
her. It was not until just before Cannes
that I ventured to knock at the door. Getting
no reply, I opened it. The lady appeared to
be in her bed asleep. I took her by the shoulder
to rouse her, and then----"
"And then you saw what had happened,"
volunteered Poirot. "Tres bien. I think I ^ow all I want to know."
"I hope. Monsieur Ie Commissaire, it is ^t that I have been guilty of any negligence,"
said the man piteously. "Such an
I I
affair to happen on the Blue Train! It is horrible."

"Console yourself," said the Commissary.
"Everything will be done to keep the affair
as quiet as possible, if only in the interests
of justice. I cannot think you have been
guilty of any negligence."
"And Monsieur Ie Commissaire will report
as much to the Company?"
"But certainly, but certainly," said M.
Caux impatiently. "That will do now."
The conductor withdrew.
"According to the medical evidence," said
the Commissary, "the lady was probably
dead before the train reached Lyons. Who
then was the murderer? From Mademoiselle's
story, it seems clear that somewhere
on her journey she was to meet this man of
whom she spoke. Her action in getting rid
of the maid seems significant. Did the man
join the train at Paris, and did she conceal
him in the adjoining compartment? If so,
they may have quarrelled, and he may have
killed her in a fit of rage. That is one possibility.
The other, and the more likely to
my mind, is that her assailant was a train
robber travelling on the train, that he stole
along the corridor unseen by the conductor,
killed her, and went off with the red morocco
case which doubtless contained jewels of
some value. In all probability he left the train at Lyons, and we have already telegraphed
to the station there for full particulars of any
one seen leaving the train."
"Or he might have come on to Nice,"
suggested Poirot.
"He might," agreed the Commissary, "but that would be a very bold course."
Poirot let a minute or two go by before
speaking, and then he said:
"In the latter case you think the man was
an ordinary train robber?"
The Commissary shrugged his shoulders.
"It depends. We must get hold of the
maid. It is possible that she has the red morocco
case with her. If so, then the man of
whom she spoke to Mademoiselle may be
concerned in the case, and the affair is a
crime of passion. I myself think the solution
of a train robber is the more probable. These
bandits have become very bold of late."
Poirot looked suddenly across to Katherine.

"And you. Mademoiselle," he said, "you ^ard and saw nothing during the night?" "Nothing," said Katherine.
Poirot turned to the Commissary.
Rl
"We need detain Mademoiselle no longer,
I think," he suggested.
The latter nodded.
"She will leave us her address?" he said.
Katherine gave him the name of Lady
Tamplin's villa. Poirot made her a little bow.
"You permit that I see you again, Mademoiselle?"
he said. "Or have you so many
friends that your time will be all taken up?"
"On the contrary," said Katherine, "I
shall have plenty of leisure, and I shall be
very pleased to see you again."
"Excellent," said Poirot, and gave her a
little friendly nod. "This shall be a 'Roman
Policier" a nous. We will investigate this affair
together."
Chapter 12
/At the Villa Marguerite
"then you were really in the thick of it all!"
said Lady Tamplin enviously. "My dear, how thrilling!" She opened her china blue
eyes very wide and gave a little sigh.
"A real murder," said Mr. Evans gloatingly.
"Of
course Chubby had no idea of anything
of the kind," went on Lady Tamplin;
"he simply could not imagine why the police
wanted you. My dear, what an opportunity!
I think, you know--yes, I certainly
think something might be made out of
this."
A calculating look rather marred the ingenuousness
of the blue eyes.
Katherine felt slightly uncomfortable.
They were just finishing lunch, and she looked in turn at the three people sitting ^Und the table. Lady Tamplin, full ofprac- ^al schemes; Mr. Evans, beaming with na ive appreciation, and Lenox with a queer
crooked smile on her dark face.
"Marvellous luck," murmured Chubby
"I wish I could have gone along with you---
and seen--all the exhibits."
His tone was wistful and childlike.
Katherine said nothing. The police had
laid no injunctions of secrecy upon her, and
it was clearly impossible to suppress the bare
facts or try to keep them from her hostess.
But she did rather wish it had been possible
to do so.
"Yes," said Lady Tamplin, coming suddenly
out of her reverie, "I do think something
might be done. A little account, you
know, cleverly written up. An eyewitness, a
feminine touch: 'How I chatted with the dead
woman, little thinking--) that sort of thing,
you know."
"Rot!" said Lenox.
"You have no idea," said Lady Tamplin
in a soft, wistful voice, "what newspapers
will pay for a little titbit! Written, of course,
by some one of really unimpeachable social
position. You would not like to do it yourself, I dare say, Katherine dear, but just gn^ me the bare bones of it, and I will manage the whole thing for you. Mr. de Haviland 1s a special friend of mine. We have a littis
understanding together. A most delightful
man---1101 at a^ rePorterish. How does the
idea strike you, Katherine?"
"I would much prefer to do nothing of the kind," said Katherine bluntly.
Lady Tamplin was rather disconcerted at
this uncompromising refusal. She sighed and
turned to the elucidation of further details.
"A very striking-looking woman, you
said? I wonder now who she could have
been. You didn't hear her name?"
"It was mentioned," Katherine admitted, "but I can't remember it. You see, I was
rather upset."
"I should think so," said Mr. Evans; "it
must have been a beastly shock."
It is to be doubted whether, even if Katherine
had remembered the name, she would
have admitted the fact. Lady Tamplin's remorseless
cross-examination was making her
restive. Lenox, who was observant in her
own way, noticed this, and offered to take Katherine upstairs to see her room. She left
her there, remarking kindly before she went:
You mustn't mind Mother; she would ^ake a few pennies' profit out of her dying S^ndmother if she could."
Lenox went down again to find her mother an(! her stepfather discussing the newcomer.
"Presentable," said Lady Tamplin
"quite presentable. Her clothes are all right' That grey thing is the same model that
Gladys Cooper wore in Palm Trees in Egypt"
"Have you noticed her eyes--what?" interposed
Mr. Evans.
"Never mind her eyes. Chubby," said
Lady Tamplin tartly; "we are discussing the
things that really matter."
"Oh, quite," said Mr. Evans, and retired
into his shell.
"She doesn't seem to me very--malleable,"
said Lady Tamplin, rather hesitating
to choose the right word.
"She has all the instincts of a lady, as they
say in books," said Lenox, with a grin.
"Narrow-minded," murmured Lady Tamplin.
"Inevitable under the circumstances, I
suppose."
"I expect you will do your best to broaden
her," said Lenox, with a grin, "but you will
have your work cut out. Just now, you noticed, she stuck down her fore feet and laid
back her ears and refused to budge."
"Anyway," said Lady Tamplin hopefully? "she doesn't look to me at all mean. Som^ people, when they come into money, seem
to attach undue importance to it."
"Oh, you'll easily touch her for what you
want," said Lenox; "and, after all, that is
all that matters, isn't it? That is what she is
here for."
"She is my own cousin," said Lady Tamplin,
with dignity.
"Cousin, eh?" said Mr. Evans, waking up
again. "I suppose I call her Katherine, don't
I?" "It is of no importance at all what you call
her, Chubby," said Lady Tamplin.
"Good," said Mr. Evans; "then I will. Do
you suppose she plays tennis?" he added
hopefully.
"Of course not," said Lady Tamplin.
"She has been a companion, I tell you. Companions
don't play tennis--or golf. They
might possibly play golf-croquet, but I have
always understood that they wind wool and
wash dogs most of the day."
"0 God!" said Mr. Evans; "do they
really?"
Lenox drifted upstairs again to Katherine's
room. "Can I help you?" she asked
rather perfunctorily.
On Katherine's disclaimer, Lenox sat on
the edge of the bed and stared thoughtfully at her guest.
"Why did you come?" she said at last. "To us? I mean. We're not your sort."
"Oh, I am anxious to get into Society."
"Don't be an ass," said Lenox promptly
detecting the flicker of a smile. "You know what I mean well enough. You are not a bit
what I thought you would be. I say, you have got some decent clothes." She sighed. "Clothes are no good to me. I was born awkward.
Ifs a pity, because I love them."
"I love them too," said Katherine, "but
it has not been much use my loving them up
to now. Do you think this is nice?"
She and Lenox discussed several models
with artistic fervour.
"I like you," said Lenox suddenly. "I
came up to warn you not to be taken in by
Mother, but I think now that there is no
need to do that. You are frightfully sincere
and upright and all those queer things, but
you are not a fool. Oh hell! what is it now?"
Lady Tamplin's voice was calling plaintively
from the hall:
"Lenox, Derek has just rung up. He
wants to come to dinner to-night. Will it be
all right? I mean, we haven't got anything
awkward, like quails, have we?"
Lenox reassured her and came back into
Katherine5 s room. Her face looked brighter
and less sullen.
"I'm glad old Derek is coming," she said;
"you'll like him."
"Who is Derek?"
"He is Lord Leconbury's son, married a
rich American woman. Women are simply
potty about him."
"Why?"
"Oh, the usual reason--very good-looking
and a regular bad lot. Every one goes off
their head about him."
"Do you?"
"Sometimes I do," said Lenox, "and
sometimes I think I would like to marry a
nice curate and live in the country and grow
things in frames." She paused a minute, and
then added, "An Irish curate would be best, and then I should hunt."
After a minute or two she reverted to her
former theme. "There is something queer
about Derek. All that family are a bit
potty--mad gamblers, you know. In the old days they used to gamble away their wives ^d their estates, and did most reckless ^ings just for the love of it. Derek would have made a perfect highwayman--debonair ^d gay, just the right manner." She moved to the door. "Well, come down when you ^1 like it."
Left alone, Katherine gave herself up to
thought. Just at present she felt thoroughly
ill at ease and jarred by her surroundings.
The shock of the discovery in the train and
the reception of the news by her new friends
jarred upon her susceptibilities. She thought
long and earnestly about the murdered
woman. She had been sorry for Ruth, but
she could not honestly say that she had liked
her. She had divined only too well the ruthless
egoism that was the keynote of her personality, and it repelled her.
She had been amused and a trifle hurt by
the other's cool dismissal of her when she
had served her turn. That she had come to
some decision, Katherine was quite certain,
but she wondered now what that decision
had been. Whatever it was, death had
stepped in and made all decisions meaningless.
Strange that it should have been so, and
that a brutal crime should have been the
ending of that fateful journey. But suddenly
Katherine remembered a small fact that she
ought, perhaps, to have told the police--a
fact that had for the moment escaped her
memory. Was it of any real importance? She
had certainly thought that she had seen a man going into that particular compartment? but she realized that she might easily have
been mistaken. It might have been the coin nartinent next door, and certainly the man
in question could be no train robber. She
recalled him very clearly as she had seen him
on those two previous occasions--once at the
Savoy and once at Cook's office. No, doubtless
she had been mistaken. He had not gone
into the dead woman's compartment, and it
was perhaps as well that she had said nothing
to the police. She might have done incalculable
harm by doing so.
She went down to join the others on the
terrace outside. Through the branches of mimosa, she looked out over the blue of the
Mediterranean, and, whilst listening with
half an ear to Lady Tamplin's chatter, she
was glad that she had come. This was better
than St. Mary Mead.
That evening she put on the mauvy pink
dress that went by the name of soupir d'automne, and after smiling at her reflection in
the mirror, went downstairs with, for the first time in her life, a faint feeling of shyness.

Most of Lady Tamplin's guests had ar- ^ed, and since noise was the essential of
Lady Tamplin's parties, the din was already Critic. Chubby rushed up to Katherine, Passed a cocktail upon her, and took her ^tfcr his wing.
B 1 -»rt
"Oh, here you are, Derek," cried Lady Tamplin, as the door opened to admit the
last corner. "Now at last we can have something
to eat. I am starving."
Katherine looked across the room. She
was startled. So this--was Derek, and she
realized that she was not surprised. She had
always known that she would some day meet
the man whom she had seen three times by
such a curious chain of coincidences. She
thought, too, that he recognized her. He
paused abruptly in what he was saying to
Lady Tamplin, and went on again as though
with an effort. They all went in to dinner,
and Katherine found that he was placed beside
her. He turned to her at once with a
vivid smile.
"I knew I was going to meet you soon,"
he remarked, "but I never dreamt that it
would be here. It had to be, you know. Once
at the Savoy and once at Cook's--never
twice without three times. Don't say you
can't remember me or never noticed me. 1
insist upon your pretending that you noticed
me, anyway."
"Oh, I did," said Katherine; "but this is
not the third time. It is the fourth. I saw yo11 on the Blue Train."
"On the Blue Train!" Something unde finable came over his manner; she could not
have said just what it was. It was as though
he had received a check, a setback. Then he
said carelessly:
"What was the rumpus this morning?
Somebody had died, hadn't they?"
"Yes," said Katherine slowly; "somebody
had died."
"You shouldn't die on a train," remarked
Derek flippantly. "I believe it causes all sorts
of legal and international complications, and
it gives the train an excuse for being even
later than usual."
"Mr. Kettering?" A stout American lady,
who was sitting opposite, leaned forward and
spoke to him with the deliberate intonation
other race. "Mr. Kettering, I do believe you
have forgotten me, and I thought you such
a perfectly lovely man."
Derek leaned forward, answering her, and
Katherine sat almost dazed.
Kettering! That was the name, of course!
"he remembered it now—but what a
^ange, ironical situation! Here was this
^n whom she had seen go into his wife's
^npartment last night, who had left her
^e and well, and now he was sitting at
^ner, quite unconscious of the fate that
1/11
had befallen her. Of that there was no doubt.
He did not know.
A servant was leaning over Derek, handing
him a note and murmuring in his ear.
With a word of excuse to Lady Tamplin, he
broke it open, and an expression of utter
astonishment came over his face as he read;
then he looked at his hostess.
"This is most extraordinary. I say, Rosalie, I am afraid I will have to leave you.
The Prefect of Police wants to see me at once.
I can't think what about."
"Your sins have found you out," remarked
Lenox.
"They must have," said Derek, "probably
some idiotic nonsense, but I suppose I shall
have to push off to the Prefecture. How dare
the old boy rout me out from dinner? It
ought to be something deadly serious to justify
that," and he laughed as he pushed back
his chair and rose to leave the room.
Chapter 13
Van Aldin Gets a Telegram
on the afternoon of the 15th February a
thick yellow fog had settled down on London.
Rufus Van Aldin was in his suite at the
Savoy and was making the most of the atmospheric
conditions by working double
time. Knighton was overjoyed. He had
found it difficult of late to get his employer
to concentrate on the matters in hand. When
he had ventured to urge certain courses. Van
Aldin had put him off with a curt word. But
now Van Aldin seemed to be throwing himself
into work with redoubled energy, and
the secretary made the most of his oppor^nities.
Always tactful, he plied the spur so ^obtrusively that Van Aldin never susPected
it.
Yet in the middle of this absorption in ^siness matters, one little fact lay at the ^k of Van Aldin's mind. A chance remark 01 Knighton's, uttered by the secretary in all
unconsciousness, had given rise to it. It no\v
festered unseen, gradually reaching further
and further forward into Van Aldin's consciousness, until at last, in spite of himself
he had to yield to its insistence.
He listened to what Knighton was saying
with his usual air of keen attention, but in
reality not one word of it penetrated his
mind. He nodded automatically, however, and the secretary turned to some other paper.
As he was sorting them out, his employer
spoke:
"Do you mind telling me that over again,
Knighton?"
For a moment Knighton was at a loss.
"You mean about this, sir?" He held up
a closely written Company report.
"No, no," said Van Aldin; "what you told
me about seeing Ruth's maid in Paris last
night. I can't make it out. You must have
been mistaken."
"I can't have been mistaken, sir, I actually
spoke to her."
"Well, tell me the whole thing again."
Knighton complied.
"I had fixed up the deal with Barther
mers," he explained, "and had gone back to
the Ritz to pick up my traps preparatory to having dinner and catching the nine o'cloo
rrain from the Gare du Nord. At the reception
desk I saw a woman whom I was quite
sure was Mrs. Kettering's maid. I went up
to her and asked if Mrs. Kettering was staying
there."
"Yes, yes," said Van Aldin. "Of course.
Naturally. And she told you that Ruth had
gone on to the Riviera and had sent her to
the Ritz to await further orders there?"
"Exactly that, sir."
"It is very odd," said Van Aldin. "Very
odd, indeed, unless the woman had been
impertinent or something of that kind."
"In that case," objected Knighton, "surely Mrs. Kettering would have paid her
down a sum of money, and told her to go
back to England. She would hardly have sent
her to the Ritz."
"No," muttered the millionaire; "that's
true."
He was about to say something further,
but checked himself. He was fond of Knigh- ton and liked and trusted him, but he could
hardly discuss his daughter's private affairs ^th his secretary. He had already felt hurt
°y Ruth's lack of frankness, and this chance Urination which had come to him did ^thing to allay his misgivings.
^hy had Ruth got rid of her maid in
1 AH
Paris? What possible object or motive could
she have had in so doing?
He reflected for a moment or two on the
curious combination of chance. How should
it have occurred to Ruth, except as the wildest
coincidence, that the first person that
the maid should run across in Paris should
be her father's secretary? Ah, but that was
the way things happened. That was the way
things got found out.
He winced at the last phrase, it had arisen
with complete naturalness to his mind. Was
there then "something to be found out"? He
hated to put this question to himself; he had
no doubt of the answer. The answer was--
he was sure of it--Armand de la Roche.
It was bitter to Van Aldin that a daughter
of his should be gulled by such a man, yet
he was forced to admit that she was in good
company--that other well-bred and intelligent
women had succumbed just as easily to I
the Count's fascination. Men saw through
him, women did not.
He sought now for a phrase that would
allay any suspicion that his secretary migh1
have felt.
"Ruth is always changing her mind about
things at a moment's notice," he remarked;
and then he added in a would-be carele^ .
rone^ ^The maid didn't give any--er--reason
for this change of plan?"
Knighton was careful to make his voice as
natural as possible as he replied:
"She said, sir, that Mrs. Kettering had
met a friend unexpectedly."
"Is that so?"
The secretary's practised ears caught the
note of strain underlying the seemingly casual
tone.
"Oh, I see. Man or woman?"
"I think she said a man, sir."
Van Aldin nodded. His worst fears were
being realized. He rose from his chair, and
began pacing up and down the room, a habit
of his when agitated. Unable to contain his
feelings any longer, he burst forth:
'There is one thing no man can do, and
that is to get a woman to listen to reason.
Somehow or other, they don't seem to have any kind of sense. Talk of woman's instinct --why, it is well known all the world over Aat a woman is the surest mark for any rascally
swindler. Not one in ten of them knows a scoundrel when she meets one; they can De preyed on by any good-looking fellow ^th a soft side to his tongue. If I had my
Way___"
He was interrupted. A page-boy entered
with a telegram. Van Aldin tore it open, and
his face went a sudden chalky white. He
caught hold of the back of a chair to steady
himself, and waved the page-boy from the
room.
"What's the matter, sir?"
Knighton had risen in concern.
"Ruth!" said Van Aldin hoarsely.
"Mrs. Kettering?"
"Killed!"
"An accident to the train?"
Van Aldin shook his head.
"No. From this it seems she has been
robbed as well. They don't use the word,
Knighton, but my poor girl has been murdered."

"Oh, my God, sir!"
Van Aldin tapped the telegram with his
forefinger.
"This is from the police at Nice. I must
go out there by the first train."
Knighton was efficient as ever. He glanced
at the clock.
"Five o'clock from Victoria, sir."
"That's right. You will come with m^ Knighton. Tell my man. Archer, and pack your own things. See to everything here. 1
want to go round to Curzon Street."
The telephone rang sharply, and the secretary
lilted the receiver.
"Yes; who is it?"
Then to Van Aldin.
"Mr. Goby, sir."
"Goby? I can't see him now. No--wait, we have plenty of time. Tell them to send
him up."
Van Aldin was a strong man. Already he
had recovered that iron calm of his. Few
people would have noticed anything amiss
in his greeting to Mr. Goby.
"I am pressed for time. Goby. Got anything
important to tell me?"
Mr. Goby coughed.
"The movements of Mr. Kettering, sir.
You wished them reported to you."
"Yes--well?"
"Mr. Kettering, sir, left London for the
Riviera yesterday morning."
"What?"
Something in his voice must have startled Mr. Goby. That worthy gentleman departed ^om his usual practice of never looking at "^ person to whom he was talking, and stole a fleeting glance at the millionaire.
What train did he go on?" demanded ^n Aldin.
'The Blue Train, sir."
<('
1 AC\
Mr. Goby coughed again and spoke to the v
clock on the mantelpiece. •
"Mademoiselle Mirelle, the dancer froiJ
the Parthenon, went by the same train." I
Chapter 14
Ada Mason's Story
"I cannot repeat to you often enough. Monsieur, our horror, our consternation, and the
deep sympathy we feel for you."
Thus M. Carrege, the Juge dTnstruction, addressed Van Aldin. M. Caux, the Commissary, made sympathetic noises in his
throat. Van Aldin brushed away horror, consternation, and sympathy with an abrupt
gesture. The scene was the Examining Magistrate's
room at Nice. Besides M. Carrege, the Commissary, and Van Aldin, there was a further person in the room. It was that
Person who now spoke.
"M. Van Aldin," he said, "desires action ^swift action."
Ah!" cried the Commissary, "I have not yet presented you. M. Van Aldin, this is M.
j^rcule Poirot; you have doubtless heard of
lln- Although he has retired from his ^fession for some years now, his name is
still a household word as one of the greatest
living detectives."
"Pleased to meet you, M. Poirot," said
Van Aldin, falling back mechanically on a
formula that he had discarded some years
ago. "You have retired from your profession?"

"That is so, Monsieur. Now I enjoy the
world."
The little man made a grandiloquent gesture.

"M. Poirot happened to be travelling on
the Blue Train," explained the Commissary,
"and he has been so kind as to assist us out
of his vast experience."
The millionaire looked at Poirot keenly.
Then he said unexpectedly.:
"I am a very rich man, M. Poirot. It is
usually said that a rich man labours under
the belief that he can buy everything and
every one. That is not true. I am a big man
in my way, and one big man can ask a favour
from another big man."
Poirot nodded a quick appreciation.
"That is very well said, M. Van Aldin. I place myself entirely at your service."
"Thank you," said Van Aldin. "I can only saw call upon me at any time, and you w111
not find me ungrateful. And now, gentlemen,
to business."
"I propose," said M. Carrege, "to interrogate
the maid, Ada Mason. You have her
here, I understand?"
"Yes," said Van Aldin. "We picked her
up in Paris in passing through. She was very
upset to hear of her mistress's death, but she
tells her story coherently enough."
"We will have her in, then," said M. Carrege.
He
rang the bell on his desk, and in a few
minutes Ada Mason entered the room.
She was very neatly dressed in black, and
the tip of her nose was red. She had exchanged
her grey travelling gloves for a pair
of black suede ones. She cast a look round
the Examining Magistrate's office in some
trepidation, and seemed relieved at the presence
of her mistress's father. The Examining
Magistrate prided himself on his geniality of manner, and did his best to put her at her ^se. He was helped in this by Poirot, who ^ted as interpreter, and whose friendly banner was reassuring to the English- ^man.
^Your name is Ada Mason; is that right?"
Ada Beatrice I was christened, sir," said "^on primly.
fcl E
"Just so. And we can understand, Mason
that this has all been very distressing."
"Oh, indeed it has, sir. I have been with
many ladies and always given satisfaction, I
hope, and I never dreamt of anything of this
kind happening in any situation where I
was."
"No, no," said M. Carrege.
"Naturally I have read of such things, of
course, in the Sunday papers. And then I
always have understood that those foreign
trains----" She suddenly checked her flow,
remembering that the gentlemen who were
speaking to her were of the same nationality
as the trains.
"Now let us talk this affair over," said M.
Carrege. "There was, I understand, no question
of your staying in Paris when you started
from London?"
"Oh no, sir. We were to go straight
through to Nice."
"Have you ever been abroad with your
mistress before?"
"No, sir. I had only been with her two
months, you see."
"Did she seem quite as usual when starting
on this journey?"
"She was worried like and a bit upset, an^
was rather irritable and difficult to
she
please."
M. Carrege nodded.
"Now then. Mason, what was the first you
heard of your stopping in Paris?"
"It was at the place they call the Gare de
Lyon, sir. My mistress was thinking of getting
out and walking up and down the platform.
She was just going out into the
corridor when she gave a sudden exclamation, and came back into her compartment
with a gentleman. She shut the door between
her carriage and mine, so that I didn't see
or hear anything, till she suddenly opened it
again and told me that she had changed her
plans. She gave me some money and told me
to get out and go to the Ritz. They knew
her well there, she said, and would give me
a room. I was to wait there until I heard
from her, she would wire me what she
wanted me to do. I had just time to get my
things together and jump out of the train
before it started off. It was a rush."
"While Mrs. Kettering was telling you
this, where was the gentleman?"
"He was standing in the other compart- ^nt, sir, looking out of the window."
t "Can you describe him to us?"
I 'Well, you see, sir, I hardly saw him. He
had his back to me most of the time. He was
a tall gentleman and dark; that's all I can
say. He was dressed very like any other
gentleman in a dark blue overcoat and a grey
hat."
"Was he one of the passengers on the
train?"
"I don't think so, sir; I took it that he had
come to the station to see Mrs. Kettering in
passing through. Of course he might have
been one of the passengers; I never thought
of that."
Mason seemed a little flurried by the suggestion.

"Ahl" M. Carrege passed lightly to another
subject. "Your mistress later requested
the conductor not to rouse her early in the
morning. Was that a likely thing for her to
do, do you think?"
"Oh yes, sir. The mistress never ate any
breakfast and she didn't sleep well at nights,
so that she liked sleeping on in the morning."

Again M. Carrege passed to another subject.

"Amongst the luggage there was a scarlet
morocco case, was there not?" he asked. "Your mistress's jewel-case?"
"Yes, sir."
"Did you take that case to the Ritz?"
^Me take the mistress's jewel-case to the
Ritz! Oh no, indeed, sir." Mason's tones
were horrified.
"You left it behind you in the carriage?"
"Yes, sir."
"Had your mistress many jewels with her, do you know?"
"A fair amount, sir; made me a bit uneasy
sometimes, I can tell you, with those nasty
tales you hear of being robbed in foreign
countries. They were insured, I know, but
all the same it seemed a frightful risk. Why, the rubies alone, the mistress told me, were
worth several hundred thousand pounds."
"The rubies! What rubies?" barked Van
Aldin suddenly.
Mason turned to him.
"I think it was you who gave them to her, sir, not very long ago."
"My God!" cried Van Aldin. "You don't ^y she had those rubies with her? I told her to leave them at the Bank."
Mason gave once more the discreet cough ^ich was apparently part of her stock-in^ade
as a lady's maid. This time it expressed a good deal. It expressed far more clearly ^an words could have done, that Mason's
mistress had been a lady who took her own
way.
"Ruth must have been mad," muttered
Van Aldin. "What on earth could have possessed
her?"
M. Carrege in turn gave vent to a cough, again a cough of significance. It riveted Van
Aldin's attention on him.
"For the moment," said M. Carrege, addressing
Mason, "I think that is all. If you
will go into the next room, Mademoiselle,
they will read over to you the questions and
answers, and you will sign accordingly."
Mason went out escorted by the clerk, and
Van Aldin said immediately to the Magistrate:

"Well?"
M. Carrege opened a drawer in his desk,
took out a letter, and handed it across to Van
Aldin.
"This was found in Madame's handbag.
?5
"ch^re amie" (the letter ran),-- "I
will obey you, I will be prudent, discreet--all those things that a lover
most hates. Paris would perhaps have
been unwise, but the Isles d'Or are far
away from the world, and you may be
assured that nothing will leak out. It is
like y011 anc^ your divine sympathy to be
so interested in the work on famous jewels
that I am writing. It will, indeed, be
an extraordinary privilege to actually see
and handle these historic rubies. I am
devoting a special passage to 'Heart of
Fire.' My wonderful one! Soon I will
make up to you for all those sad years of
separation and emptiness.--Your everadoring,
"armand."
Chapter 15
The Comte De La Roche
van aldin read the letter through in silence.
His face turned a dull angry crimson. The
men watching him saw the veins start out
on his forehead, and his big hands clench
themselves unconsciously. He handed back
the letter without a word. M. Carrege was
looking with close attention at his desk, M.
Caux's eyes were fixed upon the ceiling, and
M. Hercule Poirot was tenderly brushing a
speck of dust from his coat sleeve. With the
greatest tact they none of them looked at Van
Aldin.
It was M. Carrege, mindful of his status
and his duties, who tackled the unpleasant
subject.
"Perhaps, Monsieur," he murmured,
"you are aware by whom--er--this letter
was written?"
"Yes, I know," said Van Aldin heavily. "Ah?" said the Magistrate inquiringly "A scoundrel who calls himself the Comte
je la Roche."
There was a pause; then M. Poirot leaned
forward, straightened a ruler on the judge's
desk, and addressed the millionaire directly.
"M. Van Aldin, we are all sensible, deeply
sensible, of the pain it must give you to speak
of these matters, but believe me. Monsieur,
it is not the time for concealments. If justice
is to be done, we must know everything. If
you will reflect a little minute you will realize
the truth of that clearly for yourself."
Van Aldin was silent for a moment or two,
then almost reluctantly he nodded his head
in agreement.
"You are quite right, M. Poirot," he said.
"Painful as it is, I have no right to keep
anything back."
The Commissary gave a sigh of relief, and
the Examining Magistrate leaned back in his
^air and adjusted a pince-nez on his long
Am nose.
"Perhaps you will tell us in your own
^rds, M. Van Aldin," he said, "all that you
know of this gentleman."
"It began eleven or twelve years ago—in
^aris. My daughter was a young girl then,
^ of foolish, romantic notions, like all
Young girls are. Unknown to me, she made
fc. i m , ^ i
the acquaintance of this Comte de la ro( he.
You have heard of him, perhaps?"
The Commissary and Poirot nodded in assent.

"He calls himself the Comte de la Roche," continued Van Aldin, "but I doubt if he has
any right to the title."
55
"You would not have found his name in
the Almanac de Goiha," agreed the Commissary.

"I discovered as much," said Van Aldin.
"The man was a good-looking, plausible
scoundrel, with a fatal fascination for
women. Ruth was infatuated with him, but
I soon put a stop to the whole affair. The
man was no better than a common swindler."

"You are quite right," said the Commissary.
"The Comte de la Roche is well known
to us. If it were possible, we should have
laid him by the heels before now, but wa
foil it is not easy; the fellow is cunning, his
affairs are always conducted with ladies of
high social position. If he obtains money
from them under false pretences or as the
fruit of blackmail, eh bien! naturally they will
not prosecute. To look foolish in the eyes oi
the world, oh no, that would never do, and he has an extraordinary power over women.
"That is so," said the millionaire heavily. ((^ell? as I told you, I broke the affair up
nretty sharply. I told Ruth exactly what he was, and she had, perforce, to believe me.
About a year afterwards, she met her present
husband and married him. As far as I knew, that was the end of the matter; but only a
week ago, I discovered, to my amazement, that my daughter had resumed her acquaintance
with the Comte de la Roche. She had
been meeting him frequently in London and
Paris. I remonstrated with her on her imprudence, for I may tell you gentlemen, that, on my insistence, she was preparing to bring
a suit for divorce against her husband."
"That is interesting," murmured Poirot
softly, his eyes on the ceiling.
Van Aldin looked at him sharply, and then
went on.
"I pointed out to her the folly of continuing
to see the Comte under the circumstances.
I thought she agreed with me."
The Examining Magistrate coughed delicately.

"But according to this letter----" he be- S^and then stopped.
Van Aldin's jaw set itself squarely.
I know. It's no good mincing matters. However unpleasant, we have got to face
facts. It seems clear that Ruth had arranged
to go to Paris and meet de la Roche there.
After my warnings to her, however, she must
have written to the Count suggesting a
change of rendezvous."
"The Isles d'Or," said the Commissary
thoughtfully, "are situated just opposite
Hyeres, a remote and idyllic spot."
Van Aldin nodded.
"My God! How could Ruth be such a
fool?" he exclaimed bitterly. "All this talk
about writing a book on jewels! Why, he
must have been after the rubies from the
first."
"There are some very famous rubies,"
said Poirot, "originally part of the Crown
jewels of Russia; they are unique in character, and their value is almost fabulous.
There has been a rumour that they have
lately passed into the possession of an American.
Are we right in concluding. Monsieur,
that you were the purchaser?"
"Yes," said Van Aldin. "They came imo
my possession in Paris about ten days ago.'
"Pardon me, Monsieur, but you have been negotiating for their purchase for some
time?"
"A little over two months. Why?"
"These things become known," said
poirot. "There is always a pretty formidable
crowd on the track of jewels such as these."
A spasm distorted the other's face.
"I remember," he said brokenly, "a joke
I made to Ruth when I gave them to her. I
told her not to take them to the Riviera with
her, as I could not afford to have her robbed
and murdered for the sake of the jewels. My
God! the things one says--never dreaming
or knowing they will come true."
There was a sympathetic silence, and then
Poirot spoke in a detached manner.
"Let us arrange our facts with order and
precision. According to our present theory, this is how they run. The Comte de la Roche
knows of your purchase of these jewels. By
an easy stratagem he induces Madame Kettering
to bring the stones with her. He, then, is the man Mason saw in the train at Paris."
The other three nodded in agreement.
"Madame is surprised to see him, but she
deals with the situation promptly. Mason is
got out of the way; a dinner basket is ordered.
We know from the conductor that he "^de up the berth for the first compartment,
^t he did not go into the second compart- ^nt, and that a man could quite well have "^n concealed from him. So far the Comte ^Id have been hidden to a marvel. No
one knows of his presence on the train except
Madame, he has been careful that the maid
did not see his face. All that she could say
is that he was tall and dark. It is all most
conveniently vague. They are alone--and
the train rushes through the night. There
would be no outcry, no struggle, for the man
is, so she thinks, her lover."
He turned gently to Van Aldin.
"Death, Monseiur, must have been almost
instantaneous. We will pass over that
quickly. The Comte takes the jewel-case
which lies ready to his hand. Shortly afterwards
the train draws into Lyons."
M. Carrege nodded his approval.
"Precisely. The conductor without descends.
It would be easy for our man to leave
the train unseen; it would be easy to catch
a train back to Paris or anywhere he pleases.
And the crime would be put down as an
ordinary train robbery. But for the letter
found in Madame's bag, the Comte would
not have been mentioned."
"It was an oversight on his part not to
search that bag," declared the Commissary.
I
"Without doubt he thought she had destroyed
that letter. It was--pardon m^ |
Monsieur--it was an indiscretion of the first
water to keep it."
"And yet," murmured Poirot, "it was an
indiscretion the Comte might have fore?5
seen. "You mean?"
"I mean we are all agreed on one point, and that is that the Comte de la Roche knows
one subject a fond: Women. How was it that, knowing women as he does, he did not foresee
that Madame would have kept that letter?"

"Yes--yes," said the Examining Magistrate
doubtfully, "there is something in what
you say. But at such times, you understand, a man is not master of himself. He does not
reason calmly. Mon Dieu!" he added, with
feeling, "if our criminals kept their heads
and acted with intelligence, how should we
capture them?"
Poirot smiled to himself.
"It seems to me a clear case," said the ^her, "but a difficult one to prove. The ^onite is a slippery customer, and unless ^ maid can identify him----"
''Which is most unlikely," said Poirot.
'True, true." The Examining Magistrate ^bed his chin. "It is going to be difficult."
"If he did indeed commit the crime--^ began Poirot. M. Caux interrupted.
"If--you say if?9'
"Yes, Monsieur Ie Juge, I say if."
The other looked at him sharply. "You
are right," he said at last, "we go too fast.
It is possible that the Comte may have an
alibi. Then we should look foolish."
"Ah, qa par exemple," replied Poirot, "that
is of no importance whatever. Naturally, if
he committed the crime he will have an alibi.
A man with the Comte's experience does not
neglect to take precautions. No, I said if for
a very different reason."
"And what was that?"
Poirot wagged an emphatic forefinger.
"The psychology."
"Eh?" said the Commissary.
"The psychology is at fault. The Comte
is a scoundrel--yes. The Comte is a
swindler--yes. The Comte preys upon
women--yes. He proposes to steal Madame's
jewels--again yes. Is he the kind of
man to commit murder? I say no! A man of
the type of the Comte is always a coward;
he takes no risks. He plays the safe, the
mean, what the English call the lowdown
game; but murder, a hundred times no!" HE shook his head in a dissatisfied manner.
The Examining Magistrate, however, did
.,ot seem disposed to agree with him.
"The day always comes when such gentry
lose their heads and go too far," he observed
sagely. "Doubtless that is the case here.
Without wishing to disagree with you, M.
poirot——"
"It was only an opinion," Poirot hastened
to explain. "The case is, of course, in your
hands, and you will do what seems fit to
you."
"I am satisfied in my own mind that the
Comte de la Roche is the man we need to
get hold of," said M. Carrege. "You agree
with me. Monsieur Ie Commissaire?
"Perfectly."
"And you, M. Van Aldin?"
"Yes," said the millionaire. "Yes, the man
is a thorough-paced villain, no doubt about
it."
"It will be difficult to lay hands on him,
I am afraid," said the Magistrate, "but we
^11 do our best. Telegraphed instructions
shall go out at once."
^ "Permit me to assist you," said Poirot.
'There need be no difficulty."
"Eh?"
The others stared at him. The little man
^iled beamingly back at them.
fc I I
"It is my business to know things." he
explained. "The Comte is a man of intelligence.
He is at present at a villa he has
leased, the Villa Marina at Antibes."
Chapter 16
Poirot Discusses the Case
everybody looked respectfully at Poirot.
Undoubtedly the little man had scored heavily.
The Commissary laughed--on a rather
hollow note.
"You teach us all our business," he cried.
"M. Poirot knows more than the police."
Poirot gazed complacently at the ceiling, adopting a mock-modest air.
"What will you; it is my little hobby," he murmured, "to know things. Naturally I
have the time to indulge it. I am not overburdened
with affairs."
"Ah!" said the Commissary shaking his ^ead portentously. "As for me----"
He made an exaggerated gesture to rep- ^sent the cares that lay on his shoulders.
Poirot turned suddenly to Van Aldin.
"You agree. Monsieur, with this view? you feel certain that the Comte de la Roche
is ^ murderer?"
L . I I
"Why, it would seem so--yes, certain y."
Something guarded in the answer made
the Examining Magistrate look at the American
curiously. Van Aldin seemed aware of
his scrutiny and made an effort as though to
shake off some preoccupation.
"What about my son-in-law?" he asked.
"You have acquainted him with the news? He is in Nice, I understand."
"Certainly, Monsieur." The Commissary
hesitated, and then murmured very discreetly:
"You are doubtless aware, M. Van
Aldin, that M. Kettering was also one of the
passengers on the Blue Train that night?"
The millionaire nodded.
"Heard it just before I left London," he
vouchsafed laconically.
"He tells us," continued the Commissary,
"that he had no idea his wife was travelling
on the train."
"I bet he hadn't," said Van Aldin grimly.
"It would have been rather a nasty shock to
him if he'd come across her on it."
The three men looked at him questioningly.
^
"I'm not going to mince matters," saifl Van Aldin savagely. "No one knows what
my poor girl has had to put up with. Dere^
Kettering wasn't alone. He had a lady with
him." "Ah?" "Mirelle--the dancer."
M. Carrege and the Commissary looked
at each other and nodded as though confirming
some previous conversation. M. Carrege
leaned back in his chair, joined his hands, and fixed his eyes on the ceiling.
"Ah!" he murmured again. "One wondered."
He coughed. "One has heard rumours."
"The lady," said ,M. Caux, "is very notorious."
"And also," murmured Poirot softly,
"very expensive."
Van Aldin had gone very red in the face.
He leant forward and hit the table a bang
with his fist.
"See here," he cried, "my son-in-law is a
damned scoundrel!"
He glared at them, looking from one face ^ another.
"Oh, I know," he went on. "Good looks ^d a charming, easy manner. It took me in
°nce upon a time. I suppose he pretended 0 be broken-hearted when you broke the
^Ws to him--that is, if he didn't know it ^ready.55
"Oh, it came as a complete surprise to
him. He was overwhelmed."
"Darned young hypocrite," said Van Aldin.
"Simulated great grief, I suppose?"
"N--no," said the Commissary cautiously.
"I would not quite say that--eh, M
Carrege?"
The Magistrate brought the tips of his fingers
together, and half closed his eyes.
"Shock, bewilderment, horror--these
things, yes," he declared judicially. "Great
sorrow--no--I should not say that."
Hercule Poirot spoke once more.
"Permit me to ask, M. Van Aldin, does
M. Kettering benefit by the death of his
wife?"
"He benefits to the tune of a couple of
millions," said Van Aldin.
"Dollars?"
"Pounds. I settled that sum on Ruth absolutely
on her marriage. She made no will
and leaves no children, so the money will g°
to her husband."
"Whom she was on the point of divorcing,"
murmured Poirot. "Ah, yes--precise'
ment" .
The Commissary turned and looked sharply at him.
"Do you mean----" he began.
<<I mean nothing," said Poirot. "I arrange the facts, that is all."
Van Aldin stared at him with awakening
interest.
The little man rose to his feet.
<<I do not think I can be of any further
service to you, M. Ie Juge," he said politely, bowing to M. Carrege. "You will keep me
itbrmed of the course of events? It will be
aKindness."
f"But certainly--most certainly."
Van Aldin rose also.
"You don't want me any more at present?"

"No, Monsieur; we have all the information
we need for the moment."
"Then I will walk a little way with M.
Pjirot. That is, if he does not object?"
Enchanted, Monsieur," said the little
Bin, with a bow.
|van Aldin lighted a large cigar, having ^t offered one to Poirot, who declined it ^d lit one of his own tiny cigarettes. A man
°fl great strength of character. Van Aldin al- ^ady appeared to be his everyday, normal W once more. After strolling along for a Minute or two in silence, the millionaire
^oke:
r
I
"I take it, M. Poirot, that you no longer
exercise your profession?"
"That is so. Monsieur. I enjoy the world."
"Yet you are assisting the police in this
affair?"
"Monsieur, if a doctor walks along the
street and an accident happens, does he say, 'I have retired from my profession, I will
continue my walk,5 when there is some one
bleeding to death at his feet? If I had been
already in Nice, and the police had sent to
me and asked me to assist them, I should
have refused. But this affair, the good God
thrust it upon me."
"You were on the spot," said Van Aldin
thoughtfully. "You examined the compartment,
did you not?"
Poirot nodded.
"Doubtless you found things that were,
shall we say, suggestive to you?"
"Perhaps," said Poirot.
"I hope you see what I am leading up to?
said Van Aldin. "It seems to me that the case
against this Comte de la Roche is perfectly
clear, but I am not a fool. 1 have been watching
you for this last hour or so, and I really that for some reason of your own you don t
agree with that theory?"
Poirot shrugged his shoulders.
"I may be wrong."
"So we come to the favour I want to ask you. Will you act in this matter for me?"
"For you personally?"
"That was my meaning."
poirot was silent for a moment or two.
Then he said:
"You realize what you are asking?"
"I guess so," said Van Aldin.
"Very well," said Poirot. "I accept. But
in that case, I must have frank answers to
my questions."
"Why, certainly. That is understood."
Poirot's manner changed. He became suddenly
brusque and businesslike.
"This question of a divorce," he said. "It
was you who advised your daughter to bring
the suit?"
"Yes."
"When?"
"About ten days ago. I had had a letter from her complaining of her husband's behaviour, and I put it to her very strongly that divorce was the only remedy."
In what way did she complain of his be- ^viour?"
He was being seen about with a very no- ^lous lady--the one we have been speaking ^-Mirelle."
"The dancer. Ah-ha! And Madame Ket< tering objected? Was she very devoted to her
husband?"
"I would not say that," said Van Aldin
hesitating a little.
"It was not her heart that suffered, it was
her pride--is that what you would say?"
"Yes, I suppose you might put it like
that."
"I gather that the marriage had not been
a happy one from the beginning?"
"Derek Kettering is rotten to the core,"
said Van Aldin. "He is incapable of making
any woman happy."
"He is, as you say in England, a bad lot.
That is right, is it not?"
Van Aldin nodded.
^Tres bien! You advise Madame to seek a
divorce, she agrees; you consult your solicitors.
When does M. Kettering get news of
what is in the wind?"
"I sent for him myself, and explained the
course of action I proposed to take."
"And what did he say?" murmured Poirot
softly.
Van Aldin's face darkened at the reinen1'
brance.
"He was infernally impudent."
I
"Excuse the question. Monsieur, but did
he ^er to ^le Comte de la Roche?"
"Not by name," growled the other unwillingly? "but he showed himself cognizant
of the affair."
"What, if I may ask, was M. Kettering's
financial position at the time?"
"How do you suppose I should know
that?" asked Van Aldin, after a very brief
hesitation.
"It seemed likely to me that you would
inform yourself on that point."
"Well--you are quite right, I did. I discovered
that Kettering was on the rocks."
"And now he has inherited two million
pounds! La me--it is a strange thing, is it
not?"
Van Aldin looked at him sharply.
"What do you mean?"
"I moralize," said Poirot. "I reflect, I ^eak the philosophy. But to return to where ^ were. Surely M. Kettering did not proPose
to allow himself to be divorced without ^king a fight for it?"
Van Aldin did not answer for a minute or tw0. then he said:
'I don't exactly know what his intentions
Were.'*
1 '~if\
"Did you hold any further communications
with him?"
Again a slight pause, then Van Aldin said1
"No."
Poirot stopped dead, took off his hat, and
held out his hand.
"I must wish you good-day. Monsieur. I
can do nothing for you."
"What are you getting at?" demanded Van
Aldin angrily.
"If you do not tell me the truth, I can do
nothing."
"I don't know what you mean."
"I think you do. You may rest assured, M. Van Aldin, that I know how to be discreet."
"Very well, then," said the millionaire.
"I'll admit that I was not speaking the truth
just now. I did have further communication
with my son-in-law."
"Yes?"
"To be exact, I sent my secretary, Major
Knighton, to see him, with instructions to
offer him the sum of one hundred thousand
pounds in cash if the divorce went through
undefended."
"A pretty sum of money," said Poirot appreciatively;
"and the answer of Monsie111" your son-in-law?"
"He sent back word that I could go to
hell " replied the millionaire succinctly.
"Ah!" said Poirot.
He betrayed no emotion of any kind. At
the moment he was engaged in methodically
recording facts.
"Monsieur Kettering has told the police
that he neither saw nor spoke to his wife on
the journey from England. Are you inclined
to believe that statement. Monsieur?"
"Yes, I am," said Van Aldin. "He would
take particular pains to keep out of her way, I should say."
"Why?"
"Because he had got that woman with
him."
"Mirelle?"
"Yes."
"How did you come to know that fact?"
"A man of mine, whom I had put on to watch him, reported to me that they had
both left by that train."
"I see," said Poirot. "In that case, as you ^id before, he would not be likely to attempt to hold any communication with Madame Uttering."
^he little man fell silent for some time.
^ Aldin did not interrupt his meditation.
L.^^RL
1^^^-------- 101
Chapter 17
An Aristocrat/c Gent/eman
"You have been to the Riviera before,
Georges?" said Poirot to his valet the following
morning.
George was an intensely English, rather
wooden-faced individual.
"Yes, sir. I was here two years ago when
I was in the service of Lord Edward Frampton."
"And
to-day," murmured his master,
"you are here with Hercule Poirot. How one
mounts in the world!"
The valet made no reply to this observation.
After a suitable pause he asked:
"The brown lounge suit, sir? The wind is
somewhat chilly today."
"There is a grease spot on the waistcoat, objected Poirot. "A morceau of Filet de soU
a laJeanette alighted there when I was lunch'
ing at the Ritz last Tuesday."
"There is no spot there now, sir," said
George reproachfully. "I have removed it."
^Tres bien!" said Poirot. "I am pleased
with you, Georges."
"Thank you, sir."
There was a pause, and then Poirot murmured
dreamily:
"Supposing, my good Georges, that you
had been born in the same social sphere as
your late master. Lord Edward Frampton--
that, penniless yourself, you had married an
extremely wealthy wife, but that that wife
proposed to divorce you, with excellent reasons, what would you do about it?"
"I should endeavour, sir," replied George, "to make her change her mind."
"By peaceful or by forcible methods?"
George looked shocked.
"You will excuse me, sir," he said, "but a gentleman of the aristocracy would not behave
like a Whitechapel coster. He would not do anything low."
"Would he not, Georges? I wonder now. ^H? perhaps you are right."
There was a knock on the door. George ^nt to it and opened it a discreet inch or w0. A low murmured colloquy went on, and yien the valet returned to Poirot. 'A note, sir."
Poirot took it. It was from M. Caux, the
Commissary of Police.
"We are about to interrogate the Corate
de la Roche. The Juge dTnstruction begs
that you will be present."
"Quickly, my suit, Georges' I must hasten
myself."
A quarter of an hour later, spick and span
in his brown suit, Poirot entered the Examining
Magistrate's room. M. Caux was
already there, and both he and M. Carrege
greeted Poirot with polite empressement.
"The affair is somewhat discouraging,"
murmured M. Caux.
"It appears that the Comte arrived in Nice
the day before the murder."
"If that is true, it will settle your affair
nicely for you," responded Poirot.
M. Carrege cleared his throat.
"We must not accept this alibi without
very cautious inquiry," he declared. He
struck the bell upon the table with his hand.
In another minute a tall dark man, exquisitely
dressed, with a somewhat haughty
cast of countenance, entered the room. So
very aristocratic-looking was the Count, that
it would have seemed sheer heresy even to
whisper that his father had been an obscure
corn-chandler in Nantes--which, as a m31'
rer of fact, was the case. Looking at him, one would have been prepared to swear that
innumerable ancestors of his must have perished
by the guillotine in the French Revolution.

"I am here, gentlemen," said the Count
haughtily. "May I ask why you wish to see
me?"
"Pray be seated,Monsieur Ie Comte," said
the Examining Magistrate politely. "It is the
affair of the death ofMadame Kettering that
we are investigating."
"The death of Madame Kettering? I do
not understand."
"You were--ahem!--acquainted with the
lady, I believe. Monsieur Ie Comte?"
"Certainly I was acquainted with her.
What has that to do with the matter?"
Sticking an eyeglass in his eye, he looked
coldly round the room, his glance resting longest on Poirot, who was gazing at him TOh a kind of simple, innocent admiration which was most pleasing to the Count's van- ^y- M. Carrege leaned back in his chair and beared his throat.
'You do not perhaps know. Monsieur Ie ^te^--he paused--"that Madame Ket- ^ng was murdered?"
'Murdered? Mon Dieu, how terrible!"
i nc
The surprise and the sorrow were excellently
done--so well done, indeed, as to » seem wholly natural.
"Madame Kettering was strangled between
Paris and Lyons," continued M. Carrege,
"and her jewels were stolen."
"It is iniquitous!" cried the Count
warmly; "the police should do something
about these train bandits. Nowadays no one
is safe."
"In Madame's handbag," continued the
Judge, "we found a letter to her from you.
She had, it seemed, arranged to meet you?"
The Count shrugged his shoulders and
spread out his hands.
"Of what use are concealments," he said
frankly. "We are all men of the world. Privately
and between ourselves, I admit the
affair."
"You met her in Paris and travelled down
with her, I believe?" said M. Carrege.
"That was the original arrangement, but
by Madame5 s wish it was changed. I was to
meet her at Hyeres."
"You did not meet her on the train at the
Gare de Lyon on the evening of the 14th.
"On the contrary, I arrived in Nice on the morning of that day, so what you suggest 1s impossible."
^
"Quite so, quite so," said M. Carrege. "As
a mat161* °^ f011111? Y011 would perhaps give
me an account of your movements during
the evening and night of the 14th."
The Count reflected for a minute.
"I dined in Monte Carlo at the Cafe de
Paris. Afterwards I went to the Le Sporting.
I won a few thousand francs," he shrugged
his shoulders. "I returned home at perhaps
one o'clock."
"Pardon me. Monsieur, but how did you
return home?"
"In my own two-seater car."
"No one was with you?"
"No one."
"You could produce witnesses in support
of this statement?"
"Doubtless many of my friends saw me
there that evening. I dined alone."
"Your servant admitted you on your return
to your villa?"
"I let myself in with my own latchkey."
Ah!" murmured the Magistrate.
Again he struck the bell on the table with ^s hand. The door opened, and a messenger Speared.
^ 'Bring in the maid. Mason," said M. Car-
^ge.
Very good. Monsieur le Juge."
«<
Ada Mason was brought in.
"Will you be so good. Mademoiselle, as
to look at this gentleman. To the best of your
ability was it he who entered your mistress's
compartment in Paris?"
The woman looked long and searchingly
at the Count, who was, Poirot fancied, rather
uneasy under this scrutiny.
"I could not say, sir, I am sure," said
Mason at last. "It might be and again it
might not. Seeing as how I only saw his back,
it's hard to say. I rather think it was the
gentleman."
"But you are not sure?"
"No--o," said Mason unwillingly, "n--
no, I am not sure."
"You have seen this gentleman before in
Curzon Street?"
Mason shook her head.
"I should not be likely to see any visitors
that come to Curzon Street," she explained,
"unless they were staying in the house."
"Very well, that will do," said the Examining
Magistrate sharply.
Evidently he was disappointed.
"One moment," said Poirot. "There is a question I would like to put to Mademoiselle,
if I may?"
"Certainly, M. Poirot--certainly, by all
means."
Poirot addressed himself to the maid.
"What happened to the tickets?"
"The tickets.sir?"
"Yes; the tickets from London to Nice.
Did you or your mistress have them?"
"The mistress had her own Pullman
ticket, sir; the others were in my charge."
"What happened to them?"
"I gave them to the conductor on the
French train, sir; he said it was usual. I hope
I did right, sir?"
"Oh, quite right, quite right. A mere matter
of detail."
Both M. Caux and the Examining Magistrate
looked at him curiously. Mason stood
uncertainly for a minute or two, and then
the Magistrate gave her a brief nod of dismissal, and she went out. Poirot scribbled
something on a scrap of paper and handed
it across to M. Carrege. The latter read it ^d his brow cleared.
"Well, gentlemen," demanded the Count ^ughtily, "am I to be detained further?"
"Assuredly not, assuredly not," M. Car- ^ge hastened to say, with a great deal of Liability. "Everything is now cleared up as ^gards your own position in this affair. Nat-
urally, in view of Madame's letter, we were
bound to question you."
The Count rose, picked up his handsome
stick from the corner, and, with rather a curt
bow, left the room.
"And that is that," said M. Carrege. "You
were quite right, M. Poirot—much better
to let him feel he is not suspected. Two of
my men will shadow him night and day, and
at the same time we will go into the question
of the alibi. It seems to me rather—er—a
fluid one."
"Possibly," agreed Poirot thoughtfully.
"I asked M. Kettering to come here
this morning." continued the Magistrate,
"though really I doubt if we have much to
ask him, but there are one or two suspicious
circumstances——" He paused, rubbing his
nose.
"Such as?" asked Poirot.
"Well"—the Magistrate coughed—"this
lady with whom he is said to be travelling
—Mademoiselle Mirelle. She is staying at
one hotel and he at another. That strikes
me—er—as rather odd."
"It looks," said M. Caux, "as though they
were being careful."
'Exactly," said M. Carrege triumphantly?
and what should they have to be careful
a
about?" "An excess of caution is suspicious, eh?"
said Poirot.
"Precisement."
"We might, I think," murmured Poirot, "ask M. Kettering one or two questions."
The Magistrate gave instructions. A moment
or two later, Derek Kettering, debonair
as ever, entered the room.
"Good morning. Monsieur," said the
Judge politely.
"Good morning," said Derek Kettering
curtly. "You sent for me. Has anything fresh
turned up?"
"Pray sit down. Monsieur."
Derek took a seat and flung his hat and
stick on the table.
"Well?" he asked impatiently.
"We have, so far, no fresh data," said M. Carrege cautiously.
"That's very interesting," said Derek
drily. "Did yoy ggi^ f^ ^g i^g iQ order
to tell me that?"
"We naturally thought. Monsieur, that ^n would like to be informed of the progress 01 the case," said the Magistrate severely.
'Even if the progress was nonexistent."
«i
"We also wished to ask you a few questions."
"Ask away."
"You are quite sure that you neither saw
nor spoke with your wife on the train?"
"I've answered that already. I did not." "You had, no doubt, your reasons."
Derek stared at him suspiciously.
"I--did--not--know--she--was--on--
the--train," he explained, spacing his words
elaborately, as though to some one dull of
intellect.
"That is what you say, yes," murmured
M. Carrege.
A frown suffused Derek5 s face.
"I should like to know what you're driving
at. Do you know what I think, M. Carrege?"
"What do you think, Monsieur?"
"I think the French police are vastly overrated.
Surely you must have some data as to
these gangs of train robbers. It's outrageous
J
that such a thing could happen on a train de
luxe like that, and that the French police should be helpless to deal with the matter. ,
"We are dealing with it, Monsieur, never
fear."
"Madame Kettering, I understand, did
not leave a will," interposed Poirot slid' ,
denly- His fingertips were joined together, and he was looking intently at the ceiling.
"I don't think she ever made one," said
Kettering. "Why?"
"It is a very pretty little fortune that you
inherit there," said Poirot--"a very pretty
little fortune."
Although his eyes were still on the ceiling, he managed to see the dark flush that rose
to Derek Kettering5 s face.
"What do you mean, and who are you?"
Poirot gently uncrossed his knees, withdrew
his gaze from the ceiling, and looked
the young man full in the face.
"My name is Hercule Poirot," he said quietly, "and I am probably the greatest detective
in the world. You are quite sure that
you did not see or speak to your wife on that
train?"
"What are you getting at? Do you--do
you mean to insinuate that I--I killed her?"
He laughed suddenly.
"I mustn't lose my temper, it's too palPably
absurd. Why, if I killed her I should have had no need to steal her jewels, would
A
kt That is true," murmured Poirot, with a
rather crestfallen air. "I did not think of
that.5'
"If ever there were a clear case of murder
and robbery, this is it," said Derek Kettering.
"Poor Ruth, it was those damned rubies
did for her. It must have got about she
had them with her. There has been murder
done for those same stones before now, I believe."

Poirot sat up suddenly in his chair. A very
faint green light glowed in his eyes. He
looked extraordinarily like a sleek, well-fed
cat.
"One more question, M. Kettering," he
said. "Will you give me the date when you
last saw your wife?"
"Let me see," Kettering reflected. "It
must have been--yes over three weeks ago.
I am afraid I can't give you the date exactly."

"No matter," said Poirot drily; "that is
all I wanted to know."
"Well," said Derek Kettering impatiently, "anything further?"
He looked towards M. Carrege. The latter
sought inspiration from Poirot, and received
it in a very faint shake of the head.
"No, M. Kettering," he said politely;
"no, I do not think we need trouble you any
further. I wish you good morning."
"Good morning," said Kettering. He vyent out, banging the door behind him.
poirot leaned forward and spoke sharply, as soon as the young man was out of the
room. "Tell me," he said peremptorily, "when
did you speak of these rubies to M. Kettering?"
"I have not spoken of them," said M. Car-
rege. "It was only yesterday afternoon that
we learnt about them from M. Van Aldin."
"Yes; but there was a mention of them in
the Comte's letter."
M. Carrege looked pained.
"Naturally I did not speak of that letter
to M. Kettering," he said in a shocked voice.
"It would have been most indiscreet at the
present juncture of affairs."
Poirot leaned forward and tapped the table.

"Then how did he know about them?" he demanded softly. "Madame could not
have told him, for he has not seen her for ^hree weeks. It seems unlikely that either M. Y^ Aldin or his secretary would have mentioned
them; their interviews with him have ^en on entirely different lines, and there uas not been any hint or reference to them
m ^e newspapers."
I, I
i r\f
He got up and took his hat and stick.
"And yet," he murmured to himself, "our
gentleman knows all about them. I wonder i
now, yes, I wonder!"
Chapter 18
Derek Lunches
derek kettering went straight to the Negresco,
where he ordered a couple of cocktails
and disposed of them rapidly; then he
stared moodily out over the dazzling blue
sea. He noted the passers-by mechanically
--a damned dull crowd, badly dressed, and
painfully uninteresting; one hardly ever saw
anything worth while nowadays. Then he
corrected this last impression rapidly, as a
woman placed herself at a table a little distance
away from him. She was wearing a marvellous
confection of orange and black, with a little hat that shaded her face. He ordered a ^ird cocktail; again he stared out to sea, and ^en suddenly he started. A well-known per- tiune assailed his nostrils, and he looked up
A " ----
[0 see the orange-and-black lady standing be- ^de him. He saw her face now, and recognized uer- It was Mirelle. She was smiling that in- ^lent, seductive smile he knew so well.
"Dereekl" she murmured. "You are
pleased to see me, no?"
She dropped into a seat the other side of
the table.
"But welcome me, then, stupid one," she
mocked.
"This is an unexpected pleasure," said
Derek. "When did you leave London?"
She shrugged her shoulders.
"A day or two ago."
"And the Parthenon?"
"I have, how do you say it?--given them
the chuck!"
"Really?"
"You are not very amiable, Dereek."
"Do you expect me to be?"
Mirelle lit a cigarette and puffed at it for
a few minutes before saying:
"You think, perhaps, that it is not prudent
so soon?"
Derek stared at her, then he shrugged his
shoulders, and remarked formally:
"You are lunching here?"
"Mais oui. I am lunching with you."
"I am extremely sorry," said Derek. "I have a very important engagement."
"Mon Dieu! But you men are like children,"
exclaimed the dancer. "But yes, itls the spoilt child that you act to me, ever since
that day in London when you flung yourself
out of my flat, you sulk. Ah! mais c'est inoui!"
"My dear girl," said Derek, "I really don't
know what you are talking about. We agreed
in London that rats desert a sinking ship, that is all that there is to be said."
In spite of his careless words, his face
looked haggard and strained. Mirelle leaned
forward suddenly.
"You cannot deceive me," she murmured.
"I know--I know what you have done for
me."
He looked up at her sharply. Some undercurrent
in her voice arrested his attention.
She nodded her head at him.
"Ah! have no fear; I am discreet. You are
magnificent! You have a superb courage, but, all the same, it was I who gave you the
idea that day, when I said to you in London
that accidents sometimes happened. And
you are not in danger? The police do not
suspect you?"
"What the devil----"
"Hush!"
She held up a slim olive hand with one big herald on the little finger.
"You are right; I should not have spoken s0 ^ a public place. We will not speak of ule matter again, but our troubles are ended;
L . I
our life together will be wonderful--won
derful!"
Derek laughed suddenly--a harsh, disagreeable
laugh.
"So the rats come back, do they? Two
million makes a difference--of course h
does. I ought to have known that." He
laughed again. "You will help me to spend
that two million, won't you, Mirelle? You
know how, no woman better." He laughed
again.
"Hush!" cried the dancer. "What is the
matter with you, Dereek? See--people are
turning to stare at you."
"Me? I will tell you what is the matter. I
have finished with you, Mirelle. Do you
hear? Finished!"
Mirelle did not take it as he expected her
to do. She looked at him for a minute or two,
and then she smiled softly.
"But what a child! You are angry--yo11 are sore, and all because I am practical. Did
I not always tell you that I adored you?"
She leaned forward.
"But I know you, Dereek. Look at me? --see, it is Mirelle who speaks to you. Y011 cannot live without her, you know it. I lov^ . you before, I will love you a hundred tiin^ more now. I will make life wonderful ^or ,|
vou--but wonderful. There is no one like
Mirelle." Her eyes burned into his. She saw him
grow pale and draw in his breath, and she
smiled to herself *******edly. She knew her
own magic and power over men.
"That is settled," she said softly, and gave
a little laugh. "And now, Dereek, will you
give me lunch?"
"No."
He drew in his breath sharply and rose to
his feet.
"I am sorry, but I told you--I have got
an engagement."
"You are lunching with some one else?
Bah! I don't believe it."
"I am lunching with that lady over there."
He crossed abruptly to where a lady in
white had just come up the steps. He addressed
her a little breathlessly.
"Miss Grey, will you--will you have
lunch with me? You met me at Lady TamPlin's,
if you remember."
Katherine looked at him for a minute or ^o with those thoughtful grey eyes that said s0 much.
'Thank you," she said, after a moment's
Pause; "I should like to very much."
^^
Chapter 19
An Unexpected Visitor
the comte de LA roche had just finished dejeuner, consisting of an omelette fines herbes^ an entrecote Beamaise, and a Savarin au
Rhum. Wiping his fine black moustache delicately
with his table napkin, the Comte rose
from the table. He passed through the salon
of the villa, noting with appreciation the few objets d'art which were carelessly scattered
about. The Louis XV. snuff-box, the satin
shoe worn by Marie Antoinette, and the other
historic trifles were part of the Comte5 s wise
en scene. They were, he would explain to his
fair visitors, heirlooms in his family. Passing
through on to the terrace, the Comte looked
out on the Mediterranean with an unseeing
eye. He was in no mood for appreciating the
beauties of scenery. A fully matured scheme had been rudely brought to naught, and his
plans had to be cast afresh. Stretching hin^ self out in a basket chair, a cigarette hel0
between his white fingers, the Comte pondered
deeply.
presently Hippolyte, his manservant, brought out coffee and a choice of liqueurs.
The Comte selected some very fine old
brandy.
As the man-servant was preparing to depart, the Comte arrested him with a slight
gesture. Hippolyte stood respectfully to attention.
His countenance was hardly a prepossessing
one, but the correctitude of his
demeanour went far to obliterate the fact.
He was now the picture of respectful attention.

"It is possible," said the Comte, "that in
the course of the next few days various
strangers may come to the house. They will
endeavour to scrape acquaintance with you
and with Marie. They will probably ask you
various questions concerning me."
"Yes, Monsieur Ie Comte."
"Perhaps this has already happened?"
"No, Monsieur Ie Comte."
"There have been no strangers about the
Nace? You are certain?"
'There has been no one. Monsieur Ie
Cointe."
'That is well," said the Comte drily;
^f\^
"nevertheless they will come--I am sure of
it. They will ask questions."
Hippolyte looked at his master in intelligent
anticipation.
The Comte spoke slowly, without looking
at Hippolyte.
"As you know, I arrived here last Tuesday
morning. If the police or any other inquirer
should question you, do not forget
that fact. I arrived on Tuesday, the 14th--
not Wednesday, the 15th. You understand?"
"Perfectly, Monsieur Ie Comte."
"In an affair where a lady is concerned, it
is always necessary to be discreet. I feel certain, Hippolyte, that you can be discreet."
"I can be discreet. Monsieur."
"And Marie?"
"Marie also. I will answer for her."
"That is well then," murmured the
Comte.
When Hippolyte had withdrawn, the
Comte sipped his black coffee with a reflective
air. Occasionally he frowned, once he
shook his head slightly, twice he nodded it- Into the midst of these cogitations came Hip'
polyte once more.
"A lady. Monsieur."
"A lady?"
The Comte was surprised. Not that a visi1
^om a lady was an unusual thing at the Villa
Marina, but at this particular moment the
Cointe could not think who the lady was
likely to be.
"She is, I think, a lady not known to Monsieur," murmured the valet helpfully.
The Comte was more and more intrigued.
"Show her out here, Hippolyte," he commanded.

A moment later a marvellous vision in
orange and black stepped out on the terrace, accompanied by a strong perfume of exotic
blossoms.
"Monsieur Ie Comte de la Roche?"
"At your service. Mademoiselle," said the
Comte, bowing.
"My name is Mirelle. You may have heard
of me."
"Ah, indeed. Mademoiselle, but who has
not been enchanted by the dancing of Mademoiselle
Mirelle? Exquisite!"
The dancer acknowledged this compliant
with a brief mechanical smile.
'My descent upon you is unceremo^ous,"
she began.
'But seat yourself, I beg of you, Mademoiselle,"
cried the Comte, bringing for^d
a chair.
behind the gallantry of his manner he was
observing her narrowly. There were very fe^y
things that the Comte did not know about
women. True, his experience had not lain
much in ladies of Mirelle's class, who were
themselves predatory. He and the dancer
were, in a sense, birds of a feather. His arts
the Comte knew, would be thrown away on
Mirelle. She was a Parisienne, and a shrewd
one. Nevertheless, there was one thing that
the Comte could recognize infallibly when
he saw it. He knew at once that he was in
the presence of a very angry woman, and an
angry woman, as the Comte was well aware,
always says more than is prudent, and is
occasionally a source of profit to a levelheaded
gentleman who keeps cool.
"It is most amiable of you. Mademoiselle,
to honour my poor abode thus."
"We have mutual friends in Paris," said
Mirelle. "I have heard of you from them, but I come to see you to-day for another
reason. I have heard of you since I came to
Nice--in a different way, you understand.'
"Ah?" said the Comte softly.
"I will be brutal," continued the dancer;
"nevertheless, believe that I have your welfare
at heart. They are saying in Nice, Mon'
sieur Ie Comte, that you are the murderer 01
the English lady, Madame Kettering."
«ji--the murderer ofMadame Kettering?
pah! But how absurd!"
He spoke more languidly than indignantly? knowing that he would thus provoke
her further.
"But yes," she insisted; "it is as I tell
you."
"It amuses people to talk," murmured the
Comte indifferently. "It would be beneath
me to take such wild accusations seriously."
"You do not understand." Mirelle bent
forward, her dark eyes flashing. "It is not
the idle talk of those in the streets. It is the
police."
"The police--ah?"
The Comte sat up, alert once more.
Mirelle nodded her head vigorously several
times.
"Yes, yes. You comprehend me--I have
friends everywhere. The Prefect himself----"
She left the sentence unfinished, with an el°quent
shrug of the shoulders.
'Who is not indiscreet where a beautiful ^inan is concerned?" murmured the Count
Politely.
"The police believe that you killed Ma- ^nie Kettering. But they are wrong."
Certainly they are wrong," agreed the ^nite easily.
"You say that, but you do not know the
truth. I do."
The Comte looked at her curiously.
"You know who killed Madame Kettering?
Is that what you would say. Mademoiselle?"

Mirelle nodded vehemently.
"Yes."
"Who was it?" asked the Comte sharply.
"Her husband." She bent nearer to the
Comte 3 speaking in a low voice that vibrated
with anger and excitement. "It was her husband
who killed her."
The Comte leant back in his chair. His
face was a mask.
"Let me ask you. Mademoiselle--how do
you know this?"
"How do I know it?" Mirelle sprang to
her feet, with a laugh. "He boasted of it
beforehand. He was ruined, bankrupt, dishonoured.
Only the death of his wife could
save him. He told me so. He travelled on the
same train--but she was not to know it. Why
was that, I ask you? So that he might creep
upon her in the night----Ah!"--she shut
her eyes--"I can see it happening. . . "
The Count coughed.
"Perhaps--perhaps," he murmured. '^^
surely? Mademoiselle, in that case he would not steal the jewels?"
"The jewels!" breathed Mirelle. "The
jewels. Ah! Those rubies ..."
Her eyes grew misty, a far-away light in
them. The Comte looked at her curiously, wondering for the hundredth time at the
magical influence of precious stones on the
female sex. He recalled her to practical matters.

"What do you want me to do. Mademoiselle?"

Mirelle became alert and businesslike
once more.
"Surely it is simple. You will go to the
police. You will say to them that M. Kettering
committed this crime."
"And if they do not believe me? If they
ask for proof?" He was eyeing her closely.
Mirelle laughed softly, and drew her
°range-and-black wrap closer round her.
"Send them to me. Monsieur Ie Comte," ^e said softly; "I will give them the proof ^ey want."
Upon that she was gone, an impetuous ^irlwind, her errand accomplished.
The Comte looked after her, his eyebrows ^Ucately raised.
She is in a fury," he murmured. "What
has happened now to upset her? But she
shows her hand too plainly. Does she really believe that Mr. Kettering killed his wife^ She would like me to believe it. She would
even like the police to believe it."
He smiled to himself. He had no intention
whatsoever of going to the police. He saw
various other possibilities; to judge by his
smile, an agreeable vista of them.
Presently, however, his brow clouded. According
to Mirelle, he was suspected by the
police. That might be true or it might not.
An angry woman of the type of the dancer
was not likely to bother about the strict veracity
of her statements. On the other hand,
she might easily have obtained--inside information.
In that case--his mouth set
grimly--in that case he must take certain
precautions.
He went into the house and questioned
Hippolyte closely once more as to whether
any strangers had been to the house. The
valet was positive in his assurances that this
was not the case. The Comte went up to his
bedroom and crossed over to an old bureau
that stood against the wall. He let down the
lid of this, and his delicate fingers sought ^ a spring at the back of one of the pigeonholes.
A secret drawer flew out; in it was2
small brown paper package. The Comte took
this out and weighed it in his hand carefully
for a minute or two. Raising his hand to his
head, with a slight grimace he pulled out a
single hair. This he placed on the lip of the
drawer and shut it carefully. Still carrying
the small parcel in his hand, he went downstairs
and out of the house to the garage, where stood a scarlet two-seater car. Ten
minutes later he had taken the road for
Monte Carlo.
He spent a few hours at the Casino, then
sauntered out into the town. Presently he reentered
the car and drove off in the direction
ofMentone. Earlier in the afternoon he had
noticed an inconspicuous grey car some little
distance behind him. He noticed it again
now. He smiled to himself. The road was
climbing steadily upwards. The Comte's foot
pressed hard on the accelerator. The little
red car had been specially built to the
Comte's design, and had a far more powerful engine than would have been suspected from ^s appearance. It shot ahead.
Presently he looked back and smiled; the P^y car was following behind. Smothered in dust, the little red car leaped along the ^ad. It was travelling now at a dangerous pace, but the Comte was a first-class driver.
Now they were going down hill, twisting and
curving unceasingly. Presently the car slackened
speed, and finally came to a standstill
before a Bureau de Poste. The Comte
jumped out, lifted the lid of the tool chest
extracted the small brown paper parcel and
hurried into the post office. Two minutes
later he was driving once more in the direction
of Mentone. When the grey car arrived
there, the Comte was drinking English five
o'clock tea on the terrace of one of the hotels.
Later, he drove back to Monte Carlo,
dined there, and reached home once more
at eleven o'clock. Hippolyte came out to
meet him with a disturbed face.
"Ah! Monsieur Ie Comte has arrived.
Monsieur Ie Comte did not telephone me,
by any chance?"
The Comte shook his head.
"And yet at three o'clock I received a summons
from Monsieur Ie Comte, to present
myself to him at Nice, at the Negresco."
"Really," said the Comte; "and you
went?"
"Certainly, Monsieur, but at the Negresco
they knew nothing of Monsieur Ie Cornte-
He had not been there."
"Ah" said the Comte, "doubtless at that
hour Marie was out doing her afternoon mar-\??

keting?
'That is so. Monsieur Ie Comte." "Ah, well," said the Comte, "it is of no
importance. A mistake."
He went upstairs, smiling to himself.
Once within his own room, he bolted his
door and looked sharply round. Everything
seemed as usual. He opened various drawers
and cupboards. Then he nodded to himself.
Things had been replaced almost exactly as
he had left them, but not quite. It was evident
that a very thorough search had been
made.
He went over to the bureau and pressed
the hidden spring. The drawer flew open, but the hair was no longer where he had
placed it. He nodded his head several times.
"They are excellent, our French police,"
he murmured to himself--"excellent. Noth"ig
escapes them."
^ 11
Chapter 20
Katherine Makes a Friend
on the following morning Katherine and
Lenox were sitting on the terrace of the Villa
Marguerite. Something in the nature of a
friendship was springing up between them, despite the difference in age. But for Lenox,
Katherine would have found life at the Villa
Marguerite quite intolerable. The Kettering
case was the topic of the moment. Lady
Tamplin frankly exploited her guest's connection
with the affair for all it was worth.
The most persistent rebuffs that Katherine
could administer quite failed to pierce Lady
Tamplin's self-esteem. Lenox adopted a detached
attitude, seemingly amused at her
mother's manoeuvres, and yet with a sympathetic
understanding of Katherine's feelings.

The situation was not helped by
Chubby, whose naive delight was unquencn_ able, and who introduced Katherine to all
and sundry as:
"This is Miss Grey. You know that Blue Train business? She was in it up to the ears!
Had a long talk with Ruth Kettering a few
hours before the murder! Bit of luck for her,
eh?" A few remarks of this kind had provoked
Katherine that morning to an unusually tart
rejoinder, and when they were alone together
Lenox observed in her slow drawl:
"Not used to exploitation, are you? You
have a lot to learn, Katherine."
"I am sorry I lost my temper. I don't, as
a rule."
"It is about time you learnt to blow off
steam. Chubby is only an ass; there is no
harm in him. Mother, of course, is trying, but you can lose your temper with her until
Kingdom come, and it won't make any
impression. She will open large, sad blue
eyes at you and not care a bit."
Katherine made no reply to this filial observation, and Lenox presently went on:
"I am rather like Chubby. I delight in a 8°od murder, and besides--well, knowing ^erek makes a difference."
Catherine nodded.
''So you lunched with him yesterday,"
P^sued Lenox reflectively. "Do you like ^ Katherine?"
Katherine considered for a minute or two
"I don't know," she said very slowly.
"He is very attractive."
"Yes, he is attractive."
"What don't you like about him?"
Katherine did not reply to the question
or at any rate not directly. "He spoke of his
wife's death," she said. "He said he would
not pretend that it had been anything but a
bit of most marvellous luck for him."
"And that shocked you, I suppose," said
Lenox. She paused, and then added in rather
a queer tone of voice: "He likes you, Katherine."
"He gave me a very good lunch," said
Katherine, smiling.
Lenox refused to be sidetracked.
"I saw it the night he came here," she said
thoughtfully. "The way he looked at you;
and you are not his usual type--just the opposite.
Well, I suppose it is like religion--- you get it at a certain age."
"Mademoiselle is wanted at the tele
phone," said Marie, appearing at the window
of the salon. "M. Hercule Poirot desires
to speak with her."
"More blood and thunder. Go on, Katberine; go and dally with your detective."
M. Hercule Poirot's voice came neat and precise in its intonation to Katherine's ear.
"That is Mademoiselle Grey who speaks? pon. Mademoiselle, I have a word for you
from M. Van Aldin, the father of Madame
Kettering. He wishes very much to speak with you, either at the Villa Marguerite or
at his hotel, whichever you prefer."
Katherine reflected for a moment, but she
decided that for Van Aldin to come to the
Villa Marguerite would be both painful and
unnecessary. Lady Tamplin would have
hailed his advent with far too much delight.
She never lost a chance of cultivating millionaires.
She told Poirot that she would
much rather come to Nice.
"Excellent, Mademoiselle. I will call for
you myself in an auto. Shall we say in about
three-quarters of an hour?"
Punctually to the moment Poirot appeared.
Katherine was waiting for him, and Aey drove off at once.
"Well, Mademoiselle, how goes it?"
She looked at his twinkling eyes, and was ^nflrmed in her first impression that there ^s something very attractive about M. Her- ^le Poirot.
"This is our own Roman Policier, is it ^l' said Poirot. "I made you the promise
i h
that we should study it together. And me I
always keep my promises."
"You are too kind," murmured Katherine.

"Ah, you mock yourself at me; but do you
want to hear the developments of the case
or do you not?"
Katherine admitted that she did, and
Poirot proceeded to sketch for her a thumbnail
portrait of the Comte de la Roche.
"You think he killed her," said Katherine
thoughtfully.
"That is the theory," said Poirot guardedly.

"Do you yourself believe that?"
"I did not say so. And you, Mademoiselle,
what do you think?"
Katherine shook her head.
"How should I know? I don't know anything
about those things, but I should say
that----"
"Yes," said Poirot encouragingly.
"Well--from what you say the Count does
not sound the kind of man who would actually
kill anybody."
"Ahl Very good," cried Poirot, "you agree
with me, that is just what I have said." hs looked at her sharply. "But tell me, you have
met Mr. Derek Kettering?"
"I met him at Lady Tamplin's, and I
lunched with him yesterday."
"A mauvais sujet," said Poirot, shaking his
head; "but Us femmes—they like that, eh?"
He twinkled at Katherine and she
laughed.
"He is the kind of man one would notice
anywhere," continued Poirot. "Doubtless
you observed him on the Blue Train?"
"Yes, I noticed him."
"In the restaurant car?"
"No. I didn't notice him at meals at all.
I only saw him once—going into his wife's
compartment."
Poirot nodded. "A strange business," he
murmured. "I believe you said you were
awake. Mademoiselle, and looked out of
your window at Lyons? You saw no tall dark
man such as the Comte de la Roche leave the
train?"
Katherine shook her head. "I don't think
I saw any one at all," she said. "There was
a youngish lad in a cap and overcoat who got
^t? but I don't think he was leaving the
^ain, only walking up and down the plat^nn.
There was a fat Frenchman with a
^ard, in pyjamas and an overcoat, who
ranted a cup of coffee. Otherwise, I think
here were only the train attendants."
Poirot nodded his head several times. "It
is like this, you see," he confided, "the
Comte de la Roche has an alibi. An alibi, it
is a very pestilential thing, and always open
to the gravest suspicion. But here we are!"
They went straight up to Van Aldin5 s
suite, where they found Knighton. Poirot
introduced him to Katherine. After a few
commonplaces had been exchanged, Knighton
said, "I will tell Mr. Van Aldin that Miss
Grey is here."
He went through a second door into an
adjoining room. There was a low murmur
of voices, and then Van Aldin came into the
room and advanced towards Katherine with
outstretched hand, giving her at the same
time a shrewd and penetrating glance.
"I am pleased to meet you. Miss Grey,"
he said simply. "I have been wanting very
badly to hear what you can tell me about
Ruth."
The quiet simplicity of the millionaire's
manner appealed to Katherine strongly. She
felt herself in the presence of a very genuine
grief, the more real for its absence of outward
sign.
He drew forward a chair.
"Sit here, will you, and just tell me all
about it."
Poirot and Knighton retired discreetly
into the other room, and Katherine and Van
Aldin were left alone together. She found no
difficulty in her task. Quite simply and naturally
she related her conversation with Ruth
Kettering, word for word as nearly as she
could. He listened in silence, leaning back
in his chair, with one hand shading his eyes.
When she had finished he said quietly:
"Thank you, my dear."
They both sat silent for a minute or two.
Katherine felt that words of sympathy would
be out of place. When the millionaire spoke,
it was in a different tone:
"I am very grateful to you. Miss Grey. I
think you did something to ease my poor
Ruth's mind in the last hours of her life.
Now I want to ask you something. You
know--M. Poirot will have told you--about
the scoundrel that my poor girl had got herself
mixed up with. He was the man of whom
she spoke to you--the man she was going
to meet. In your judgment do you think she
might have changed her mind after her conversation
with you? Do you think she meant
to go back on her word?"
"I can't honestly tell you. She had certainly
come to some decision, and seemed more cheerful in consequence of it."
"She gave you no idea where she intended
to meet the skunk--whether in Paris or at
Hyeres?"
Katherine shook her head.
"She said nothing as to that."
"Ah!" said Van Aldin thoughtfully, "and
that is the important point. Well, time will
show."
He got up and opened the door of the
adjoining room. Poirot and Knighton came
back.
Katherine declined the millionaire's invitation
to lunch, and Knighton went down
with her and saw her into the waiting car.
He returned to find Poirot and Van Aldim
deep in conversation. |
"If we only knew," said the millionaire! thoughtfully, "what decision Ruth came to.
It might have been any of half a dozen. She
might have meant to leave the train at Paris
and cable to me. She may have meant to have
gone on to the south of France and have an
explanation with the Count there. We are in
the dark--absolutely in the dark. But we
have the maid's word for it that she was both
startled and dismayed at the Count's appearance
at the station in Paris. That was
clearly not part of the preconceived plan-^ You agree with me, Knighton?"
• The secretary started. "I beg your pardon,
^r. Van Aldin. I was not listening."
"Day-dreaming, eh?" said Van Aldin.
"That's not like you. I believe that girl has
bowled you over."
Knighton blushed.
"She is a remarkably nice girl," said Van
Aldin thoughtfully, "very nice. Did you
happen to notice her eyes?"
"Any man," said Knighton, "would be
bound to notice her eyes."
Chapter 21
At the Tennis
several days had elapsed. Katherine had
been for a walk by herself one morning, and
came back to find Lenox grinning at her
expectantly.
"Your young man has been ringing you
up, Katherine!"
"Who do you call my young man?"
"A new one--Rufus Van Aldin's secretary.
You seem to have made rather
an impression there. You are becoming a
serious breaker of hearts, Katherine. First
Derek Kettering, and now this young
Knighton. The funny thing is, that I remember
him quite well. He was in Mother's
War Hospital that she ran out here. I was
only a kid of about eight at the time."
"Was he badly wounded?"
"Shot in the leg, if I remember rightly-- rather a nasty business. I think the doctors
messed it up a bit. They said he wouldn't
Ump o1' anything, but when he left here he ^vas still completely dot and go one."
Lady Tamplin came out and joined them.
"Have you been telling Katherine about Major Knighton?" she asked. "Such a dear
fellow! Just at first I didn't remember him
--one had so many--but now it all comes
back."
"He was a bit too unimportant to be remembered
before," said Lenox. "Now that
he is a secretary to an American millionaire, it is a very different matter."
"Darling!" said Lady Tamplin in her
vague reproachful voice.
"What did Major Knighton ring up
about?" inquired Katherine.
"He asked if you would like to go to the
tennis this afternoon. If so, he would call for
you in a car. Mother and I accepted for you
with empressement. Whilst you dally with a niillionaire's secretary, you might give me a
chance with the millionaire, Katherine. He
is about sixty, I suppose, so that he will be looking about for a nice sweet young thing Like me."
"I should like to meet Mr. Van Aldin," ^id Lady Tamplin earnestly; "one has heard
^ much of him. Those fine rugged figures
. I
of the Western world"--she broke off--"go
fascinating," she murmured.
"Major Knighton was very particular to
say it was Mr. Van Aldin's invitation," said
Lenox. "He said it so often that I began to
smell a rat. You and Knighton would make
a very nice pair, Katherine. Bless you, my
children!"
Katherine laughed, and went upstairs to
change her clothes.
Knighton arrived soon after lunch and endured
manfully Lady Tamplin's transports
of recognition.
When they were driving together towards
Cannes he remarked to Katherine: "Lady
Tamplin has changed wonderfully little."
"In manner or appearance?"
"Both. She must be, I suppose, well over
forty, but she is a remarkably beautiful
woman still."
"She is," agreed Katherine.
"I am very glad that you could come today,"
went on Knighton. "M. Poirot is
going to be there also. What an extraordinary
little man he is. Do you know him well, Miss
Grey?"
Katherine shook her head. "I met him on
the train on the way here. I was reading a detective novel, and I happened to say some226
thing about such things not happening in
real li^- 0^ course, I had no idea of who he
was." "He is a very remarkable person," said
Knighton slowly, "and has done some very
remarkable things. He has a kind of genius
for going to the root of the matter, and right
up to the end no one has any idea of what
he is really thinking. I remember I was staying
at a house in Yorkshire, and Lady Clanravon's
jewels were stolen. It seemed at first
to be a simple robbery, but it completely
baffled the local police. I wanted them to call
in Hercule Poirot, and said he was the only
man who could help them, but they pinned
their faith to Scotland Yard."
"And what happened?" said Katherine
curiously.
"The jewels were never recovered," said
Knighton drily.
"You really do believe in him?"
"I do indeed. The Comte de la Roche is
a pretty wily customer. He has wriggled out
of most things. But I think he has met his match in Hercule Poirot."
"The Comte de la Roche," said Katherine
thoughtfully, "so you really think he did it?"
"Of course." Knighton looked at her in ^tonishment. "Don't you?"
977
"Oh yes," said Katherine hastily; "that
is, I mean, if it was not just an ordinary train
robbery."
"It might be, of course," agreed the other
"but it seems to me that the Comte de la
Roche fits into this business particularly
well."
"And yet he has an alibi."
"Oh, alibis!" Knighton laughed, his face
broke into his attractive boyish smile.
"You confess that you read detective stories, Miss Grey. You must know that any
one who has a perfect alibi is always open to
grave suspicion."
"Do you think that real life is like that?"
asked Katherine, smiling.
"Why not? Fiction is founded on fact."
"But is rather superior to it," suggested
Katherine.
"Perhaps. Anyway, if I was a criminal I
should not like to have Hercule Poirot on
my track."
"No more should I," said Katherine, and
laughed.
They were met on arrival by Poirot. As
the day was warm he was attired in a white duck suit, with a white camellia in his buttonhole.

"Bonjour, Mademoiselle," said Poirot. "I
look very English, do I not?" "You look wonderful," said Katherine
tactfully.
"You mock yourself at me," said Poirot
genially, "but no matter. Papa Poirot, he
always laughs the last."
"Where is Mr. Van Aldin?" asked Knigh-
ton.
"He will meet us at our seats. To tell you
the truth, my friend, he is not too well
pleased with me. Oh, those Americans--the
repose, the calm, they know it not! Mr. Van
Aldin, he would that I fly myself in the pursuit
of criminals through all the byways of
Nice."
"I should have thought myself that it
would not have been a bad plan," observed
Knighton.
"You are wrong," said Poirot; "in these
matters one needs not energy but finesse. At Ae tennis one meets every one. That is so
important. Ah, there is Mr. Kettering."
Derek came abruptly up to them. He looked reckless and angry, as though something
had arisen to upset him. He and Kmghton greeted each other with some frigidity.
Poirot alone seemed unconscious of ^y sense of strain, and chatted pleasantly
in a laudable attempt to put every one at
their ease. He paid little compliments.
"It is amazing, M. Kettering, how well
you speak the French," he observed--"so
well that you could be taken for a Frenchman
if you chose. That is a very rare accomplishment
among Englishmen."
"I wish I did," said Katherine. "I am only
too well aware that my French is of a painfully
British order."
They reached their seats and sat down,
and almost immediately Knighton perceived
his employer signalling to him from the other
end of the court, and went off to speak to
him.
"Me, I approve of that young man," said
Poirot, sending a beaming smile after the
departing secretary, "and you. Mademoiselle?"

"I like him very much."
"And you, M. Kettering?"
Some quick rejoinder was springing to
Derek's lips, but he checked it as though
something in the little Belgian's twinkling
eyes had made him suddenly alert. He spoke
carefully, choosing his words.
"Knighton is a very good fellow," he said- Just for a moment Katherine fancied that
Poirot looked disappointed.
"He is a great admirer of yours, M.
poirot," she said, and she related some of
the things that Knighton had said. It amused
her to see the little man plume himself like
a bird, thrusting out his chest, and assuming
an air of mock modesty that would have deceived
no one.
"That reminds me. Mademoiselle," he
said suddenly, "I have a little matter of business
I have to speak to you about. When you were sitting talking to that poor lady in the
train, I think you must have dropped a cigarette
case."
Katherine looked rather astonished. "I
don't think so," she said. Poirot drew from
his pocket a cigarette case of soft blue
leather, with the initial "K" on it in gold.
"No, that is not mine," Katherine said.
"Ah, a thousand apologies. It was doubtless
Madame's own. 'K/ of course, stands
for Kettering. We were doubtful, because
she had another cigarette case in her bag, and it seemed odd that she should have two."
He turned to Derek suddenly. "You do not know, I suppose, whether this was your ^fe's case or not?"
Derek seemed momentarily taken aback. He stammered a little in his reply: "I--I ^n't know. I suppose so."
"It is not yours by any chance?"
"Certainly not. If it were mine it would
hardly have been in my wife's possession."
Poirot looked more ingenuous and childlike
than ever.
"I thought perhaps you might have
dropped it when you were in your wife's
compartment," he explained guilelessly.
"I never was there. I have already told the
police that a dozen times."
"A thousand pardons," said Poirot, with
his most apologetic air. "It was Mademoiselle
here who mentioned having seen you
going in."
He stopped with an air of embarrassment.
Katherine looked at Derek. His face had
gone rather white, but perhaps that was her
fancy. His laugh, when it came, was natural
enough.
"You made a mistake. Miss Grey," he said
easily. "From what the police have told me,
I gather that my own compartment was only
a door or two away from that of my wife'8 --though I never suspected the fact at the
time. You must have seen me going into my
own compartment." He got up quickly as he saw Van Aldin and Knighton approaching.

"I'm going to leave you now," he an'
nounced. "I can^t stand my father-in-law at
any Price. .
Van Aldin greeted Kathenne very courteously? but was clearly in a bad humour.
"You seem fond of watching tennis, M.
Poirot," he growled.
"It is a pleasure to me, yes," cried Poirot
placidly.
"It is as well you are in France," said Van
Aldin. "We are made of sterner stuff in the
States. Business comes before pleasure
there."
Poirot did not take offence; indeed, he
smiled gently and confidingly at the irate
millionaire.
"Do not enrage yourself, I beg of you.
Every one his own methods. Me, I have always
found it a delightful and pleasing idea
to combine business and pleasure together."
He glanced at the other two. They were
deep in conversation, absorbed in each
other. Poirot nodded his head in satisfaction,
^d then leant towards the millionaire, lowing
his voice as he did so.
"It is not only for pleasure that I am here, M- Van Aldin. Observe just opposite us that ^11 old man--the one with the yellow face ^d the venerable beard."
'^ell, what of him?"
"That," Poirot said, "is M. Papopolous 5}
"A Greek, eh?"
"As you say--a Greek. He is a dealer in
antiques ofworld-wide reputation. He has a
small shop in Paris, and he is suspected by
the police of being something more."
"What?"
"A receiver of stolen goods, especially
jewels. There is nothing as to the re-cutting
and re-setting of gems that he does not know.
He deals with the highest in Europe and with
the lowest of the riff-raff of the underworld."
Van Aldin was looking at Poirot with suddenly
awakened attention.
"Well?" he demanded, a new note in his
voice.
"I ask myself," said Poirot, "I, Hercule
Poirot"--he thumped himself dramatically
on the chest--"ask myself why is M. Papopolous
suddenly come to Nice?"
Van Aldin was impressed. For a moment
he had doubted Poirot and suspected the
little man of being past his job, a poseur only- Now, in a moment, he switched back to his
original opinion. He looked straight at the
little detective.
"I must apologize to you, M. Poirot.'
Poirot waved the apology aside with an
extravagant gesture.
"Bah!" he cried, "all that is of no importance.
Now listen, M. Van Aldin; I have
news for you."
The millionaire looked sharply at him, all
his interest aroused.
Poirot nodded.
"It is as I say. You will be interested. As
you know, M. Van Aldin, the Comte de la
Roche has been under surveillance ever
since his interview with the Juge dTnstruction.
The day after that, during his
absence, the Villa Marina was searched by
the police."
"Well," said Van Aldin, "did they find
anything? I bet they didn't."
Poirot made him a little bow.
"Your acumen is not at fault, M. Van Aldin.
They found nothing of an incriminating
nature. It was not to be expected that they
would. The Comte de la Roche, as your expressive
idiom has it, was not born on the
preceding day. He is an astute gentleman with great experience."
"Well, go on," growled Van Aldin.
"It may be, of course, that the Comte had ^thing of a compromising nature to con- ^al. But we must not neglect the possibility. lt? then, he has something to conceal, where
is ^P Not in his house--the police searched
ki I
thoroughly. Not on his person, for he knows
that he is liable to arrest at any minute. There
remains--his car. As I say, he was under
surveillance. He was followed on that day to
Monte Carlo. From there he went by road
to Mentone, driving himself. His car is a very
powerful one, it outdistanced his pursuers
and for about a quarter of an hour they completely
lost sight of him."
"And during that time you think he concealed
something by the roadside?" asked
Van Aldin, keenly interested.
"By the roadside, no. Qa n'est pas pratique.
But listen now--me, I have made a
little suggestion to M. Carrege. He is graciously
pleased to approve of it. In each Bureau
de Poste in the neighbourhood it has
been seen to that there is some one who
knows the Comte de la Roche by sight. Because, you see. Messieurs, the best way of
hiding a thing is by sending it away by the
post."
"Well?" demanded Van Aldin; his face
was keenly alight with interest and expectation.

"Well--z^a^ With a dramatic flourish
Poirot drew out from his pocket a loosely
wrapped brown paper package from which
the string had been removed.
"During that quarter of an hour's interval,
^ur good gentleman mailed this."
"The address?" asked the other sharply.
Poirot nodded his head.
"Might have told us something, but unfortunately
it does not. The package was addressed
to one of these little newspaper shops
in Paris where letters and parcels are kept
until called for on payment of a small commission."
"Yes, but what is inside?" demanded Van
Aldin impatiently.
Poirot unwrapped the brown paper and
disclosed a square cardboard box. He looked
round him.
"It is a good moment," he said quietly.
"All eyes are on the tennis. Look, Monsieur!"

He lifted the lid of the box for the fraction
of a second. An exclamation of utter astonishment
came from the millionaire. His face
turned as white as chalk.
"My God!" he breathed, "the rubies."
He sat for a minute as though dazed. Poirot restored the box to his pocket and Gained placidly. Then suddenly the mil- ^onaire seemed to come out of his trance;
ue leaned across to Poirot and wrung his
hand so heartily that the little man winced
with pain.
"This is great," said Van Aldin. "Great!
You are the goods, M. Poirot. Once and for
all, you are the goods."
"It is nothing," said Poirot modestly.
"Order, method, being prepared for eventualities
beforehand--that is all there is to
it."
"And now, I suppose, the Comte de la
Roche has been arrested?" continued Van
Aldin eagerly.
"No," said Poirot.
A look of utter astonishment came over
Van Aldin's face.
"But why? What more do you want?"
"The Comte's alibi is still unshaken."
"But that is nonsense."
"Yes," said Poirot; "I rather think it is
nonsense, but unfortunately we have to
prove it so."
"In the meantime he will slip through
your fingers."
Poirot shook his head very energetically-
"No," he said, "he will not do that. The
one thing the Comte cannot afford to sacrifice
is his social position. At all costs b^ must stop and brazen it out."
Van Aldin was still dissatisfied.
i»rr
"But I don't see——"
poirot raised a hand. "Grant me a little
moment, Monsieur. Me, I have a little idea.
Ma^y P60?^ have mocked themselves at the
little ideas ofHercule Poirot—and they have
been wrong."
"Well," said Van Aldin, "go ahead. What
is this little idea?"
Poirot paused for a moment and then he
said:
"I will call upon you at your hotel at eleven
o'clock to-morrow morning. Until then, say
nothing to any one."
Chapter 22
M. Papopolous Breakfasts
M. papopolous was at breakfast. Opposite
him sat his daughter, Zia.
There was a knock at the sitting-room
door 5 and a chasseur entered with a card
which he brought to Mr. Papopolous. The
latter scrutinized it, raised his eyebrows, and
passed it over to his daughter.
"Ah!" said M. Papopolous, scratching his
left ear thoughtfully, "Hercule Poirot. I
wonder now."
Father and daughter looked at each other.
"I saw him yesterday at the tennis," said
M. Papopolous. "Zia, I hardly like this."
"He was very useful to you once," h18 daughter reminded him.
"That is true," acknowledged M. Papopolous;
"also he has retired from active
work, so I hear."
These interchanges between father a11" daughter had passed in their own language t^ow M. Papopolous turned to the chasseur
and said in French:
^Faites monter ce monsieur."
A few minutes later Hercule Poirot, exquisitely
attired, and swinging a cane with a
jaunty air, entered the room.
"My dear M. Papopolous."
"My dear M. Poirot."
"And Mademoiselle Zia." Poirot swept
her a low bow.
"You will excuse us going on with our
breakfast," said M. Papopolous, pouring
himself out another cup of coffee. "Your call
is--ahem!--a little early."
"It is scandalous," said Poirot, "but see
you, I am pressed."
"Ah!" murmured M. Papopolous, "you
are on an affair then?"
"A very serious affair," said Poirot: "the
death ofMadame Kettering."
"Let me see," M. Papopolous looked innocently
up at the ceiling, "that was the lady ^o died on the Blue Train, was it not? I
saw a mention of it in the papers, but there ^s no suggestion of foul play." ^ "In the interests of justice," said Poirot, 11 was thought best to suppress that fact."
There was a pause.
1 A 1
"And in what way can I assist you, A^ Poirot?" asked the dealer politely.
"Viola," said Poirot, "I shall come to the
point." He took from his pocket the same
box that he had displayed at Cannes, and
opening it, he took out the rubies and pushed
them across the table to Papopolous.
Although Poirot was watching him narrowly, not a muscle of the old man's face
moved. He took up the jewels and examined
them with a kind of detached interest, then
he looked across at the detective inquiringly:
"Superb, are they not?" asked Poirot.
"Quite excellent," said M. Papopolous.
"How much should you say they are
worth?"
The Greek's face quivered a little.
"Is it really necessary to tell you, M.
Poirot?" he asked.
"You are shrewd, M. Papopolous. No, it
is not. They are not, for instance, worth five
hundred thousand dollars."
Papopolous laughed, and Poirot joined
with him.
"As an imitation," said Papopolous, handing
them back to Poirot, "they are, as I said? quite excellent. Would it be indiscreet to
ask, M. Poirot, where you came across
them?"
"Not at all," said Poirot; "I have no ohiection
to telling an old friend like yourself.
They were in the possession of the Comte
delaRoche."
M. Papopolous" eyebrows lifted themselves
eloquently.
"In-deed," he murmured.
Poirot leant forward and assumed his most
innocent and beguiling air.
"M. Papopolous," he said, "I am going
to lay my cards upon the table. The original
of these jewels was stolen from Madame Kettering
on the Blue Train. Now I will say to
you first this: / am not concerned with the
recovery of these jewels. That is the affair of
the police. I am working not for the police
but for M. Van Aldin. I want to lay hands
on the man who killed Madame Kettering.
I am interested in the jewels only in so far as they may lead me to the man. You understand?"

The last two words were uttered with great ^gniflcance. M. Papopolous, his face quite unmoved, said quietly:
"Go on."
"It seems to me probable. Monsieur, that Uie jewels will change hands in Nice--may ^ydy have done so."
i!" said M. Papopolous.
He sipped his coffee reflectively, and
looked a shade more noble and patriarchal
than usual.
"I say to myself," continued Poirot, with
animation, "what good fortune! My old
friend, M. Papopolous, is in Nice. He will
aid me."
"And how do you think I can aid you?"
inquired M. Papopolous coldly.
"I said to myself, without doubt M. Papopolous
is in Nice on business."
"Not at all," said M. Papopolous, "I am
here for my health—by the doctor's orders."
He coughed hollowly.
"I am desolated to hear it," replied Poirot,
with somewhat insincere sympathy. "But to
continue. When a Russian Grand Duke, an
Austrian Archduchess, or an Italian Prince
wish to dispose of their family jewels—to
whom do they go? To M. Papopolous, is it
not? He who is famous all over the world for
the discretion with which he arranges these
things."
The other bowed.
"You flatter me."
"It is a great thing, discretion," mused
Poirot, and was rewarded by the fleeting
smile which passed across the Greek's face"I, too, can be discreet."
The eyes of the two men met.
Then Poirot went on speaking very slowly 3 and obviously picking his words with care.
"I say to myself, this: if these jewels have
changed hands in Nice, M. Papopolous
would have heard of it. He has knowledge
of all that passes in the jewel world."
"Ah!" said M. Papopolous, and helped
himself to a croissant.
"The police, you understand," said M.
Poirot, "do not enter into the matter. It is a
personal affair."
"One hears rumours," admitted M. Papopolous
cautiously.
"Such as?" prompted Poirot.
"Is there any reason why I should pass
them on?"
"Yes," said Poirot, "I think there is. You may remember, M. Papopolous, that seventeen
years ago there was a certain article m your hands, left there as security by a
very--er--Prominent Person. It was in your
keeping and it unaccountably disappeared. You were, if I may use the English express101^ in the soup."
His eyes came gently round to the girl. "^ had pushed her cup and plate aside, and ^th both elbows on the table and her chin
-» A C
resting on her hands was listening eagerly Still keeping an eye on her he went on:
"I am in Paris at the time. You send for
me. You place yourself in my hands. If \ restore to you that--article, you say I shall
earn your undying gratitude. Eh bien! I did
restore it to you."
A long sigh came from M. Papopolous.
"It was the most unpleasant moment of
my career," he murmured.
"Seventeen years is a long time," said
Poirot thoughtfully, "but I believe that I am
right in saying. Monsieur, that your race
does not forget."
"A Greek?" murmured Papopolous, with
an ironical smile.
"It was not as a Greek I meant," said
Poirot.
There was a silence, and then the old man
drew himself up proudly.
"You are right, M. Poirot," he said quietly.
"I am a Jew. And, as you say, our race
does not forget."
"You will aid me then?"
"As regards the jewels. Monsieur, I can
do nothing."
The old man, as Poirot had done just now? picked his words carefully.
"I know nothing. I have heard nothing246
if"
]^ut I can perhaps do you a good turn--that ^ if you are interested in racing."
"Under certain circumstances I might be," said Poirot, eyeing him steadily.
There is a horse running at Longchamps
that would, I think, repay attention. I cannot
say for certain, you understand; this news
passed through so many hands."
He stopped, fixing Poirot with his eye, as
though to make sure that the latter was comprehending
him.
"Perfectly, perfectly," said Poirot, nodding.

"The name of the horse," said M. Papopolous,
leaning back and joining the tips of
his fingers together, "is the Marquis. I
think, but I am not sure, that it is an English
horse, eh, Zia?"
"I think so too," said the girl.
Poirot got up briskly.
"I thank you. Monsieur," he said. "It is a great thing to have what the English call a tip from the stable. Au revoir. Monsieur,
^nd many thanks."
He turned to the girl.
"Au revoir, Mademoiselle Zia. It seems ^ me but yesterday that I saw you in Paris. ^ne would say that two years had passed at oiost."

JJ.
247

"There is a difference between sixteen and
thirty-three," said Zia ruefully.
"Not in your case," declared Poirot gallantly.
"You and your father will perhaps
dine with me one night."
"We shall be delighted," replied Zia.
"Then we will arrange it," declared
Poirot, "and now--je me sauve.'9
Poirot walked along the street humming
a little tune to himself. He twirled his stick
with a jaunty air, once or twice he smiled to
himself quietly. He turned into the first Bureau
de Poste he came to and sent off a telegram.
He took some time in wording it, but
it was in code and he had to call upon his
memory. It purported to deal with a missing
scarf-pin, and was addressed to Inspector
Japp, Scotland Yard.
Decoded, it was short and to the point. "Wire me everything known about man whose
soubriquet is the Marquis."
Chapter 23
A New Theory
it was exactly eleven o'clock when Poirot
presented himself at Van Aldin's hotel. He
found the millionaire alone.
"You are punctual, M. Poirot," he said,
with a smile, as he rose to greet the detective.
"I am always punctual," said Poirot. "The
exactitude—always do I observe it. Without
order and method——"
He broke off. "Ah, but it is possible that
1 have said these things to you before. Let
us come at once to the object of my visit."
"Your little idea?"
"Yes, my little idea." Poirot smiled.
"First of all. Monsieur. I should like to
^terview once more the maid, Ada Mason.
^e is here?"
"Yes, she's here."
"Ah!"
Van Aldin looked at him curiously. He
rang the bell, and a messenger was dispatched
to find Mason.
Poirot greeted her with his usual politeness, which was never without effect on that
particular class.
"Good afternoon. Mademoiselle," he said
cheerfully. "Be seated, will you not, if Monsieur
permits."
"Yes, yes, sit down, my girl," said Van
Aldin.
"Thank you, sir," said Mason primly,
and she sat down on the extreme edge of a
chair. She looked bonier and more acid
than ever.
"I have come to ask you yet more questions,"
said Poirot. "We must get to the bottom
of this affair. Always I return to the
question of the man in the train. You have
been shown the Comte de la Roche. You say
that it is possible he was the man, but you
are not sure."
"As I told you, sir, I never saw the gentleman's
face. That is what makes it so difficult."

Poirot beamed and nodded.
"Precisely, exactly. I comprehend well the
difficulty. Now, Mademoiselle, you have
been in the service ofMadame Kettering two
months;, you say. During that time, how
often did you see your master?"
Mason reflected a minute or two, and then
said:
"Only twice, sir."
"And was that near to, or far away?"
"Well once, sir, he came to Curzon Street.
I was upstairs, and I looked over the banisters
and saw him in the hall below. I was
a bit curious like, you understand, knowing
the way things--er--were." Mason finished
up with her discreet cough.
"And the other time?"
"I was in the Park, sir, with Annie--one
of the housemaids, sir, and she pointed out
the master to me walking with a foreign
lady."
Again Poirot nodded.
"Now listen. Mason, this man whom you
saw in the carriage talking to your mistress
at the Gare de Lyon, how do you know it
was not your master?"
"The master, sir? Oh, I don't think it ^uld have been."
"But you are not sure," Poirot persisted.
"Well--I never thought of it, sir."
Mason was clearly upset at the idea. "You have heard that your master was ^so on the train. What more natural than
that it should be he who came along the
corridor."
"But the gentleman who was talking to
the mistress must have come from outside
sir. He was dressed for the street. In an overcoat
and soft hat."
"Just so. Mademoiselle, but reflect a minute.
The train has just arrived at the Gare
de Lyon. Many of the passengers promenade
themselves upon the quay. Your mistress
was about to do so, and for that purpose had
doubtless put on her fur coat, eh?"
"Yes, sir," agreed Mason.
"Your master, then, does the same. The
train is heated, but outside in the station it
is cold. He puts on his overcoat and his hat
and he walks along beside the train, and
looking up at the lighted windows he suddenly
sees Madame Kettering. Until then he
has had no idea that she was on the train.
Naturally, he mounts the carriage and goes
to her compartment. She gives an exclamation
of surprise at seeing him and quickly
shuts the door between the two compartments
since it is possible that their conversation
may be of a private nature."
He leaned back in his chair and watched
the suggestion slowly take effect. No one knew better than Hercule Poirot that the
class to which Mason belongs cannot be hurried.
He must give her time to get rid of her
own preconceived ideas. At the end of three
minutes she spoke:
"Well, of course, sir, it might be so. I
never thought of it that way. The master is
tall and dark, and just about that build. It
was seeing the hat and coat that made me
say it was a gentleman from outside. Yes, it
might have been the master. I would not like
to say either way, I am sure."
'Thank you very much. Mademoiselle. I
shall not require you any further. Ah, just
one thing more." He took from his pocket
the cigarette case he had already shown to
Katherine. "Is that your mistress's case?"
he said to Mason.
"No, sir, it is not the mistress's--at
least----"
She looked suddenly startled. An idea was
clearly working its way to the forefront of
her mind.
"Yes," said Poirot encouragingly.
"I think, sir--I can't be sure, but I
think--it is a case that the mistress bought to give to the master."
"Ah," said Poirot in a noncommittal banner.
"But whether she ever did give it to him or not, I can't say, of course."
"Precisely," said Poirot, "precisely. That
is all, I think. Mademoiselle. I wish you good
afternoon."
Ada Mason retired discreetly, closing the
door noiselessly behind her. _
Poirot looked across at Van Aldin, a faint |
smile upon his face. The millionaire looked
thunderstruck.
"You think--you think it was Derek?"
he queried, "but--everything points the
other way. Why, the Count has actually been
caught redhanded with the jewels on him."
"No."
"But you told me----"
"What did I tell you?"
"That story about the jewels. You showed] them to me."
"No."
Van Aldin stared at him.
"You mean to say you didn't show them
to me."
"No."
"Yesterday--at the tennis?"
"No."
"Are you crazy, M. Poirot, or am I?'
"Neither of us is crazy," said the detective.
"You ask me a question; I answer it iay have I not shown you the jewels
day? I reply--no. What I showed you, an Aldin, was a first-class imitation, i to be distinguished except by an ex- from the real ones."
Chapter 24
Poirot Gives Advice
it took the millionaire some few minutes to
take the thing in. He stared at Poirot as
though dumbfounded. The little Belgian
nodded at him gently.
"Yes," he said, "it alters the position, does it not?"
"Imitation!"
He leaned forward.
"All along, M. Poirot, you have had this
idea? All along this is what you have been
driving at? You never believed that the
Comte de la Roche was the murderer?"
"I have had doubts," said Poirot quietly.
"I said as much to you. Robbery with violence
and murder"--he shook his head
energetically--"no, it is difficult to picture.
It does not harmonize with the personality
of the Comte de la Roche."
"But you believe that he meant to steal
the rubies?"
"Certainly. There is no doubt as to that.
See, I will recount to you the affair as I see
it. The Comte knew of the rubies and he laid
his plans accordingly. He made up a romantic
story of a book he was writing, so as to
induce your daughter to bring them with
her. He provided himself with an exact duplicate.
It is clear, is it not, that substitution
is what he was after. Madame, your daughter, was not an expert on jewels. It would
probably be a long time before she discovered
what had occurred. When she did so--
well--I do not think she would prosecute
the Comte. Too much would come out. He
would have in his possession various letters
others. Oh yes, a very safe scheme from the
Comte's point of view--one that he has
probably carried out before."
"It seems clear enough, yes," said Van
Aldin musingly.
"It accords with the personality of the
Comte de la Roche," said Poirot.
"Yes, but now----" Van Aldin looked ^archingly at the other. "What actually happened?
Tell me that, M. Poirot."
Poirot shrugged his shoulders.
'It is quite simple," he said; "some one Pepped in ahead of the Comte."
There was a long pause.
I
Van Aldin seemed to be turning things
over in his mind. When he spoke it was without
beating about the bush.
"How long have you suspected my sonin-law,
M. Poirot?"
"From the very first. He had the motive
and the opportunity. Every one took for
granted that the man in Madame's compartment
in Paris was the Comte de la
Roche. I thought so, too. Then you happened
to mention that you had once mistaken
the Comte for your son-in-law. That
told me that they were of the same ******
and build, and alike in colouring. It put some
curious ideas in my head. The maid had only
been with your daughter a short time. It was
unlikely that she would know Mr. Kettering
well by sight, since he had not been living
in Curzon Street; also the man was careful
to keep his face turned away."
"You believe he--murdered her," said
Van Aldin hoarsely.
Poirot raised a hand quickly.
"No, no, I did not say that--but it is a
possibility--a very strong possibility. He
was in a tight corner, a very tight corner, threatened with ruin. This was the one way
out."
"But why take the jewels?"
^
"To make the crime appear an ordinary
one committed by train robbers. Otherwise
suspicion might have fallen on him straight
away."
"If that is so, what has he done with the
rubies?"
"That remains to be seen. There are several
possibilities. There is a man in Nice who
may be able to help, the man I pointed out
at the tennis."
He rose to his feet and Van Aldin rose also
and laid his hand on the little man's shoulder.
His voice when he spoke was harsh with
emotion.
"Find Ruth's murderer for me," he said, "that is all I ask."
Poirot drew himself up.
"Leave it in the hands ofHercule Poirot,"
he said superbly, "have no fears. I will discover
the truth."
He brushed a speck of fluff from his hat, smiled reassuringly at the millionaire, and
left the room. Nevertheless, as he went down Ae stairs some of the confidence faded from
his face.
"It is all very well," he murmured to him- ^If? "but there are difficulties. Yes, there ^re great difficulties." As he was passing out
°f the hotel he came to a sudden halt. A car
^ I
had drawn up in front of the door. In it was
Katherine Grey, and Derek Kettering was
standing beside it talking to her earnestly.
A minute or two later the car drove off and
Derek remained standing on the pavement
looking after it. The expression on his face
was an odd one. He gave a sudden impatient
gesture of the shoulders, sighed deeply, and
turned to find Hercule Poirot standing at his
elbow. In spite of himself he started. The
two men looked at each other. Poirot steadily
and unwaveringly and Derek with a kind of
lighthearted defiance. There was a sneer behind
the easy mockery of his tone when he
spoke, raising his eyebrows slightly as he did
so.
"Rather a dear, isn't she?" he asked easily.
His manner was perfectly natural.
"Yes," said Poirot thoughtfully, "that describes
Mademoiselle Katherine very well.
It is very English, that phrase there, and
Mademoiselle Katherine, she also is very English."
Derek
remained perfectly still without answering.

"And yet she is sympathique, is it not so?
"Yes," said Derek; "there are not many
like her."
He spoke softly, almost as though to him'
self. Poirot nodded significantly. Then he
leant towards the other and spoke in a different
tone, a quiet, grave tone that was new
to Derek Kettering.
"You will pardon an old man. Monsieur, if he says to you something that you may
consider impertinent. There is one of your
English proverbs that I would quote to you.
It says that "it is well to be off with the old
love, before being on with the new.'"
Kettering turned on him angrily. "What the devil do you mean?" "You enrage yourself at me," said Poirot
placidly. "I expected as much. As to what I
mean--I mean. Monsieur, that there is a
second car with a lady in it. If you turn your
head you will see her."
Derek spun around. His face darkened
with anger.
"Mirelle, damn her!" he muttered. "I will
soon-----"
Poirot arrested the movement he was
about to make.
"Is it wise what you are about to do
there?" he asked warningly. His eyes shone ^ttly with a green light in them. But Derek ^s past noticing the warning signs. In his
^er he was completely off his guard.
MB
"I have broken with her utterly, and she
knows it," cried Derek angrily.
"You have broken with her, yes, but has she broken with you?"
Derek gave a sudden harsh laugh.
"She won't break with two million pounds
if she can help it," he murmured brutally;
"trust Mirelle for that."
Poirot raised his eyebrows.
"You have the outlook cynical," he murmured.

"Have I?" There was no mirth in his sudden
wide smile. "I have lived in the world long enough, M. Poirot, to know that all
women are pretty much alike." His face softened
suddenly. "All save one."
He met Poirofs gaze defiantly. A look of
alertness crept into his eyes, then faded
again. "That one," he said, and jerked his
head in the direction of Cap Martin.
"Ah!" said Poirot.
This quiescence was well calculated to
provoke the impetuous temperament of the
other.
"I know what you are going to say," said
Derek rapidly, "the kind of life I have led,
the fact that I am not worthy of her. You
will say that I have no right to think even 01
such a thing. You will say that it is not a
case of giving a dog a bad name--I know
that it is not decent to be speaking like this
with my wife dead only a few days, and murdered
at that."
He paused for breath, and Poirot took advantage
of the pause to remark in his plaintive
tone.
"But, indeed, I have not said anything at
all."
"But you will."
"Eh?" said Poirot.
"You will say that I have no earthly chance
of marrying Katherine."
"No," said Poirot, "I would not say that.
Your reputation is bad, yes, but with
women--never does that deter them. If you
were a man of excellent character, of strict
morality who had done nothing that he
should not do, and--possibly everything
that he should do--eh bien! then I should
have grave doubts of your success. Moral
worth, you understand, it is not romantic.
It is appreciated, however, by widows."
Derek Kettering stared at him, then he
swung round on his heel and went up to the
waiting car.
Poirot looked after him with some inter- es^ He saw the lovely vision lean out of the ^r and speak.
Derek Kettering did not stop. He lifted
his hat and passed straight on.
"Qa y est," said M. Hercule Poirot, "it is
time, I think, that I return chez moi."
He found the imperturbable George pressing
trousers.
"A pleasant day, Georges, somewhat fatiguing, but not without interest," he said.
George received these remarks in his usual
wooden fashion.
"Indeed, sir."
"The personality of a criminal, Georges,
is an interesting matter. Many murderers are
men of great personal charm."
"I always heard, sir, that Dr. Crippen was
a pleasant-spoken gentleman. And yet he cut
up his wife like so much mincemeat."
"Your instances are always apt, Georges."
The valet did not reply, and at that moment
the telephone rang. Poirot took up the
receiver.
(< 'Allo--'allo--yes, yes, it is Hercule
Poirot who speaks."
"This is Knighton. Will you hold the line
a minute, M. Poirot? Mr. Van Aldin would
like to speak to you."
There was a moment's pause, then the
millionaire's voice came through.
"Is that you, M. Poirot? I just wanted to
tell y011 ^^ ^ason came to me now of her
own accord. She has been thinking it over, and she says that she is almost certain that
the man at Paris was Derek Kettering. There ^yas something familiar about him at the
time, she says, but at the minute she could
not place it. She seems pretty certain now."
"Ah," said Poirot, "thank you, M. Van
Aldin. That advances us."
He replaced the receiver, and stood for a
minute or two with a very curious smile on
his face. George had to speak to him twice
before obtaining an answer.
"Eh?" said Poirot. "What is that that you
say to me?"
"Are you lunching here, sir, or are you
going out?"
"Neither," said Poirot, "I shall go to bed
and take a tisane. The expected has happened, and when the expected happens, it
always causes me emotion."
Chapter 25
Def/ance
As erek ettering passed the car, Mirelle
leant out.
"Dereek--I must speak to you for a
moment----"
But, lifting his hat, Derek passed straight
on without stopping.
When he got back to his hotel, the concierge
detached himself from his wooden pen
and accosted him.
"A gentleman is waiting to see you, Monsieur."

"Who is it?" asked Derek.
"He did not give me his name. Monsieur,
but he said his business with you was important, and that he would wait."
"Where is he?"
"In the little salon. Monsieur. He pr6'
ferred it to the lounge he said, as being m01^ private."
perek nodded, and turned his steps in
that direction.
The small salon was empty except for the
visitor, who rose and bowed with easy foreign
grace as Derek entered. As it chanced, Derek had only seen the Comte de la Roche
once, but found no difficulty in recognizing
that aristocratic nobleman, and he frowned
angrily. Of all the consummate impertinence!

"The Comte de la Roche, is it not?" he
said. "I am afraid you have wasted your time
in coming here."
"I hope not," said the Comte agreeably.
His white teeth glittered.
The Comte's charm of manner was usually
wasted on his own sex. All men, without
exception, disliked him heartily. Derek Kettering
was already conscious of a distinct
longing to kick the Count bodily out of the
room. It was only the realization that scandal
would be unfortunate just at present that ^strained him. He marveled anew that Ruth ^uld have cared, as she certainly had, for ^is fellow. A bounder, and worse than a bounder. He looked with distaste at the mount's exquisitely manicured hands.
'I called," said the Comte, "on a little
matter of business. It would be advisable I
think, for you to listen to me."
Again Derek felt strongly tempted to kick
him out, but again he refrained. The hint of
a threat was not lost upon him, but he interpreted
it in his own way. There were various
reasons why it would be better to hear
what the Comte had to say.
He sat down and drummed impatiently
with his fingers on the table.
"Well," he said sharply, "what is it?"
It was not the Comte's way to come out
into the open at once.
"Allow me. Monsieur, to offer you my
condolences on your recent bereavement."
"If I have any impertinence from you," said Derek quietly, "you go out by that window."

He nodded his head towards the window
beside the Comte, and the latter moved
uneasily.
"I will send my friends to you. Monsieur,
if that is what you desire," he said haughtily.
Derek laughed.
"A duel, eh? My dear Count, I don't take
you seriously enough for that. But I should
take a good deal of pleasure in kicking y011 down the Promenade des Anglais."
The Comte was not at all anxious to take
offence. He merely raised his eyebrows and
murmured:
"The English are barbarians."
"Well," said Derek, "what is it you have
to say to me?"
"I will be frank," said the Comte, "I will
come immediately to the point. That will suit
us both, will it not?"
Again he smiled in his agreeable fashion.
"Go on," said Derek curtly.
The Comte looked at the ceiling, joined
the tips of his fingers together, and murmured
softly:
"You have come into a lot of money, Monsieur."
"What the devil has that got to do with
you?"
The Comte drew himself up.
"Monsieur, my name is tarnished! I am
suspected--accused--of foul crime."
"The accusation does not come from me,"
said Derek coldly; "as an interested party I have not expressed any opinion."
"I am innocent," said the Comte, "I swear before heaven"--he raised his hand to
heaven--"that I am innocent."
"M. Carrege is, I believe, the Juge dTn- ^ruction in charge of the case," hinted
°erek politely.
L II
The Comte took no notice.
"Not only am I unjustly suspected of a
crime that I did not commit, but I am also
in serious need of money."
He coughed softly and suggestively.
Derek rose to his feet.
"I was waiting for that," he said softly;
"you blackmailing brute! I will not give you
a penny. My wife is dead, and no scandal
that you can make can touch her now. She
wrote you foolish letters, I dare say. If I were
to buy them from you for a round sum at
this minute, I am pretty certain that you
would manage to keep one or two back; and
I will tell you this, M. de la Roche, blackmailing
is an ugly word both in England and
in France. That is my answer to you. Good
afternoon."
"One moment"--the Comte stretched out
a hand as Derek was turning to leave the
room. "You are mistaken. Monsieur. You
are completely mistaken. I am, I hope, a 'gentleman.5" Derek laughed. "Any letters
that a lady might write to me I should hold
sacred." He flung back his head with a beautiful
air of nobility. "The proposition that I
was putting before you was of quite a different
nature. I am, as I said, extremely short
of money, and my conscience might imp^
ifine to go to the police with certain information."

Derek came slowly back into the room.
"What do you mean?"
The Comte's agreeable smile flashed forth
once more.
"Surely it is not necessary to go into details,"
he purred. "Seek whom the crime
jenefits, they say, don't they? As I said just
now, you have come into a lot of money
lately."
Derek laughed.
"If that is all----" he said contemptuously.

But the Comte was shaking his head.
"But it is not all, my dear sir. I should
not come to you unless I had much more
precise and detailed information than that.
It is not agreeable. Monsieur, to be arrested
and tried for murder."
Derek came close up to him. His face expressed
such furious anger that involuntarily Ae Comte drew back a pace or two.
"Are you threatening me?" the young man demanded angrily.
"You shall hear nothing more of the matter/5 the Comte assured him.
"Of all the colossal bluffs that I have ever
struck----"
I
The Comte raised a white hand.
"You are wrong. It is not a bluff. To convince
you I will tell you this. My information
was obtained from a certain lady. It is she
who holds the irrefutable proof that you
committed the murder."
"She? Who?"
"Mademoiselle Mirelle."
Derek drew back as though struck.
"Mirelle," he muttered.
The Comte was quick to press what he
took to be his advantage.
"A bagatelle of one hundred thousand
francs," he said. "I ask no more."
"Eh?" said Derek absently.
"I was saying. Monsieur, that a bagatelle
of one hundred thousand francs would satisfy
my--conscience."
Derek seemed to recollect himself. He
looked earnestly at the Comte.
"You would like my answer now?"
"If you please, Monsieur."
"Then here it is. You can go to the devil.
See?"
Leaving the Comte too astonished to
speak, Derek turned on his heel and swung
out of the room.
Once out of the hotel he hailed a taxi and
drove to Mirelle's hotel. On inquiring? ne
learned that the dancer had just come in.
perek gave the concierge his card.
"Take this up to Mademoiselle and ask if
she will see me."
A very brief interval elapsed, and then
perek was bidden to follow a chasseur.
A wave of exotic perfume assailed Derek's
nostrils as he stepped over the threshold of
the dancer's apartments. The room was filled
with carnations, orchids, and mimosa. Mirelle
was standing by the window in a peignoir of foamy lace.
She came towards him, her hands outstretched.

"Derek--you have come to me. I knew
you would."
He put aside the clinging arms and looked
down on her sternly.
"Why did you send the Comte de la Roche
to me?"
She looked at him in astonishment, which
he took to be genuine.
<<I? Send the Comte de la Roche to you?
But for what?"
"Apparently--for blackmail," said Derek
grimly.
Again she stared. Then suddenly she ^iled and nodded her head.
Of course. It was to be expected. It is
what he would do, ce type Id. I might have
known it. No, indeed, Dereek, I did not
send him."
He looked at her piercingly, as though
seeking to read her mind.
"I will tell you," said Mirelle. "I am
ashamed, but I will tell you. The other day
you comprehend, I was mad with rage, quite
mad--" she made an eloquent gesture. "My
temperament, it is not a patient one. I want
to be revenged on you, and so I go to the
Comte de la Roche, and I tell him to go to ^the police and say so and so, and so and so.
But have no fear, Dereek. Not completely
did I lose my head; the proof rests with me
alone. The police can do nothing without my
word, you understand? And now--now?"
She nestled up close to him, looking up
at him with melting eyes.
He thrust her roughly away from him. She
stood there, her breast heaving, her eyes narrowing
to a catlike slit.
"Be careful, Dereek, be very careful. You
have come back to me, have you not?"
"I shall never come back to you," said
Derek steadily.
"Ah!"
More than ever the dancer looked like a cat. Her eyelids flickered.
"So there is another woman? The one with whom you lunched that day. Eh! am I
right?"
"I intend to ask that lady to marry me.
You might as well know."
'That prim Englishwoman! Do you think
that I will support that for one moment? Ah, no." Her beautiful lithe body quivered.
"Listen, Dereek, do you remember that conversation
we had in London? You said the
only thing that could save you was the death
of your wife. You regretted that she was so
healthy. Then the idea of an accident came
t( your brain. And more than an accident."
"I suppose," said Derek contemptuously, " hat it was this conversation that you replated
to the Comte de la Roche."
i Mirelle laughed.
"Am I a fool? Could the police do anything
with a vague story like that? See--I will give
you a last chance. You shall give up this
Englishwoman. You shall return to me. And Aen, cheri, never, never will I breathe----"
"Breathe what?"
She laughed softly. "You thought no one
saw you----"
"What do you mean?"
"As I say, you thought no one saw you--
°Ht I saw you, Dereek, mon ami; I saw you
coming out of the compartment ofMadameyour
wife just before the train got into Lyons that
night. And I know more than that. I know
that when you came out of her compartment
she was dead."
He stared at her. Then, like a man in a
dream he turned very slowly and went out
of the room, swaying slightly as he walked.
Chapter 26
A Warning
"and so it is," said Poirot, "that we are the
good friends and have no secrets from each
other."
Katherine turned her head to look at him.
There was something in his voice, some undercurrent
of seriousness, which she had not
heard before.
They were sitting in the gardens of Monte
Carlo. Katherine had come over with her
friends, and they had run into Knighton and
Poirot almost immediately on arrival. Lady
Tamplin had seized upon Knighton and had
overwhelmed him with reminiscences, most
°f which Katherine had a faint suspicion were invented. They had moved away together, Lady Tamplin with her hand on the Young man's arm. Knighton had thrown a ^uple of glances back over his shoulder,
^d Poirot's eyes twinkled a little as he saw ^eni.
"I don't see----" began Katherine.
He interrupted her.
"You do not see why I am being so impertinent, Mademoiselle? I am an old man
and now and then--not very often--I come
across some one whose welfare is dear to me.
We are friends. Mademoiselle. You have said
so yourself. And it is just this--I should like
to see you happy."
Katherine stared very straight in front of
her. She had a cretonne sunshade with her,
and with its point she traced little designs in the gravel at her feet.
"I have asked you a question about Major
Knighton, now I will ask you another. Do
you like Mr. Derek Kettering?"
"I hardly know him," said Katherine.
"That is not an answer, that."
"I think it is."
He looked at her, struck by something in
her tone. Then he nodded his head gravely
and slowly.
"Perhaps you are right. Mademoiselle.
See you, I who speak to you have seen much
of the world, and I know that there are two
things which are true. A good man may be
ruined by his love for a bad woman--but
the other way holds good also. A bad man
may equally be ruined by his love for a good woman."
Katherine looked up sharply.
"When you say ruined----"
"I mean from his point of view. One must
be wholehearted in crime as in everything
else."
"You are trying to warn me," said Katherine
in a low voice. "Against whom?"
"I cannot look into your heart. Mademoiselle;
I do not think you would let me if
I could. I will just say this. There are men
who have a strange fascination for women."
"The Comte de la Roche," said Katherine, with a smile.
"There are others--more dangerous than
the Comte de la Roche. They have qualities
that appeal--recklessness, daring, audacity.
You are fascinated. Mademoiselle; I see that, but I think that it is no more than that. I
hope so. This man of whom I speak, the emotion he feels is genuine enough, but all
me same----"
"Yes?"
He got up and stood looking down at her. Then he spoke in a low , distinct voice:
"You could, perhaps, love a thief. Mademoiselle, but not a murderer."
He wheeled sharply away on that and left
her sitting there.
He heard the little gasp she gave and paid
no attention. He had said what he meant to
say. He left her there to digest that last unmistakable
phrase.
Derek Kettering, coming out of the Casino
into the sunshine, saw her sitting alone
on the bench and joined her.
"I have been gambling," he said, with a
light laugh, "gambling unsuccessfully. I
have lost everything--everything, that is,
that I have with me."
Katherine looked at him with a troubled
face. She was aware at once of something
new in his manner, some hidden excitement
that betrayed itself in a hundred different infinitesimal signs.
"I should think you were always a gambler.
The spirit of gambling appeals to you."
"Every day and in every way a gambler?
You are about right. Don't you find something
stimulating in it? To risk all on one
throw--there is nothing like it."
Calm and stolid as she believed herself to
be, Katherine felt a faint answering thrill.
"I want to talk to you," went on Derek,
"and who knows when I may have another opportunity? There is an idea going about
iat I murdered my wife--no, please don't
iterrupt. It is absurd, of course." He >aused for a minute or two, then went on,
speaking more deliberately. "In dealing with [Jie police and Local Authorities here I have had to pretend to--well--a certain decency.
[ prefer not to pretend with you. I meant to
marry money. I was on the look out for
money when I first met Ruth Van Aldin.
She had the look of a slim Madonna about
her, and I--well--I made all sorts of good
resolutions--and was bitterly disillusioned.
My wife was in love with another man when
she married me. She never cared for me in
the least. Oh, I am not complaining; the
thing was a perfectly respectable bargain.
She wanted Leconbury and I wanted money.
The trouble arose simply through Ruth's
American blood. Without caring a pin for me, she would have liked me to be continually
dancing attendance. Time and again
she as good as told me that she had bought
me and that I belonged to her. The result Was that I behaved abominably to her. My
father-in-law will tell you that, and he is
quite right. At the time of Ruth's death, I ^as faced with absolute disaster." He ^ughed suddenly. "One is faced with ab solute disaster when one is up against a man
like Rufus Van Aldin."
"And then?" asked Katherine in a low
voice.
"And then," Derek shrugged his shoulders, "Ruth was murdered--very providentially."

He laughed, and the sound of his laugh
hurt Katherine. She winced.
"Yes," said Derek. "that wasn't in very
good taste. But it is quite true. Now I am
going to tell you something more. From the
very first moment I saw you I knew you were
the only woman in the world for me. I was
--afraid of you. I thought you might bring
me bad luck."
"Bad luck?" said Katherine sharply.
He stared at her. "Why do you repeat it
like that? What have you got in your mind?"
"I was thinking of things that people have
said to me."
Derek grinned suddenly. "They will say
a lot to you about me, my dear, and most of
it will be true. Yes, and worse things too--- things that I shall never tell you. I have been
a gambler always--and I have taken some long odds. I shan't confess to you now or at
any other time. The past is done with. There
is one thing I do wish you to believe. I swear
to you solemnly that I did not kill my wife."
He said the words earnestly enough, yet
there was somehow a theatrical touch about
them. He met her troubled gaze and went
on:
(<I know. I lied the other day. It was my
wife's compartment I went into."
"Ah," said Katherine.
"It's difficult to explain just why I went
in, but I'll try. I did it on an impulse. You
see, I was more or less spying on my wife.
I kept out of sight on the train. Mirelle had
told me that my wife was meeting the Comte
de la Roche in Paris. Well, as far as I had
seen, that was not so. I felt ashamed, and I
thought suddenly that it would be a good
thing to have it out with her once and for
all, so I pushed open the door and went in."
He paused.
"Yes," said Katherine gently.
"Ruth was lying on the bunk asleep--her
face was turned away from me--I could only
see the back of her head. I could have waked her up, of course. But suddenly I felt a re- sction. What, after all, was there to say that w^ hadn't both of us said a hundred times
°efore? She looked so peaceful lying there.
1 left the compartment as quietly as I could."
&
"Why lie about it to the police?" asked
Katherine.
"Because I'm not a complete fool. I've
realized from the beginning that, from the
point of view of motive, I'm the ideal murderer.
If I once admitted that I had been in
her compartment just before she was murdered,
I'd do for myself once and for all."
"I see."
Did she see? She could not have told herself.
She was feeling the magnetic attraction
of Derek's personality, but there was something
in her that resisted, that held back . . .
"Katherine----"
«T_____»?
"You know that I care for you. Do--do
you care for me?" »
"I--I don't know."
Weakness there. Either she knew or she
did not know.
If--if only--
She cast a look round desperately as
though seeking something that would help
her. A soft colour rose in her cheeks as a tall
fair man with a limp came hurrying along
the path towards them--Major Knighton.
There was relief and an unexpected
warmth in her voice as she greeted him.
Derek stood up scowling, his face black
as a thundercloud.
"Lady Tamplin having a flutter?" he said
easily. "I must join her and give her the
benefit of my system."
He swung round on his heel and left them
together. Katherine sat down again. Her
heart was beating rapidly and unevenly, but
as she sat there talking commonplaces to the
quiet, rather shy man beside her, her selfcommand
came back.
Then she realized with a shock that
Knighton also was laying bare his heart, much as Derek had done, but in a very different
manner.
He was shy and stammering. The words
came haltingly with no eloquence to back
them.
"From the first moment I saw you--I--
I ought not to have spoken so soon--but Mr.
Van Aldin may leave here any day, and I "light not have another chance. I know you ^n't care for me so soon--that is impossible.
I dare say it is presumption anyway on "^y part. I have private means, but not very "luch--no, please don't answer now. I know ^at your answer would be. But in case I ^ent away suddenly I just wanted you to
know--that I care."
She was shaken--touched. His manner
was so gentle and appealing.
"There's one thing more. I just wanted to
say that if--if you are ever in trouble, anything
that I can do--"
He took her hand in his, held it tightly
for a minute, then dropped it and walked
rapidly away towards the Casino without
looking back.
Katherine sat perfectly still, looking after
him. Derek Kettering--Richard Knighton
--two men so different--so very different. There was something kind about Knighton,
kind and trustworthy. As to Derek--
Then suddenly Katherine had a very curious
sensation. She felt that she was no
longer sitting alone on the seat in the Casino
gardens, but that some one was standing beside
her, and that that some one was the dead
woman, Ruth Kettering. She had a further
impression that Ruth wanted--badly--to
tell her something. The impression was so
curious, so vivid, that it could not be driven
away. She felt absolutely certain that the
spirit of Ruth Kettering was trying to convey
something of vital importance to her. The
impression faded. Katherine got up, trembling
a little. What was it that Ruth Kettering
had wanted so badly to say?
Chapter 27
Interview with Mirelle
when knighton left Katherine he went
in search of Hercule Poirot, whom he
found in the Rooms, jauntily placing the
minimum stake on the even numbers. As
Knighton joined him, the number thirtythree
turned up, and Poirofs stake was
swept away.
"Bad luck!" said Knighton; "are you
going to stake again?"
Poirot shook his head.
"Not at present."
"Do you feel the fascination of gambling?"
asked Knighton curiously.
"Not at roulette."
Knighton shot a swift glance at him. His
own face became troubled. He spoke halt- ^ly, with a touch of deference.
t(! wonder, are you busy, M. Poirot? There is something I would like to ask you
about."
I
attitude that I went down privately and had
an interview with the lady."
"Eh bien?"
"The difficulty was that she insisted on
seeing Mr. Van Aldin himself. I softened his
message as much as I possibly could. In
fact--to be candid--I gave it in a very different
form. I said that Mr. Van Aldin was
too busy to see her at present, but that she
might make any communication she wished
to me. That, however, she could not bring
herself to do, and she left without saying
anything further. But I have a strong impression, M. Poirot that that woman knows
something."
"This is serious," said Poirot quietly.
"You know where she is staying?"
"Yes." Knighton mentioned the name of
the hotel.
"Good," said Poirot; "we will go there
immediately."
The secretary looked doubtful.
"And Mr. Van Aldin?" he queried doubtfully.

"M. Van Aldin is an obstinate man," said
Poirot drily. "I do not argue with obstinate
men. I act in spite of them. We will go and
see the lady immediately. I will tell her that
you are empowered by M. Van Aldin to act
for him, and you will guard yourself well
from contradicting me."
Knighton still looked slightly doubtful, but Poirot took no notice of his hesitation.
At the hotel, they were told that Mademoiselle
was in, and Poirot sent up both his
and Knighton's cards, with "From Mr. Van
Aldin" pencilled upon them.
Word came down that Mademoiselle Mirelle
would receive them.
When they were ushered into the dancer's
apartments, Poirot immediately took the
lead.
"Mademoiselle," he murmured, bowing
very low, "we are here on behalf of M. Van
Aldin."
"Ah! And why did he not come himself?"
"He is indisposed," said Poirot mendaciously;
"the Riviera throat, it has him in its
grip, but me, I am empowered to act for
him, as is Major Knighton, his secretary.
Unless, of course. Mademoiselle would prefer
to wait a fortnight or so."
If there was one thing of which Poirot was
tolerably certain, it was that to a temperament
such as Mirelle's the mere word "wait"
was anathema.
"Eh bien, I will speak. Messieurs," she
cried. "I have been patient. I have held my
hand. And for what? That I should be insulted!
Yes, insulted! Ah! Does he think to
treat Mirelle like that? To throw her off like
an old glove. I tell you never has a man tired
of me. Always it is I who tire of them."
She paced up and down the room, her
slender body trembling with rage. A small
table impeded her free passage and she flung
it from her into a corner, where it splintered
against the wall.
"That is what I will do to him," she cried, "and that!"
Picking up a glass bowl filled with lilies
she flung it into the grate, where it smashed
into a hundred pieces.
Knighton was looking at her with cold
British disapproval. He felt embarrassed and
ill at ease. Poirot, on the other hand, with
twinkling eyes was thoroughly enjoying the
scene.
"Ah, it is magnificent!" he cried. "It can
be seen--Madame has a temperament."
"I am an artist," said Mirelle; "every artist
has a temperament. I told Dereek to beware,
and he would not listen." She whirled round
on Poirot suddenly. "It is true, is it not, that
he wants to marry that English miss?"
Poirot coughed.
"On m'a dit," he murmured, "that he
adores her passionately." I Mirelle came towards them.
"He murdered his wife," she screamed.
"There--now you have it! He told me beforehand
that he meant to do it. He had got
to an impasse--zut! he took the easiest way
out."
"You say that M. Kettering murdered his
wife."
"Yes, yes, yes. Have I not told you so?"
"The police," murmured Poirot, "will
need proof of that--er--statement."
"I tell you I saw him come out of her
compartment that night on the train."
"When?" asked Poirot sharply.
"Just before the train reached Lyons."
"You will swear to that. Mademoiselle?"
It was a different Poirot who spoke now, sharp and decisive.
"Yes."
j There was a moment's silence. Mirelle was
panting, and her eyes, half defiant, half
frightened, went from the face of one man
to the other.
"This is a serious matter, Mademoiselle,"
said the detective. "You realize how serious?"

"Certainly I do."
"That is well," said Poirot. "Then you
understand. Mademoiselle, that no time
must be lost. You will, perhaps accompany
us immediately to the office of the Examining
Magistrate."
Mirelle was taken aback. She hesitated, but, as Poirot had foreseen, she had no loophole
for escape.
"Very well," she muttered. "I will fetch
a coat."
Left alone together, Poirot and Knighton
exchanged glances.
"It is necessary to act while--how do you
say it?-- the iron is hot," murmured Poirot.
"She is temperamental; in an hour's time,
maybe, she will repent, and she will wish to
draw back. We must prevent that at all
costs."
Mirelle reappeared, wrapped in a sandcoloured
velvet wrap trimmed with leopard
skin. She looked not altogether unlike a leopardess, tawny and dangerous. Her eyes still
flashed with anger and determination.
They found M. Caux and the Examining
Magistrate together. A few brief introductory
words from Poirot, and Mademoiselle
Mirelle was courteously entreated to tell her
tale. This she did in much the same words
is she had done to Knighton and Poirot, hough with far more soberness of manner.
"This is an extraordinary story. Mademoiselle,"
said M. Carrege slowly. He leant
back in his chair, adjusted his pince-nez, and
looked keenly and searchingly at the dancer
through them.
"You wish us to believe M. Kettering actually
boasted of the crime to you beforehand?"

"Yes, yes. She was too healthy, he said.
If she were to die it must be an accident--
he would arrange it all."
"You are aware. Mademoiselle," said M.
Carrege sternly, "that you are making yourself
out to be an accessory before the fact?"
"Me? But not the least in the world, Monsieur. Not for a moment did I take that
statement seriously. Ah no, indeed! I know
men. Monsieur; they say many wild things.
I It would be an odd state of affairs if one were
to take all they said au pied de la lettre."
The Examining Magistrate raised his eyebrows.

"We are to take it, then, that you regarded
M. Kettering5 s threats as mere idle words?
May I ask. Mademoiselle, what made you
throw up your engagements in London and
come out to the Riviera?"
Mirelle looked at him with melting black
eyes.
"I wished to be with the man I loved," she said simply. "Was it so unnatural?"
Poirot interpolated a question gently.
"Was it, then, at M. Kettering's wish that
you accompanied him to Nice?"
Mirelle seemed to find a little difficulty in
answering this. She hesitated perceptibly before
she spoke. When she did, it was with a
haughty indifference of manner.
"In such matters I please myself. Monsieur,"
she said.
That the answer was not an answer at all
was noted by all three men. They said nothing.

"When were you first convinced that M.
Kettering had murdered his wife?"
"As I tell you. Monsieur, I saw M. Kettering
come out of his wife's compartment
just before the train drew into Lyons. There
was a look on his face--ah! at the moment
I could not understand it--a look haunted
and terrible. I shall never forget it."
Her voice rose shrilly, and she flung out
her arms in an extravagant gesture.
"Quite so," said M. Carrege.
"Afterwards, when I found that Madame
Kettering was dead when the train left
Lyons, then--then I knew!"
"And still--you did not go to the police, Mademoiselle," said the Commissary mildly.
Mirelle glanced at him superbly; she was
clearly enjoying herself in the role she was
playing.
"Shall I betray my lover?" she asked. "Ah
no; do not ask a woman to do that."
"Yet now----" hinted M. Caux.
"Now it is different. He has betrayed me!
Shall I suffer that in silence . . . ?"
The Examining Magistrate checked her.
"Quite so, quite so," he murmured soothingly.
"And now. Mademoiselle, perhaps
you will read over the statement of what you
have told us, see that it is correct, and sign
it."
Mirelle wasted no time on the document.
"Yes, yes," she said, "it is correct." She
rose to her feet. "You require me no longer, Messieurs?"
"At present, no. Mademoiselle."
"And Dereek will be arrested?"
"At once. Mademoiselle."
Mirelle laughed cruelly and drew her fur
draperies closer about her.
"He should have thought of this before he
insulted me," she cried.
"There is one little matter"--Poirot
coughed apologetically--"just a matter of
detail."
"Yes?"
"What makes you think Madame Kettering
was dead when the train left Lyons?"
Mirelle stared.
"But she was dead."
"Was she?"
"Yes, of course. I----"
She came to an abrupt stop. Poirot was
regarding her intently, and he saw the wary
look that came into her eyes.
"I have been told so. Everybody says so."
"Oh," said Poirot, "I was not aware that
the fact had been mentioned outside the Examining
Magistrate's office."
Mirelle appeared somewhat discomposed.
"One hears those things," she said
vaguely; "they get about. Somebody told
me. I can't remember who it was."
She moved to the door. M. Caux sprang
forward to open it for her, and as he did so,
Poirofs voice rose gently once more.
"And the jewels? Pardon, Mademoiselle.
Can you tell me anything about those?"
"The jewels? What jewels?"
"The rubies of Catherine the Great. Since
you hear so much, you must have heard of
them."
"I know nothing about any jewels," said
Mirelle sharply.
She went out, closing the door behind her.
M. Caux came back to his chair; the Examining
Magistrate sighed.
"What a fury!" he said, "but diablement
chic, I wonder if she is telling the truth? I
think so."
"There is some truth in her story, certainly,"
said Poirot. "We have confirmation
of it from Miss Grey. She was looking down
the corridor a short time before the train
reached Lyons and she saw M. Kettering go
into his wife's compartment."
"The case against him seems quite clear,"
said the Commissary, sighing; "it is a thousand
pities," he murmured.
"How do you mean?" asked Poirot.
"It has been the ambition of my life to lay
the Comte de la Roche by the heels. This
time, mafoiy I thought we had got him. This
other--it is not nearly so satisfactory."
M. Carrege rubbed his nose.
"If anything goes wrong," he observed
cautiously, "it will be most awkward. M.
Kettering is of the aristocracy. It will get
into the newspapers. If we have made a
mistake----" He shrugged his shoulders
forebodingly.
"The jewels now," said the Commissary,
"what do you think he has done with them?"
"He took them for a plant, of course,"
said M. Carrege; "they must have been a
great inconvenience to him and very awkward
to dispose of."
Poirot smiled.
"I have an idea of my own about the jewels.
Tell me. Messieurs, what do you know
of a man called the Marquis?"
The Commissary leant forward excitedly.
"The Marquis," he said, "the Marquis?
Do you think he is mixed up in this affair, M. Poirot?"
"I ask you what you know of him."
The Commissary made an expressive grimace.

"Not as much as we should like to," he
observed ruefully. "He works behind the
scenes, you understand. He has underlings
who do his dirty work for him. But he is
some one high up. That we are sure of. He
does not come from the criminal classes."
"A Frenchman?"
"Y--es. At least we believe so. But we
are not sure. He has worked in France, in
England, in America. There was a series of
robberies in Switzerland last autumn which
were laid at his door. By all accounts he is
a grand seigneur, speaking French and Ens
glish with equal perfection and his origin is
|p mystery."
Poirot nodded and rose to take his departure.

"Can you tell us nothing more, M.
Poirot," urged the Commissary.
"At present, no," said Poirot, "but I may
have news awaiting me at my hotel."
M. Carrege looked uncomfortable. "If the
Marquis is concerned in this----" he began, and then stopped.
"It upsets our ideas," complained M.
Caux.
"It does not upset mine," said Poirot. "On
the contrary, I think it agrees with them very
well. Au revoir. Messieurs; if news of any
importance comes to me I will communicate
it to you immediately."
He walked back to his hotel with a grave
face. In his absence a telegram had come to
him. Taking a paper-cutter from his pocket, he slit it open. It was a long telegram, and
he read it over twice before slowly putting
it in his pocket. Upstairs, George was awaiting
his master.
"I am fatigued, Georges, much fatigued.
Will you order for me a small pot of chocolate?"

The chocolate was duly ordered and
brought, and George set it at the little table
at his master's elbow. As he was preparing
to retire, Poirot spoke:
"I believe, Georges, that you have a good
knowledge of the English aristocracy?" murmured
Poirot.
George smiled apologetically.
"I think that I might say that I have, sir," he replied.
"I suppose that it is your opinion, Georges, that criminals are invariably drawn
from the lower orders."
"Not always, sir. There was great trouble
with one of the Duke of Devize5 s younger
sons. He left Eton under a cloud, and after
that he caused great anxiety on several occasions.
The police would not accept the
view that it was kleptomania. A very clever
young gentleman, sir, but vicious through
and through, if you take my meaning. His
Grace shipped him to Australia, and I hear
he was convicted out there under another
name. Very odd, sir, but there it is. The
young gentleman, I need hardly say, was not
in want financially."
Poirot nodded his head slowly.
an/i
7
"Love of excitement," he murmured, "and a little kink in the brain somewhere. I
wonder now----"
He drew out the telegram from his pocket
and read it again.
"Then there was Lady Mary Fox's daughter," continued the valet in a mood of reminiscence.
"Swindled tradespeople something
shocking, she did. Very worrying to the best
families, if I may say so, and there are many
other queer cases I could mention."
"You have a wide experience, Georges,"
murmured Poirot. "I often wonder having
lived so exclusively with titled families that
you demean yourself by coming as a valet to
me. I put it down to love of excitement on
your part."
"Not exactly, sir," said George. "I happened
to see in Society Snippets that you had
been received at Buckingham Palace. That
was just when I was looking for a new situation.
His Majesty, so it said, had been
I|nost gracious and friendly and thought very
highly of your abilities."
"Ah," said Poirot, "one always likes to
know the reason for things."
He remained in thought for a few moiinents
and then said:
^f\C-
"You rang up Mademoiselle Papopolous?"

"Yes, sir; she and her father will be
pleased to dine with you tonight."
"Ah," said Poirot thoughtfully. He drank
off his chocolate, set the cup and saucer
neatly in the middle of the tray, and spoke
gently, more to himself than to the valet.
"The squirrel, my good Georges, collects
nuts. He stores them up in the autumn so
that they may be of advantage to him later.
To make a success of humanity, Georges, we
must profit by the lessons of those below us
in the animal kingdom. I have always done
so. I have been the cat, watching at the
mouse hole. I have been the good dog following
up the scent, and not taking my nose
from the trail. And also, my good Georges, I
have been the squirrel. I have stored away the
little fact here, the little fact there. I go now
to my store and I take out one particular nut,
a nut that I stored away--let me see, seventeen
years ago. You follow me, Georges?"
"I should hardly have thought, sir," said
George, "that nuts would have kept so long
as that, though I know one can do wonders
with preserving bottles."
Poirot looked at him and smiled.
i(\fi
Chapter 28
Poirot Plays the Squirrel
^irot started to keep his dinner appointment
with a margin of three-quarters of an
hour to spare. He had an object in this. The
car took him, not straight to Monte Carlo, but to Lady Tamplin's house at Cap Martin,
where he asked for Miss Grey. The ladies
were dressing and Poirot was shown into a
small salon to wait, and here, after a lapse
of three or four minutes, Lenox Tamplin
came to him.
"Katherine is not quite ready yet," she
said. "Can I give her a message, or would
you rather wait until she comes down?"
Poirot looked at her thoughtfully. He was
a minute or two in replying, as though something
of great weight hung upon his decision.
Apparently the answer to such a simple question
mattered.
"No," he said at last, "no, I do not think it is necessary that I should wait to see Ma-
^f\n
demoiselle Katherine. I think, perhaps, Jiat
it is better that I should not. These things
are sometimes difficult."
Lenox waited politely, her eyebrows
slightly raised.
"I have a piece of news," continued
Poirot. "You will, perhaps, tell your friend.
M. Kettering was arrested to-night for the
murder of his wife."
"You want me to tell Katherine that?"
asked Lenox. She breathed rather hard, as
though she had been running; her face,
Poirot thought, looked white and strained—
rather noticeably so.
"If you please. Mademoiselle."
"Why?" said Lenox. "Do you think
Katherine will be upset? Do you think she
cares?"
"I don't know. Mademoiselle," said
Poirot. "See, I admit it frankly. As a rule I
know everything, but in this case, I—well,
I do not. You, perhaps, know better than I
do."
"Yes," said Lenox, "I know—but I am
not going to tell you all the same."
She paused for a minute or two, her dark
brows drawn together in a frown.
"You believe he did it?" she said abruptly.
Poirot shrugged his shoulders.
IFkO
"The police say so."
"Ah," said Lenox, "hedging, are you? So
lere is something to hedge about."
Again she was silent, frowning. Poirot said
gently:
"You have known Derek Kettering a long
time, have you not?"
"Off and on ever since I was a kid," said
Lenox gruffly.
Poirot nodded his head several times without
speaking.
With one of her brusque movements
Lenox drew forward a chair and sat down
on it, her elbows on the table and her face
supported by her hands. Sitting thus, she
looked directly across the table at Poirot.
"What have they got to go on?" she demanded.
"Motive, I suppose. Probably came
into money at her death."
"He came into two million."
"And if she had not died he would have
been ruined?"
"Yes."
"But there must have been more than
that," persisted Lenox. "He travelled by the
same train, I know, but--that would not be
enough to go on by itself."
"A cigarette case with the letter 'K' on it
which did not belong to Mrs. Kettering was
2HQ
found in her carriage, and he was seen by
two people entering and leaving the compartment
just before the train got into
Lyons."
"What two people?"
"Your friend Miss Grey was one of them.
The other was Mademoiselle Mirelle, the
dancer."
"And he, Derek, what has he got to say
about it?" demanded Lenox sharply.
"He denies having entered his wife's compartment
at all," said Poirot.
"Fool!" said Lenox crisply, frowning.
"Just before Lyons, you say? Does nobody
know when--when she died?"
"The doctors' evidence necessarily cannot
be very definite," said Poirot; "they are inclined
to think that death was unlikely to
have occurred after leaving Lyons. And we
know this much, that a few moments after
leaving Lyons Mrs. Kettering was dead."
"How do you know that?"
Poirot was smiling rather oddly to himself.
"Some one else went into her compartment
and found her dead."
"And they did not rouse the train?"
"No."
"Why was that?"
"Doubtless they had their reasons."
310
Lenox looked at him sharply.
"Do you know the reason?" , "I think so--yes."
Lenox sat still turning things over in her mind. Poirot watched her in silence. At last
he looked up. A soft colour had come into
er cheeks and her eyes were shining.
"You think some one on the train must
ave killed her, but that need not be so at
11. What is to stop any one swinging themelves
on to the train when it stopped at
Lyons? They could go straight to her compartment, strangle her, and take the rubies
and drop off the train again without any one
being the wiser. She may have been actually
killed while the train was in Lyons station.
Then she would have been alive when Derek
went in, and dead when the other person
found her."
Poirot leant back in his chair. He drew a
deep breath. He looked across at the girl and
nodded his head three times, then he heaved
i sigh.
"Mademoiselle," he said, "what you have said there is very just--very true. I was struggling in darkness, and you have shown
3ie a light. There was a point that puzzled
e and you have made it plain."
He got up.
311
run of good luck, and had soon won a few
thousand francs.
"It would be as well," she observed drily
to Poirot, "if I stopped now."
Poirofs eyes twinkled.
"Superb!" he exclaimed. "You are the
daughter of your father. Mademoiselle Zia.
To know when to stop. Ah! that is the art."
He looked round the rooms.
"I cannot see your father anywhere
about," he remarked carelessly. "I will fetch
your cloak for you. Mademoiselle, and we
will go out in the gardens."
He did not, however, go straight to the
cloak-room. His sharp eyes had seen but a
little while before the departure of M. Papopolous.
He was anxious to know what had
become of the wily Greek. He ran him to
earth unexpectedly in the big entrance hall.
He was standing by one of the pillars, talking
to a lady who had just arrived. The lady was
Mirelle.
Poirot sidled unostentatiously round the
room. He arrived at the other side of the pillar, and unnoticed by the two who were talking
together in an animated fashion--or rather, that is to say, the dancer was talking, Papopolous
contributing an occasional mono syllable and a good many expressive gestures.

"I tell you I must have time," the dancer
was saying, "If you give me time I will get
the money."
"To wait"--the Greek shrugged his
shoulders--"it is awkward."
"Only a very little while," pleaded the
other. "Ah! but you must! A week--ten
days--that is all I ask. You can be sure of
your affair. The money will be forthcoming."

Papopolous shifted a little and looked
round him uneasily--to find Poirot almost
at his elbow with a beaming innocent face.
"Ah! vous voild, M. Papopolous. I have
been looking for you. It is permitted that I
take Mademoiselle Zia for a little turn in the
gardens? Good evening. Mademoiselle." He
bowed very low to Mirelle. "A thousand pardons
that I did not see you immediately."
The dancer accepted his greetings rather
impatiently. She was clearly annoyed at the
interruption of her tete-d-tete. Poirot was
quick to take the hint. Papopolous had already
murmured: "Certainly--but certainly,"
and Poirot withdrew forthwith.
He fetched Zia's cloak, and together they
strolled out into the gardens.
"This is where the suicides take place,"
said Zia.
Poirot shrugged his shoulders. "So it is
said. Men are foolish, are they not. Mademoiselle?
To eat, to drink, to breathe the
good air, it is a very pleasant thing. Mademoiselle.
One is foolish to leave all that simply
because one has no money--or because
the heart aches. L'amour, it causes many fatalities, does it not?"
Zia laughed.
"You should not laugh at love. Mademoiselle,"
said Poirot, shaking an energetic
forefinger at her. "You who are young and
beautiful."
"Hardly that," said Zia; "you forget that
I am thirty-three, M. Poirot. I am frank with
you, because it is no good being otherwise.
As you told my father, it is exactly seventeen
years since you aided us in Paris that time."
"When I look at you, it seems much less,"
said Poirot gallantly. "You were then very
much as you are now. Mademoiselle, a little
thinner, a little paler, a little more serious.
Sixteen years old and fresh from your pension.
Not quite the petite pensionnaire, not
quite a woman. You were very delicious,
very charming. Mademoiselle Zia; others
thought so too, without doubt."
"At sixteen," said Zia, "one is simple and
a little fool."
"That may be," said Poirot, "yes, that
well may be. At sixteen one is credulous, is
one not? One believes what one is told."
If he saw the quick sideways glance that
the girl shot at him, he pretended not to have
done so. He continued dreamily: "It was a
curious affair that, altogether. Your father, Mademoiselle, has never understood the true
inwardness of it."
"No?"
"When he asked me for details, for explanations, I said to him thus: 'Without
scandal, I have got back for you that which
was lost. You must ask no questions.5 Do
you know. Mademoiselle, why I said these
things?"
"I have no idea," said the girl coldly. | "It was because I had a soft spot in my
heart for a little pensionnaire, so pale, so
thin, so serious."
i "I don't understand what you are talking
about," cried Zia angrily.
"Do you not. Mademoiselle? Have you
forgotten Antonio Pirezzio?"
He heard the quick intake of her breath
--almost a gasp.
"He came to work as an assistant in the
..M
shop, but not thus could he have got hold
of what he wanted. An assistant can lift his
eyes to his master's daughter, can he not? If
he is young and handsome with a glib
tongue. And since they cannot make love all
the time, they must occasionally talk of
things that interest them both--such as that
very interesting thing which was temporarily
in M. Papopolous5 possession. And since, as
you say. Mademoiselle, the young are foolish
and credulous, it was easy to believe him and
to give him a sight of that particular thing, to show him where it was kept. And afterwards
when it is gone--when the unbelievable
catastrophe has happened. Alas! the
poor little pensionnaire. What a terrible position
she is in. She is frightened, the poor
little one. To speak or not to speak? And
then there comes along that excellent fellow,
Hercule Poirot. Almost a miracle it must
have been, the way things arranged themselves.
The priceless heirlooms are restored
and there are no awkward questions."
Zia turned on him fiercely.
"You have known all the time? Who told
you? Was it--was it Antonio?"
Poirot shook his head.
"No one told me," he said quietly. "I
guessed. It was a good guess, was it not,
I Mademoiselle? You see, unless you are good
|at guessing, it is not much use being a dejtective."
The
girl walked along beside him for some
ninutes in silence. Then she said in a hard roice:
"Well, what are you going to do about it, re you going to tell my father?"
"No," said Poirot sharply. "Certainly

She looked at him curiously.
"You want something from me?"
"I want your help. Mademoiselle."
"What makes you think that I can help
you?"
"I do not think so. I only hope so."
"And if I do not help you, then--you will
tell my father?"
"But no, but no! Debarrass yourself of
that idea. Mademoiselle. I am not a blackmailer.
I do not hold your secret over your
head and threaten you with it."
"If I refuse to help you----" began the
girl slowly.
"Then you refuse, and that is that."
"Then why----" she stopped.
"Listen, and I will tell you why. Women,
Mademoiselle, are generous. If they can render
a service to one who has rendered a ser-
vice to them, they will do it. I was generous
once to you. Mademoiselle. When I might
have spoken, I held my tongue."
There was another silence; then the girl
said, "My father gave you a hint the other
day."
"It was very kind of him."
"I do not think," said Zia slowly, "that
there is anything that I can add to that."
IfPoirot was disappointed he did not show
it. Not a muscle of his face changed.
"Eh bien!" he said cheerfully, "then we
must talk of other things."
And he proceeded to chat gaily. The girl
was distraite, however, and her answers were
mechanical and not always to the point. It
was when they were approaching the Casino
once more that she seemed to come to a decision.

"M. Poirot?"
"Yes, Mademoiselle?"
"I--I should like to help you if I could."
"You are very amiable. Mademoiselle--
very amiable."
Again there was a pause. Poirot did not
press her. He was quite ******* to wait and
let her take her own time.
"Ah bah," said Zia, "after all, why should
I not tell you? My father is cautious--very
rr
cautious in everything he says. But I know
that with you it is not necessary. You have
told us it is only the murderer you seek, and
that you are not concerned over the jewels.
I believe you. You were quite right when
you guessed that we were in Nice because
of the rubies. They have been handed over
here according to plan. My father has them
now. He gave you a hint the other day as to
who our mysterious client was."
"The Marquis?" murmured Poirot softly.
"Yes, the Marquis."
"Have you ever seen the Marquis, Mademoiselle
Zia?"
"Once," said the girl. "But not very
well," she added. "It was through a keyhole."

"That always presents difficulties," said
Poirot sympathetically, "but all the same you
saw him. You would know him again?"
Zia shook her head.
"He wore a mask," she explained.
"Young or old?"
"He had white hair. It may have been a
wig, it may not. It fitted very well. But I do
not think he was old. His walk was young,
I and so was his voice."
"His voice?" said Poirot thoughtfully.
i ^ ^ i
'-»^ i
"Ah, his voice! Would you know it again
Mademoiselle Zia?"
"I might," said the girl.
"You were interested in him, eh? It was
that that took you to the keyhole."
Zia nodded.
"Yes, yes. I was curious. One had heard
so much—he is not the ordinary thief—he
is more like a figure of history or romance."
"Yes," said Poirot thoughtfully, "yes;
perhaps so."
"But it is not this that I meant to tell you,"
said Zia. "It was just one other little fact that
I thought might be—well—useful to you."
"Yes?" said Poirot encouragingly.
"The rubies, as I say, were handed over
to my father here at Nice. I did not see the
person who handed them over, but—
"Yes?"
"I know one thing. It was a woman.
^??
Chapter 29
A Letter from Home
"dear katherine,--Living among
grand friends as you are doing now, I
don't suppose you will care to hear any
of our news; but as I always thought
you were a sensible girl, perhaps you are
a trifle less swollen-headed than I suppose.
Everything goes on much the same
here. There was great trouble about the
new curate, who is scandalously high. In
my view, he is neither more nor less
than a Roman. Everybody has spoken to
the Vicar about it, but you know what
the Vicar is--all Christian charity and
no proper spirit. I have had a lot of
trouble with maids lately. That girl An- me was no good--skirts up to her knees
and wouldn't wear sensible woollen
stockings. Not one of them can bear
being spoken to. I have had a lot of pain
with my rheumatism one way and an other, and Dr. Harris persuaded me to
go and see a London specialist--a waste
of three guineas and a railway fare, as I
told him; but by waiting until Wednesday
I managed to get a cheap return.
The London doctor pulled a long face
and talked all round about and never
straight out, until I said to him, 'I'm a
plain woman. Doctor, and I like things
to be plainly stated. Is it cancer, or is it
not?' And then, of course, he had to say
it was. They say a year with care, and
not too much pain, though I am sure I
can bear pain as well as any other Christian
woman. Life seems rather lonely at
times, with most of my friends dead or
gone before. I wish you were in St.
Mary Mead, my dear, and that is a fact.
If you hadn't come into this money and
gone off into grand society, I would
have offered you double the salary poor
Jane gave you to come and look after
me; but there--there's no good wanting
what we can't get. However, if things
should go ill with you--and that is always
possible. I have heard no end of
tales of bogus noblemen marrying girls
and getting hold of their money and
then leaving them at the church door. I
'»^» A
dare say you are too sensible for anything
of the kind to happen to you, but
one never knows; and never having had
much attention of any kind it might easily
go to your head now. So just in case, my dear, remember there is always a
home for you here; and though a plainspoken
woman I am a warm-hearted one
too.--Your affectionate old friend,
"amelia viner.
"P.S.--I saw a mention of you in the
paper with your cousin. Viscountess
Tamplin, and I cut it out and put it
with my cuttings. I prayed for you on
Sunday that you might be kept from
pride and vainglory."
Katherine read this characteristic epistle
through twice, then she laid it down and
stared out of her bedroom window across the
I blue waters of the Mediterranean. She felt a
[curious lump in her throat. A sudden wave
|0f longing for St. Mary Mead swept over her.
[So full of familiar, everyday, stupid little (things--and yet--home. She felt very inI
dined to lay her head down on her arms and
indulge in a real good cry.
Lenox, coming in at the moment, saved her.
"Hello, Katherine," said Lenox. "I say-^ what is the matter?" _
"Nothing," said Katherine, grabbing up |
Miss Viner's letter and thrusting it into her
handbag.
"You looked rather queer," said Lenox.
"I say--I hope you don't mind--I rang up
your detective friend, M. Poirot, and asked
him to lunch with us in Nice. I said you
wanted to see him, as I thought he might
not come for me."
"Did you want to see him then?" asked
Katherine.
"Yes," said Lenox. "I have rather lost my
heart to him. I never met a man before whose
eyes were really green like a cat's."
"All right," said Katherine. She spoke
listlessly. The last few days had been trying.
Derek Kettering's arrest had been the topic
of the hour, and the Blue Train Mystery had
been thrashed out from every conceivable
standpoint.
"I have ordered the car," said Lenox,
"and I have told Mother some lie or other
--unfortunately I can't remember exactly
what; but it won't matter, as she never remembers.
If she knew where we were going? she would want to come too, to pump M.
Poirot."
The two girls arrived at the Negresco to
[ind Poirot waiting.
He was full of Gallic politeness, and showered
so many compliments upon the two ^iris that they were soon helpless with laughLer;
yet for all that the meal was not a gay 3ne. Katherine was dreamy and distracted, md Lenox made bursts of conversation, interspersed
by silences. As they were sitting 3n the terrace sipping their coffee she sudienly
attacked Poirot bluntly.
"How are things going? You know what
[ mean?"
Poirot shrugged his shoulders. "They take their course," he said.
"And you are just letting them take their course?"
He looked at Lenox a little sadly.
"You are young. Mademoiselle, but there are three things that cannot be hurried--Ie
bon Dieu, Nature, and old people."
"Nonsense!" said Lenox. "You are not aid."
"Ah, it is pretty what you say there."
"Here is Major Knighton," said Lenox.
Katherine looked round quickly and then toned back again.
"He is with Mr. Van Aldin," continued
Lenox. "There is something I want to ask
Major Knighton about. I won't be a minute."

Left alone together, Poirot bent forward
and murmured to Katherine:
"You are distraite. Mademoiselle; your
thoughts, they are far away, are they not?55
"Just as far as England, no farther."
Guided by a sudden impulse, she took the
letter she had received that morning and
handed it across to him to read.
"That is the first word that has come to
me from my old life; somehow or other--it
hurts."
He read it through and then handed it
back to her. "So you are going back to St.
Mary Mead?" he said slowly.
"No, I am not," said Katherine; "why
should I?"
"Ah," said Poirot, "it is my mistake. You , will excuse me one little minute." j
He strolled across to where Lenox Tamplin
was talking to Van Aldin and Knighton.
The American looked old and haggard. He
greeted Poirot with a curt nod but without
any other sign of animation.
As he turned to reply to some observation
made by Lenox, Poirot drew Knighton
aside.
"M. Van Aldin looks ill" he said.
"Do you wonder?" asked Knighton. "The
scandal ofDerek Kettering's arrest has about
put the lid on things, as far as he is concerned.
He is even regretting that he asked
you to find out the truth."
"He should go back to England," said
Poirot.
"We are going the day after tomorrow."
"That is good news," said Poirot.
He hesitated, and looked across the terrace
to where Katherine was sitting.
"I wish," he murmured, "that you could
tell Miss Grey that."
"Tell her what?"
I "That you--I mean that M. Van Aldin is
I returning to England."
Knighton looked a little puzzled, but he
readily crossed the terrace and joined Kathlerine.

Poirot saw him go with a satisfied nod of
the head, and then joined Lenox and the
American. After a minute or two they joined
the others. Conversation was general for a
few minutes, then the millionaire and his
secretary departed. Poirot also prepared to
take his departure.
( "A thousand thanks for your hospitality, JMesdemoiselles," he cried; "it has been a
I most charming luncheon. Ma foi, 1 needed
it!" He swelled out his chest and thumped
it. "I am now a lion--a giant. Ah, Mademoiselle
Katherine, you have not seen me as
I can be. You have seen the gentle, the calm
Hercule Poirot; but there is another Hercule
Poirot. I go now to bully, to threaten, to
strike terror into the hearts of those who
listen to me."
He looked at them in a self-satisfied way, and they both appeared to be duly impressed,
though Lenox was biting her under
lip, and the corners of Katherine's mouth
had a suspicious twitch.
"And I shall do it," he said gravely. "Oh
yes, I shall succeed."
He had gone but a few steps when Katherine's
voice made him turn.
"M. Poirot, I--I want to tell you. I think
you were right in what you said. I am going
back to England almost immediately."
Poirot stared at her very hard, and under
the directness of his scrutiny she blushed.
"I see," he said gravely.
"I don't believe you do," said Katherine.
"I know more than you think. Mademoiselle,"
he said quietly.
He left her, with an odd little smile upon
his lips. Entering a waiting car, he drove to
Antibes.
r
Hippolyte, the Comte de la Roche's
wooden-faced man-servant, was busy at the
Villa Marina polishing his master's beautiful
|cut table glass. The Comte de la Roche himself
had gone to Monte Carlo for the day.
Chancing to look out of the window, Hipolyte
espied a visitor walking briskly up to
ie hall door, a visitor of so uncommon a
/pe that Hippolyte, experienced as he was,
[had some difficulty in placing him. Calling
to his wife, Marie, who was busy in the
kitchen, he drew her attention to what he
called ce type la.
"It is not the police again?" said Marie
anxiously.
"Look for yourself," said Hippolyte.
Marie looked.
"Certainly not the police," she declared.
"I am glad."
"They have not really worried us much,"
said Hippolyte. "In fact, but for Monsieur
Ie Comte's warning, I should never have
guessed that stranger at the wine-shop to be
what he was."
The hall bell pealed and Hippolyte, in a
grave and decorous manner, went to open
the door.
, "M. Ie Comte, I regret to say, is not at ^ome."
^i
The little man with the large moustaches
beamed placidly.
"I know that," he replied. "You are Hippolyte
Flavelle, are you not?"
"Yes, Monsieur, that is my name."
"And you have a wife, Marie Flavelle?"
"Yes, Monsieur, but——"
"I desire to see you both," said the
stranger, and he stepped nimbly past Hippoly
te into the hall.
"Your wife is doubtless in the kitchen,"
he said. "I will go there."
Before Hippolyte could recover his
breath, the other had selected the right door
at the back of the hall and passed along the
passage and into the kitchen, where Marie
paused open-mouthed to stare at him.
"Voild," said the stranger, and sank into
a wooden arm-chair; "I am Hercule Poirot."
"Yes, Monsieur?"
"You do not know the name?"
"I have never heard it," said Hippolyte.
"Permit me to say that you have been
badly educated. It is the name of one of the
great ones of this world."
He sighed and folded his hands across his
chest.
Hippolyte and Marie were staring at him
uneasily. They were at a loss what to make
of this unexpected and extremely strange visitor.

"Monsieur desires----" murmured Hippolyte
mechanically.
"I desire to know why you have lied to
ie police."
"Monsieur!" cried Hippolyte; "I--lied to
ie police? Never have I done such a thing."
M. Poirot shook his head.
"You are wrong," he said; "you have done
on several occasions. Let me see." He took
small notebook from his pocket and consulted
it. "Ah, yes; on seven occasions at
least. I will recite them to you."
In a gentle unemotional voice he proI
ceeded to outline the seven occasions.
Hippolyte was taken aback.
"But it is not of these past lapses that I
wish to speak," continued Poirot, "only, my
dear friend, do not get into the habit of
thinking yourself too clever. I come now to
the particular lie in which I am concerned
--your statement that the Comte de la Roche
arrived at this villa on the morning of 14th
January."
"But that was no lie. Monsieur; that was
the truth. Monsieur Ie Comte arrived here
on the morning of Tuesday, the 14th. That
is so, Marie, is it not?"
Marie assented eagerly.
"Ah, yes, that is quite right. I remember
it perfectly."
"Ah," said Poirot, "and what did you give
your good master for dejeuner that day?"
"I----" Marie paused, trying to collect
herself.
"Odd," said Poirot, "how one remembers
some things--and forgets others."
He leant forward and struck the table a
blow with his fist; his eyes flashed with anger.

"Yes, yes, it is as I say. You tell your lies
and you think nobody knows. But there are
two people who know. Yes--two people.
One is Ie bon Dieu----"
He raised a hand to heaven, and then settling
himself back in his chair and shutting
his eyelids, he murmured comfortably:
"And the other is Hercule Poirot."
"I assure you. Monsieur, you are completely
mistaken. Monsieur Ie Comte left
Paris on Monday night----"
"True," said Poirot--"by the Rapide. I
do not know where he broke his journey.
Perhaps you do not know that. What I do
know is that he arrived here on Wednesday
morning, and not on Tuesday morning."
"Monsieur is mistaken," said Marie stolidly.

Poirot rose to his feet.
"Then the law must take its course," he
murmured. "A pity."
"What do you mean. Monsieur?" asked
Marie, with a shade of uneasiness.
"You will be arrested and held as accomplices
concerned in the murder of Mrs.
Kettering, the English lady who was killed."
"Murder!"
The man's face had gone chalk white, his
knees knocked together. Marie dropped the
rolling-pin and began to weep.
"But it is impossible--impossible. I
thought----"
"Since you stick to your story, there is
nothing to be said. I think you are both foolish."

He was turning towards the door when an
agitated voice arrested him.
"Monsieur, Monsieur, just a little moment.
I--I had no idea that it was anything
of this kind. I--I thought it was just a matter
concerning a lady. There have been little
awkwardnesses with the police over ladies
before. But murder--that is very different."
"I have no patience with you," cried
Poirot. He turned round on them and angrily
shook his fist in Hippolyte's face. "Am I to
stop here all day, arguing with a couple of
imbeciles thus? It is the truth I want. If you
will not give it to me, that is your look out. For the last time, when did Monsieur Ie Comte
arrive at the Villa Marina--Tuesday morning
or Wednesday morning?"
"Wednesday," gasped the man, and behind
him Marie nodded confirmation.
Poirot regarded them for a minute or two, then inclined his head gravely.
"You are wise, my children," he said quietly.
"Very nearly you were in serious trouble."

He left the Villa Marina, smiling to himself.

"One guess confirmed," he murmured to himself. "Shall I take a chance on the
other?"
It was six o'clock when the card of Monsieur
Hercule Poirot was brought up to Mirelle.
She stared at it for a moment or two, and then nodded. When Poirot entered, he
found her walking up and down the room
feverishly. She turned on him furiously.
"Well?" she cried. "Well? What is it now?
Have you not tortured me enough, all of
you? Have you not made me betray my poor
Dereek? What more do you want?"

"Just one little question. Mademoiselle.
After the train left Lyons, when you entered
Mrs. Kettering's compartment----"
"What is that?"
Poirot looked at her with an air of mild
reproach and began again.
"I say when you entered Mrs. Kettering's
compartment----f'
"I never did."
"And found her----"
"I never did."
"Ah, sacrer
He turned on her in a rage and shouted
at her, so that she cowered back before him.
"Will you lie to me? I tell you I know
what happened as well as though I had been
there. You went into her compartment and
you found her dead. I tell you I know it. To
lie to me is dangerous. Be careful. Mademoiselle
Mirelle."
Her eyes wavered beneath his gaze and
fell.
"I--I didn't----" she began uncertainly
I and stopped.
"There is only one thing about which I Iwonder," said Poirot--"I wonder. Mademoiselle, if you found what you were looking
I for or whether----"
"Whether what?"
"Or whether some one else had been be- i
fore you." j
"I will answer no more questions,"
screamed the dancer. She tore herself away
from Poirot's restraining hand, and flinging
herself down on the floor in a frenzy, she
screamed and sobbed. A frightened maid
came rushing in.
Hercule Poirot shrugged his shoulders,
raised his eyebrows, and quietly left the
room.
But he seemed satisfied.
330
Chapter 30
Miss Viner Gives judgment
katherine looked out of Miss Viner's bedroom
window. It was raining, not violently, but with a quiet, well-bred persistence. The
window looked out on a strip of front garden
with a path down to the gate and neat little
flower-beds on either side, where later roses
and pinks and blue hyacinths would bloom.
Miss Viner was lying in a large Victorian
bedstead. A tray with the remains of breakfast
had been pushed to one side and she was
busy opening her correspondence and making
various caustic comments upon it.
Katherine had an open letter in her hand
and was reading it through for the second
time. It was dated from the Ritz Hotel, Paris.
"CHfeRE mademoiselle katherine (it
began),--"I trust that you are in good
health and that the return to the English
winter has not proved too depressing.
Me, I prosecute my inquiries with the
utmost diligence. Do not think that it is
the holiday that I take here. Very
shortly I shall be in England 5 and I hope
then to have the pleasure of meeting you
once more. It shall be so, shall it not?
On arrival in London I shall write to
you. You remember that we are the colleagues
in this affair? But indeed I think
you know that very well.
"Be assured. Mademoiselle, of my
most respectful and devoted sentiments.
"hercule poirot."
Katherine frowned slightly. It was as
though something in the letter puzzled and
intrigued her.
"A choir boys' picnic indeed," came from
Miss Viner. "Tommy Saunders and Albert
Dykes ought to be left behind, and I shan't
subscribe to it unless they are. What those
two boys think they are doing in church on
Sundays I don't know. Tommy sang, '0
God, make speed to save us,' and never
opened his lips again, and if Albert Dykes
wasn't sucking a mint humbug, my nose is
not what it is and always has been."
"I know, they are awful," agreed Katherine.

She opened her second letter, and a sudden
flush came to her cheeks. Miss Viner's
voice in the room seemed to recede into the
far distance.
When she came back to a sense of her
surroundings Miss Viner was bringing a long
speech to a triumphant termination.
"And I said to her, 'Not at all. As it happens, Miss Grey is Lady Tamplin's own
cousin." What do you think of that?"
"Were you fighting my battles for me?
That was very sweet of you."
"You can put it that way if you like. There
is nothing to me in a title. Vicar's wife or no
vicar's wife, that woman is a cat. Hinting
you had bought your way into Society."
"Perhaps she was not so very far wrong."
"And look at you," continued Miss Viner.
"Have you come back a stuck-up fine lady, as well you might have done? No, there you
are, as sensible as ever you were, with a pair
of good Balbriggan stockings on and sensible
shoes. I spoke to Ellen about it only yesterday.
'Ellen,5 I said, 'you look at Miss Grey.
She has been hobnobbing with some of the
greatest in the land, and does she go about
as you do with skirts up to her knees and
silk stockings that ladder when you look at
1/11
them, and the most ridiculous shoes that
ever I set eyes on?"
Katherine smiled a little to herself; it had
apparently been worth while to conform to
Miss Viner's prejudices. The old lady went
on with increasing gusto.
"It has been a great relief to me that you
have not had your head turned. Only the
other day I was looking for my cuttings. I
have several about Lady Tamplin and her
War Hospital and what not, but I cannot lay
my hand upon them. I wish you would look, my dear; your eyesight is better than mine.
They are all in a box in the bureau drawer."
Katherine glanced down at the letter in
her hand and was about to speak, but checked herself, and going over to the bureau
found the box of cuttings and began to
look over them. Since her return to St. Mary
Mead her heart had gone out to Miss Viner
in admiration of the old woman's stoicism
and pluck. She felt that there was little she
could do for her old friend, but she knew
from experience how much those seemingly
small trifles meant to old people.
"Here is one," she said presently. " 'Viscountess
Tamplin, who is running her villa
at Nice as an Officers' Hospital, has just been
the victim of a sensational robbery, her jew-
5A?
I
els having been stolen. Amongst them were
some very famous emeralds, heirlooms of the
Tamplin family.5"
"Probably paste," said Miss Viner; "a lot
of these Society women's jewels are."
"Here is another," said Katherine. "A
picture of her, 'A charming camera study of
Viscountess Tamplin with her little daughter
Lenox.'"
"Let me look," said Miss Viner. "You
can't see much of the child's face, can you?
But I dare say that is just as well. Things go
by contraries in this world and beautiful
mothers have hideous children. I dare say
the photographer realized that to take the
back of the child's head was the best thing
he could do for her."
Katherine laughed.
"'One of the smartest hostesses on the
Riviera this season is Viscountess Tamplin, who has a villa at Cap Martin. Her cousin, Miss Grey, who recently inherited a vast fortune
in a most romantic manner, is staying
with her there.'"
"That is the one I wanted," said Miss Viner.
"I expect there has been a picture of
you in one of the papers that I have missed, you know the kind of thing. Mrs. Somebody
or other Jones-Williams, at the something or
"» A »
other Point-to-point, usually carrying a
shooting-stick and having one foot lifted up
in the air. It must be a trial to some of them
to see what they look like."
Katherine did not answer. She was
smoothing out the cutting with her finger,
and her face had a puzzled, worried look.
Then she drew the second letter out of its
envelope and mastered its *******s once
more. She turned to her friend.
"Miss Viner? I wonder—there is a friend
of mine, some one I met on the Riviera, who
wants very much to come down and see me
here?"
"A man," said Miss Viner.
"Yes."
"Who is he?"
"He is secretary to Mr. Van Aldin, the
American millionaire.? ?
"What is his name?"
"Knighton. Major Knighton."
"Hm—secretary to a millionaire. And
wants to come down here. Now, Katherine,
I am going to say something to you for your
own good. You are a nice girl and a sensible
girl, and though you have your head screwed
on the right way about most things, every
woman makes a fool of herself once in her
-» A A
IT!
life. Ten to one what this man is after is your
money."
With a gesture she arrested Katherine's
reply. "I have been waiting for something
of this kind. What is a secretary to a millionaire?
Nine times out of ten it is a young
man who likes living soft. A young man with
nice manners and a taste for luxury and no
brains and no enterprise, and if there is anything
that is a softer job than being a secretary
to a millionaire it is marrying a rich
woman for her money. I am not saying that
you might not be some man's fancy. But you
are not young, and though you have a very
good complexion you are not a beauty, and
what I say to you is, don't make a fool of
yourself; but if you are determined to do so, do see that your money is properly tied up
pn yourself. There, now I have finished.
p^hat have you got to say?"
1 "Nothing," said Katherine; "but would
you mind if he did come down to see me?"
"I wash my hands of it," said Miss Viner.
"I have done my duty, and whatever happens
now is on your own head. Would you
like him to lunch or to dinner? I dare say
lien could manage dinner--that is, if she
idn't lose her head."
"Lunch would be very nice," said Kath-
erine. "It is awfully kind of you. Miss Viner.
He asked me to ring him up, so I will do so
and say that we shall be pleased if he will
lunch with us. He will motor down from
town."
"Ellen does a steak with grilled tomatoes
pretty fairly," said Miss Viner. "She doesn't
do it well, but she does it better than anything
else. It is no good having a tart because
she is heavy handed with pastry; but her
little castle puddings are not bad, and I dare
say you could find a nice piece of Stilton at
Abbot's. I have always heard that gentlemen
like a nice piece of Stilton, and there is a
good deal of father's wine left, a bottle of
sparkling Moselle, perhaps."
"Oh no, Miss Viner; that is really not necessary."

"Nonsense, my child. No gentleman is
happy unless he drinks something with his
meal. There is some good pre-war whisky if
you think he would prefer that. Now do as
I say and don't argue. The key of the winecellar
is in the third drawer down in the
dressing-table, in the second pair of stockings
on the left-hand side."
Katherine went obediently to the spot indicated.

"The second pair, now mind," said Miss
3/1^:
rr
Viner. "The first pair has my diamond earrings
and my filigree brooch in it."
"Oh," said Katherine, rather taken aback,
"wouldn't you like them put in your jewelcase?"
Miss
Viner gave vent to a terrific and prolonged
snort.
"No, indeed! I have much too much sense
for that sort of thing, thank you. Dear, dear,
ib I well remember how my poor father had a
J safe built in downstairs. Pleased as Punch
he was with it, and he said to my mother, 'Now, Mary, you bring me your jewels in
their case every night and I will lock them
away for you.5 My mother was a very tactful
woman, and she knew that gentlemen like
having their own way, and she brought him
the jewel-case locked up just as he said.
"And one night burglars broke in, and of
course--naturally--the first thing they went
for was the safe! It would be, with my father
talking up and down the village and bragging
about it until you might have thought he
kept all King Solomon's diamonds there.
They made a clean sweep, got the tankards,
^the silver cups, and the presentation gold
late that my father had had presented to m, and the jewel-case."
She sighed reminiscently. "My father was
in a great state over my mother's jewels.
There was the Venetian set and some very
fine cameos, and some pale pink corals 5 and
two diamond rings with quite large stones
in them. And then, of course, she had to tell
him that, being a sensible woman, she had
kept her jewellery rolled up in a pair of corsets, and there it was still as safe as anything."

"And the jewel-case had been quite
empty?"
"Oh no, dear," said Miss Viner, "it would
have been too light a weight then. My
mother was a very intelligent woman, she
saw to that. She kept her buttons in the
jewel-case, and a very handy place it was.
Boot buttons in the top tray, trouser buttons
in the second tray, and assorted buttons below.
Curiously enough, my father was quite
annoyed with her. He said he didn't like
deceit. But I mustn't go chattering on; you
want to go and ring up your friend, and mind
you choose a nice piece of steak, and tell
Ellen she is not to have holes in her stockings
when she waits at lunch."
"Is her name Ellen or Helen, Miss Viner?
I thought----"
Miss Viner closed her eyes.
"I can sound my h's, dear, as well as any
one, but Helen is not a suitable name for a
servant. I don't know what the mothers in
the lower classes are coming to nowadays."
The rain had cleared away when Knighton
arrived at the cottage. The pale fitful sunshine
shone down on it and burnished Katherine's
head as she stood in the doorway to
welcome him. He came up to her quickly, almost boyishly.
<(I say, I hope you don't mind. I simply
had to see you again soon. I hope the friend
you are staying with does not mind."
"Come in and make friends with her,"
said Katherine. "She can be most alarming, but you will soon find that she has the softest
heart in the world."
Miss Viner was enthroned majestically in
the drawing-room, wearing a complete set
of the cameos which had been so providentially
preserved in the family. She greeted
Knighton with dignity and an austere politeness
which would have damped many
men. Knighton, however, had a charm of
manner which was not easily set aside, and
after about ten minutes Miss Viner thawed t perceptibly. Luncheon was a merry meal, and Ellen, or Helen, in a new pair of silk
stockings devoid of ladders performed prodigies
of waiting. Afterwards, Katherine and
Knighton went for a walk and they came
back to have tea tete-d-tete, since Miss Viner
had gone to lie down.
When the car had finally driven off Katherine
went slowly upstairs. A voice called her
and she went in to Miss Viner's bedroom.
"Friend gone?"
"Yes. Thank you so much for letting me
ask him down."
"No need to thank me. Do you think I
am the sort of old curmudgeon who will
never do anything for anybody?"
"I think you are a dear," said Katherine
affectionately.
"Humph," said Miss Viner mollified.
As Katherine was leaving the room she
called her back
"Katherine?"
"Yes."
"I was wrong about that young man of
yours. A man when he is making up to anybody
can be cordial and gallant and full of
little attentions and altogether charming.
But when a man is really in love he can't
help looking like a sheep. Now, whenever
that young man looked at you he looked like
a sheep. I take back all I said this morning.
It is genuine."
Chapter 31
Mr. Aarons Lunches
"ah!" said Mr. Joseph Aarons appreciatively.

He took a long draught from his tankard, set it down with a sigh, wiped the froth from
his lips, and beamed across the table at his
host. Monsieur Hercule Poirot.
"Give me," said Mr. Aarons, "a good Porterhouse
steak and a tankard of something
worth drinking, and any one can have your
French fallals and whatnots, your ordoovres
and your omelettes and your little bits of
quail. Give me," he reiterated, "a Porterhouse
steak."
Poirot, who had just complied with this
request, smiled sympathetically.
"Not that there is much wrong with a
steak and kidney pudding," continued Mr.
Aarons. "Apple tart? Yes, I will take apple
tart, thank you. Miss, and a jug of cream."
The meal proceeded. Finally, with a long
sigh, Mr. Aarons laid down his spoon and
fork preparatory to toying with some cheese
before turning his mind to other matters.
"There was a little matter of business I
think you said. Monsieur Poirot," he remarked.
"Anything I can do to help you I
am sure I shall be most happy."
"That is very kind of you," said Poirot.
"I said to myself, 'If you want to know anything
about the dramatic profession there is
one person who knows all that is to be known
and that is my old friend, Mr. Joseph
Aarons.5"
"And you don't say far wrong," said Mr.
Aarons complacently, "whether it is past,
present, or future, Joe Aarons is the man to
come to."
"Precisement. Now I want to ask you, Monsieur Aarons, what you know about a
young woman called Kidd."
"Kidd? Kitty Kidd?"
"Kitty Kidd."
"Pretty smart, she was. Male impersonator,
song and a dance---- That one?"
"That is the one."
"Very smart, she was. Made a good income.
Never out of an engagement. Male
impersonation mostly, but, as a matter of
3C^
fact, you could not touch her as a character
actress."
"So I have heard," said Poirot; "but she
has not been appearing lately, has she?"
"No. Dropped right out of things. Went
over to France and took up with some swell
nobleman there. She quitted the stage then
for good and all, I guess."
"How long ago was that?"
"Let me see. Three years ago. And she
has been a loss--let me tell you that."
"She was clever?"
"Clever as a cartload of monkeys."
"You don't know the name of the man she
became friends with in Paris?"
"He was a swell, I know that. A Count--
or was it a Marquis? Now I come to think
of it, I believe it was a Marquis."
"And you know nothing about her since?"
"Nothing. Never even run across her accidentally
like. I bet she is tooling it round
some of these foreign resorts. Being a Marquise
to the life. You couldn't put one over
on Kitty. She would give as good as she got
any day."
"I see," said Poirot thoughtfully.
"I am sorry I can't tell you more. Monsieur
Poirot " said the other. "I would like
to be of use to you if I could. You did me a
good turn once."
"Ah, but we are quits on that; you, too, did me a good turn."
"One good turn deserves another. Ha, ha!" said Mr. Aarons.
"Your profession must be a very interesting
one," said Poirot.
"So-so," said Mr. Aarons non-committally.
"Taking the rough with the smooth, it is all right. I don't do so badly at it, all
things considered, but you have to keep your
eyes skinned. Never know what the public
will jump for next."
"Dancing has come very much to the fore
in the last few years," murmured Poirot reflectively.

"/ never saw anything in this Russian ballet, but people like it. Too highbrow for
me."
"I met one dancer out on the Riviera--
Mademoiselle Mirelle.? 5
"Mirelle? She is hot stuff, by all accounts.
There is always money going to back her--
though, so far as that goes, the girl can
dance; I have seen her, and I know what I
am talking about. I never had much to do
with her myself, but I hear she is a terror to
deal with. Tempers and tantrums all the
time."
"Yes," said Poirot thoughtfully; "yes, so
I should imagine."
"Temperament!" said Mr. Aarons, "temperament!
That is what they call it themselves.
My missus was a dancer before she
married me, but I am thankful to say she
never had any temperament. You don't want
temperament in the home. Monsieur
Poirot."
"I agree with you, my friend; it is out of
place there."
"A woman should be calm and sympathetic, and a good cook," said Mr. Aarons.
"Mirelle has not been long before the public, has she?" asked Poirot.
"About two and a half years, that is all,"
said Mr. Aarons. "Some French Duke
started her. I hear now that she has taken
up with the ex-Prime Minister of Greece.
These are the chaps who manage to put
money away quietly."
"That is news to me," said Poirot.
"Oh, she's not one to let the grass grow
under her feet. They say that young Kettering
murdered his wife on her account. I
don't know, I am sure. Anyway, he is in
prison, and she had to look round for herself,
and pretty smart she has been about it. They
say she is wearing a ruby the size of a pigeon's
egg--not that I have ever seen a pigeon's
egg myself, but that is what they
always call it in works of fiction."
"A ruby the size of a pigeon's egg!" said
Poirot. His eyes were green and catlike.
"How interesting!"
"I had it from a friend of mine," said Mr.
Aarons. "But, for all I know, it may be coloured
glass. They are all the same, these
women--they never stop telling tall stories
about their jewels. Mirelle goes about bragging
that it has got a curse on it. 'Heart of
Fire,' I think she calls it."
"But if I remember rightly," said Poirot, "the ruby that is named "Heart of Fire' is
the centre stone in a necklace."
"There you are! Didn't I tell you there is
no end to the lies women will tell about their
jewellery? This is a single stone, hung on a
platinum chain round her neck; but, as I said
before, ten to one it is a bit of coloured
glass."
"No," said Poirot gently, "no--somehow
I do not think it is coloured glass."
-»c^
Chapter 32
Katherine and Poirot
Compare Notes
"You have changed. Mademoiselle," said
Poirot suddenly. He and Katherine were
seated opposite each other at a small table at
the Savoy.
"Yes, you have changed," he continued.
"In what way?"
"Mademoiselle, these nuances are difficult
to express."
"I am older."
"Yes, you are older. And by that I do not
mean that the wrinkles and the crows' feet
are coming. When I first saw you, Made1
moiselle, you were a looker-on at life. You
I had the quiet, amused look of one who sits
I back in the stalls and watches the play."
"And now?"
"Now, you no longer watch. It is an absurd
thing, perhaps, that I say here, but you
have the wary look of a fighter who is playing
a difficult game."
"My old lady is difficult sometimes," said
Katherine, with a smile; "but I can assure
you that I don't engage in deadly contests
with her. You must go down and see her
some day. Monsieur Poirot. I think you are
one of the people who would appreciate her
pluck and her spirit."
There was a silence while the waiter deftly
served them with chicken en casserole. When
he had departed, Poirot said:
"You have heard me speak of my friend
Hastings?--he who said that I was a human
oyster. Eh bien, Mademoiselle, I have met
my match in you. You, far more than I, play
a lone hand."
"Nonsense," said Katherine lightly.
"Never does Hercule Poirot talk nonsense.
It is as I say."
Again there was a silence. Poirot broke it
by inquiring:
"Have you seen any of our Riviera friends
since you have been back. Mademoiselle?"
"I have seen something of Major Knighton."
"A-ha!
Is that so?"
Something in Poirofs twinkling eyes
made Katherine lower hers.
"So Mr. Van Aldin remains in London?"
"Yes."
"I must try to see him to-morrow or the
next day."
"You have news for him?"
"What makes you think that?"
"I—wondered, that is all."
Poirot looked across at her with twinkling
eyes.
"And now. Mademoiselle, there is much
that you wish to ask me, I can see that. And
why not? Is not the affair of the Blue Train
our own 'Roman Policier'?"
"Yes, there are things I should like to ask
you."
"Eh bien?"
Katherine looked up with a sudden air of
resolution.
"What were you doing in Paris, Monsieur
Poirot?"
I Poirot smiled slightly.
"I made a call at the Russian Embassy."
"Oh."
"I see that that tells you nothing. But I
will not be a human oyster. No, I will lay
my cards on the table, which is assuredly a
thing that oysters do not do. You suspect,
do you not, that I am not satisfied with the
case against Derek Kettering?"
"That is what I have been wondering. I
thought, in Nice, that you had finished with
the case."
"You do not say all that you mean. Mademoiselle.
But I admit everything. It was
I--my researches--which placed Derek
Kettering where he is now. But for me the
Examining Magistrate would still be vainly
trying to fasten the crime on the Comte de
la Roche. Eh bien. Mademoiselle, what I |
have done I do not regret. I have only one
duty--to discover the truth, and that way
led straight to Mr. Kettering. But did it end
there? The police say yes, but I, Hercule
Poirot, am not satisfied."
He broke off suddenly. "Tell me. Mademoiselle, have you heard from Mademoiselle
Lenox lately?"
"One very short, scrappy letter. She is, I
think, annoyed with me for coming back to
England."
Poirot nodded.
"I had an interview with her the night that
Monsieur Kettering was arrested. It was an
interesting interview in more ways than
one."
Again he fell silent, and Katherine did not
interrupt his train of thought.
"Mademoiselle," he said at last, "I am
now on delicate ground, yet I will say this
to you. There is, I think, some one who loves
Monsieur Kettering--correct me if I am
wrong--and for her sake--well--for her
sake I hope that I am right and the police
are wrong. You know who that some one
is?"
There was a pause, then Katherine said:
"Yes--I think I know."
Poirot leant across the table towards her.
"I am not satisfied. Mademoiselle; no, I
am not satisfied. The facts, the main facts, led straight to Monsieur Kettering. But there
is one thing that has been left out of account."
"And what is that?"
"The disfigured face of the victim. I have
asked myself. Mademoiselle, a hundred
times, 'Was Derek Kettering the kind of
man who would deal that smashing blow after
having committed murder?5 What end
would it serve? What purpose would it accomplish?
Was it a likely action for one of
Monsieur Kettering's temperament? And, Mademoiselle, the answer to these questions
is profoundly unsatisfactory. Again and
again I go back to that one point--'why?5 And the only things I have to help me to a
solution of the problem are these."
He whipped out his pocket-book and extracted
something from it which he held between
his finger and thumb.
"Do you remember. Mademoiselle? You
saw me take these hairs from the rug in the
railway carriage."
Katherine leant forward, scrutinizing the
hairs keenly.
Poirot nodded his head slowly several
times.
"They suggest nothing to you, I see that, Mademoiselle. And yet--I think somehow
that you see a good deal."
"I have had ideas," said Katherine slowly, "curious ideas. That is why I ask you what
you were doing in Paris, Monsieur Poirot."
"When I wrote to you----"
"From the Ritz?"
A curious smile came over Poirot's face.
"Yes, as you say, from the Ritz. I am a
luxurious person sometimes--when a millionaire
pays."
"The Russian Embassy," said Katherine, frowning. "No, I don't see where that comes
in."
"It does not come in directly. Mademoiselle.
I went there to get certain information.
I saw a particular personage and I threatened
him--yes. Mademoiselle, I, Hercule Poirot, threatened him."
"With the police?"
"No," said Poirot drily, "with the Press
--a much more deadly weapon."
He looked at Katherine and she smiled at
him, just shaking her head.
"Are you not just turning back into an
oyster again. Monsieur Poirot?"
"No, no! I do not wish to make mysteries.
See, I will tell you everything. I suspect this
man of being the active party in the sale of
the jewels of Monsieur Van Aldin. I tax him
with it, and in the end I get the whole story
out of him. I learn where the jewels were
handed over, and I learn, too, of the man
who paced up and down outside in the
street--a man with a venerable head of white
hair, but who walked with the light, springy
step of a young man--and I give that man a
name in my own mind--the name of 'Monsieur
Ie Marquis.'"
"And now you have come to London to
see Mr. Van Aldin?"
"Not entirely for that reason. I had other
work to do. Since I have been in London I
have seen two more people--a theatrical
agent and a Harley Street doctor. From each
of them I have got certain information. Put
these things together. Mademoiselle, and see 1
if you can make of them the same as I do."
"I?"
"Yes, you. I will tell you one thing. Mademoiselle.
There has been a doubt all along
in my mind as to whether the robbery and
the murder were done by the same person.
For a long time I was not sure----"
"And now?"
"And now I know,"
There was a silence. Then Katherine lifted
her head. Her eyes were shining.
"I am not clever like you. Monsieur
Poirot. Half the things that you have been
telling me don't seem to me to point anywhere
at all. The ideas that came to me came
from such an entirely different angle----"
"Ah, but that is always so," said Poirot
quietly. "A mirror shows the truth, but
every one stands in a different place for looking
into the mirror."
"My ideas may be absurd--they may be
entirely different from yours, but----"
"Yes?"
"Tell me, does this help you at all?"
He took a newspaper cutting from her outstretched
hand. He read it and, looking up, he nodded gravely.
"As I told you. Mademoiselle, one stands
i y a
at a different angle for looking into the mirror, but it is the same mirror and the same
things are reflected there."
Katherine got up. "I must rush," she said.
"I have only just time to catch my train.
Monsieur Poirot----"
"Yes, Mademoiselle."
"It--it mustn't be much longer, you understand.
I--I can't go on much longer."
There was a break in her voice.
He patted her hand reassuringly.
"Courage, Mademoiselle, you must not
fail now; the end is very near."
Chapter 33
A New Theory
"monsieur poirot wants to see you, sir."
"Damn the fellow!" said Van Aldin.
Knighton remained sympathetically silent.

Van Aldin got up from his chair and paced
up and down.
"I suppose you have seen the cursed newspapers
this morning?"
"I have glanced at them, sir."
"Still at it hammer and tongs?"
"I am afraid so, sir."
The millionaire sat down again and
pressed his hand to his forehead.
"If I had had an idea of this," he groaned.
"I wish to God I had never got that little
Belgian to ferret out the truth. Find Ruth's
murderer--that was all I thought about."
"You wouldn't have liked your son-in-law
to go scot free?"
Van Aldin sighed.
"I would have preferred to take the law
into my own hands."
"I don't think that would have been a very
wise proceeding, sir."
"All the same--are you sure the fellow
wants to see me?"
"Yes, Mr. Van Aldin. He is very urgent
about it."
"Then I suppose he will have to. He can
come along this morning if he likes."
It was a very fresh and debonair Poirot
who was ushered in. He did not seem to see
any lack of cordiality in the millionaire's
manner, and chatted pleasantly about various
trifles. He was in London, he explained, to see his doctor. He mentioned the name
of an eminent surgeon.
"No, no, pas la guerre--a memory of my
days in the police force, a bullet of a rascally
Apache."
He touched his left shoulder and winced
realistically.
"I always consider you a lucky man. Monsieur
Van Aldin, you are not like our popular
idea of American millionaires, martyrs to the
dyspepsia."
"I am pretty tough," said Van Aldin. "I
lead a very simple life, you know; plain fare
and not too much of it."
"You have seen something of Miss Grey, have you not?" inquired Poirot, innocently
turning to the secretary.
"I--yes; once or twice," said Knighton.
He blushed slightly and Van Aldin exclaimed
in surprise:
"Funny you never mentioned to me that
you had seen her, Knighton?"
"I didn't think you would be interested,
sir."
"I like that girl very much," said Van Aldin.
"It
is a thousand pities that she should
have buried herself once more in St. Mary
Mead," said Poirot.
"It is very fine of her," said Knighton
hotly. "There are very few people who
would bury themselves down there to look
after a cantankerous old woman who has no
earthly claim on her."
"I am silent," said Poirot, his eyes twinkling
a little; "but all the same I say it is a
pity. And now. Messieurs, let us come to
business."
Both the other men looked at him in some
surprise.
"You must not be shocked or alarmed at
what I am about to say. Supposing, Mon-
sieur Van Aldin, that, after all, Monsieur
Derek Kettering did not murder his wife?"
"What?"
Both men stared at him in blank surprise.
| "Supposing, I say, that Monsieur Derek 1 Kettering did not murder his wife?"
i "Are you mad. Monsieur Poirot?"
It was Van Aldin who spoke.
"No," said Poirot, "I am not mad. I am
eccentric, perhaps--at least certain people
say so; but as regards my profession, I am
very much, as one says, 'all there." I ask you, I Monsieur Van Aldin, whether you would be
i glad or sorry if what I tell you should be the
; case?"
i Van Aldin stared at him. 1 "Naturally I should be glad," he said at
last. "Is this an exercise in suppositions, Monsieur Poirot, or are there any facts heir
hind it?"
j Poirot looked at the ceiling.
"There is an off-chance," he said quietly, "that it might be the Comte de la Roche after
all. At least I have succeeded in upsetting
his alibi."
"How did you manage that?"
Poirot shrugged his shoulders modestly.
"I have my own methods. The exercise of
a little tact, a little cleverness--and the thing
is done."
"But the rubies," said Van Aldin, "these
rubies that the Count had in his possession
were false."
"And clearly he would not have committed
the crime except for the rubies. But you
are overlooking one point. Monsieur Van Aldin.
Where the rubies were concerned, some
one might have been before him."
"But this is an entirely new theory," cried
Knighton.
"Do you really believe all this rigmarole, Monsieur Poirot?" demanded the millionaire.

"The thing is not proved," said Poirot
quietly. "It is as yet only a theory, but I tell
you this. Monsieur Van Aldin, the facts are
worth investigating. You must come out
with me to the south of France and go into
the case on the spot."
"You really think this is necessary--that
I should go, I mean."
"I thought it would be what you yourself
would wish," said Poirot.
There was a hint of reproach in his tone
which was not lost upon the other.
"Yes, yes, of course," he said. "When do
you wish to start. Monsieur Poirot?"
"You are very busy at present, sir," murmured
Knighton.
But the millionaire had now made up his
mind, and he waved the other's objections
aside.
"I guess this business comes first," he
said. "All right. Monsieur Poirot, to-morrow.
What train?"
"We will go, I think, by the Blue Train," said Poirot, and he smiled.
Chapter 34
The Blue Train Again
"the millionaire's train," as it is sometimes
called, swung round a curve of line at
what seemed a dangerous speed. Van Aldin, Knighton and Poirot sat together in silence.
Knighton and Van Aldin had two compartments
connecting with each other, as Ruth
Kettering and her maid had had on the fateful
journey. Poirot's own compartment was
further along the coach.
The journey was a painful one for Van
Aldin, recalling as it did the most agonizing
memories. Poirot and Knighton conversed
occasionally in low tones without disturbing
him.
When, however, the train had completed
its slow journey round the ceinture and
reached the Gare de Lyon, Poirot became
suddenly galvanized into activity. Van Aldin
realized that part of his object in travelling
by the train had been to attempt to recon struct the crime. Poirot himself acted every
part. He was in turn the maid, hurriedly shut
into her own compartment, Mrs. Kettering, recognizing her husband with surprise and
a trace of anxiety, and Derek Kettering discovering
that his wife was travelling on the
train. He tested various possibilities, such as
the best way for a person to conceal himself
in the second compartment.
Then suddenly an idea seemed to strike
him. He clutched at Van Aldin's arm.
"Mon Dieu, but that is something I have
not thought of! We must break our journey
in Paris. Quick, quick, let us alight at once."
Seizing suit-cases he hurried from the
train. Van Aldin and Knighton, bewildered
but obedient, followed him. Van Aldin having
once formed his opinion of Poirofs ability
was slow to part from it. At the barrier
they were held up. Their tickets were in
charge of the conductor of the train, a fact
which all three of them had forgotten.
Poirot's explanations were rapid, fluent, and impassioned, but they produced no effect
upon the stolid-faced official.
"Let us get quit of this," said Van Aldin
abruptly. "I gather you are in a hurry. Monsieur
Poirot. For God's sake pay the fares
'?"73
from Calais and let us get right on with whatever
you have got in your mind."
But Poirot's flood of language had suddenly
stopped dead, and he had the appearance
of a man turned to stone. His arm still
outflung in an impassioned gesture, remained
there as though stricken with paralysis.

"I have been an imbecile," he said simply. ^Ma foi, I lose my head nowadays. Let us
return and continue our journey quietly.
With reasonable luck the train will not have
gone."
They were only just in time, the train moving
off as Knighton, the last of the three, swung himself and his suit-case on board.
The conductor remonstrated with them
feelingly, and assisted them to carry their
luggage back to their compartments. Van
Aldin said nothing, but he was clearly disgusted
at Poirofs extraordinary conduct.
Alone with Knighton for a moment or two,
he remarked:
"This is a wildgoose chase. The man has
lost his grip on things. He has got brains up
to a point, but any man who loses his head
and scuttles round like a frightened rabbit
is no earthly darned good."
Poirot came to them in a moment or two,
3T/1
full of abject apologies and clearly so crestfallen
that harsh words would have been superfluous.
Van Aldin received his apologies
gravely, but managed to restrain himself
from making acid comments.
They had dinner on the train, and afterwards, somewhat to the surprise of the other
two, Poirot suggested that they should all
three sit up in Van Aldin's compartment.
The millionaire looked at him curiously.
"Is there anything that you are keeping
back from us. Monsieur Poirot?"
"I?" Poirot opened his eyes in innocent
surprise. "But what an idea."
Van Aldin did not answer, but he was not
satisfied. The conductor was told that he
need not make up the beds. Any surprise he
might have felt was obliterated by the largeness
of the tip which Van Aldin handed to
him. The three men sat in silence. Poirot
fidgeted and seemed restless. Presently he
turned to the secretary.
"Major Knighton, is the door of your
compartment bolted? The door into the corridor, I mean."
"Yes; I bolted it myself just now."
"Are you sure?" said Poirot.
"I will go and make sure, if you like," said
Knighton smiling.
"No, no, do not derange yourself. I will
see for myself."
He passed through the connecting door
and returned in a second or two, nodding
his head.
"Yes, yes, it is as you said. You must
pardon an old man's fussy ways."
He closed the connecting door and resumed
his place in the right-hand corner.
The hours passed. The three men dozed
fitfully, waking with uncomfortable starts.
Probably never before had three people
booked berths on the most luxurious train
available, then declined to avail themselves
of the accommodation they had paid for.
Every now and then Poirot glanced at his
watch, and then nodded his head and composed
himself to slumber once more. On one
occasion he rose from his seat and opened
the connecting door, peered sharply into the
adjoining compartment, and then returned
to his seat, shaking his head.
"What is the matter?" whispered Knighton.
"You are expecting something to happen, aren't you?"
"I have the nerves," confessed Poirot. "I
am like the cat upon the hot tiles. Every little
noise it makes me jump."
Knighton yawned.
-»t^
"Of all the darned uncomfortable journeys," he murmured. "I suppose you know
what you are playing at, Monsieur Poirot."
He composed himself to sleep as best he
could. Both he and Van Aldin had succumbed
to slumber, when Poirot, glancing
for the fourteenth time at his watch, leant
across and tapped the millionaire on the
shoulder.
"Eh? What is it?"
"In five or ten minutes. Monsieur, we
shall arrive at Lyons."
"My God!" Van Aldin's face looked white
and haggard in the dim light. "Then it must
have been about this time that poor Ruth
was killed."
He sat staring straight in front of him. His
lips twitched a little, his mind reverting back
to the terrible tragedy that had saddened his
life.
There was the usual long screaming sigh
of the brake, and the train slackened speed
and drew into Lyons. Van Aldin let down
the window and leant out.
"If it wasn't Derek--if your new theory
is correct, it is here that the man left the
train?" he asked over his shoulder.
Rather to his surprise Poirot shook his
head.
"No," he said thoughtfully, "no man left
the train, but I think--yes, I think, a woman may have done so."
Knighton gave a gasp.
"A woman?" demanded Van Aldin
sharply.
"Yes, a woman," said Poirot, nodding his
head. "You may not remember. Monsieur
Van Aldin, but Miss Grey in her evidence
mentioned that a youth in a cap and overcoat
descended on to the platform ostensibly to
stretch his legs. Me, I think that that youth
was most probably a woman."
"But who was she?"
Van Aldin's face expressed incredulity, but Poirot replied seriously and categorically.

"Her name--or the name under which she
was known, for many years--is Kitty Kidd, but you. Monsieur Van Aldin, knew her by
another name--that of Ada Mason."
Knighton sprang to his feet.
"What?" he cried.
Poirot swung round to him.
"Ah!--before I forget it." He whipped
something from a pocket and held it out.
"Permit me to offer you a cigarette--out
of your own cigarette-case. It was careless of
2TO I
you to drop it when you boarded the train
on the ceinture at Paris."
Knighton stood staring at him as though
stupefied. Then he made a movement, but
Poirot flung up his hand in a warning gesture.

"No, don't move," he said in a silky voice;
"the door into the next compartment is
open, and you are being covered from there
this minute. I unbolted the door into the
corridor when we left Paris, and our friends
the police were told to take their places there.
As I expect you know, the French police
want you rather urgently. Major Knighton
--or shall we say--Monsieur Ie Marquis?"
inc\
Chapter 35
Explanations
"explanations?"
Poirot smiled. He was sitting opposite the
millionaire at a luncheon table in the latter's
private suite at the Negresco. Facing him
was a relieved but very puzzled man. Poirot
leant back in his chair, lit one of his tiny
cigarettes, and stared reflectively at the ceiling.

"Yes, I will give you explanations. It began
with the one point that puzzled me. You
know what that point was? The disfigured
face. It is not an uncommon thing to find
when investigating a crime and it rouses an
immediate question, the question of identity.
That naturally was the first thing that
occurred to me. Was the dead woman really
Mrs. Kettering? But that line led me nowhere, for Miss Grey's evidence was positive
and very reliable, so I put that idea aside.
The dead woman was Ruth Kettering."
2on
"When did you first begin to suspect the
maid?"
"Not for some time, but one peculiar little
point drew my attention to her. The cigarette-case
found in the railway carriage and
which she told us was one which Mrs. Kettering
had given to her husband. Now that
was, on the face of it, most improbable,
seeing the terms that they were on. It awakened
a doubt in my mind as to the general
veracity of Ada Mason's statements. There
was the rather suspicious fact to be taken
into consideration, that she had only been
with her mistress for two months. Certainly
it did not seem as if she could have had
anything to do with the crime since she had
been left behind in Paris and Mrs. Kettering
had been seen alive by several people afterwards, but----"
Poirot leant forward. He raised an emphatic
forefinger and wagged it with intense
emphasis at Van Aldin.
"But I am a good detective. I suspect.
There is nobody and nothing that I do not
suspect. I believe nothing that I am told. I
say to myself: how do we know that Ada
Mason was left behind in Paris? And at first
the answer to that question seemed completely
satisfactory. There was the evidence
of your secretary. Major Knighton, a complete
outsider whose testimony might be
supposed to be entirely impartial, and there
was the dead woman's own words to the
conductor on the train. But I put the latter
point aside for the moment, because a very
curious idea--an idea perhaps fantastic and
impossible--was growing up in my mind. If
by any outside chance it happened to be true, that particular piece of testimony was worthless.

"I concentrated on the chief stumblingblock
to my theory. Major Knighton's statement
that he saw Ada Mason at the Ritz after
the Blue Train had left Paris. That seemed
conclusive enough, but yet, on examining
the facts carefully, I noted two things. First, that by a curious coincidence he, too, had
been exactly two months in your service.
Secondly, his initial letter was the same-- 'K.' Supposing--just supposing--that it
was his cigarette case which had been found
in the carriage. Then, if Ada Mason and he
were working together, and she recognized
it when we showed it to her, would she not
act precisely as she had done? At first, taken
aback, she quickly evolved a plausible theory
that would agree with Mr. Kettering's guilt. Bien entendu, that was not the original idea.
The Comte de la Roche was to be the scapegoat, though Ada Mason would not make
her recognition of him too certain, in case
he should be able to prove an alibi. Now, if
you will cast your mind back to that time, you will remember a significant thing that
happened. I suggested to Ada Mason that
the man she had seen was not the Comte de
la Roche, but Derek Kettering. She seemed
uncertain at the time, but after I had got
back to my hotel you rang me up and told
me that she had come to you and said that, on thinking it over, she was now quite convinced
that the man in question was Mr.
Kettering. I had been expecting something
of the kind. There could be but one explanation
of this sudden certainty on her part.
After my leaving your hotel, she had had
time to consult with somebody, and had received
instructions which she acted upon.
Who had given her these instructions? Major
Knighton. And there was another very small
point, which might mean nothing or might
mean a great deal. In casual conversation
Knighton had talked of a jewel robbery in
Yorkshire in a house where he was staying.
Perhaps a mere coincidence--perhaps another
small link in the chain."
"But there is one thing I do not under stand. Monsieur Poirot. I guess I must be
dense or I would have seen it before now.
Who was the man in the train at Paris? Derek
Kettering or the Comte de la Roche?"
"That is the simplicity of the whole thing. There was no man. Ah--mille tonnerres! --
do you not see the cleverness of it all? Whose
word have we for it that there ever was a
man there? Only Ada Mason's. And we believe
in Ada Mason because of Knighton's
evidence that she was left behind in Paris."
"But Ruth herself told the conductor that
she had left her maid behind there," demurred
Van Aldin.
"Ah! I am coming to that. We have Mrs.
Kettering's own evidence there, but, on the
other hand, we have not really got her evidence, because. Monsieur Van Aldin, a dead
woman cannot give evidence. It is not her evidence, but the evidence of the conductor
of the train--a very different affair altogether."

"So you think the man was lying?"
"No, no, not at all. He spoke what he
thought to be the truth. But the woman who
told him that she had left her maid in Paris
was not Mrs. Kettering."
Van Aldin stared at him.
"Monsieur Van Aldin, Ruth Kettering
was dead before the train arrived at the Gare
de Lyon. It was Ada Mason, dressed in her
mistress's very distinctive clothing, who purchased
a dinner basket and who made that
very necessary statement to the conductor."
"Impossible!"
"No, no. Monsieur Van Aldin; not impossible.
Lesfemmes, they look so much alike
nowadays that one identifies them more by
their clothing than by their faces. Ada Mason
was the same ****** as your daughter.
Dressed in that very sumptuous fur coat and
the little red lacquer hat jammed down over
her eyes, with just a bunch of auburn curls
showing over each ear, it was no wonder that
the conductor was deceived. He had not previously
spoken to Mrs. Kettering, you remember.
True, he had seen the maid just
for a moment when she handed him the tickets, but his impression had been merely that
of a gaunt, black-clad female. If he had been
an unusually intelligent man, he might have
gone so far as to say that mistress and maid were not unlike, but it is extremely unlikely
that he would even think that. And remember,
Ada Mason, or Kitty Kidd, was an actress, able to change her appearance and tone
of voice at a moment's notice. No, no, there
was no danger of his recognizing the maid
in the mistress's clothing, but there was the
danger that when he came to discover the
body he might realize it was not the woman
he had talked to the night before. And now
we see the reason for the disfigured face. The
chief danger that Ada Mason ran was that
Katherine Grey might visit her compartment
after the train left Paris, and she provided
against that difficulty by ordering a dinner
basket and by locking herself in her compartment."

"But who killed Ruth--and when?" "First, bear it in mind that the crime was
planned and undertaken by the two of
them--Knighton and Ada Mason, working
together. Knighton was in Paris that day on
your business. He boarded the train somewhere
on its way round the ceinture. Mrs.
Kettering would be surprised, but she would
be quite unsuspicious. Perhaps he draws her
attention to something out the window, and
as she turns to look he slips the cord round
her neck--and the whole thing is over in a
second or two. The door of the compartment
is locked, and he and Ada Mason set to work.
They strip off the dead woman's outer
clothes. Mason and Knighton roll the body
up in a rug and put it on the seat in the
adjoining compartment amongst the bags
ooz:
and suitcases. Knighton drops off the train 5
taking the jewel-case containing the rubies
with him. Since the crime is not supposed
to have been committed until nearly twelve
hours later he is perfectly safe, and his evidence
and the supposed Mrs. Kettering's
words to the conductor will provide a perfect
alibi for his accomplice.
"At the Gare de Lyon Ada Mason gets a
dinner basket, and shutting herself into the
toilet compartment she quickly changes into
her mistress's clothes, adjusts two false
bunches of auburn curls, and generally
makes up to resemble her as closely as possible.
When the conductor comes to make
up the bed, she tells him the prepared story
about having left her maid behind in Paris, and whilst he is making up the berth, she
stands looking out of the window, so that
her back is towards the corridor and people
passing along there. That was a wise precaution,
because, as we know. Miss Grey was
one of those passing, and she among others, was willing to swear that Mrs. Kettering was
still alive at that hour."
"Go on," said Van Aldin.
"Before getting to Lyons, Ada Mason arranged
her mistress's body in the bunk, folded up the dead woman's clothes neatly
on the end of it, and herself changed into a
man's clothes and prepared to leave the
train. When Derek Kettering entered his
wife's compartment, and, as he thought, saw
her asleep in her berth, the scene had been
set, and Ada Mason was hidden in the next
compartment waiting for the moment to
leave the train unobserved. As soon as the
conductor had swung himself down on to
the platform at Lyons, she follows, slouching
along as though just taking a breath of air.
At a moment when she is unobserved, she
hurriedly crosses to the other platform, and
takes the first train back to Paris and the
Ritz Hotel. Her name has been registered
there as taking a room the night before by
one of Knighton's female accomplices. She
has nothing to do but wait there placidly for
your arrival. The jewels are not, and never
have been, in her possession. No suspicion
attaches to him, and, as your secretary, he
brings them to Nice without the least fear
of discovery. Their delivery there to Monsieur
Papopolous is already arranged for and
they are entrusted to Mason at the last moment
to hand over to the Greek. Altogether
a very neatly planned coup, as one would
expect from a master of the game such as the
Marquis."
388
"And you honestly mean that Richard
Knighton is a well-known criminal, who has
been at this business for years?"
Poirot nodded.
"One of the chief assets of the gentleman
called the Marquis was his plausible, ingratiating
manner. You fell a victim to his
charm, Monsieur Van Aldin, when you engaged
him as a secretary on such a slight
acquaintanceship.? ?
"I could have sworn that he never angled
for the post," cried the millionaire.
"It was very astutely done--so astutely
done that it deceived a man whose knowledge
of other men is as great as yours is."
"I looked up his antecedents too. The fellow's
record was excellent."
"Yes, yes; that was part of the game. As
Richard Knighton his life was quite free
from reproach. He was well born, well connected, did honourable service in the War, and seemed altogether above suspicion; but
when I came to glean information about the
mysterious Marquis, I found many points of 1 similarity. Knighton spoke French like a
Frenchman, he had been in America, France, and England at much the same time
as the Marquis was operating. The Marquis
was last heard of as engineering various jewel
robberies in Switzerland, and it was in Switzerland
that you had come across Major
Knighton; and it was at precisely that time
that the first rumours were going round of
your being in treaty for the famous rubies."
"But why murder?" murmured Van Aldin
brokenly. "Surely a clever thief could have
stolen the jewels without running his head
into a noose."
Poirot shook his head. "This is not the
first murder that lies to the Marquis's
charge. He is a killer by instinct; he believes, too, in leaving no evidence behind him.
Dead men and women tell no tales.
"The Marquis had an intense passion for
famous and historical jewels. He laid his
plans far beforehand by installing himself as
your secretary and getting his accomplice to
obtain the situation of maid with your
daughter, for whom he guessed the jewels
were destined. And, though this was his matured
and carefully thought-out plan, he did
not scruple to attempt a short-cut by hiring
a couple of Apaches to waylay you in Paris
on the night you bought the jewels. That
plan failed, which hardly surprised him, I
think. This plan was, so he thought, completely
safe. No possible suspicion could attach
to Richard Knighton. But like all great
men--and the Marquis was a great man--
he had his weaknesses. He fell genuinely in
love with Miss Grey, and suspecting her liking
for Derek Kettering, he could not resist
the temptation to saddle him with the crime
when the opportunity presented itself. And
now. Monsieur Van Aldin, I am going to tell
you something very curious. Miss Grey is
not a fanciful woman by any means, yet she
firmly believes that she felt your daughter's
presence beside her one day in the Casino
Gardens at Monte Carlo, just after she had
been having a long talk with Knighton. She
was convinced, she says, that the dead
woman was urgently trying to tell her something, and it suddenly came to her that what
the dead woman was trying to say was that
Knighton was her murderer! The idea
seemed so fantastic at the time that Miss
Grey spoke of it to no one. But she was so
convinced of its truth that she acted on it--
wild as it seemed. She did not discourage
Knighton's advances, and she pretended to
him that she was convinced of Derek Kettering's
guilt."
"Extraordinary," said Van Aldin.
"Yes, it is very strange. One cannot explain
these things. Oh, by the way, there is
one little point that baffled me considerably.
Your secretary has a decided limp--the result
of a wound that he received in the War.
Now the Marquis most decidedly did not
limp. That was a stumbling-block. But Miss
Lenox Tamplin happened to mention one
day that Knighton's limp had been a surprise
to the surgeons who had been in charge of
the case in her mothers hospital. That suggested
camouflage. When I was in London
I went to the surgeon in question, and I got
several technical details from him which confirmed
me in that belief. I mentioned the
name of that surgeon in Knighton's hearing
the day before yesterday. The natural thing
would have been for Knighton to mention
that he had been attended by him during the
War, but he said nothing--and that little
point, if nothing else, gave me the last final
assurance that my theory of the crime was
correct. Miss Grey, too, provided me with a
cutting, showing that there had been a robbery
at Lady Tamplin's hospital during the
time that Knighton had been there. She realized
that I was on the same track as herself
when I wrote to her from the Ritz in Paris.
"I had some trouble in my inquiries there, but I got what I wanted--evidence that Ada
Mason arrived on the morning after the
crime and not on the evening of the day
before."
There was a long silence, then the millionaire
stretched out a hand to Poirot across
the table.
"I guess you know what this means to me, Monsieur Poirot," he said huskily. "I am
sending you round a cheque in the morning, but no cheque in the world will express what
I feel about what you have done for me. You
are the goods. Monsieur Poirot. Every time, you are the goods."
Poirot rose to his feet; his chest swelled.
"I am only Hercule Poirot," he said modestly, "yet, as you say, in my own way I am
a big man, even as you also are a big man.
I am glad and happy to have been of service
to you. Now I go to repair the damages
caused by travel. Alas! my excellent Georges
is not with me."
In the lounge of the hotel he encountered
a friend--the venerable Monsieur Papopolous, his daughter Zia beside him.
"I thought you had left Nice, Monsieur
Poirot," murmured the Greek as he took the
detective's affectionately proffered hand.
"Business compelled me to return, my
dear Monsieur Papopolous."
"Business?"
"Yes, business. And talking of business, I hope your health is better, my dear
friend?"
"Much better. In fact, we are returning
to Paris tomorrow."
"I am enchanted to hear such good news.
You have not completely ruined the Greek
ex-Minister, I hope."
"I?"
"I understand you sold him a very wonderful
ruby which--strictly entre nous--is
being worn by Mademoiselle Mirelle, the
dancer?"
"Yes," murmured Monsieur Papopolous;
"yes, that is so."
"A ruby not unlike the famous 'Heart of
Fire\"
"It has points of resemblance, certainly,"
said the Greek casually.
"You have a wonderful hand with jewels, Monsieur Papopolous. I congratulate you.
Mademoiselle Zia, I am desolate that you are
returning to Paris so speedily. I had hoped
to see some more of you now that my business
is accomplished."
"Would one be indiscreet if one asked
what that business was?" asked Monsieur
Papopolous.
"Not at all, not at all. I have just succeeded
in laying the Marquis by the heels."
A far-away look came over Monsieur Papopolous'
noble countenance.
"The Marquis?" he murmured; "now
why does that seem familiar to me? No--I
cannot recall it."
"You would not, I am sure," said Poirot.
"I refer to a very notable criminal and jewel
robber. He has just been arrested for the
murder of the English lady, Madame Kettering."

"Indeed? How interesting these things
are!"
A polite exchange of farewells followed, and when Poirot was out of earshot. Monsieur
Papopolous turned to his daughter.
"Zia," he said, with feeling, "that man is
the devil!"
"I like him."
"I like him myself," admitted Monsieur
Papopolous. "But he is the devil, all the
same."
Chapter 36
By the Sea
the mimosa was nearly over. The scent of
it in the air was faintly unpleasant. There
were pink geraniums twining along the balustrade
of Lady Tamplin's villa, and masses
of carnations below sent up a sweet, heavy
perfume. The Mediterranean was at its
bluest. Poirot sat on the terrace with Lenox
Tamplin. He had just finished telling her the
same story he had told to Van Aldin two
days before. Lenox had listened to him with
absorbed attention, her brows knitted and
her eyes sombre.
When he had finished she said simply:
"And Derek?"
"He was released yesterday."
"And he has gone--where?"
"He left Nice last night."
"For St. Mary Mead?"
"Yes, for St. Mary Mead."
There was a pause.
"I was wrong about Katherine," said
Lenox. "I thought she did not care."
"She is very reserved. She trusts no one."
"She might have trusted me," said Lenox, with a shade of bitterness.
"Yes," said Poirot gravely, "she might
have trusted you. But Mademoiselle Katherine
has spent a great deal of her life listening, and those who have listened do not
find it easy to talk; they keep their sorrows
and joys to themselves and tell no one."
"I was a fool," said Lenox; "I thought she
really cared for Knighton. I ought to have
known better. I suppose I thought so
because--well, I hoped so."
Poirot took her hand and gave it a little
friendly squeeze. "Courage, Mademoiselle,"
he said gently.
Lenox looked very straight out across the
sea, and her face, in its ugly rigidity, had for
the moment a tragic beauty.
"Oh, well," she said at last, "it would not
have done. I am too young for Derek; he is
like a kid that has never grown up. He wants
the Madonna touch."
There was a long silence, then Lenox
turned to him quickly and impulsively. "But
I did help. Monsieur Poirot--at any rate I
did help."
"Yes, Mademoiselle. It was you who gave
me the first inkling of the truth when you
said that the person who committed the
crime need not have been on the train at all.
Before that, I could not see how the thing
had been done."
Lenox drew a deep breath.
"I am glad," she said; "at any rate—that
is something."
From far behind them there came a longdraw-out
scream of an engine's whistle.
"That is that damned Blue Train," said
Lenox. "Trains are relentless things, aren't
they. Monsieur Poirot? People are murdered
and die, but they go on just the same. I am
talking nonsense, but you know what I
mean."
"Yes, yes, I know. Life is like a train,
Mademoiselle. It goes on. And it is a good
thing that that is so."
"Why?"
"Because the train gets to its journey's end
at last, and there is a proverb about that in
your language. Mademoiselle."
"'Journeys end in lovers meeting.'"
Lenox laughed. "That is not going to be true
for me."
9 99
"Yes—yes, it is true. You are young,
younger than you yourself know. Trust the
ff\0
train, Mademoiselle, for it is Ie bon Dieu who
drives it."
The whistle of the engine came again.
"Trust the train. Mademoiselle," murmured
Poirot again. "And trust Hercule
Poirot. He knows."

 
 

 

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agatha christie - cards on the table



CHAPTER 1
Mr. Shaitana


"My dear M. Poirot!"

It was a soft purring voicc a voice/used deliberately as an
inStrument--nothing impulsive or unpremeditated about it.
Hercule Poirot swung round.
He bowed.

He shook hands ceremoniously.

There was something in his eye that was unusual. One would have said that
this chance encounter awakened in him an emotion that he seldom had occasion to
feel.

"My dear Mr. Shaitana," he said.

They both paused. They were like duellists en garde.

Around them a well-dressed languid London crowd eddied mildly. Voices
drawled or murmured.

"Darlingxquisite!"

"Simply divine, aren't they, my dear?"

It was the Exhibition of Snuff-Boxes at Wessex House. Admission one guinea,
in aid of the London hospitals.

"My dear man," said Mr. Shaitana, "how nice to see you! Not hanging or
guillotining much just at present? Slack season in the criminal world? Or is there to
be a robbery here this afternoon--that would be too delicious."

"Alas, Monsieur," said Poirot. "I am here in a purely private capacity."

Mr. Shaitana was diverted for a moment by a Lovely Young Thing with tight
poodle curls up one side of her head and three cornucopias in black straw on the
other.

He said:

"My dear--why didn't you come to my party? It really was a marvellous party!
Quite a lot of people actually spoke to me! One woman even said 'How do you do,'
and 'Good-bye' and 'Thank you so much' but of course she came from a Garden
City, poor dear!"

While the Lovely Young Thing made a suitable reply, Poirot allowed himselfa
good study of the hirsute adornment on Mr. Shaitana's upper lip.

A fine moustache a very fine moustache--the only moustache in London,
perhaps, that could compete with that of M. Hercule Poirot.

"But it is not so luxuriant," he murmured to himself. "No, decidedly it is
inferior in every respect. Tout de rrme, it catches the eye."

The whole of Mr. Shaitana's person caught the eyc it was designed to do so.
He deliberately attempted a Mephistophelian effect. He was tall and thin, his face
was long and melancholy, his. eyebrows were heavfiy accented and jet black, he


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wore a moustache with stiffwaxed ends and a tiny black imperial. His clothes were
works of art--of exquisite cut but with a suggestion of the bizarre.
Every healthy Englishman who saw him longed earnestly and fervently to kick
him! They said, with a singular lack of originality, "There's that damned Dago,
Shaitana!"
Their wives, daughters, sisters, aunts, mothers, and even grandmothers said,
varying the idiom according to their generation, words to this effect: "I know, my
dear. Of course, he is too terrible. But so rich! And such marvellous parties! And
he's always got something amusing and spiteful to tell you about people."
Whether Mr. Shaitana was an Argentine, or a Portuguese, or a Greek, or some
other nationality rightly despised by the insular Briton, nobody knew.
But three facts were quite certain:
He existed richly and beautifully in a super flat in Park Lane.
He gave wonderful parties--large parties, small parties, macabre parties,
respectable parties and definitely "queer" parties.
He was a man of whom nearly everybody was a little afraid.
Why this last was so can hardly be stated in definite words. There was a
feeling, perhaps, that he knew a little too much about everybody. And there was a
feeling, too, that his sense of humour was a curious one.
People nearly always felt that it would be better not to risk offending Mr.
Shaitana.
It was his humour this afternoon to bait that ridiculous-looking little man,
Hercule Poirot.
"So even a policeman needs recreation?" he said. "You study the art in your
old age, M. Poirot."
Poirot smiled good-humouredly.
"I see," he said, "that you yourself have lent three snuffboxes to the
Exhibition."
Mr. Shaitana waved a deprecating hand.
"One picks up trifles here and there. You must come to my flat one day. I have
some interesting pieces. I do not confine myself to any particular period or class of
object.'
"Your tastes are catholic," said Poirot smiling.
"As you say."
Suddenly Mr. Shaitana's eyes danced, the corners of his lips curled up, his
eyebrows assumed a fantastic tilt.
"I could even show you objects in your own line, M. Poirot!"
"You have then a private 'Black Museum.'"
"Bah!" Mr. Shaitana snapped disdainful fingers. "The cup used by the
Brighton murderer, the jemmy of a celebrated burglar absurd childishness! I
should never burden myself with rubbish like that. I collect only the best objects of
their kind."
"And what do you consider the best objects, artistically speaking, in crime?"
inquired Poirot.
Mr. Shaitana leaned forward and laid two fingers on Poirot's shoulder. He
hissed his words dramatically.
"The human beings who commit them, M. Poirot."
Poirot's eyebrows rose a trifle.
"Aha, I have startled you," said Shaitana. "My dear, dear man, you and I look
on these things as from poles apart! For you crime is a matter of routine: a murder,
an investigation, a clue, and ultimately (for you are undoubtedly an able fellow) a


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conviction. Such banalities would not interest me! I am not interested in poor
specimens of any kind. And the caught murderer is necessarily one of the failures.
He is second-rate. No, I look on the matter from the artistic point of view. I collect
only the best!"
"The best being ?" asked Poirot.
"My dear fellow--the ones who have got away with it! The successes! The

criminals who lead an agreeable life which no breath of suspicion has ever touched.

Admit that it is an amusing hobby."

"It was another word I was thinking of not amusing."

"An idea!" cried Shaitana, paying no attention to Poirot. "A little dinner! A

dinner to meet my exhibits! Really that is a most amusing thought. I cannot think

why it has never occurred to me before. Yes--yes, I see it allI see it exactly ....

You must give me a little time--not next week--let us sa the week after next. You
are free? What day shall we say?"

"Any day of the week after next would suit me," saidoirot with a bow.
"Good then let us say Friday. Friday the 18th, that will be. I will write it
down at once in my little book. Really, the idea pleases me enormously."
"I am not quite sure if it pleases me," said Poirot slowly. "I do not mean that I
am insensible to the kindness of your invitation--no---not that
"
Shaitana interrupted him.
"But it shocks your bourgeois sensibilities? My dear fellow, you must free
yourself from the limitations of the policeman mentality."
Poirot said slowly:
"It is true that I have a thoroughly bourgeois attitude to murder."
"But, my dear, why? A stupid, bungled, butchering business--yes, I agree
with you. But murder can be an art! A murderer can be an artist."
"Oh, I admit it."
"Well then?" Mr. Shaitana asked.
"But he is still a murderer!"
"Surely, my dear M. Poirot, to do a thing supremely well is a justification! You
want, very unimaginatively, to take every murderer, handcuff him, shut him up,
and eventually break his neck for him in the early hours of the morning. In my
opinion a really successful murderer should be granted a pension out of the public
funds and asked out to dinner!"
Poirot shrugged his shoulders.
"I am not as insensitive to art in crime as you think. I can admire the perfect
murderer--I can also admire a tiger--that splendid tawny-striped beast. But I will
admire him from outside his cage. I will not go inside. That is to say, not unless it is
my duty to do so. For you see, Mr. Shaitana, the tiger might spring "
Mr.
Shaitana laughed.
"I see. And the murderer?"
"Might
murder," said Poirot gravely.
"My dear fellow--what an alarmist you are! Then you will not come to meet
my collection of--tigers?"
"On the contrary, I shall be enchanted."
"How brave!"
"You do not quite understand me, Mr. Shaitana. My words were in the nature
of a warning. You asked me just now to admit that your idea of a collection, of
murderers was amusing. I said I could think of another word other than amusing.
That word was dangerous. I fancy, Mr. Shaitana, that your hobby might be a
dangerous one!"


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Mr. Shaitana laughed, a very Mephistophelian laugh.

He said:

"I may expect you, then, on the 18th?'

Poirot gave a little bow.

"You may expect me on the 18th. Mille remerciments."

"I shall arrange a little party," mused Shaitana. "Do not forget. Eight o'clock."

He moved away. Poirot stood a minute or two looking after him.

He shook his head slowly and thoughtfully.

CHAPTER 2
Dinner at Mr. Shaitana's

The door of Mr. Shaitana's flat opened noiselessly. A grey-haired butler drew it
back to let Poirot enter. He closed it equally noiselessly and deftly relieved the
guest of his overcoat and hat.
He murmured in a low expressionless voice:
"What name shall I say?" "M. Hercule Poirot."
There was a little hum of talk that eddied out into the hall as the butler opened
a door and announced:
"M. Hercule Poirot."
Sherry-glass in hand, Shaitana came forward to meet him. He was, as usual,
immaculately dressed. The Mephistophelian suggestion was ******ened tonight,
the eyebrows seemed accentuated in their mocking twist.
"Let me introduce you--do you know Mrs. Oliver?"
The showman in him enjoyed the little start of surprise that Poirot gave.
Mrs. Ariadne Oliver was extremely well known as one of the foremost writers
of detective and other sensational stories. She wrote chatty (if not particularly
grammatical) articles on The Tendency of the Criminal; Famous Crimes Passion-nels;
Murder for Love v. Murder for Gain. She was also a hot-headed feminist, and
when any murder of importance was occupying space in the Press there was sure to
be an interview with Mrs. Oliver, and it was mentioned that Mrs. Oliver had said,
"Now ifa woman were the head of Scotland Yard!" She was an earnest believer in
woman's intuition.
For the rest she was an agreeable woman of middle age, handsome in a rather
untidy fashion with fine eyes, substantial shoulders and a large quantity of
rebellious grey hair with which she was continually experimenting. One day her
appearance would be highly intellectual--a brow with the hair scraped back from it
and coiled in a large bun in the neck--on another Mrs. Oliver would suddenly
appear with Madonna loops, or large masses of slightly untidy curls. On this
particular evening Mrs. Oliver was trying out a fringe.
She greeted Poirot, whom she had met before at a literary dinner, in an
agreeable bass voice.


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385

"And Superintendent Battle you doubtless know," said Mr. Shaitana.
A big square, wooden-faced man moved forward. Not only did an onlooker feel that Superintendent Battle was carved out of wood he also managed to
convey the impression that the wood in question was the timber out of a battleship.
Superintendent Battle was supposed to be Scotland Yard's best representative.
He always looked stolid and rather stupid.
"I know M. Poirot," said Superintendent Battle.
And his wooden face creased into a smile and then returned to its former
unexpressiveness.
"Colonel Race," went on Mr. Shaitana.
Poirot had not previously met Colonel Race, but he knew something about
him. A dark, handsome, deeply bronzed man of fifty, he was usually to be found in
some outpost of empire especially if there were trouble brewing. Secret Service
is a melodramatic term, but it described pretty accurately to the lay mind the
nature and scope of Colonel Race's activities.
Poirot had by now taken in and appreciated te particular essence of his host's
humorous intentions.
"Our other guests are late," said Mr. Shaitana. 'ly fault, perhaps. I believe I
told them 8:15."
But at that moment the door opened and the butler announced:
"Dr. Roberts."
The man who came in did so with a kind of parody of a brisk bedside manner.
He was a cheerful, highly-coloured individual of middle age. Small twinkling eyes,
a touch of baldness, a tendency to embonpoint and a general air of well-scrubbed
and disinfected medical practitio/er. His manner was cheerful and confident. You
felt that his diagnosis would be correct and his treatments agreeable and
practical "a little champagne in convalescence perhaps." A man of the world!
"Not late, I hope?" said Dr. Roberts genially.
He shook hands with his host and was introduced to the others. He seemed
particularly gratified at meeting Battle.
"Why, you're one of the big noises at Scotland Yard, aren't you? This is
interesting! Too bad to make you talk shop but I warn you I shall have a try at it.
Always been interested in crime. Bad thing for a doctor, perhaps. Mustn't say so to
my nervous patients--ha ha!"
Again the door opened.
"Mrs. Lorrimer."
Mrs. Lorrimer was a well-dressed woman of sixty. She had finely-cut features,
beautifully arranged grey hair, and a clear, incisive voice.
"I hope I'm not late," she said, advancing to her host.
She turned from him to greet Dr. Roberts, with whom she was acquainted.
The butler announced:
"Major Despard."
Major Despard was a tall, lean, handsome man, his face slightly marred by a
scar on the temple. Introductions completed, he gravitated naturally to the side of
Colonel Race--and the two men were soon talking sport and comparing their
experiences on safari.
For the last time the door opened and the butler announced:
"Miss Meredith."
A girl in the early twenties entered. She was of medium ****** and pretty.
Brown curls clustered in her neck, her grey eyes were large and wide apart. Her
face was powdered but not made-up. Her voice was slow and rather shy.


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Agatha Chrtie

She said:
"Oh dear, am I the last?"
Mr. Shaitana descended on her with sherry and an ornate and complimentary
reply. His introductions were formal and almost ceremonious.
Miss Meredith was left sipping her sherry by Poirot's side.
"Our friend is very punctilious," said Poirot with a smile.
The girl agreed.
"I know. People rather dispense with introductions nowadays. They just say 'I
expect you know everybody' and leave it at that."
"Whether you do or you don't?"
"Whether you do or don't. Sometimes it makes it awkward
but I think this is
more awe-inspiring."

She hesitated and then said:

"Is that Mrs. Oliver, the novelist?"
Mrs. Oliver's bass voice rose powerfully at that minute, speaking to Dr.
Roberts.
"You can't get away from a woman's 'instinct, doctor. Women know these
things."
Forgetting that she no longer had a brow she endeavoured to sweep her hair
back from it but was foiled by the fringe.
"That is Mrs. Oliver," said Poirot.
"The one who wrote The Body in the Library?"
"That identical one."
Miss Meredith frowned a little.
"And that wooden-looking man--a superintendent did Mr. Shaitana say?"
"From Scotland Yard."
"And you?"
"And me?"
"I know all about you, M. Poirot. It was you who really solved the A.B.C.
Crimes."
"Mademoiselle, you cover me with confusion."
Miss Meredith drew her brows together.
"Mr. Shaitana," she began and then stopped. "Mr. Shaitana--
Poirot said quietly:
"One might say he was 'crime-minded.' It seems so. Doubtless he wishes to
hear us dispute ourselves. He is already egging on Mrs. Oliver and Dr. Roberts.
They are now discussing untraceable poisons."
Miss Meredith gave a little gasp as she said:

"What a queer man he is!"

"Dr. Roberts?"

"No, Mr. Shaitana.'
She shivered a little and said:
"There's always something a little frightening about him, I think. You never
know what would strike him as amusing. It might--it might be something cruel." "Such as fox-hunting, eh?"
Miss Meredith threw him a reproachful glance.
"I meant-oh! something Oriental!"
"He has perhaps the tortuous mind," admitted Poirot.
"Torturer's?"
"No, no, tortuous, I said."


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387

"I don't think I like him frightfully," confided Miss Meredith, her voice
dropping.
"You will like his dinner, though," Poirot assured her. "He has a marvellous
cook."
She looked at him doubtfully and then laughed.
"Why," she exclaimed, "I believe you are quite human."
"But certainly I am human!"
"You see," said Miss Meredith, "all these celebrities are rather intimidating."
"Mademoiselle, you should not be intimidated--you should be thrilled! You
should have all ready your autograph book and your fountain-pen."
"Well, you see, I'm not really terribly interested in crime. I don't think
women are: it's always men who read detective stories."
Hercule Poirot sighed affectedly.
"Alasl" he murmured. "What would I not give at this minute to be even the
most minor of film stars!"
The butler threw the door open.
"Dinner is served," he murmured.
Poirot's prognostication was amply justified. The dinner was delicious and its
serving perfection. Subdued light, polished wood, the blue gleam of Irish glass. In
the dimness, at the head of the table, Mr. Shaitana looked more than ever
diabolical.
He apologised gracefully for the uneven number of the sexes.
Mrs. Lorrimer was on his right hand, Mrs. Oliver on his left. Miss Meredith
was between Superintendent Battle and Major Despard. Poirot was between Mrs.
Lorrimer and Dr. Roberts.
The latter murmured facetiously to him.
"You're not going to be allowed to monopolise the only pretty girl all the
evening. You French fellows, you don't waste your time, do you?"
"I happen to be Belgian," murmured Poirot.
"Same thing where the ladies are concerned, I expect, my boy," said the
doctor cheerfully.
Then, dropping the facetiousness, and adopting a professional tone, he began
to talk to Colonel Race on his other side about the latest developments in the
treatment of sleeping sickness.
Mrs. Lorrimer turned to Poirot and began to talk of the latest plays. Her
judgments were sound and her criticisms apt. They drifted on to books and then to
world politics. He found her a well-informed and thoroughly intelligent woman.
On the opposite side of the table Mrs. Oliver was asking Major Despard if he
knew of any unheard-of out-of-the-way poisons.
"Well, there's curare.'
"My dear man, vieux jeu! That's been done hundreds of times. I mean
something new!"
Major Despard said dryly:
"Primitive tribes are rather old-fashioned. They stick to the good old stuff
their grandfathers and great-grandfathers used before them."
"Very tiresome of them," said Mrs. Oliver. "I should have thought they were
always experimenting with pounding up herbs and things. Such a chance for
explorers, I always think. They could come home and kill off all their rich old
uncles with some new drug that no one's ever heard of."
"You should go to civilisation, not to the wilds for that," said Despard. "In the


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modern laboratory, for instance. Cultures of innocent-looking germs that will
produce bona ride diseases."
"That wouldn't do for mq public," said Mrs. Oliver. "Besides one is so apt to
get the names wrong--staphylococcus and streptococcus and all those things---so
difficult for my secretary and anyway rather dull, don't you think so? What do you think, Superintendent Battle?"
"In real life people don't bother about being too subtle, Mrs. Oliver," said the
superintendent. "They usually stick to arsenic because it's nice and handy to get
hold of."
"Nonsense," said Mrs. Oliver. "That's simply because there are lots of crimes
you people at Scotland Yard never find out. Now if you hada woman there
"As a matter of fact we have "
"Yes, those dreadful policewomen in funny hats who bother people in parks. I
mean a woman at the head of things. Women know about crime."
"They're usually very successful criminals," said Superintendent Battle.
"Keep their heads well. It's amazing how they'll brazen things out."
Mr. Shaitana laughed gently.
"Poison is a woman's weapon," he said. "There must be many secret women
poisoners--never found out."
"Of course there are," said Mrs. Oliver happily, helping herself lavishly to a mousse of foie gras.
"A doctor, too, has opportunities," went on Mr. Shaitana thoughtfully.
"I protest," cried Dr. Roberts. "When we poison our patients it's entirely by
accident." He laughed heartily.
"But if I were to commit a crime," went on Mr. Shaitana.
He stopped; something in that pause compelled attention.
All faces were turned to him.
"I should make it very simple, I think. There's always accident--a shooting
accident, for instance or the domestic kind of accident."
Then he shrugged his shoulders and picked up his wineglass.
"But who am I to pronounce--with so many experts present ....
He drank. The candlelight threw a red shade from the wine on to his face with
its waxed moustache, its little imperial, its fantastic eyebrows ....
There was a momentary silence.
Mrs. Oliver said:
"Is it twenty-to or twenty-past? An angel passing My
feet aren't
crossed
it must be a black angel!"

CHAPTER
3
A
Game of Bridge

When
the company returned to the drawing-room a bridge table had been set out. Coffee
was handed round.
"Who
plays bridge?" asked Mr. Shaitana. "Mrs. Lorrimer, I know. And Dr. Roberts.
Do you play, Miss Meredith?"


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389

"Yes. I'm not frightfully good, though."
"Excellent. And Major Despart? Good. Supposing you four play here."
"Thank goodness there's to be bridge," said Mrs. Lorrimer in an aside to
Poirot. "I'm one of the worst bridge fiends that ever lived. It's growing on me. I
simply will not go out to dinner now if there's no bridge afterwards! I just fall
asleep. I'm ashamed of myself, but there it is."
They cut for partners. Mrs. Lorrimer was partnered with Anne Meredith
against Major Despard and Dr. Roberts.
"Women against men," said Mrs. Lorrimer as she took her seat and began
shuffling the cards in an expert manner. "The blue cards, don't you think, partner?
I'm a forcing two."
"Mind you win," said Mrs. Oliver, her feminist feelings rising. "Show the men
they can't have it all their own way."
"They haven't got a hope, the poor dears," said Dr. Roberts cheerfully as he
started shuffling the other pack. "Your teal, I think, Mrs. Lorrimer."
Major Despard sat down rather slowly. He was looking at Anne Meredith as
though he had just made the discovery that she was remarkably pretty.
"Cut, please," said Mrs. Lorrimer impatiently. And with a start of apology he
cut the pack she was presenting to him.
Mrs. Lorrimer began to deal with a practised hand.
"There is another bridge table in the other room," said Mr. Shaitana.
He crossed to a second door and the other four followed him into a small
comfortably furnished smoking-room where a second bridge table was set ready. "We must cut out," said Colonel Race.
Mr. Shaitana shook his head.
"I do not play," he said. "Bridge is not one of the games that amuse me."
The others protested that they would much rather not play, but he overruled
them firmly and in the end they sat down. Poirot and Mrs. Oliver against Battle
and Race.
Mr. Shaitana watched them for a little while, smiled in a Mephistophelian
manner as he observed on what hand Mrs. Oliver declared Two No Trumps, and
then went noiselessly through into the other room.
There they were well down to it, their faces serious, the bids coming quickly.
"One heart." "Pass." "Three clubs." "Three spades." "Four diamonds." "Double."
"Four hearts."
Mr. Shaitana stood watching a moment, smiling to himself.
Then he crossed the room and sat down in a big chair by the fireplace. A tray
of drinks had been brought in and placed on an adjacent table. The firelight
gleamed on the crystal stoppers.
Always an artist in lighting, Mr. Shaitana had simulated the appearance of a
merely firelit room. A small shaded lamp at his elbow gave him light to read by if
he so desired. Discreet floodlighting gave the room a subdued glow. A slightly
stronger light shone over the bridge table, from whence the monotonous
ejaculations continued.
"One no trump" an aggressive note in the voiceDr. Roberts.
"No bid" a quiet voice--Anne Meredith's.
A slight pause always before Despard's voice came. Not so much a slow
thinker as a man who liked to be sure before he spoke.
"Four hearts."
"Double."
His face lit up by the flickering firelight, Mr. Shaitana smiled.


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Agatha Christie


He smiled and he went on smiling. His eyelids flickered a little ....

His party was amusing him.


"Five diamonds. Game and rubber," said Colonel Race.

"Good for you, partner," he said to Poirot. "I didn't think you'd do it. Lucky
they didn't lead a spade."

"Wouldn't have made much difference, I expect," said Superintendent Battle,
a man of gentle magnanimity.

He had called spades. His partner, Mrs. Oliver, had had a spade, but

"something had told her" to lead a club--with disastrous results.
Colonel Race looked at his watch.
"Ten-past-twelve. Time for another?"

"You'll excuse me," said Superintendent Battle. "But I'm by way of being an
'early-to-bed' man."

"I, too," said Hercule Poirot.

"We'd better add up," said Race.

The result of the evening's five rubbers was an overwhelming victory for the
male sex. Mrs. Oliver had lost three pounds and seven shillings to the other three.
The biggest winner was Colonel Race.

Mrs. Oliver, though a bad bridge player, was a sporting loser. She paid up
cheerfully.

"Everything went wrong for me tonight," she said. "It is like that sometimes. I
held the most beautiful cards ysterday. A hundred and fifty honours three times
running."

She rose and gathered up her embroidered evening bag, just refraining in
time from stroking her hair off her brow.

"I suppose our host is next door," she said.

She went through the communicating door, the others behind her.

Mr. Shaitana was in his chair by the fire. The bridge players were absorbed in
their game.

"Double five clubs," Mrs. Lorrimer was saying in her cool, incisive voice.
"Five No Trumps."

Mrs. Oliver came up to the bridge table. This was likely to be an exciting
hand.

Superintendent Battle came with her.

Colonel Race went towards Mr. Shaitana, Poirot behind him.

"Got to be going, Shaitana," said Race.

Mr. Shaitana did not answer. His head had fallen forward, and he seemed to
be asleep. Race gave a momentary whimsical glance at Poirot and went a little
nearer. Suddenly he uttered a muffled ejaculation, bent forward. Poirot was beside
him in a minute, he, too, looking where Colonel Race was pointing--something
that might have been a particularly ornate shirt stud but it was not ....

Poirot bent, raised one of Mr. Shaitana's hands, then let it fall. He met Race's

inquiring glance and nodded. The latter raised his voice.

"Superintendent Battle, just a minute."

The superintendent came over to them. Mrs. Oliver continued to watch the
play of Five No Trumps doubled.

Superintendent Battle, despite his appearance of stolidity, was a very quick

man. His eyebrows went up and he said in a low voice as he joined them:
"Something wrong?"

With a nod Colonel Race indicated the silent figure in the chair.

As Battle bent over it, Poirot looked thoughtfully at what he could see of Mr.



Cards on the Table
391


Shaitana's face. Rather a silly face it looked now, the mouth drooping open--the
devilish expression lacking ....

Hercule Poirot shook his head.

Superintendent Battle straightened himself. He had examined, without
touching, the thing which looked like an extra stud in Mr. Shaitana's shirt--and it
was not an extra stud. He had raised the limp hand and let it fall.

Now he stood up, unemotional, capable, soldierly--prepared to take charge
efficiently of the situation.

"Just a minute, please," he said.

And the raised voice was his official voice, so different that all the heads at the
bridge table turned to him, and Anne Meredith's hand remained poised over an
ace of spades in dummy.

"I'm sorry to tell you all," he said, "that our host, Mr. Shaitana, is dead."

Mrs. Lorrimer and Dr. Roberts rose to their feet. Despard stared and

frowned. Anne Meredith gave a little gasp.

"Are you sure, man?"

Dr. Roberts, his professional instincts aroused?.came briskly across the floor
with a bounding medical "in-at-the-death" step.

Without seeming to, the bulk of Superintendent Battle impeded his progress.

"Just a minute, Dr. Roberts. Can you tell me first who's been in and out of this
room this evening?"

Roberts stared at him.

'"In and out? I don't understand you. Nobody has."
The superintendent transferred his gaze. "Is that right, Mrs. Lorrimer?"
"Quite right."

"Not the butler nor any of the servants?"

"No. The butler brought in that tray as we sat down to bridge. He has not
been in since."

Superintendent Battle looked at Despard.

Despard nodded in agreement.

Anne said rather breathlessly, "Yes--yes, that's right."

"What's all this, man," said Roberts impatiently. "Just let me examine him;
may be just a fainting fit."

"It isn't a fainting fit, and I'm sorry--but nobody's going to touch him until the

divisional surgeon comes. Mr. Shaitana's been murdered, ladies and gentlemen." "Murdered?" A horrified incredulous sigh from Anne.
A stare---a very blank stare from Despard.

A sharp incisive "Murdered?" from Mrs. Lorrimer.

A "Good God!" from Dr. Roberts.

Superintendent Battle nodded his head slowly. He looked rather like a

Chinese porcelain mandarin. His expression was quite blank.
"Stabbed," he said. "That's the way of it. Stabbed."
Then he shot out a question:

"Any of you leave the bridge table during the evening?"

He saw four expressions break up--waver. He saw fearomprehensionm

indignation-dismay--horror; but he saw nothing definitely helpful.

"Well?"

There was a pause, and then-Major Despard said quietly (he had risen now
and was standing like a soldier on parade, his narrow, intelligent face turned to
Battle):

"i think every one of us, at one time or another, moved from the bridge



392
Agatha Christie


table--either to get drinks or to put wood on the fire. I did both. When I went to

the fire Shaitana was asleep in the chair."

"Asleep?"

"I thought so--yes."

"He may have been," said Battle. "Or he may have been dead then. We'll go
into that presently. I'll ask you now to go into the room next door." He turned to

the quiet figure at his elbow: "Colonel Race, perhaps you'll go with them?"
Race gave a quick nod of comprehension.
"Right, superintendent."

The four bridge players went slowly through the doorway.

Mrs. Oliver sat down in a chair at the far end of the room and began to sob
quietly.

Battle took up the telephone receiver and spoke. Then he said:

"The local police will be round immediately. Orders from headquarters are
that I'm to take on the case. Divisional surgeon will be here almost at once. How
long should you say he's been dead, M. Poirot? I'd say well over an hour myself."

"I agree. Alas, that one cannot be more exact--that one cannot say, 'This man

has been dead one hour, twenty-five minutes and forty seconds.'"

Battle nodded absently.

"He was sitting right in front of the fire. That makes a slight difference. Over
an hour--not more than two and a half: that's what our doctor will say, I'll be
bound. And nobody heard anything and nobody saw anything. Amazing! What a
desperate chance to take. He might have cried out."

"But he did not. The murderer's luck held. As you say, mon ami, it was a very
desperate business."

"Any idea, M. Poirot, as to motive? Anything of that kind?"

Poirot said slowly:

"Yes, I have something to say on that score. Tell me, M. Shaitana--he did not

give you any hint of what kind of a party you were coming to tonight?"
Superintendent Battle looked at him curiously.

"No, M. Poirot. He didn't say anything at all. Why?"

A bell whirred in the distance and a knocker was plied.

"That's our people," said Superintendent Battle. "I'll go and let 'em in. We'll

have your story presently. Must get on with the routine work."
Poirot nodded.
Battle left the room.

Mrs. Oliver continued to sob.

Poirot went over to the bridge table. Without touching anything, he examined
the scores. He shook his head once or twice.

"The stupid little man! Oh, the stupid little man," murmured Hercule Poirot. "To dress up as the devil and try to frighten people. Quel enfantillage!"

The door opened, The divisional surgeon came in, bag in hand. He was
followed by the divisional inspector, talking to Battle. A camera man came next.
There was a constable in the hall.

The routine of the detection of crime had begun.



Cards on the Table
393


CHAPTER 4
First Murderer?


Hercule Poirot, Mrs. Oliver, Colonel Race and Superintendent Battle sat round
the dining-room table.

It was an hour later. The body had been examined, photographed and

removed. A fingerprint expert had been and gone.

Superintendent Battle looked at Poirot.

"Before I have those four in, I want to hear what you've got to tell me.
According to you there was something behind this party tonight?"

Very deliberately and carefully Poirot retold the conversation he had held
with Shaitana at Wessex House.

Superintendent Battle pursed his lips. He verynead'y whistled.

"Exhibitsh? Murderers all alive oh! And yiu think he meant it? You don't

think he was pulling your leg?"

Poirot shook his head.

"Oh, no, he meant it. Sbaitana was a man who prided himself on his
Mephistophelian attitude to life. He was a man of great vanity. He was also a
stupid man--that is why he is dead."

"I get you," said Superintendent Battle, following things out in his mind. "A
party of eight and himself. Four 'sleuths,' so to speak--and four murderers!"

"It's impossible!" cried Mrs. Oliver. "Absolutely impossible. None of those
people can be criminals."

Superintendent Battle shook his head thoughtfully.

"I wouldn't be so sure of that, Mrs. Oliver. Murderers look and behave very
much like everybody else. Nice, quiet, well-behaved, reasonable folk very often."

"In that case, it's Dr. Roberts," said Mrs. Oliver firmly. "I felt instinctively
that there was something wrong with that man as soon as I saw him. My instincts
never lie."

Battle turned to Colonel Race.

"What do you think, sir?"

Race shrugged his shoulders. He took the question as referring to Poirot's
statement and not to Mrs. Oliver's suspicions.

"It could be," he said. "It could be. It shows that Shaitana was right in one case at least! After all, he can only have suspected that these people were
murderers--he can't have been sure. He may have been right in all four cases, he
may have been right in only one case but he was right in one case; his death
proved that."

"One of them got the wind up. Think that's it, M. Poirot?"

Poirot nodded.

"The late Mr. Shaitana had a reputation," he said. "He had a dangerous sense
of humour, and was reputed to be merciless. The victim thought that Shaitana was
giving himself an evening's amusement, leading up to a moment when he'd hand
the victim over to the policeyou.t He (or she) must have thought that Shaitana
had definite evidence."



394
Agatha Christie

"Had he?"
Poirot shrugged his shoulders.
"That we shall never know."
"Dr. Roberts!" repeated Mrs. Oliver firmly. "Such a hearty man. Murderers
are often hearty--as a disguise! If I were you, Superintendent Battle, I should
arrest him at once."
"I dare say we would if there was a Woman at the Head of Scotland Yard," said
Superintendent Battle, a momentary twinkle showing in his unemotional eye.
"But, you see, mere men being in charge, we've got to be careful. We've got to get
there slowly."
"Oh, men--men," sighed Mrs. Oliver, and began to compose newspaper
articles in her head.
"Better have them in now," said Superintendent Battle. "It won't do to keep
them hanging about too long."
Colonel Race half rose.
"If you'd like us to go "
Superintendent Battle hesitated a minute as he caught Mrs. Oliver's eloquent
eye. He was well aware of Colonel Race's official position, and Poirot had worked
with the police on many occasions. For Mrs. Oliver to remain was decidedly
stretching a point. But Battle was a kindly man. He remembered that Mrs. Oliver
had lost three pounds and seven shillings at bridge, and that she had been a
cheerful loser.
"You can all stay," he said, "as far as I'm concerned. But no interruptions,
please (he looked at Mrs. Oliver), and there mustn't be a hint of what M. Poirot has
just told us. That was Shaitana's little secret, and to all intents and purposes it died
with him. Understand?"
"Perfectly," said Mrs. Oliver.
Battle strode to the door and called the constable who was in duty in the hall.
"Go to the little smoking-room. You'll find Anderson there with the four
guests. Ask Dr. Roberts if he'll be so good as to step this way."
"I should have kept him to the end," said Mrs. Oliver. "In a book, I mean,"
she added apologetically.
"Real life's a bit different," said Battle.
"I know," said Mrs. Oliver. "Badly constructed."
Dr. Roberts entered with the springiness of his step slightly subdued.
"I say, Battle," he said. "This is the devil of a business! Excuse me, Mrs.
Oliver, but it is. Professionally speaking, I could hardly have believed it! To stab a
man with three other people a few yards away." He shook his head. "Whew! I
wouldn't like to have done it!" A slight smile twitched up the corners of his mouth.
"What can I say or do to convince you that I didn't do it?"
"Well, there's motive, Dr. Roberts."
The doctor nodded his head emphatically.
"That's all clear. I hadn't the shadow of a motive for doing away with poor
Shaitana. I didn't even know him very well. He amused me--he was such a
fantastic fellow. Touch of the Oriental about him. Naturally, you'll investigate my
relations with him closely--I expect that. I'm not a fool. But you won't find
anything. I'd no reason for killing Shaitana, and I didn't kill him."
Superintendent Battle nodded woodenly.
"That's all right, Dr. Roberts. I've got to investigate, as you know. You're a
sensible man. Now, can you tell me anything about the other three people?"
"I'm afraid I don't know very much. Despard and Miss Meredith I met for the


Cards on the Table
395

first time tonight. I knew of Despard beforeread his travel book, and a jolly good
yarn it is."
"Did you know that he and Mr. Shaitana were acquainted?"
"No. Shaitana never mentioned him to me. As I say, I'd heard of him, but
never met him. Miss Meredith I've never seen before. Mrs. Lorrimer I know
slightly."
"What do you know about her?"
Roberts shrugged his shoulders.
"She's a widow. Moderately well off. Intelligent, well-bred woman first-class
bridge player. That's where I've met her, as a matter of fact--playing bridge."
"And Mr. Shaitana never mentioned her, either?" "No."
"H'm--that doesn't help us much. Now, Dr. Roberts, perhaps you'll be so
kind as to tax your memory carefully and tell me how often you yourself left your
seat at the bridge table, and all you can remember about the movements of the
others."
Dr. Roberts took a few minutes to think.
"It's difficult," he said frankly. "I can remeb, ermy own movements, more or
less. I got up three times--that is, on three occasions when I was dummy I left my
seat and made myself useful. Once I went over and put wood on the fire. Once
I brought drinks to the two ladies. Once I poured out a whisky and soda for
myself."
"Can you remember the times?"
"I could only say very roughly. We began to play about nine-thirty, I imagine.
I should say it was about an hour later that I stoked the fire, quite a short time after
that I fetched the drinks (next hand but one, I think), and perhaps half-past eleven
when I got myself a whisky and soda--but those times are quite approximate. I
couldn't answer for their being correct."
"The table with the drinks was beyond Mr. Shaitana's chair?"
"Yes. That's to say, I passed quite near him three times."
"And each time, to the best of your belief, he was asleep?"
"That's what I thought the first time. The second time I didn't even look at
him. Third time I rather fancy the thought just passed through my mind: 'How the
beggar does sleep.' But I didn't really look closely at him."
"Very good. Now, when did your fellow-players leave their seats?"
Dr. Roberts frowned.
"Difficult--very difficult. Despard went and fetched an extra ash-tray, I think.
And he went for a drink. That was before me, for I remember he asked me if I'd
have one, and I said I wasn't quite ready."
"And the ladies?"
"Mrs. Lorrimer went over to the fire once. Poked it, I think. I rather fancy she
spoke to Shaitana, but I don't know. I was playing a rather tricky no trump at the
time."
"And Miss Meredith?"
"She certainly left the table once. Came round and looked at my hand--I was
her partner at the time. Then she looked at the other people's hands, and then she
wandered round the room. I don't know what she was doing exactly. I wasn't
paying attention."
Superintendent Battle said thoughtfully:
"As you were sitting at the bridge-table, no one's chair was directly facing the
fireplace?"


396
Agatha Christie

"No, sort of sideways on, and there was a big cabinet betweenhinese
piece, very handsome. I can see, of course, that it would be perfectly possible to
stab the old boy. After all, when you're playing bridge, you're playing bridge.
You're not looking round you and noticing what is going on. The only person who's
likely to be doing that is dummy. And in this case--"
"In this case, undoubtedly, dummy was the murderer,'said Superintendent
Battle.
"All the same," said Dr. Roberts, "it wanted nerve, you know. After all, who
is to say that somebody won't look up just at the critical moment?"
"Yes," said Battle. "It was a big risk. The motive must have been a strong one.
I wish we knew what it was," he added with unblushing mendacity.
"You'll find out, I expect," said Roberts. "You'll go through his papers, and all
that sort of thing. There will probably be a clue."
"We'll hope so," said Superintendent Battle gloomily.
He shot a keen glance at the other.
"I wonder if you'd oblige me, Dr. Roberts, by giving me a personal opinion--as
man to man."
"Certainly."
"Which do you fancy yourself of the three?"
Dr. Roberts shrugged his shoulders.
"That's easy. Off-hand, I'd say Despard. The man's got plenty of nerve; he's
used to a dangerous life where you've got to act quickly. He wouldn't mind taking a
risk. It doesn't seem to me likely the women are in on this. Take a bit of strength, I
should imagine."
"Not so much as you might think. Take a look at this."
Rather like a conjurer, Battle suddenly produced a long thin instrument of
gleaming metal with a small round jewelled head.
Dr. Roberts leaned forward, took it, and examined it with rich professional
appreciation. He tried the point and whistled.
"What a tool! What a tool! Absolutely made for murder, this little toy. Go in
like butter absolutely like butter. Brought it with him, I suppose."
Battle shook his head.
"No. It was Mr. Shaitana's. It lay on the table near the door with a good many
other knickknacks."
"So the murderer helped himself. A bit of luck finding a tool like that."

"Well, that's one way of looking at it," said Battle slowly.

"Well, of course, it wasn't luck for Shaitana, poor fellow."
"I didn't mean that, Dr. Roberts. I meant that there was another angle of
looking at the business. It occurs to me that it was noticing this weapon that put the
idea of murder into our criminal's mind."
"You mean it was a sudden inspiration--that the murder wasn't premeditated?
He conceived the idea after he got here? Er--anything to suggest that idea to
you?"
He glanced at him searchingly.
"It's just an idea," said Superintendent Battle stolidly.

"Well, it might be so, of course," said Dr. Roberts slowly

Superintendent Battle cleared his throat.
"Well, I won't keep you any longer, doctor. Thank you for your help. Perhaps
you'll leave your address."
"Certainly. 200 Gloucester Terrace, W.2. Telephone No. Bayswater 23896."

"Thank you. I may have to call upon you shortly."


Cards on the Table
397


"Delighted to see you any time. Hope there won't be too much in the papers.

I don't want my nervous patients upset."

Superintendent Battle looked round at Poirot.

"Excuse me, M. Poirot. If you'd like to ask any questions, I'm sure the doctor

wouldn't mind."

"Of course not. Of course not. Great admirer of yours, M. Poirot. Little grey

cells---order and method. I know all about it. I feel sure you'll think Of something

most intriguing to ask me."

Hercule Poirot spread out his hands in his most foreign manner.

"No, no. I just like to get all the details clear in my mind. For instance, how

many rubbers did you play?"

"Three," said Roberts promptly. "We'd got to one game all, in the fourth

rubber, when you came in."

"And who played with who?"

"First rubber, Despard and I against the ladies. They beat us, God bless 'em.

Walk over; we never held a card.

"Second rubber, Miss Meredith and I against Despard and Mrs. Lorrimer.

Third rubber, Mrs. Lorrimer and I against Miss Meredith and Despard. We cut

each time, but it worked out like a pivot. Fourth ruboer, Miss Meredith and I

again."
/

"Who won and who lost?"

"Mrs. Lorrimer won every rubber. Miss Meredith won the first and lost the
next two. I was a bit up and Miss Meredith and Despard must have been down."

Poirot said, smiling, "The good superintendent has asked you your opinion of
your companions as candidates for murder. I now ask you for your opinion of them
as bridge players."

"Mrs. Lorrimer's first class," Dr. Roberts replied promptly. "I'll bet she
makes a good income a year out of bridge. Despard's a good player, toowhat I
call a sound player--long-headed chap. Miss Meredith you might describe as quite

a safe player. She doesn't make mistakes, but she isn't brilliant."
"And you yourself, doctor?"
Roberts' eyes twinkled.

"I overcall my hand a bit, or so they say. But I've always found it pays."

Poirot smiled.

Dr. Roberts rose.

"Anything more?"

Poirot shook his head.

"Well, good-night, then. Good-night, Mrs. Oliver. You ought to get some
copy out of this. Better than your untraceable poisons, eh?"

Dr. Roberts left the room, his bearing springy once more. Mrs. Oliver said
bitterly as the door closed behind him

"Copy! Copy, indeed! People are so unintelligent. I could invent a better
murder any day than anything real. I'm never at a loss for a plot. And the people
who read my books like untraceable poisons!"



398
Agatha Christie

CHAPTER 5
Second Murderer?

Mrs. Lorrimer came into the dining-room like a gentlewoman. She looked a little
pale, but composed.
"I'm sorry to have to bother you," Superintendent Battle began.
"You must do your duty, of course," said Mrs. Lorrimer quietly. "It is, I
agree, an unpleasant position in which to be placed, but there is no good shirking
it. I quite realise that one of the four people in that room must be guilty. Naturally,
I can't expect you to take my word that I am not the person."
She accepted the chair that Colonel Race offered her and sat down opposite
the superintendent. Her intelligent grey eyes met his. She waited attentively.
"You knew Mr. Shaitana well?" began the superintendent.
"Not very well. I have known him over a period of some years, but never
intimately."
"Where did you meet him?"
"At a hotel in Egypt--the Winter Palace at Luxor, I think."
"What did you think of him?"
Mrs. Lorrimer shrugged her shoulders slightly.
"I thought him--I may as well say so--rather a charlatan."
"You had---excuse me for asking--no motive for wishing him out of the way?"
Mrs. Lorrimer looked slightly amused.
"Really, Superintendent Battle, do you think I should admit it if I had?"
"You might," said Battle. "A really intelligent person might know that a thing
was bound to come out."
Mrs. Lorrimer inclined her head thoughtfully.
"There is that, of course. No, Superintendent Battle, I had no motive for
wishing Mr. Shaitana out of the way. It is really a matter of indifference to me
whether he is alive or dead. I thought him a poseur, and rather theatrical, and
sometimes he irritated me. That is--or rather was--my attitude towards him."
"That is that, then. Now, Mrs. Lorrimer, can you tell me anything about your
three companions?"
"I'm afraid not. Major Despard and Miss Meredith I met for the first time tonight.
Both of them seem charming people. Dr. Roberts I know slightly. He's a
very popular doctor, I believe."
"He is not your own doctor?"
"Oh, no."
"Now, Mrs. Lorrimer, can you tell me how often you got up from your seat tonight,
and will you also describe the movements of the other three?"
Mrs. Lorrimer did not take any time to think.
"I thought you would probably ask me thatl I have been trying to think it out.
I got up once myself when I was dummy. I went over to the fire. Mr. Shaitana was
alive then. I mentioned to him how nice it was to see a wood fire."
"And he answered?"
"That he hated radiators."
"Did any one overhear your conversation?"


Cards on the Table
399


"I don't think so. I lowered my voice, not to interrupt the players." She added
dryly: "In fact you have only my word for it that Mr. Shaitana was alive and spoke
to me."

Superintendent Battle made no protest. He went on with his quiet methodical
questioning.

"What time was that?"

"I should think we had been playing a little over an hour."

"What about the others?"

"Dr. Roberts got me a drink. He also got himself one--that was later. Major

Despard also Went to get a drink at about 11:15, I should say."

"Only once?"

"No---twice, I think. The men moved about a fair amount but I didn't notice
what they did. Miss Meredith left her seat once only, I think. She went round to
look at her partner's hand."

"But she remained near the bridge-table?"

"I couldn't say at all. She may have move! away."

Battle nodded.

"It's all very vague," he grumbled.

"I am sorry."

Once again Battle did his conjuring trick and produced the long delicate
stiletto.

"Will you look at this, Mrs. Lorrimer?"
Mrs. Lorrimer took it without emotion.
"Have you ever seen that before?"
"Never."

"Yet it was lying on a table in the drawing-room."

"I didn't notice it."

"You realise, perhaps, Mrs. Lorrimer, that with a weapon like that a woman
could do the trick just as easily as a man."

"I suppose she could," said Mrs. Lorrimer quietly.

She leaned forward and handed the dainty little thing back to him.

"But all the same," said Superintendent Battle, "the woman would have to be
pretty desperate. It was a long chance to take."

He waited a minute, but Mrs. Lorrimer did not speak.

"Do you know anything of the relations between the other three and Mr.
Shaitana?"

She shook her head.

"Nothing at all."

"Would you care to give me an opinion as to which of them you consider the
most likely person?"

Mrs. Lorrimer drew herself up stiffly.

"I should not care to do anything of the kind. I consider that a most improper
question."

The superintendent looked like an abashed little boy who had been reprimanded
by his grandmother.

"Address, please," he mumbled, drawing his notebook towards him.
"111 Cheyne Lane, Chelsea."
"Telephone number?"
"Chelsea 45632."
Mrs. Lorrimer rose.

"Anything you want to ask, M. Poirot?" said Battle hurriedly.



400
Agatha Christie

Mrs. Lorrimer paused, her head slightly inclined.
"Would it be a proper question, Madame, to ask you your opinion of your
companions, not as potential murderers but as bridge players?"
Mrs. Lorrimer answered coldly:
"I have no objection to answering that--if it bears upon the matter at issue in
any way--though I fail to see how it can."
"I will be the judge of that. Your answer, if you please, Madame."
In the tone of a patient adult humouring an idiot child, Mrs. Lorrimer replied:
"Major Despard is a good sound player. Dr. Roberts overcalls, but plays his
hand brilliantly. Miss Meredith is quite a nice little player, but a bit too cautious.
Anything more?"
In his turn doing a conjuring trick, Poirot produced four crumpled bridge
scores.
"These scores, Madame, is one of these yours?"
She examined them.
"This is my writing. It is the score of the third rubber.'
"And this score?"
"That must be Major Despard's. He cancels as he goes."
"And this one?"
"Miss Meredith's. The first rubber."
"So this unfinished one is Dr. Roberts'?"
"Yes."
"Thank you, Madame, I think that is all."
Mrs. Lorrimer turned to Mrs. Oliver.
"Good-night, Mrs. Oliver. Good-night, Colonel Race."
Then, having shaken hands with all four of them, she went out.

CHAPTER 6
Third Murderer?

"Didn't get any extra change out of her," commented Battle. "Put me in my place,
too. She's the old-fashioned kind, full of consideration for others, but arrogant as
the devil! I can't believe she did it, but you never know! She's got plenty of
resolution. What's the idea of the bridge scores, M. Poirot?"
Poirot spread them out on the table.
"They are illuminating, do you not think? What do we want in this case? A
clue to character. And a clue not to one character, but to four characters. And this
is where we are most likely to find it--in these scribbled figures. Here is the first
rubber, you see a tame business, soon over. Small neai figures-careful addition
and subtraction--that is Miss Meredith's score. She was playing with Mrs.
Lorrimer. They had the cards, and they won.
"In this next one it is not so easy to follow the play, since it is kept in the
cancellation style. But it tells us perhaps something about Major Desparda man
who likes the whole time to know at a glance where he stands. The figures are
small and full character.
"This next score is Mrs. Lorrimer's--she and Dr. Roberts against the other


Cards on the Table
401
two--a Homeric combat--figures mounting up above the line each side. Overcalling
on the doctor's part, and they go down; but, since they are both first-class
players, they never go down very much. If the doctor's overcalling induces rash
bidding on the other side there is the chance seized of doubling. See--these
figures here are doubled tricks gone down. A characteristic handwriting, graceful,
very legible, firm.
"Here is the last scorethe unfinished rubber. I collected one score in each
person's handwriting, you see. Figures rather flamboyant. Not such high scores as
the preceding rubber. That is probably because the doctor was playing with Miss
Meredith, and she is a timid player. His calling would make her more so!
"You think, perhaps, that they are foolish, these questions that I ask? But it is
not so. I want to get at the characters of these four players, and when it is only
about bridge I ask, every one is.ready and willing to speak."
"I never think your questions foolish, M. Poirot," said Battle. "I've seen too
much of your work. Every one's ggt their own ways of working. I know that. I give
my inspectors a free hand always. JEvery one's got to find out for themselves what
method suits them best. But we'd better not discuss that now. We'll have the girl
in."
Anne Meredith was upset. She stopped in the doorway. Her breath came
unevenly.
Superintendent Battle was immediately fatherly. He rose, set a chair for her at
a slightly different angle.
"Sit down, Miss Meredith, sit down. Now, don't be alarmed. I know all this
seems rather dreadful, but it's not so bad, really."
"I don't think anything could be worse," said the girl in a low voice. "It's so
awful--so awful---to think that one of us--that one of us--"
"You let me do the thinking," said Battle kindly. "Now, then, Miss Meredith,
suppose we have your address first of all."
"Wendon Cottage, Wallingford." "No address in town?"
"No, I'm staying at my club for a day or two."
"And your club is?"
"Ladies' Naval and Military."
"Good. Now, then, Miss Meredith, how well did you know Mr. Shaitana?" "I,, didn't know him well at all. I always thought he was a most frightening
man,
"Why?"
"Oh, well, he was! That awful smile! And a way he had of bending over you.
As though he might bite you."
"Had you known him long?"
"About nine months. I met him in Switzerland during the winter sports."
"I should never have thought he went in for winter sports," said Battle,
surprised.
"He only skated. He was a marvellous skater. Lots of figures and tricks."
"Yes, that sounds more like him. And did you see much of him after that?"
"Well--a fair amount. He asked me to parties and things like that. They were
rather fun."
"But you didn't like him himself?."
"No, I thought he was a shivery kind of man."
Battle said gently:
"But you'd no special reason for being afraid of him?"


404
Agatha Christie

Anne Meredith raised wide limpid eyes to his.

"Special reason? Oh, no."

"That's all right, then. Now about tonight. Did you leave your seat at all?"

"I don't think so. Oh, yes, I may have done once. I went round to look at the
others' hands."
"But you stayed by the bridge-table all the time?"
"Yes."
"Quite sure, Miss Meredith?"

The girl's cheeks flamed suddenly.

"No--no, I think I walked about."
"Right. You'll excuse me, Miss Meredith, but try and speak the truth. I know
you're nervous, and when one's nervous one's apt to--well, to say the thing the
way you want it to be. But that doesn't really pay in the end. You walked about.
Did you walk over in the direction of Mr. Shaitana?"
The girl was silent for a minute, then she said: "Honestly--honestly--I don't remember."
"Well, we'll leave it that you may have done. Know anything about the other
three?"
The girl shook her head.
"I've never seen any of them before."
"What do you think of them? Any likely murderers amongst them?"
"I can't believe it. I just can't believe it. It couldn't be Major Despard. And I
don't believe it could be the doctor after all, a doctor could kill any one in much
easier ways. A drug--something like that."
"Then, if it's any one, you think it's Mrs. Lorrimer."
"Oh, I don't. I'm sure she wouldn't. She's so charming--and so kind to play
bridge with. She's so good herself, and yet she doesn't make one feel nervous, or
point out one's mistakes."
"Yet you left her name to the last," said Battle.
"Only because stabbing seems somehow more like a woman."

Battle did his conjuring trick. Anne Meredith shrank back.

"Oh, horrible. Must I--take it?"
"I'd rather you did."
He watched her as she took the stiletto gingerly, her face contracted with
repulsion.
"With this tiny thing--with this. "
"Go in like butter," said Battle with gusto. "A child could do it."
"You mean--you mean" wide, terrified eyes fixed themselves on his face--"that
I might have done it? But I didn't. Oh, I didn't. Why should I?"
"That's just the question we'd like to know," said Battle. "What's the motive?
Why did any one want to kill Shaitana? He was a picturesque person, but he wasn't
dangerous, as far as I can make out."
Was there a slight indrawing of her breath--a sudden lifting of her breast?
"Not a blackmailer,, for instance, or anything of that sort?" went on Battle.
"And anyway, Miss Meredith, you don't look the sort of girl who's got a lot of guilty
secrets."
For the first time she smiled, reassured by his geniality.
"No, indeed I haven't. I haven't got any secrets at all."
"Then don't you worry, Miss Meredith. We shall have to come round and ask
you a few more questions, I expect, but it will be all a matter of routine.'
He got up.


II

Cards on the Table
405

"Now you go off. My constable will get you a taxi; and don't you lie awake
worrying yourself. Take a couple of aspirins."
He ushered her out. As he came back Colonel Race said in a low, amused
voice:
"Battle, what a really accomplished liar .you are! Your fatherly air was
unsurpassed."
"No good dallying about with her, Colonel Race. Either the poor kid is dead
scared in which case it's cruelty, and I'm not a cruel man; I never have been--or
she's a highly accomplished little actress, and we shouldn't get any further if we
were to keep her h/ere half the night."
Mrs. Oliver gfve a sigh and ran her hands freely through her fringe until it
stood upright andjgave her a wholly drunken appearance.
"Do you knffw," she said, "I rather believe now that she did it! It's lucky it's
not in a bvok. They don't really like the young and beautiful girl to have done it. All
the same, I rather think she did. What do you think, M. Poirot?" "Me, I have just made a discovery." "In the bridge scores again?"
"Yes. Miss Anne Meredith turns her score over, draws lines and uses the
back."
"And what does that mean?"
"It means she has the habit of poverty or else is of a naturally economical turn
of mind."
"She's expensively dressed," said Mrs. Oliver.
"Send in Major Despard," said Superintendent Battle.

CHAPTER 7
Fourth Murderer?

·
Despard entered the room with a quick springing step--a step that reminded
Poirot of something or some one.
"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting all this while, Major Despard," said
Battle. "But I wanted to let the ladies get away as soon'as possible."
"Don't apologise. I understand."
He sat down and looked ihquiringly at the superintendent.
"How well did you know Mr. Shaitana?" began the latter.
"I've met him twice," said Despard crisply.
"Only twice?"
"That's all."
"On what occasions?"
"About a month ago we were both dining at the same house. Then he asked
me to a cocktail party a week later."
"A cocktail party here?"
"Yes."
"Where did it take place--this room or the drawing-room?" "In all the rooms."
"See this little thing lying about?"


406
Agatha Christie


Battle once more produced the stilleto.

Major Despard's lip twisted slightly.

"No," he said. "I didn't mark it down on that occasion for future use."

"There's no need to go ahead of what I say, Major Despard."

"I beg your pardon. The inference was fairly obvious."

There was a moment's pause, then Battle resumed his inquiries.

"Had you any motive for disliking Mr. Shaitana?'

"Every motive."

"Eh?" The superintendent sounded startled.

"For disliking him--not for killing him," said Despard. "I hadn't the least wish

to kill him, but I would thoroughly have enjoyed kicking him. A pity. It's too late

now."

"Why did you want to kick him, Major Despard?"

"Because he was the sort of Dago who needed kicking badly. He used to make
the toe of my boot fairly itch."

"Know anything about him--to his discredit, I mean?"

"He was too well dressed he wore his hair too long--and he smelt of scent."
"Yet you accepted his invitation to dinner," Battle pointed out.

"If I were only to dine in houses where I thoroughly approved of my host I'm

afraid I shouldn't dine out very much, Superintendent Battle," said Despard dryly.
"You like society, but you don't approve of it?" suggested the other.

"I like it for very short periods. To come back from the wilds to lighted rooms
and women in lovely clothes, to dancing and good food and laughter--yes, I enjoy
that for a time. And then the insincerity of it all sickens me, and I want to be off


"It must be a dangerous sort of life that you lead, Major Despard, wandering
about in these wild places."

Despard shrugged his shoulders. He smiled slightly.

"Mr. Shaitana didn't lead a dangerous life--but he is dead, and I am alive!"

"He may have led a more dangerous life than you think," said Battle
meaningly.

"What do you mean?"

"The late Mr. Shaitana was a bit of a Nosey Parker," said Battle.

The other leaned forward.

"You mean that he meddled with other people's lives--that he discovered
what?"

"I really meant that perhaps he was the sort of man who meddled---er--well,
with women."

Major Despard leant back in his chair. He laughed, an amused but indifferent
laugh.

"I don't think women would take a mountebank like that seriously."
"What's your theory of who killed him, Major Despard?"

"Well, I know I didn't. Little Miss Meredith didn't. I can't imagine Mrs.
Lorrimer doing so--she reminds me of one of my more God-fearing aunts. That
leaves the medical gentleman."

"Can you describe your own and other people's movements this evening?"

"I got up twice once for an ash-tray, and I also poked the fireand once for a
drink "

"At what times?"

"I couldn't say. First time might have been about half-past ten, the second
time eleven, but that's pure guesswork. Mrs. Lorrimer went over to the fire once



Cards on the Table
407


and said something to Shaitana. I didn't actually hear him answer, but then, I
wasn't paying attention. I couldn't swear he didn't. Miss Meredith wandered about
the room a bit, but I don't think she went over near the fireplace. Roberts was
always jumping up and down--three or four times at least."

"I'll ask you M. Poirot's question," said Battle with a smile. "What did you
think of them as bridge players?"

"Miss Meredith's quite a good player. Roberts overcalls his hand disgracefully.
He deserves to go down more than he does. Mrs. Lorrimer's damned
good."

Battle turned to Poirot.
"Anything else, M. Poirot?"
Poirot shook his head.

Despard gave his address as the Albany, wished them good-night and left the
room.

As he closed the door behind him, Poirot made a slight movement. "W' demanded Battle.

"Nothing,' said Poirot. "It just occurred to me that he walked like a tiger--yes,
just so--lithe, easy, does the tiger move along."

"H'm!" said Battle. "Now, then" his eye glanced round at his three companions"which of'em did it?"


CHAPTER 8
Which of Them?


Battle looked from one face to another. Only one person answered his question.

Mrs. Oliver, never averse to giving her views, rushed into speech.

"The girl or the doctor," she said.

Battle looked questioningly at the other two. But both the men were unwilling
to make a pronouncement. Race shook his head. Poirot carefully smoothed his
crumpled bridge scores.

"One of 'em did it," said Battle musingly. "One of 'em's lying like hell. But
which? It's not easy--no, it's not easy."

He was silent for a minute or two, then he said:

"If we're to go by what they say, the medico thinks Despard did it, Despard
thinks the medico did it, the girl thinks Mrs. Lorrimer did it--and Mrs. Lorrimer

won't say! Nothing very illuminating there."
"Perhaps not," said Poirot.
Battle shot him a quick glance.
"You think there is?" -Poirot
waved an airy hand.

"A nuance--nothing more! Nothing to go upon."

Battle continued:

"You two gentlemen won't say what you think
"

"No evidence," said Race curtly.

"Oh, you raen!" sighed Mrs. Oliver, despising such reticence.

"Let's look at the rough possibilities," said Battle. He considered a minute. "I



408
Agatha Christie

put the doctor first, I think. Specious sort of customer. Would know the right spot
to shove the dagger in. But there's not much more than that to it. Then take
Despard. There's a man with any amount of nerve. A man accustomed to quick
decisions and a man who's quite at home doing dangerous things. Mrs. Lorrimer?
She's got any amount of nerve, too, and she's the sort of woman who might have a
secret in her life. She looks as though she's known trouble. On the other hand, I'd
say she's what I call a high-principled woman--sort of. woman who might be
headmistress of a girls' school. It isn't easy to think of her sticking a knife into any
one. In fact, I don't think she did. And lastly, there's little Miss Meredith. We
don't know anything about her. She seems an ordinary good-looking, rather shy
girl. But one doesn't know, as I say, anything about her."
"We know that Shaitana believed she had committed murder," said Poirot.
"The angelic face masking the demon," mused Mrs. Oliver. "This getting us anywhere, Battle?" asked Colonel Race.
"Unprofitable speculation, you think, sir? Well, there's bound to be speculation
in a case like this."
"Isn't it better to find out something about these people?"
Battle smiled.
"Oh, we shall be hard at work on that. I think you could help us there."
"Certainly. How?"
"As regards Major Despard. He's been abroad a lot--in South America, in
East Africa, in South Africa--you've means of knowing those parts. You could get
information about him."
Race nodded.
"It shall be done. I'll get all available data."
"Oh," cried Mrs. Oliver. "I've got a plan. There are four of us--four sleuths,
as you might say--and four of them! How would it be if we each took one. Backed
our fancy! Colonel Race takes Major Despard, Superintendent Battle takes Dr.
Roberts, I'll take Anne Meredith, and M. Poirot takes Mrs. Lorrimer. Each of us to
follow our own line!"
Superintendent Battle shook his head decisively.
"Couldn't quite do that, Mrs. Oliver. This is official, you see. I'm in charge.
I've got to investigate all lines. Besides, it's all very well to say back your fancy.
Two of us might want to back the same horse! Colonel Race hasn't said he suspects
Major Despard. And M. Poirot mayn't be putting his money on Mrs. Lorrimer."
Mrs. Oliver sighed.
"It was such a good plan," she sighed regretfully. "So neat." Then she cheered
up a little. "But you don't mind me doing a little investigating on my own, do you?"
"No," said Superintendent Battle slowly. "I can't say I object to that. In fact,
it's out of my power to object. Having been at this party tonight, you're naturally
free to do anything your own curiosity or interest suggests. But I'd like to point out
to you, Mrs. Oliver, that you'd better be a little careful."
"Discretion itself," said Mrs. Oliver. "I shan't breathe a word of-of
anything- "she ended a little lamely.
"I do not think that was quite Superintendent Battle's meaning," said Hercule
Poirot. "He meant that you will be dealing with a person who has already, to the
best of our belief, killed twice. A person, therefore, who will not hesitate to kill a
third time--if he considers it necessary."
Mrs. Oliver looked at him thoughtfully. Then she smiled---an agreeable
engaging smile, rather like that of an impudent small child.


Cards on the Table
409

"You HAVE BEEN WARNED," she quoted. "Thank you, M. Poirot. I'll watch
my step. But I'm not going to be out of this."
Poirot bowed gracefully.
"Permit me to say--you are the sport, Madame."
"I presume," said Mrs. Oliver, sitting up very straight and speaking in a
business-like committee-meeting manner, "that all information we receive will be
pooled--that is, that we will not keep any knowledge to ourselves. Our own
deductions and impressions, of course, we are entitled to keep up our sleeves."
Superintendent Battle sighed.
"This isn't a detective story, Mrs. Oliver," he said.
Race said:
"Naturally, all information must be handed over to the police."
Having said this in his most "Orderly Room" voice, he added with a slight
twinkle in his eye: "I'm sure you'll play fair, Mrs. Oliver--the stained glove, the
fingerprint on the tooth-glass, the fragment of burnt paper--you'll turn them over
to Baffle here."
"You may laugh," said Mrs. Oliver. "But a woman's intuition "
She nodded her head with decision.

Race rose to his feet.
"I'll have Despard looked up for you. It may take a little time. Anything else I
can do?"
"I don't think so, thank you, sir. You've no hints? I'd value anything of that
kind."
"H'm. Well--I'd keep a special lookout for shooting or poison or accidents,
but I expect you're on to that already."
"I'd made a note of that--yes, sir."
"Good man, Battle. You don't need me to teach you your job. Goodnight,
Mrs. Oliver. Good-night, M. Poirot."
And, with a final nod to Battle, Colonel Race left the room.
"Who is he?" asked Mrs. Oliver.
"Very fine Army record," said Battle. "Travelled a lot, too. Not many parts of
the world he doesn't know about."
"Secret Service, I suppose," said Mrs. Oliver. "You can't tell me so--I know;
but he wouldn't have been asked otherwise this evening. The four murderers and
the four sleuths--Scotland Yard. Secret Service. Private. Fiction. A clever idea."
Poirot shook his head.
"You are in error, Madame. It was a very stupid idea. The tiger was alarmed--and
the tiger sprang."
"The tiger? Why the tiger?"
"By the tiger I mean the murderer," said Poirot.
Battle said bluntly:
"What's tour idea of the right line to take, M. Poirot? That's one question.
And I'd also like to know what you think of the psychology of these four people.
You're rather hot on that."
Still smoothing his bridge scores, Poirot said:
"You are right--psychology is very important. We know the kind of murder
that has been committed, the way it was committed. If we have a person who from
the psychological point of view could not have committed that particular type of
murder, then we can dismiss that person from our calculations. We know something about these people. We have our own impression of them, we know the


410 Agatha Christie

line that each has elected to take, and we know something about their minds and
their characters from what we have learned about them as card players and from
the study of their handwriting and of these scores. But alas! it is not too easy to give
a definite pronouncement. This murder required audacity and nerva person
who was willing to take a risk. Well, we have Dr. Roberts--a bluffer--an overcaller
of his hand--a man with complete confidence in his own powers to pull off a risky
thing. His psychology fits very well with the crime. One might say, then, that that
automatically wipes out Miss Meredith. She is timid, frightened of overcalling her
hand, careful, economical, prudent and lacking in self-confidence. The last type of
person to carry out a bold and risky coup. But a timid person will murder out of
fear. A frightened nervous person can be made desperate, can turn like a rat at bay if driven into a corner. If Miss Meredith had committed a crime in the past, and if
she believed that Mr. Shaitana knew the circumstances of that crime and was about
to deliver her up to justice she would be wild with terror--she would stick at
nothing to save herself. It would be the same result, though brought about through
a different reaction--not cool nerve and daring, but desperate panic. Then take
Major Despard--a cool, resourceful man willing to try a long shot if he believed it
absolutely necessary. He would weigh the pros and cons and might decide that
there was a sporting chance in his favour--and he is the type of man to prefer
action to inaction, and a man who would never shrink from taking the dangerous
way if he believed there was a reasonable chance of success. Finally, there is Mrs.
Lorrimer, an elderly woman, but a woman in full possession of her wits and
faculties. A cool woman. A woman with a mathematical brain. She has probably the
best brain of the four. I confess that if Mrs. Lorrimer committed a crime, I should
expect it to be a premeditated crime. I can see her planning a crime slowly and
carefully, making sure that there were no flaws in her scheme. For that reason she
seems to me slightly more unlikely than the other three. She is, however, the most
dominating personality, and whatever she undertook she would probably carry
through without a flaw. She is a thoroughly efficient woman."
He paused.
"So, you see, that does not help us much. No--there is only one way in this
crime. We must go back into the past."
Battle signed.
"You've said it," he murmured.
"In the opinion of Mr. Shaitana, each of those four people had committed
murder. Had he evidence? Or was it a guess? We cannot tell. It is unlikely, I think,
that he could have had actual evidence in all four cases- "
"I agree with you there," said Battle, nodding his head. "That would be a bit
too much of a coincidence."
"I suggest that it might come. about this way--murder or a certain form of
murder is mentioned, and Mr. Shaitana surprised a look on some one's face. He
was very quick very sensitive to expression. It amuses him to experiment--to
probe gently in the course of apparently aimless conversation he is alert to notice
a wince, a reservation, a desire to turn the conversation. Oh, it is easily done. If
you suspect a certain secret, nothing is easier than to confirm your suspicion.
Every time a word goes home you notice it--if you are watching for such a thing."
"It's the sort of game would have amused our late friend," said Battle,
nodding.
"We may assume, then, that such was the procedure in one or more cases: He
may have come across a piece of actual evidence in another case and followed it up.


Cards on be Tab
411

I doubt whether, in any of the cases, he had sufficient actual knowledge with
which, for instance, to have gone to the police."
"Or it mayn't have been the kind of case," said Battle. "Often enough there's a
fishy business--we suspect foul play, but we can't ever prove it. Anyway, the
course is clear. We've got to go through the records of all these people--and note
any deaths that may be significant. I expect you noticed, just as the Colonel did,
what Shaitana said at dinner."
"The black angel," murmured Mrs. Oliver.
"A neat little reference to poison, to accidents, to a doctor's opportunities, to
shooting accidents. I shouldn't be surprised if he signed his death-warrant when he
said those words."
"It was a nasty sort of pause," said Mrs. Oliver.
"Yes," said Poirot. "Those words went home to one person at least--that
person probably thought that Shaitana knew far more than he really did. That
licner thought that they were the prelude to the end--that the party was a
dramahe entertainment arranged by Shaitana leading up to arrest for murder as its
climax! Yes, as you say, he signed his death-warrant when he baited his guests with
these words."
There was a moment's silence.
"This will be a long business," said Battle with a sigh. "We can't find out all we
want in a moment--and we've got to be careful. We don't want any of the four to
suspect what we're doing. All our questioning and so on must seem to have to do
with this murder. There mustn't be a suspicion that we've got any idea of the
motive for the crime. And the devil of it is we've got to check up on four possible
murders in the past, not one."
Poirot demurred.
"Our friend Mr. Shaitana was not infallible," he said. "He may--it is just
possible have made a mistake."
"About all four?"
"No--he was more intelligent than that."
"Call it fifty-fifty?"
"Not even that. For me, I say one in four."
"One innocent and three guilty? That's bad enough. And the devil of it is,
even if we get at the truth it mayn't help us. Even if somebody did push their
great-aunt down the stairs in 1912, it won't be much use to us in 1937."
"Yes, yes, it will be of use to us." Poirot encouraged him. "You know that. You
know it as well as I do."
Battle nodded slowly.
"I know what you mean," he said. "Same hallmark."
"Do you mean," said Mrs. Oliver, "that the former victim will have been
stabbed with a dagger too?"
"Not quite as crude as that, Mrs. Oliver," said Battle turning to her. "But I
don't doubt it will be essentially the same type of crime. The details may be
different, but the essentials underlying them will be the same. It's odd, but a
criminal gives himself away every time by that."
"Man is an unoriginal animal," said Hercule Poirot.
"Women," said Mrs. Oliver, "are capable of infinite variation. I should never
commit the same type of murder twice running."
"Don't you ever write the same plot twice running?" asked Battle.
"The Lotus Murder," murmured Poirot. "The Clue of the Candle Wax."


412
Agatha Chrtie

Mrs. Oliver turned on him, her eyes beaming appreciation.

"That's clever of you--that's really very clever of you. Because, of course,

those two are exactly the same plot--but nobody else has seen it. One is stolen

papers at an informal week-end party of the Cabinet, and the other's a murder in

Borneo in a rubber planter's bungalow."

"But the essential point on which the story turns is the same," said Poirot.

"One of your neatest tricks. The rubber planter arranges his own murder--the

Cabinet Minister arranges the robbery of his own papers. At the last minute the

third person steps in and turns deception into reality."

"I enjoyed your last, Mrs. Oliver," said Superintendent Battle kindly. "The

one where all the Chief Constables were shot simultaneously. You just slipped up

once or twice on official details. I know you're keen on accuracy, so I wondered

if-"

Mrs. Oliver interrupted him.

"As a matter of fact I don't care two pins about accuracy. Who is accurate?

Nobody nowadays. If a reporter writes that a beautiful girl of twenty-two dies by

turning on the gas after looking out over the sea and kissing her favourite labrador,

Bob, good-bye, does anybody make a fuss because the girl was twenty-six, the

room faced inland, and the dog was a Sealyham terrier called Bonnie? If a journalist

can do that sort of thing, I don't see that it matters if I mix up police ranks and say a

revolver when I mean an automatic, and a dictograph when I mean a phonograph,

and use a poison that just allows you to gasp one dying sentence and no more.

What really matters is plenty of bodies! If the thing's getting a little dull, some
more blood cheers it up. Somebody is going to tell something--and then they're

killed first! That always goes down well. It comes in all my books-camoufiaged

different ways, of course. And people like untraceable poisons, and idiotic police

inspectors and girls tied up in cellars with sewer gas or water pouring in (such a

troublesome way of killing any one really) and a hero who can dispose of anything

from three to seven villains single-handed. I've written thirty-two books by now--

and of course they're all exactly the same really, as M. Poirot seems to have

noticed--but nobody else has--and I only regret one thing--making my detective

a Finn. I don't really know anything about Finns and I'm always getting letters

from Finland pointing out something impossible that he's said or done. They seem

to read detective stories a good deal in Finland. I suppose it's the long winters with

no daylight. In Bulgaria and Roumania they don't seem to read at all. I'd have done

better to have made him a Bulgar."

She broke off.

"I'm so sorry. I'm talking shop. And this is a real murder." Her face lit up.

"What a good idea it would be if none of them had murdered him. If he'd asked

them all, and then quietly committed suicide just for the fun of making a

schemozzle."

Poirot nodded approvingly.

"An admirable solution. So neat. So ironic. But, alas, Mr. Shaitana was not

that sort of man. He was very fond of life."

"I don't think he was really a nice man," said Mrs. Oliver slowly.

"He was not nice, no," said Poirot. "But he was alive--and now he is dead,

and as I told him once, I have a bourgeois attitude to murder. I disapprove of it."

He added softly:
"And soI am prepared to go inside the tiger's cage "


Cards on the Table
413


CHAPTER 9
Dr. Roberts


"Good-morning, Superintendent Battle."

Dr. Roberts rose from his chair and offered a large pink hand smelling of a
mixture of good soap and faint carbolic.

"How are things going?" he went on.

/uperintendent Battle glanced round the comfortable consulting-room before
swering.

"Well, Dr. Roberts, strictly speaking, they're not going. They're standing
still."

"There's been nothing much in the papers, I've been glad to see."

"Sudden death of the well-known Mr. Shaitana at an evening party in his own
house. It's left at that for the moment. We've had the' autopsy--I brought a report
of the findings along--thought it might interest you- "

"That's very kind of you--it would--h'm--h'm. Yes, very interesting."

He handed it back.

"And we've interviewed Mr. Shaitana's solicitor. We know the terms of his
will. Nothing of interest there. He has relatives in Syria, it seems. And then, of
course, we've been through all his private papers."

Was it fancy or did that broad, clean-shaven countenance look a little
strained--a little wooden?

"And?" said Dr. Roberts.

"Nothing," said Superintendent Battle, watching him.

There wasn't a sigh of relief. Nothing so blatant as that. But the doctor's figure

seemed to relax just a shade more comfortably in his chair.

"And so you've come to me?"

"And so, as you say, I've come to you."

The doctor's eyebrows rose a little and his shrewd eyes looked into Battle's.
"Want to go through my private papers---eh?" "That was my idea."
"Got a search-warrant?" "No."

"Well, you could get one easily enough, I suppose. I'm not going to make
difficulties. It's not very pleasant being suspected of murder but I suppose I can't
blame you for what's obviously your duty."

"Thank you, sir," said Superintendent Battle with real gratitude. "I appreciate
your attitude, if I may say so, very much. I hope all the others will be as
reasonable, I'm sure."

"What can't be cured must be endured," said the doctor good-humouredly.
He went on:

"I've finished seeing my patients here. I'm just offon my rounds. I'll leave you
my keys and just say a word to my secretary and you can rootle to your heart's
*******."

"That's all very nice and pleasant, I'm sure," said Battle. "I'd like to ask you a
few more questions before you go."



414
Agatha Christie

"About the other night? Really, I told you all I know."

"No, not about the other night. About yourself."

"Well, man, ask away, what do you want to know?"

"I'd just like a rough sketch of your career, Dr. Roberts. Birth, marriage, and
SO on."
"It will get me into practice for Who's Who," said the doctor dryly. 'My
career's a perfectly straightforward one. I'm a Shropshire man, born at Ludlow. My
father was in practice there. He died when I was fifteen. I was educated at
Shrewsbury and went in for medicine like my father before me. I'm a St.
Christopher's man but you'll have all the medical details already, I expect."
"I looked you up, yes, sir. You an only child or have you any brothers or
sisters?"
"I'm an only child. Both my parents are dead and I'm unmarried. Will that do
to get on with? I came into partnership here with Dr. Emery. He retired about
fifteen years ago. Lives in Ireland. I'll give you his address if you like. I live here
with a cook, a parlourmaid and a housemaid. My secretary comes in daily. I make a
good income and I only kill a reasonable number of my patients. How's that?"
Superintendent Battle grinned.
"That's fairly comprehensive, Dr. Roberts. I'm glad you've got a sense of
humour. Now I'm going to ask you one more thing."
"I'm a strictly moral man, superintendent."
"Oh, that wasn't my meaning. No, I was just going to ask you if you'd give me
the names of four friends--people who've known you intimately for a number of
years. Kind of references, if you know what I mean."
"Yes, I think so. Let me see now. You'd prefer people who are actually in
London now?"
"It would make it a bit easier, but it doesn't really matter."
The doctor thought for a minute or two, then with his fountain-pen he
scribbled four names and addresses on a sheet of paper and pushed it across the
desk to Battle.
"Will those do? They're the best I can think of on the spur of the moment."
Battle read carefully, nodded his head in satisfaction and put the sheet of
paper away in an inner pocket.
"It's just a question of elimination," he said. "The sooner I can get one person
eliminated and go on to the next, the better it is for every one concerned. I've got
to make perfectly certain that you weren't on bad terms with the late Mr. Shaitana,
that you had no private connections or business dealings with him, that there was
no question of his having injured you at any time and your bearing resentment. I
may believe you when you say you only knew him slightly--but it isn't a question
of my belief. I've got to say I've made sure."
"Oh, I understand perfectly. You've got to think everybody's a liar till he's
proved he's speaking the truth. Here are my keys, superintendent. That's the
drawers of the desk--that's the bureau--that little one's the key of the poison
cupboard. Be sure you lock it up again. Perhaps I'd better just have a word with my
secretary."
He pressed a button on his desk.
Almost immediately the door opened and a competent-looking young woman
appeared.
"You rang, doctor?"
"This is Miss Burgess--Superintendent Battle from Scotland Yard."
Miss Burgess turned a cool gaze on Battle. It seemed to say:


Cards on the Table
415

"Dear me, what sort of an animal is this?"

"I should be glad, Miss Burgess, ffyou will answer any questions Superinten
dent Battle may put to you, and give him any help he may need."

"Certainly, if you say so, doctor."

"Well," said Roberts, rising, "I'll be off. Did you put the morphia in my case?

I shall need it for the Lockheart case."

He bustled out, still talking, and Miss Burgess followed him.

She returned a minute or two later to say:

"Will you press that button when you want me, Superintendent Battle?"

Superintendent Battle thanked her and said he would do so. Then he set to

work.

His search was careful and methodical, though he had no great hopes of

finding anything of importance· Roberts' ready acquiescence dispelled the chance

of that. Roberts was no fool. He would realise that a search would be bound to

come md he would make provisions accordingly· There was, however, a faint

chanfe that Battle might come across a hint of the information he was really after,

sincRoberts would not know the real object of his search.

Superintendent Battle opened and shut drawers, rifled pigeon-holes, glanced

through a cheque-book, estimated the unpaid bills--noted what those same bills

were for, scrutinised Roberts' pass-book, ran through his case notes and generally

left no written document unturned. The result was meagre in the extreme· He next

took a look through the poison cupboard, noted the wholesale firms with which the

doctor dealt, and the system of checking, relocked the cupboard and passed on to

the bureau. The *******s of the latter were'of a more personal nature, but Battle

found nothing germane to his search. He shook his head, sat down in the doctor's
·
.
chair and pressed the desk button.

Miss Burgess appeared with commendable promptitude.

Superintendent Battle asked her politely to be seated and then sat studying

her for a moment, before he decided which way to tackle her. He had sensed

immediately her hostility and he was uncertain whether to provoke her into

unguarded speech by increasing that hostility or whether to try a softer method of

approach.

"I suppose you know what all this is about, Miss Burgess?" he said at last.

"Dr. Roberts told me," said Miss Burgess shortly.

"The whole thing's rather delicate," said Superintendent Battle·

"Is it?" said Miss Burgess.

"Well, it's rather a nasty business. Four people are under suspicion and one of

them must have done it. What I want to know is whether you've ever seen this Mr.

Shaitana?"

"Never."

"Ever heard Dr. Roberts speak of him?"

"Never--no, I am wrong. About a week ago Dr. Roberts told me to enter up a

dinner appointment in his engagement-book. Mr. Shaitana, 8:15, on the 18th."

"And that is the first you ever heard of this Mr. Shaitana?"

"Yes."
"Never seen his name in the papers? He was often in the fashionable news."

"I've got better things to do than reading the fashionable news."

"I expect you have. Oh, I expect you have," said the superintendent mildly.

"Well,' he went on. "There it is. All four of these people will only admit to

knowing Mr. Shaitana slightly. But one of them knew him well enough to kill him.

It's my job to find out which of them it was."


416
Agatha Christie

There was an unhelpful pause. Miss Burgess seemed quite uninterested in the
performance of Superintendent Battle's job. It was her job to obey her employer's
orders and sit here listening to what Superintendent Battle chose to say and answer
any direct questions he might choose to put to her.
"You know, Miss Burgess," the superintendent found it uphill work but he
persevered, ,"I doubt if you appreciate half the difficulties of our job. People say
things, for instance. Well, we mayn't believe a word of it, but we've got to take
notice of it all the same. It's particularly noticeable in a case of this kind. I don't
want to say anything against your sex but there's no doubt that a woman, when
she's rattled, is apt to lash out with her tongue a bit. She makes unfounded
accusations, hints this, that and the other, and rakes up all sorts of old scandals that
have probably nothing whatever to do with the ease."
"Do you mean," demanded Miss Burgess, "that one of these other people
have been saying things against the doctor?"
"Not exactly said anything," said Battle cautiously. "But all the same, I'm
bound to take notice. Suspicious circumstances about the death of a patient.
Probably all a lot of nonsense. I'm ashamed to bother the doctor with it."
"I suppose some one's got hold of that story about Mrs. Graves," said Miss
Burgess wrathfully. "The way people talk about things they know nothing whatever
about is disgraceful. Lots of old ladies get like that they think everybody is
poisoning them--their relations and their servants and even their doctors. Mrs.
Graves had had three doctors before she came to Dr. Roberts and then when she
got the same fancies about him he was quite willing for her to have Dr. Lee
instead. It's the only thing to do in these cases, he said. And after Dr. Lee she had
Dr. Steele, and then Dr. Farmer--until she died, poor old thing."
"You'd be surprised the way the smallest thing starts a story," said Battle.
"Whenever a doctor benefits by the death of a patient somebody has something ill-natured
to say. And yet why shouldn't a grateful patient leave a little something, or
even a big something to her medical attendant."
"It's the relations," said Miss Burgess. "I always think there's nothing like
death for bringing out the meanness of human nature. Squabbling over who's to
have what before the body's cold. Luckily, Dr. Roberts has never had any trouble
of that kind. He always says he hopes his patients won't leave him anything. I
believe he once had a legacy of fifty pounds and he's had two walking-sticks and a
gold watch, but nothing else."
"It's a difficult life, that of a professional man," said Battle with a sigh. "He's
always open to blackmail. The most innocent occtrrences lend themselves
sometimes to a scandalous appearance. A doctor's got to avoid even the appearance
of evil--that means he's got to have his wits about him good and sharp."
"A lot of what you say is true," said Miss Burgess. "Doctors have a dicult
time with hysterical women."
"Hysterical women. That's right. I thought, in my own mind, that that was all
it amounted to."
"I suppose you mean that dreadful Mrs. Craddock?"
Battle pretended to think.
"Let me see, was it three years ago? No, more."
"Four or five, I think. She was a most unbalanced woman! I was glad when she
went abroad and so was Dr. Roberts. She told her husband the most frightful lies--they
always do, of course. Poor man, he wasn't quite himself he'd begun to be ill.
He died of anthrax, you know, an infected shaving brush."
"I'd forgotten that," said Battle untruthfully.


Cards on the Table 417
"And then she ent abroad and died not long afterwards. But I always thought
she was a nasty type,f woman--man-mad, you know."
"I know the kind, said Battle. "Very dangerous, they are. A doctor's got to give
them a wide berth. Whereabouts did she die abroad I don't seem to remember." "Egypt, I think it was. She got blood-poisoning--some native infection."
"Another thing that must be difficult for a doctor," said Battle, making a
conversational leap, "is when he suspects that one of his patients is being poisoned
by one of their relatives. What's he to do? He's got to be sure--or else hold his
tongue. And if he's done the latter, then it's awkward for him if there's talk of foul
play afterwards. I wonder if any case of that kind has ever come Dr. Roberts' way?"
"I really don't think it has," said Miss Burgess, considering. "I've never heard
of anything like that."
"From the statistical point of view, it would be interesting to know how many
deaths occur among a doctor's pr,,actice per year. For instance now, you've been
with Dr. Roberts some years
"Seven." '
"Seven. Well, how many deaths have there been in that time offhand?"
"Really, it's difficult tO say." Miss Burgess gave herself up to calculation. She
was by now quite thawed and unsuspicious. "Seven, eight--of course, I can't
remember exact]y--I shouldn't say more than thirty in the time."
"Then I fancy Dr. Roberts must be a better doctor than most," said Battle
genially. "I suppose, too, most of his patients are upper-class. They can afford to
take care of themselves.'
"He's a very popular doctor. He's so good at diagnosis.'
Battle sighed and rose to his feet.
"I'm afraid I've been wandering from my duty, which is to find out a
connection between the doctor and this Mr. Shaitana. You're quite sure he wasn't a
patient of the doctor's?"
"Quite sure.'
"Under another name, perhaps?" Battle handed her a photograph. "Recognise
him at all?"
"What a very theatrical-looking person. No, I've never seen him here at any
time."
"Well, that's that." Battle sighed. "I'm much obliged to the doctor, I'm sure,
for being so pleasant about everything. Tell him so from me, will you? Tell him I'm
passing on to No. 2. Good-bye, Miss Burgess, and thank you for your help."
He shook hands and departed. Walking along the street he took a small notebook
from his pocket and made a couple of entries in it under the letter R.

Mrs. Graves? unlikely.
Mrs. Craddock?
No legacies.
No wife. (Pity.)
Investigate deaths of patients. Difficult.

He closed the book and turned into the Lancaster Gate branch of the London &
Wessex Bank.
The display of his offleial card brought him to a private interview with the
manager.
"Good-morning, sir. One of your clients is a Dr. Geoffrey Roberts, I
understand."


418
Agatha Christie


"Quite correct, superinterdent."

"I shall want some information about that gentleman's account going back over
a period of years."

"I will see what I can do for you."

A complicated half-hour followed. Finally Battle, with a sigh, tucked away a
sheet of pencilled figures.

"Got what you want?" inquired the bank manager curiously.

"No, I haven't. Not one suggestive lead. Thank you all the same."

At the same moment, Dr. Ro!erts, washing his hands in his consulting-room, said
over his shoulder to Miss Burgess:

"What about our stolid sleuth, eh? Did he turn the place upside down and you
inside out?"

"He didn't get much out of me, I can tell you," said Miss Burgess, setting her
lips tightly.

"My dear girl, no need to be an oyster. I told you to tell him all he wanted to
know. What did he want to ktow, by the way?"

"Oh, he kept harping oh your knowing that man Shaitana--suggested even
that he might have come her as a patient under a different name. He showed me
his photograph. Such a theatrical-looking man!"

"Shaitana? Oh, yes, fond of posing as a modern Mephistopheles. It went down
rather well on the whole. What else did Battle ask you?"

"Really nothing very much. Except---oh, yes somebody had been telling him
some absurd nonsense about Mrs. Graves--you know the way she used to go on."

"Graves? Graves? Oh, ys, old Mrs. Graves! That's rather funny!" The doctor
laughed with considerable arusement. "That's really very funny indeed."

And in high good humohr he went in to lunch.


CHAPTER 10

Dr. Roberts (continued)


Superintendent Battle was ltmching with M. Hercule Poirot.

The former looked downcast, the latter sympathetic.

"Your morning, then, has not been entirely successful," said Poirot
thoughtfully.

Battle shook his head.

"It's going to be uphill work, M. Poirot."

"What do you think of him?"

"Of the doctor? Well, frankly, I think Shaitana was right. He's a killer.
Reminds me of Westaway. And of that lawyer chap in Norfolk. Same hearty, self-confident
manner. Same /)opularity. Both of them were clever devils--so's
Roberts. All the same, it doesn't follow that Roberts killed Shaitana--and as a
matter of fact I don't think he did. He'd know the risk too well better than a
layman would--that Shaitaaa might wake and cry out. No, I don't think Roberts
murdered him."



Cards on the Table
419


"But you think he has murdered some one?"

"Possibly quite a lot of people. Westaway had. But it's going to be hard to get
at. I've looked over his bank account--nothing suspicious there--no large sums
suddenly. At any rate, in the last seven years he's not had any legacy from a
patient. That wipes out murder for direct gain. He's never married--that's a pity--so
ideally simple for a doctor to kill his own wife. He's well-to-do, but then he's got
a thriving practice among well-to-do people."

"In fact he. appears to lead a thoroughly blameless life--and perhaps does do

SO."

"Maybe. But I prefer to believe the worst."

He went on:

"There's the hint of a scandal over a woman---one of his patients--name of
Craddock. That's worth looking up, I think. I'll get some one on to that
straightaway. Woman actually died out in Egypt of some local disease, so I don't

think there's anything in that
but it might throw a light on his general character

and morals."

"Was there a husband?"

"Yes. Husband died of anthrax."

"Anthrax?"

"Yes, there were a lot of cheap shaving brushes on the market just then--some

of them infected. There was a regular scandal about it."

"Convenient," suggested Poirot.

"That's what I thought. If her husband were threatening to kick up a row
But there, it's all conjecture. We haven't a leg to stand upon."

"Courage, my friend. I know your patience. In the end, you will have perhaps
as many legs as a centipede."

"And fall into the ditch as a result of thinking about them," grinned Battle.

Then he asked curiously:

"What about you, M. Poirot? Going to take a hand?"

"I too, might call on Dr. Roberts."

"Two of us in one day. That ought to put the wind up him."

"Oh, I shall be very discreet. I shall not inquire into his past life."

"I'd like to know just exactly what line you'll take," said Battle curiously, "but
don't tell me unless you want to."

"Du tout--du tout. I am most willing. I shall talk a little of bridge, that is all."
"Bridge again. You harp on that, don't you, M. Poirot?" "I find the subject very useful."

"Well, every man to his taste. I don't deal much in these fancy approaches.
They don't suit my style."

"What is your style, superintendent?"

The superintendent met the twinkle in Poirot's eye with an answering twinkle
in his own.

"A straightforward, honest, zealous officer doing his duty in the most laborious
manner--that's my style. No frills. No fancy work. Just honest perspiration. Stolid

and a bit stupid--that's my ticket."

Poirot raised his glass.

"To our respective methodsand may success crown our joint efforts."

"I expect Colonel Race may get us something worth having about Despard,"
said Battle. "He's got a good many sources of information."

"And Mrs. Oliver?"



420
Agatha Christie

"Bit of a toss-up there. I rather like that woman. Talks a lot of nonsense, but
she's a sport. And women get to know things about other women that men can't get
at. She may spot something useful."
They separated. Battle went back to Scotland Yard to issue instructions for
certain lines to be followed up. Poirot betook himself to 200 Gloucester Terrace.
Dr. Roberts' eyebrows rose comically as he greeted his guest.
"Two sleuths in one day," he asked. "Handcuffs by this evening, I suppose."

Poirot smiled.
"I can assure you, Dr. Roberts, that my attentions are being equally divided
between all four of you."
"That's something to be thankful for, at all events. Smoke?"
"If you permit, I prefer my own."
Poirot lighted one of his tiny Russian cigarettes.
"Well, what can I do for you?" asked Roberts.
Poirot was silent for a minute or two puffing, then he said:

"Are you a keen observer of human nature, doctor?"

"I don't know. I suppose I am. A doctor has to be."
"That was exactly my reasoning. I said to myself, 'A doctor has always to be
studying his patients--their expressions, their colour, how fast they breathe, any
signs of restlessness--a doctor notices these things automatically almost without
noticing he notices! Dr. Roberts is the man to help me.'"
"I'm willing enough to help. What's the trouble?"
Poirot produced from a neat little pocket-case three carefully folded bridge
scores.
"These are the first three rubbers the other evening," he explained. "Here is
the first one--in Miss Meredith's handwriting. Now can you tell me with this to
******* your memory--exactly what the calling was and how each hand went?"
Roberts stared at him in astonishment.
"You're joking, M. Poirot. How can I possibly remember?"
"Can't you? I should be so very grateful if you could. Take this first rubber.
The first game must have resulted in a game call in hearts or spades, or else one or
other side must have gone down fifty."
"Let me seethat was the first hand. Yes, I think they went out in spades."

"And the next hand?"
"I suppose one or other of us went down fifty--but I can't remember which or
what it was in. Really, M. Poirot, you can hardly expect me to do so."
"Can't you remember any of the calling or the hands?"
"I got a grand slam--I remember that. It was doubled too. And I also
remember going down a nasty smack--playing three no trumps, I think it was--went
down a packet. But that was later on."
"Do you remember with whom you were playing?"
"Mrs. Lorrimer. She looked a bit grim, I remember. Didn't like my overcalling, I expect."
"And you can't remember any other of the hands or the calling?"
Roberts laughed.
"My dear M. Poirot, did you really expect I could. First there was the
murder---enough to drive the most spectacular hands out of one's mind
and in
addition I've played at least half a dozen rubbers since then."

Poirot sat looking rather crestfallen.

"I'm sorry," said Roberts.
"It does not matter very much," said Poirot slowly. "I hoped that you might


Cards on the Table
421

remember one or two, at least, of the hands, because I thought they might be
valuable landmarks in remembering other things."
"What other things?"
"Well, you might have noticed, for instance, that your partner made a mess of
playing a perfectly simple no trumper, or that an opponent, say, presented you
with a couple of unexpected,rieks by failing to lead an obvious card."
Dr. Roberts became suddenly serious. He leaned forward in his chair.
"Ah," he said. "Now I see what you're driving at. Forgive me. I thought at
first you were talking pure nonsense. You mean that the murder--the successful
accomplishment of the murder--might have made a definite difference in the
guilty party's play?"
Poirot nodded.
"You have seized the idea correctly. It would be a clue of the first excellence if
you had been four players who knew each other's game well. A variation, a sudden
lack of brilliance, a missed oppOrtunity--that would have been immediately
noticed. Unluckily, you were all strangers to each other. Variation in play would
not be so noticeable. But think, M. le docteur, I beg of you to think. Do you
remember any inequalities--any sudden glaring mistakes--in the play of any one?"
There was silence for a minute or two, then Dr. Roberts shook his head.
"It's no good. I can't help you," he said frankly. "I simply don't remember. All
I can tell you is what I told you before: Mrs. Lorrimer is a first-class player--she
never made a slip that I noticed. She was brilliant from start to finish. Despard's
play was uniformly good too. Rather a conventional player--that is, his bidding is
strictly conventional. He never steps outside the rules. Won't take a long chance.
Miss Meredith "He hesitated.
"Yes? Miss Meredith?" Poirot prompted him.
"She did make mistakes--once or twiceI remember--towards the end of the
evening, but that may simply have been because she was tired--not being a very
experienced player. Her hand shook, too
"
He stopped.

"When did her hand shake?"

"When was it now? I can't remember I
think she was just nervous. M.
Poirot,
you're making me imagine things."
"I apologise. There is another point on which I seek your help."
"Yes?"
Poirot
said slowly:
"It is difficult. I do not, you see, wish to ask you a leading question. If I say, did you
notice so and so--well, I have put the thing into your head. Your answer will
not be so valuable. Let me try to get at the matter another way. If you will be so
kind, Dr. Roberts, describe to me the *******s of the room in which you played."
Roberts
looked thoroughly astonished.
"The
*******s of the room?"
"If you will be so good."
"My dear fellow, I simply don't know where to begin."
"Begin
anywhere you choose."
"Well,
there was a good deal of furniturc "
"Non,
non, non, be precise, I pray of you."

Dr. Roberts sighed.
He began facetiously after the manner of an auctioneer.
"One large settee upholstered in ivory brocadeone ditto in green ditto--


422
Agatha Christie

four or five large chairs. Eight or nine Persian rugs--a set of twelve small gilt

Empire chairs. William and Mary bureau. (I feel just like an auctioneer's clerk.)

Very beautiful Chinese cabinet. Grand piano. There was other furniture but I'm

afraid I didn't notice it. Six first-class Japanese prints. Two Chinese pictures on

looking-glass. Five or six very beautiful snuff-boxes. Some Japanese ivory netsuke

figures on a table by themselves. Some old silver--Charles I. tazzas, I think. One

or two pieces of Battersea enamel--"

"Bravo, bravo!" Poirot applauded.

"A couple of old English slipware birds--and, I think, a Ralph Wood figure.
Then there was some Eastern stuff--intricate silver work. Some jewellery, I don't
know much about that. Some Chelsea birds, I remember. Oh, and some
miniatures in a case-pretty good ones, I fancy. That's not all by a long way--but
it's all I can think of for the minute."

"It is magnificent," said Poirot with due appreciation. "You have the true
observer's eye."

The doctor asked curiously:

"Have I included the object you had in mind?"

"That is the interesting thing about it,"said Poirot. "If you had mentioned the
object I had in mind it would have been extremely surprising to me. As I thought,

you would not mention it."

"Why?"

Poirot twinkled.

"Perhaps--because it was not there to mention."

Roberts stared.

"That seems to remind me of something."

"It reminds you of Sherlock Holmes, does it not? The curious incident of the
dog in the night. The dog did not howl in the night. That is the curious thing! Ah,
well, I am not above stealing the tricks of others."

"Do you know, M. Poirot, I am completely at sea as to what you are driving


"That is excellent, that. In confidence, that is how I get my little effects."

Then, as Dr. Roberts still looked rather dazed, Poirot said with a smile as he
rose to his feet:

"You may at least comprehend this, what you have told me is going to be very

helpful to me in my next interview."

The doctor rose also.

"I can't see how, but I'll take your work for it," he said.

They shook hands.

Poirot went down the steps of the doctor's house, and hailed a passing taxi.
"111 Cheyne Lane, Chelsea," he told the driver.


CHAPTER 11
Mrs. Lorrimer


111 Cheyne Lane was a small house of very neat and trim appearance standing in a
quiet street. The door was painted black and the steps were particularly well
whitened, the brass of the knocker and handle gleamed in the afternoon sun.



Cards on the Table
423

The door was opened by an elderly parlourmaid with an immaculate white cap

and apron.

In answer to Poirot's inquiry she said that her mistress was at home.

She preceded him up the narrow staircase.

"What name, sir?"

"M. Hercule Poirot."

He was ushered into a drawing-room of the usual L shape. Poirot looked about

him, noting details. Good furniture, well polished, of the old family type. Shiny

chintz on the chairs and settees. A few silver photograph frames about in the old
fashioned
manner. Otherwise an agreeable amount of spe and light, and some

really beautiful chrysanthemums arranged in a tall

Mrs. Lorrimer came forward to meet him. She shook hands without showing

any particular surprise at seeing him, indicated a chair, took one herself and

remarked favourably on the weather.

There was a pause.

"I hope, Madame," said Hercule Poirot, "that you will forgive this visit."

Looking directly at him, Mrs. Lorrimer asked:

"Is this a professional visit?"

"I confess it."

"You realise, I suppose, M0 Poirot, that though I shall naturally give

Superintendent Battle and the official police any information and help they may

require, I am by no means bound to do the same for any unofficial investigator?"

"I am quite aware of that fact, Madame. If you show me the door, me, I march

to that door with complete submission."

Mrs. Lorrimer smiled very slightly.

"I am not yet prepared to go to those extremes, M. Poirot, I can give you ten

minutes. At the end of that time I have to go out to a bridge party."

"Ten minutes will be ample for my purpose. I want you to describe to me,

madame, the room in which you played bridge the other evening--the room in

which Mr. Shaitana was killed."

Mrs. Lorrimer's eyebrows rose.

"What an extraordinary questionl I do not see the point of it."

"Madame, if when you were playing bridge, some one were to say to you--

why do you play that ace or why do you put on the knave that is taken by the queen

and not the king which would take the trick? If people were to ask you such

questions, the answers would be rather long and tedious, would they not?"

Mrs. Lorrimer smiled slightly.

"Meaning that in this game you are the expert and I am the novice. Very

well." She reflected a minute. "It was a large room. There were a good many things

in it."

"Can you describe 'some of those things?"
"There were some glass flowers--modern--rather beautiful And
I think
there
were some Chinese or Japanese pictures. And there was a bowl of tiny red
tulips--amazingly
early for them."
"Anything
else?"
"I'm afraid I didn't notice anything in detail."
"The
furniturc do you remember the colour of the upholstery?"
"Something
silky, I think. That's all I can say."
"Did
you notice any of the small objects?"
"I'm
afraid not. There were so many. I know it struck me as quite a collector's room."
There
was a silence for a minute. Mrs. Lorrimer said with a faint smile:


424
Agatha Christie

"I'm afraid I have not been very helpful,"
"There is something else." He produced the bridge scores. "Here are the first
three rubbers played. I wondered if you could help me with the aid of these scores
to reconstruct the hands."
"Let me see." Mrs. Lorrimer looked interested. She bent over the scores. "That was the first rubber. Miss Meredith and I were playing against the two
men. The first game was played in four spades. We made it and an over trick. Then
the next hand was left at two diamonds and Dr. Roberts went down one trick on it.
There was quite a lot of bidding on the third hand, I remember. Miss Meredith
passed. Major Despard went a heart. I passed. Dr. Roberts gave a jump bid of
three clubs. Miss Meredith went three spades. Major Despard bid four diamonds.
I doubled. Dr. Roberts took it into four hearts. They went down one."
"Epatant,'" said Poirot. "What a memory!"
Mrs. Lorrimer went on, disregarding him:
"On the next hand Major Despard passed and I bid a no trump. Dr. Roberts
bid three hearts. My partner said nothing. Despard put his partner to four. I
doubled and they went down two tricks. Then I dealt and we went out on a four-spade
call."
She took up the next score.
"It is difficult, that," said Poirot. "Major Despard scores in the cancellation
manner."
"I rather fancy both sides went down fifty to start with--then Dr. Roberts
went down to five diamonds and we doubled and got him down three tricks. Then
we made three clubs, but immediately after the others went game in spades. We
made the second game in five clubs. Then we went down a hundred. The others
made one heart, we made two no trumps and we finally won the rubber with a
four-club call."
She picked up the next score.
"This rubber was rather a battle, I remember. It started tamely. Major
Despard and Miss Meredith made a one-heart call. Then we went down a couple of
fifties trying for four hearts and four spades. Then the others made game in
spades--no use trying to stop them. We went down three hands running after that
but undoubled. Then we won the second game in no trumps. Then a battle royal
started. Each side went down in turn. Dr. Roberts overcalled but though he went
down badly once or twice, his calling paid, for more than once he frightened
Miss Meredith out of bidding her hand. Then he bid an original two spade, I
gave him three diamonds, he bid four no trumps, I bid five spades and he
suddenly jumped to seven diamonds. We were doubled, of course. He had no
business to make such a call. By a kind of miracle we got it. I never thought
we should when I saw his hand go down. If the others led a heart we would
have been three tricks down. As it was they led the king of clubs and we got it.
It was really very exciting."
'Je crois bien--a Grand Slam Vulnerable doubled. It causes the emotions,
that! Me, I admit it, I have not the nerve to go for the slams. I ******* myself with
the game."
"Oh, but you shouldn't," said Mrs. Lorrimer with energy. "You must play the
game properly."
"Take risks, you mean?"
"There is no risk if the bidding is correct. It should be a mathematical
certainty. Unfortunately, few people really bid well. They know the opening bids but later they lose their heads. They cannot distinguish between a hand with


Cards on the Table 425

winning cards in it and a hand without losing cards
but I mustn't give you a
lecture on bridge, or on the losing count, M. Poirot."

"It would improve my play, I am sure, Madame."

Mrs. Lorrimer resumed her study of the score.
"After that excitement the next hands were rather tame. Have you the fourth
score there? Ah, yes. A ding-dong barrio neither side able to score below."
"It is often like that as the evening wears on."
"Yes, one starts tamely and then the cards get worked up."
Poirot collected the scores and made a little bow.
"Madame, I congratulate you. Your card memory is magnificent--but
You remember, one might say, every card that was//15Iayed!"

magnificent!
"I believe I do."

/
"Memory is a wonderful gift. With it the past is never the past--I should
imagine, Madame, that to you the past unrolls itself, every incident clear as
yesterday. Is that so?"
She looked at him quickly. Her eyes were wide and dark.
It was only for a moment, then she had resumed her woman-ofthe-world
manner, but Hercule Poirot did not doubt. That shot had gone home.
Mrs. Lorrimer rose.
"I'm afraid I shall have to leave now. I am so sorry--but I really mustn't be
late."
"Of course not---of course not. I apologise for trespassing on your time."

"I'm sorry I haven't been able to help you more."

"But you have helped me," said Hercule Poirot.

"I hardly think so."
She spoke with decision.
"But yes. You have told me something I wanted to know."
She asked no question as to what that something was.
He held out his hand,
"Thank you, Madame, for your forbearance."
As she shook hands with him she said:
"You are an extraordinary man, M. Poirot." "I am as the good God made me, Madame." "We are all that, I suppose."
"Not all, Madame. Some of us have tried to improve on His pattern. Mr.
Shaitana, for instance."
"In what way do you mean?"
"He had a very pretty taste in objets de virtu and bric-a-brac--he should have
been ******* with that. Instead, he collected other things."
"What sort of things?"
"Well--shall we say--sensations?"
"And don't you think that was clans son caractre?"
Poirot shook his head gravely.
"He played the part of the devil too successfully. But he was not the devil. Au
fond, he was a stupid man. And so--he died."
"Because he was stupid?"
"It is the sin that is never forgiven and always punished, Madame."
There was a silence. Then Poirot said:
"I take my departure. A thousand thanks for your amiability, Madame. I will
not come again unless you send for me."
Her eyebrows rose.


426
Agatha Christie


"Dear me, M. Poirot, why should I send for you?"

"You might. It is just an idea. If so, I will come. Remember that."
He bowed once more and left the room.

In the street he said to himself.

"I am right .... I am sure I am right .... It must be that!"


CHAPTER 12
Anne Meredith


Mrs. Oliver extricated herself from the driving-seat of her little two-seater with
some difficulty. To begin with, the makers of modem motor-cars assume that only
a pair of sylph-like knees will ever be under the steering-wheel. It is also the
fashion to sit low. That being so, for a middle-aged woman of generous proportions
it requires a good deal of superhuman wriggling to get out from under the steering-wheel.
In the second place, the seat next to the driving-seat was encumbered by
several maps, a hangbag, three novels and a large bag of apples. Mrs. Oliver was
partial to apples and had indeed been known to eat as many as five pounds straight
offwhilst composing the complicated plot of The Death in the Drain Pipe--coming to herself with a start and an incipient stomach-ache an hour and ten minutes after
she was due at an important luncheon party given in her honour.

With a final determined heave and a sharp shove with the knee against a
recalcitrant door, Mrs. Oliver arrived a little too suddenly on the sidewalk outside
the gate of Wendon Cottage, showering apple cores freely round her as she did so.

She gave a deep sigh, pushed back her country hat to an unfashionable angle,
looked down with approval at the tweeds she had remembered to put on, frowned
a little when she saw that she had absent-mindedly retained her London high-heeled
patent leather shoes, and pushing open the gate of Wendon Cottage walked
up the flagged path to the front door. She raag the bell and executed-a cheerful

little rat-a-tat-tat on the knocker--a quaint coaceit in the form of a toad's head.
As nothing happened she repeated the performance.

After a further pause of a minute and a half, Mrs. Oliver stepped briskly round
the side of the house on a voyage of exploration.

There was a small old-fashioned garden with Michaelmas daisies and
straggling chrysanthemums behind the cottage, and beyond it a field. Beyond the
field was the river. For an October day the sua was warm.

Two girls were just crossing the field in the direction of the cottage. As they

came through the gate into the garden, the foremost of the two stopped dead.
Mrs. Oliver came forward.

"How do you do, Miss Meredith? You remember me, don't you?"

"Oh--oh, of course.' Anne Meredith extended her hand hurriedly. Her eyes
looked wide and startled. Then she pulled herself together.

"This is my friend who lives with me--Miss Dawes. Rhoda, this is Mrs.
Oliver."

The other girl was tall, dark, and vigorous-looking. She said excitedly:

"Oh, are you the Mrs. Oliver? Ariadne Oliver?"



Cards on the Table
427

"I am," said Mrs. Oliver, and she added to Anne, "Now let us sit down
somewhere, my dear, because I've got a lot to say to you."
"Of course. And we'll have tea- "
'"Tea can wait," said Mrs. Oliver.
Anne led the way to a little group of deck and basket chairs, all rather
dilapidated. Mrs. Oliver chose the strongest-looking with some care, having had
various unfortunate experiences with flimsy summer furniture.
"Now, my dear," she said briskly. "Don't let's beat about the bush. About this
murder the other evening. We've got to get busy and do something."
"Do something?" queried Anne.
"Naturally," said Mrs. Oliver. "I don't know what you think, but I haven't the
least doubt who did it. That doctor. What was his name? Roberts. That's it!
Roberts. A Welsh name! I never trust the Welsh! I had a Welsh nurse and she took
me to Harrogate one day and went home having forgotten all bume. Very
unstable. But never mind about her. Roberts did it--that's the point and we must
put our heads together and prove he did."
Rhoda Dawes laughed suddenly--then she blushed.
"I beg your pardon. But you're--you're so different from what I would have
imagined."
"A disappointment, I expect," said Mrs. Oliver serenely. "I'm used to that.
Never mind. What we must do is prove that Roberts did it!"
"How can we?" said Anne.
"Oh, don't be so defeatist, Anne," cried Rhoda Dawes. "I think Mrs. Oliver's
splendid. Of course, she knows all about these things. She'll do just as Sven
Hjerson does."
Blushing slightly at the name of her celebrated Finnish detective, Mrs. Oliver
said:
"It's got to be done, and I'll tell you why, child. You don't want people
thinking you did it?"
"Why should they?" asked Anne, her colour rising.
"You know what people are!" said Mrs. Oliver. "The three who didn't do it
will come in for just as much suspicion as the one who did."
Anne Meredith said slowly:
"I still don't quite see why you came to me, Mrs. Oliver?"
"Because in my opinion the other two don't matter! Mrs. Lorrimer is one of
those women who play bridge at bridge clubs all day. Women like that must be
made of armour-plating--they can look after themselves all right! And anyway she's
old. It wouldn't matter ffany one thought she'd done it. A girl's different. She's got
her life in front of her."
"And Major Despard?" asked Anne.
"Pah!" said Mrs. Oliver. "He's a man. I never worry about men. Men can look
after themselves. Do it remarkably well, if you ask me. Besides, Major Despard
enjoys a dangerous life. He's getting his fun at home instead of on the Irrawaddy--or
do I mean the Limpopo? You know what I mean--that yellow African river that
men like so much. No, I'm not worrying my head about either of those two."
"It's very kind of you," said Anne slowly.
"It was a beastly thing to happen," said Rhoda. "It's broken Anne up, Mrs.
Oliver. She's awfully sensitive. And I think you're quite right. It would be ever so
much better to do something than just to sit here thinking about it all."
"Of course it would," said Mrs. Oliver. "To tell you the truth, a real murder
has never come my way before. And, to continue telling the truth, I don't believe


428
Agatha Christie

real murder is very much in my line. I'm so used to loading the dice--ff you
understand what I mean. But I wasn't going to be out of it and let those three men
have all the fun to themselves. I've always said that if a woman were the head of
Scotland Yard "
"Yes?" said Rhoda, leaning forward with parted lips. "If you were head of
Scotland Yard, what would you do?"
"I should arrest Dr. Roberts straight away--"
"Yes?"
"However, I'm not the head of Scotland Yard," said Mrs. Oliver, retreating
from dangerous ground. "I'm a private individual "
"Oh, you're not that," said Rhoda, confusedly complimentary.
"Here we are," continued Mrs. Oliver, "three private individuals--all
women. Let us see what we can do by putting our heads together."
Anne Meredith nodded thoughtfully. Then she said: "Why do you think Dr, Roberts did it?"
"He's that sort of man," replied Mrs. Oliver promptly.
"Don't you think, though ' Anne hesitated. "Wouldn't a doctor ? I
mean, something like poison would be so much easier for him."
"Not at all. Poison--drugs of any kind would point straight to a doctor. Look
how they are always leaving cases of dangerous drugs in cars all over London and
getting them stolen. No, just because he was a doctor he'd take special care not to
use anything of a medical kind."
"I see," said Anne doubtfully.
Then she said:
"But why do you think he wanted to kill Mr. Shaitana? Have you any idea?"
"Idea? I've got any amount of ideas. In fact, that's just the difficulty. It always
is my difficulty. I can never think of even one plot at a time. I always think of at
least five, and then it's agony to decide between them. I can think of six beautiful
reasons for the murder. The trouble is I've no earthly means of knowing which is
right. To begin with, perhaps Shaitana was a moneylender. He had a very oily
look. Roberts was in his clutches, and killed him because he couldn't get the
money to repay the loan. Or perhaps Shaitana ruined his daughter or his sister. Or
perhaps Roberts is a bigamist, and Shaitana knew it. Or possibly Roberts married
Shaitana's second cousin, and will inherit all Shaitana's money through her. Or '
How many have I got to?"
"Four," said Rhoda.
"Or--and this is a really good one--suppose Shaitana knew some secret in
Roberts' past. Perhaps you didn't notice, my dear, but Shaitana said something
rather peculiar at dinner--just before a rather queer pause."
Anne stooped to tickle a caterpillar. She said, "I don't think I remember."
"What did he say?" asked Rhoda.
"Something about--what was it? an accident and poison. Don't you remember?''
Anne's left hand tightened on the basketwork of her chair.
"I do remember something of the kind," she said composedly.
Rhoda said suddenly, "Darling, you ought ,to have a coat. It's not summer,
remember. Go and get one,"
Anne shook her head. "I'm quite warm."
But she gave a queer little shiver as she spoke.
"You see my theory," went on Mrs. Oliver. "I dare say one of the doctor's


Cards o the Table
429


patients poisoned himself by accident; but, of course, really, it was the doctor's
own doing. I dare say he's murdered lots of people that way."

A sudden colour came into Anne's cheeks. She said, "Do doctors usually want
to murder their patients wholesale? Wouldn't it have rather a regrettable effect on
their practice?"

"There would be a reason, of course," said Mrs. Oliver vaguely:

"I think the idea is absurd," said Anne crisply. "Absolutely absurdly
melodramatic."

"Oh, Anne!" cried Rhoda in an agony of apology. She looked at Mrs. Oliver.
Her eyes, rather like those of an intelligent spaniel, seemed to be trying to say
something. "Try and understand. Try and understand," those eyes said.

"I think it's a splendid idea, Mrs. Oliver," Rhoda said earnestly. "And a doctor

could get hold of somethitig quite untraceable, couldn't he?"

"Oh!" exclaimed Anne.

The other two turned to look at her.

"I remember something else," she said. "Mr. Shaitana said something about a
doctor's opportunities in a laboratory. He must have meant something by that."

"It wasn't Mr. Shaitana who said that." Mrs. Oliver shook her head. "It was
Major Despard."

A footfall on the garden walk made her turn her head.

"Well!" she exclaimed. "Talk of the devil!"

Major Despard had just come round the corner of the house.


CHAPTER 13
Second Visitor


At the sight of Mrs. Oliver, Major Despard looked slightly taken aback. Under his
tan his face flushed a rich brick-red, Embarrassment made him jerky. He made for
Anne.

"I apologise, Miss Meredith," he said. "Been ringing your bell. Nothing
happened. Was passing this way. Thought I might just look you up,"

"I'm so sorry you've been ringing," said Anne. "We haven't got a maid---only a

woman who comes in the mornings."
She introduced him to Rhoda.
Rhoda said briskly:

"Let's have some tea. It's getting chilly. We'd better go in."

They all went into the house. Rhoda disappeared into the kitchen. Mrs. Oliver

said:

"This is quite a coincidence--our all meeting here."

Despard said slowly, "Yes."

His eyes rested on her thoughtfully--appraising eyes.

"I've been telling Miss Meredith," said Mrs. Oliver, who was thoroughly
enjoying herself, "that we ought to have a Plan of campaign. About the murder, I

mean. Of course, that doctor did it. Don't you agree with me?"

"Couldn't say. Very little to go on."

Mrs. Oliver put on her "How like a man!" expression.



430
Agatha Christie

A certain air of constraint had settled over the three. Mrs. Oliver sensed it
quickly enough. When Rhoda brought in tea she rose and said she must be getting
back to town. No, it was ever so kind of them, but she wouldn't have any tea.
"I'm going to leave you my card," she said. "Here it is, with my address on it.
Come and see me when you come up to town, and we'll talk everything over and
see if we can't think of something ingenious to get to the bottom of things."
"I'll come out to the gate with you," said Rhoda.
Just as they were walking down the path to the front gate, Anne Meredith ran
out of the house and overtook them.
"I've been thinking things over," she said.
Her pale face looked unusually resolute.
"Yes, my dear?"
"It's extraordinarily kind of you, Mrs. Oliver, to have taken all this trouble.
But I'd really rather not do anything at all. I mean--it was all so horrible. I just
want to forget about it."
"My dear child, the question is, will you be allowed to forget about it?"
"Oh, I quite understand that the police won't let it drop. They'll probably
come here and ask me a lot more questions. I'm prepared for that. But privately, I
mean, I don't want to think about it--or be reminded of it in any way. I dare say
I'm a coward, but that's how I feel about it."
"Oh, Anne!" cried Rhoda Dawes.
"I can understand your feeling, but I'm not at all sure that you're wise," said
Mrs. Oliver. "Left to themselves, the police will probably never find out the
truth."
Anne Meredith shrugged her shoulders.
"Does that really matter?"
"Matter?" cried Rhoda. "Of course it matters. It does matter, doesn't it, Mrs.
Oliver?"
"I should certainly say so," said Mrs. Oliver dryly.
"I don't agree," said Anne obstinately. "Nobody who knows me would ever
think I'd done it. I don't see any reason for interfering. It's the business of the
police to get at the truth."
"Oh, Anne, you are spiritless," said Rhoda.
"That's how I feel, anyway," said Anne. She held out her hand. "Thank you
very much, Mrs. Oliver. It's very good of you to have bothered."
"Of course, if you feel that way, there's nothing more to be said," said Mrs.
Oliver cheerfully. "I, at any rate, shall not let the grass grow under my feet. Goodbye,
my dear. Look me up in London if you change your mind."
She climbed into the car, started it, and drove off, waving a cheerful hand at
the two girls.
Rhoda suddenly made a dash after the car and leapt on the running-board.
"What you said about looking you up in London," she said breathlessly.
"Did you only mean Anne, or did you mean me, too?"
Mrs. Oliver applied the brake. "I meant both of you, of course."
"Oh, thank you. Don't stop. I--perhaPs I might come one day. There's
something--- No, don't stop. I can jump off."
She did so and, waving a hand, ran back to the gate, where Anne was
standing.
"What on earth ?" began Anne.
"Isn't she a duck?" asked Rhoda enthusiastically. "I do like her. She had on


Cards on the Table
431

odd stockings, did you notice? I'm sure she's frightfully clever. She must be--to
write all those books. What fun if she found out the truth when the police and
every one were baffled."
"Why did she come here?" asked Anne.
Rhoda's eyes opened wide.
"Darling--she told you--Anne
made an impatient gesture.
"We must go in. I forgot. I've left him all alone."
Major Despard was standing by the mantelpiece, teacup in hand.
He cut short Anne's apologies for leaving him.
"Miss Meredith, I want to explain why I've butted in like this."
"Oh--but "
"I said that I happened to be passing--that wasn't strictly true. I came here on
purpose."
"How did you know my address?" asked Anne slowly. "I got it from Superintendent Battle."
He saw her shrink slightly at the name.
He went on quickly:
"Battle's on his way here now. I happened to see him at Paddington. I got my
car out and came down here. I knew I could beat the train easily."
"But why?"
Despard hesitated just for a minute.
"I may have been presumptuous--but I had the impression that you were,
perhaps, what is called 'alone in the world.'"
"She's got me," said Rhoda.
Despard shot a quick glance at her, rather liking the gallant boyish figure that
leant against the mantelpiece and was following his words so intensely. They were
an attractive pair, these two.
"I'm sure she couldn't have a more devoted friend than you, Miss Dawes," he
said courteously; "but it occurred to me that, in the peculiar circumstances, the
advice of some one with a good dash of worldly wisdom might not be amiss.
Frankly, the situation is this: Miss Meredith is under suspicion of having
committed murder. The same applies to me and to the two other people who were
in the room last night. Such a situation is not agreeableand it has its own peculiar
difficulties and dangers which some one as young and inexperienced as you are,
Miss Meredith, might not recognise. In my opinion, you ought to put yourself in
the hands of a thoroughly good solicitor. Perhaps you have already done so?"
Anne Meredith shook her head. "I never thought of it."
"Exactly as I suspected. Have you got a good man--a London man, for
choice?"
Again Anne shook her head.
"I've hardly ever needed a solicitor."
"There's Mr. Bury," said Rhoda. "But he's about a hundred-and-two, and
quite gaga."
"If you'll allow me to advise you, Miss Meredith, I recommend your going to
Mr. Myherne, my own solicitor. Jacobs, Peel & Jacobs is the actual name of the
firm. They're first-class people, and they know all the ropes."
Anne had got paler. She sat down.
"Is it really necessary?" she asked in a low voice.
"I should say emphatically so. There are all sorts of legal pitfalls."


432
Agatha Christie

"Are these people very--expensive?-
"That doesn't matter a bit," said Rhoda. "That will be quite all right, Major
Despard. I think everything you say is quite true. Anne ought to be protected."
"Their charges will, I think, be quite reasonable," said Despard. He added
seriously: "I really do think it's a wise course, Miss Meredith." "Very well," said Anne slowly. "I'll do it if you think so."
"Good."
Rhoda said warmly:
"I think it's awfully nice of you, Major Despard. Really frightfully nice."
Anne said, "Thank you."
She hesitated, and then said:
"Did you say Superintendent Battle was coming here?"
"Yes. You mustn't be alarmed by that. It's inevitable."
"Oh, I know. As a matter of fact, I've been expecting him."
Rhoda said impulsively:
"Poor darling--it's nearly killing her, this business. It's such a shamso
frightfully unfair."
Despard said:
"I agree--it's a pretty beastly businessdragging a young girl into an affair of
this kind. If any one wanted to stick a knife into Shaitana, they ought to have
chosen some other place or time."
Rhoda asked squarely:
"Who do you think did it? Dr. Roberts or that Mrs. Lorrimer?"
A very faint smile stirred Despard's moustache.
"May have done it myself, for all you know."
"Oh, no," cried Rhoda. "Anne and I know you didn't do it."
He looked at them both with kindly eyes.
A nice pair of kids. Touchingly full of faith and trust. A timid little creature,
the Meredith girl. Never mind, Myherne would see her through. The other was a
fighter. He doubted if she would have crumpled up in the same way if she'd been
in her friend's place. Nice girls. He'd like to know more about them.
These thoughts passed through his mind. Aloud he said:
"Never take anything for granted, Miss Dawes. I don't set as much value on
human life as most people do. All this hysterical fuss about road deaths for
instance. Man is always in danger from traffic, from germs, from a hundred-and-one
things. As well be killed one way as another. The moment you begin being
careful of yourself adopting as your motto 'Safety First'-you might as well be
dead, in my opinion."
"Oh, I do agree with you," cried Rhoda. "I think one ought to live frightfully
dangerously--if one gets the chance, that is. But life, on the whole, is terribly
tame."
"It has its moments."
"Yes, for you. You go to out-of-the-way places and get mauled by tigers and
shoot things and jiggers bury themselves in your toes and insects sting you, and
everything's terribly uncomfortable but frightfully thrilling."
"Well, Miss Meredith has had her thrill, too. I don't suppose it often happens
that you've actually been in the room while a murder was committed--"
"Oh, don't!" cried Anne.
He said quickly: "I'm sorry."
But Rhoda said with a sigh:
"Of course it was awful but it was exciting, too! I don't think Anne


Cards on the Table
433

appreciates that side of it. You know, I think that Mrs. Oliver is thrilled to the core
to have been there that night."
"Mrs ? Oh, your fat friend who writes the books about the unpronounceable
Finn. Is she trying her hand at detection in real life?"
"She wants to."
"Well, let's wish her luck. It would be amusing if she put one over on Battle
and Co."
"What is Superintendent Battle like?" asked Rhoda curiously.
Major Despard said gravely:
"He's an extraordinarily astute man. A man of remarkable ability."
"Oh!" said Rhoda. "Anne said he looked rather stupid."
"That, I should imagine, is part of Battle's stock-in-trade. But we mustn't
make any mistakes. Battle's no fool."
He rose.
"Well, I must be off. There's just one other thing I'd like to say."
Anne had risen also.
"Yes?" she said as she held out her hand.
Despard paused a minute, picking his words carefully. He took her hand and
retained it in his. He looked straight into the wide, beautiful grey eyes.
"Don't be offended with me," he said. "I just want to say this: It's humanly
possible that there may be some feature of your acquaintanceship with Shaitana
that you don't want to come out. If so--don't be angry, please" (he felt the
instinctive pull of her hand)"you are perfectly within your rights in refusing to
answer any questions Battle may ask unless your solicitor is present."
Anne tore her hand away. Her eyes opened, their grey darkening with anger.
"There's nothing--nothing .... I hardly knew the beastly man." "Sorry," said Major Despard. "Thought I ought to mention it."
"It's quite true," said Rhoda. "Anne barely knew him. She didn't like him
much, but he gave frightfully good parties."
"That," said Major Despard grimly, "seems to have been the only justification
for the late Mr. Shaitana's existence."
Anne said in a cold voice:
"Superintendent Battle can ask me anything he likes. I've nothing to hide nothing."
Despard said very gently, "Please forgive me."
She looked at him. Her anger dwindled. She smiled it was a very sweet
smile.
"It's all right," she said. "You meant it kindly, I know."
She held out her hand again. He took it and said:
"We're in the same boat, you know. We ought to be pals .... "
It was Anne who went with him to the gate. When she came back Rhoda was
staring out of the window and whistling. She turned as her friend entered the
room.
"He's frightfully attractive, Anne."
"He's nice, isn't he?"
"A great deal more than nice .... I've got an absolute passion for him. Why
wasn't I at that damned dinner instead of you? I'd have enjoyed the excitement--
the net closing round me--the shadow of the scaffold-- "No, you wouldn't. You're talking nonsense, Bhoda.'
Anne's voice was sharp. Then it softened as she said:
"It was nice of him to come all this way--for a stranger--a girl he's only met
once."


434
Agatha Christie


"Oh, he fell for you. Obviously. Men don't do purely disinterested kindnesses.
He wouldn't have come toddling down if you'd been cross-eyed and
covered with pimples!"

"Don't you think so?"

"I do not, my good idiot. Mrs. Oliver's a much more disinterested party."

"I don't like her," said Anne abruptly. "I had a sort of feeling about her I

wonder
what she really came for?"
"The
usual suspicions of your own sex. I dare say Major Despard had an axe to grind,
if it comes to that."
"I'm
sure he hadn't," cried Anne hotly.
Then
she blushed as Rhoda Dawes laughed.

CHAPTER
14 Third
Visitor

Superintendent
Battle arrived at Wallingford about six o'clock. It was his intention to
learn as much as he could from innocent local gossip before interviewing Miss Anne
Meredith.
It
was not difficult to glean such information as there was. Without committing himself
definitely to any statement, the superintendent nevertheless gave several different
impressions of his rank and calling in life.
At
least two people would have said confidently that he was a London builder come
down to see about a new wing to be added to the cottage, from another you would have
learned that he was one of these weekenders wanting to take a furnished cottage,"
and two more would have said they knew positively, and for a fact, that he
was the representative of a hardcourt tennis firm.
The information that
the superintendent gathered was entirely favourable. "Wendon Cottage? Yes,
that's right--on the Marlbury Road. You can't miss it. Yes, two young
ladies. Miss Dawes and Miss Meredith. Very nice young ladies,. too. The quiet
kind.
"Here for years?
Oh, no, not that long. Just over two years. September quarter they came
in. Mr. Pickersgill they bought it from. Never used it much, he didn't, after his
wife died."
Superintendent Battle's informant
had never heard they came from Northumberland. London, he thought they came from. Popular in the neighbourhood, though some people
were old-fashioned and didn't think two young ladies ought to be living alone.
But very quiet, they were. None of this cocktail-drinking week-end lot. Miss Rhoda,
she was the dashing one. Miss Meredith was the quiet one. Yes, it was Miss Dawes
what paid the bills. She was the one had got the money.
The superintendent's researches
at last led him inevitably to Mrs. Astwell---
who "did" for
the ladies at Wendon Cottage.
Mrs. Astwell was
a loquacious lady.
"Well, no, sir.
I hardly think they'd want to sell. Not so soon. They only got in two years ago.
I've done for them from the beginning, yes, sir. Eight o'clock till twelve, those are
my hours. Very nice, lively young ladies, always ready for a joke or a bit of
fun. Not stuck-up at all."


Cards on the Table
435


"Well, of course, I couldn't say ffit's the same Miss Dawes you knew, sir--the
same family, I mean. It's my fancy her home's in Devonshire. She gets the cream
sent her now and again, and says it reminds her of home; so I think it must be.

"As you say, sir, it's sad for so many young ladies having to earn their livings
nowadays. These young ladies aren't what you'd call rich, but they have a very
pleasant life. It's Miss Dawes has got the money, of course. Miss Anne's her
companion, in a manner of speaking, I suppose you might say. The cottage belongs
to Miss Dawes.

"I couldn't really say what