There was a moment's stupefied silence. Japp, who was the least
surprised of any of us, was the first to speak.
"My word," he cried, "you're the goods! And no mistake, Mr.
Poirot! These witnesses of yours are all right, I suppose?"
"Voila! I have prepared a list of them--names and addresses. You
must see them, of course. But you will find it all right."
"I'm sure of that." Japp lowered his voice. "I'm much obliged to
you. A pretty mare's nest arresting him would have been." He
turned to Inglethorp. "But, if you'll excuse me, sir, why
couldn't you say all this at the inquest?"
"I will tell you why," interrupted Poirot. "There was a certain
"A most malicious and utterly untrue one," interrupted Alfred
Inglethorp in an agitated voice.
"And Mr. Inglethorp was anxious to have no scandal revived just
at present. Am I right?"
"Quite right." Inglethorp nodded. "With my poor Emily not yet
buried, can you wonder I was anxious that no more lying rumours
should be started."
"Between you and me, sir," remarked Japp, "I'd sooner have any
amount of rumours than be arrested for murder. And I venture to
think your poor lady would have felt the same. And, if it hadn't
been for Mr. Poirot here, arrested you would have been, as sure
as eggs is eggs!"
"I was foolish, no doubt," murmured Inglethorp. "But you do not
know, inspector, how I have been persecuted and maligned." And he
shot a baleful glance at Evelyn Howard.
"Now, sir," said Japp, turning briskly to John, "I should like to
see the lady's bedroom, please, and after that I'll have a little
chat with the servants. Don't you bother about anything. Mr.
Poirot, here, will show me the way."
As they all went out of the room, Poirot turned and made me a
sign to follow him upstairs. There he caught me by the arm, and
drew me aside.
"Quick, go to the other wing. Stand there--just this side of the
baize door. Do not move till I come." Then, turning rapidly, he
rejoined the two detectives.
I followed his instructions, taking up my position by the baize
door, and wondering what on earth lay behind the request. Why
was I to stand in this particular spot on guard? I looked
thoughtfully down the corridor in front of me. An idea struck
me. With the exception of Cynthia Murdoch's, every one's room
was in this left wing. Had that anything to do with it? Was I to
report who came or went? I stood faithfully at my post. The
minutes passed. Nobody came. Nothing happened.
It must have been quite twenty minutes before Poirot rejoined me.
"You have not stirred?"
"No, I've stuck here like a rock. Nothing's happened."
"Ah!" Was he pleased, or disappointed? "You've seen nothing at
"But you have probably heard something? A big bump--eh, mon ami?"
"Is it possible? Ah, but I am vexed with myself! I am not usually
clumsy. I made but a slight gesture"--I know Poirot's
gestures--"with the left hand, and over went the table by the
He looked so childishly vexed and crest-fallen that I hastened to
"Never mind, old chap. What does it matter? Your triumph
downstairs excited you. I can tell you, that was a surprise to
us all. There must be more in this affair of Inglethorp's with
Mrs. Raikes than we thought, to make him hold his tongue so
persistently. What are you going to do now? Where are the
Scotland Yard fellows?"
"Gone down to interview the servants. I showed them all our
exhibits. I am disappointed in Japp. He has no method!"
"Hullo!" I said, looking out of the window. "Here's Dr.
Bauerstein. I believe you're right about that man, Poirot. I
don't like him."
"He is clever," observed Poirot meditatively.
"Oh, clever as the devil! I must say I was overjoyed to see him
in the plight he was in on Tuesday. You never saw such a
spectacle!" And I described the doctor's adventure. "He looked a
regular scarecrow! Plastered with mud from head to foot."
"You saw him, then?"
"Yes. Of course, he didn't want to come in--it was just after
dinner--but Mr. Inglethorp insisted."
"What?" Poirot caught me violently by the shoulders. "Was Dr.
Bauerstein here on Tuesday evening? Here? And you never told me?
Why did you not tell me? Why? Why?"
He appeared to be in an absolute frenzy.
"My dear Poirot," I expostulated, "I never thought it would
interest you. I didn't know it was of any importance."
"Importance? It is of the first importance! So Dr. Bauerstein was
here on Tuesday night--the night of the murder. Hastings, do you
not see? That alters everything--everything!"
I had never seen him so upset. Loosening his hold of me, he
mechanically straightened a pair of candlesticks, still murmuring
to himself: "Yes, that alters everything--everything."
Suddenly he seemed to come to a decision.
"Allons!" he said. "We must act at once. Where is Mr.
John was in the smoking-room. Poirot went straight to him.
"Mr. Cavendish, I have some important business in Tadminster. A
new clue. May I take your motor?"
"Why, of course. Do you mean at once?"
"If you please."
John rang the bell, and ordered round the car. In another ten
minutes, we were racing down the park and along the high road to
"Now, Poirot," I remarked resignedly, "perhaps you will tell me
what all this is about?"
"Well, mon ami, a good deal you can guess for yourself. Of
course you realize that, now Mr. Inglethorp is out of it, the
whole position is greatly changed. We are face to face with an
entirely new problem. We know now that there is one person who
did not buy the poison. We have cleared away the manufactured
clues. Now for the real ones. I have ascertained that anyone in
the household, with the exception of Mrs. Cavendish, who was
playing tennis with you, could have personated Mr. Inglethorp on
Monday evening. In the same way, we have his statement that he
put the coffee down in the hall. No one took much notice of that
at the inquest--but now it has a very different significance. We
must find out who did take that coffee to Mrs. Inglethorp
eventually, or who passed through the hall whilst it was standing
there. From your account, there are only two people whom we can
positively say did not go near the coffee--Mrs. Cavendish, and
"Yes, that is so." I felt an inexpressible lightening of the
heart. Mary Cavendish could certainly not rest under suspicion.
"In clearing Alfred Inglethorp," continued Poirot, "I have been
obliged to show my hand sooner than I intended. As long as I
might be thought to be pursuing him, the criminal would be off
his guard. Now, he will be doubly careful. Yes--doubly
careful." He turned to me abruptly. "Tell me, Hastings, you
yourself--have you no suspicions of anybody?"
I hesitated. To tell the truth, an idea, wild and extravagant in
itself, had once or twice that morning flashed through my brain.
I had rejected it as absurd, nevertheless it persisted.
"You couldn't call it a suspicion," I murmured. "It's so utterly
"Come now," urged Poirot encouragingly. "Do not fear. Speak
your mind. You should always pay attention to your instincts."
"Well then," I blurted out, "it's absurd--but I suspect Miss
Howard of not telling all she knows!"
"Yes--you'll laugh at me----"
"Not at all. Why should I?"
"I can't help feeling," I continued blunderingly; "that we've
rather left her out of the possible suspects, simply on the
strength of her having been away from the place. But, after all,
she was only fifteen miles away. A car would do it in half an
hour. Can we say positively that she was away from Styles on the
night of the murder?"
"Yes, my friend," said Poirot unexpectedly, "we can. One of my
first actions was to ring up the hospital where she was working."
"Well, I learnt that Miss Howard had been on afternoon duty on
Tuesday, and that--a convoy coming in unexpectedly--she had
kindly offered to remain on night duty, which offer was
gratefully accepted. That disposes of that."
"Oh!" I said, rather nonplussed. "Really," I continued, "it's
her extraordinary vehemence against Inglethorp that started me
off suspecting her. I can't help feeling she'd do anything
against him. And I had an idea she might know something about
the destroying of the will. She might have burnt the new one,
mistaking it for the earlier one in his favour. She is so
terribly bitter against him."
"You consider her vehemence unnatural?"
"Y--es. She is so very violent. I wondered really whether she
is quite sane on that point."
Poirot shook his head energetically.
"No, no, you are on a wrong tack there. There is nothing
weak-minded or degenerate about Miss Howard. She is an excellent
specimen of well-balanced English beef and brawn. She is sanity
"Yet her hatred of Inglethorp seems almost a mania. My idea
was--a very ridiculous one, no doubt--that she had intended to
poison him--and that, in some way, Mrs. Inglethorp got hold of it
by mistake. But I don't at all see how it could have been done.
The whole thing is absurd and ridiculous to the last degree."
"Still you are right in one thing. It is always wise to suspect
everybody until you can prove logically, and to your own
satisfaction, that they are innocent. Now, what reasons are
there against Miss Howard's having deliberately poisoned Mrs.
"Why, she was devoted to her!" I exclaimed.
"Tcha! Tcha!" cried Poirot irritably. "You argue like a child.
If Miss Howard were capable of poisoning the old lady, she would
be quite equally capable of simulating devotion. No, we must
look elsewhere. You are perfectly correct in your assumption
that her vehemence against Alfred Inglethorp is too violent to be
natural; but you are quite wrong in the deduction you draw from
it. I have drawn my own deductions, which I believe to be
correct, but I will not speak of them at present." He paused a
minute, then went on. "Now, to my way of thinking, there is one
insuperable objection to Miss Howard's being the murderess."
"And that is?"
"That in no possible way could Mrs. Inglethorp's death benefit
Miss Howard. Now there is no murder without a motive."
"Could not Mrs. Inglethorp have made a will in her favour?"
Poirot shook his head.
"But you yourself suggested that possibility to Mr. Wells?"
"That was for a reason. I did not want to mention the name of
the person who was actually in my mind. Miss Howard occupied
very much the same position, so I used her name instead."
"Still, Mrs. Inglethorp might have done so. Why, that will, made
on the afternoon of her death may----"
But Poirot's shake of the head was so energetic that I stopped.
"No, my friend. I have certain little ideas of my own about that
will. But I can tell you this much--it was not in Miss Howard's
I accepted his assurance, though I did not really see how he
could be so positive about the matter.
"Well," I said, with a sigh, "we will acquit Miss Howard, then.
It is partly your fault that I ever came to suspect her. It was
what you said about her evidence at the inquest that set me off."
Poirot looked puzzled.
"What did I say about her evidence at the inquest?"
"Don't you remember? When I cited her and John Cavendish as being
"Oh--ah--yes." He seemed a little confused, but recovered
himself. "By the way, Hastings, there is something I want you to
do for me."
"Certainly. What is it?"
"Next time you happen to be alone with Lawrence Cavendish, I want
you to say this to him. 'I have a message for you, from Poirot.
He says: "Find the extra coffee-cup, and you can rest in peace!"
' Nothing more. Nothing less."
" 'Find the extra coffee-cup, and you can rest in peace.' Is that
right?" I asked, much mystified.
"But what does it mean?"
"Ah, that I will leave you to find out. You have access to the
facts. Just say that to him, and see what he says."
"Very well--but it's all extremely mysterious."
We were running into Tadminster now, and Poirot directed the car
to the "Analytical Chemist."
Poirot hopped down briskly, and went inside. In a few minutes he
was back again.
"There," he said. "That is all my business."
"What were you doing there?" I asked, in lively curiosity.
"I left something to be analysed."
"Yes, but what?"
"The sample of coco I took from the saucepan in the bedroom."
"But that has already been tested!" I cried, stupefied. "Dr.
Bauerstein had it tested, and you yourself laughed at the
possibility of there being strychnine in it."
"I know Dr. Bauerstein had it tested," replied Poirot quietly.
"Well, I have a fancy for having it analysed again, that is all."
And not another word on the subject could I drag out of him.
This proceeding of Poirot's, in respect of the coco, puzzled me
intensely. I could see neither rhyme nor reason in it. However,
my confidence in him, which at one time had rather waned, was
fully restored since his belief in Alfred Inglethorp's innocence
had been so triumphantly vindicated.
The funeral of Mrs. Inglethorp took place the following day, and
on Monday, as I came down to a late breakfast, John drew me
aside, and informed me that Mr. Inglethorp was leaving that
morning, to take up his quarters at the Stylites Arms until he
should have completed his plans.
"And really it's a great relief to think he's going, Hastings,"
continued my honest friend. "It was bad enough before, when we
thought he'd done it, but I'm hanged if it isn't worse now, when
we all feel guilty for having been so down on the fellow. The
fact is, we've treated him abominably. Of course, things did
look black against him. I don't see how anyone could blame us
for jumping to the conclusions we did. Still, there it is, we
were in the wrong, and now there's a beastly feeling that one
ought to make amends; which is difficult, when one doesn't like
the fellow a bit better than one did before. The whole thing's
damned awkward! And I'm thankful he's had the tact to take
himself off. It's a good thing Styles wasn't the mater's to
leave to him. Couldn't bear to think of the fellow fording it
here. He's welcome to her money."
"You'll be able to keep up the place all right?" I asked.
"Oh, yes. There are the death duties, of course, but half my
father's money goes with the place, and Lawrence will stay with
us for the present, so there is his share as well. We shall be
pinched at first, of course, because, as I once told you, I am in
a bit of a hole financially myself. Still, the Johnnies will
In the general relief at Inglethorp's approaching departure, we
had the most genial breakfast we had experienced since the
tragedy. Cynthia, whose young spirits were naturally buoyant,
was looking quite her pretty self again, and we all, with the
exception of Lawrence, who seemed unalterably gloomy and nervous,
were quietly cheerful, at the opening of a new and hopeful
The papers, of course, had been full of the tragedy. Glaring
headlines, sandwiched biographies of every member of the
household, subtle innuendoes, the usual familiar tag about the
police having a clue. Nothing was spared us. It was a slack
time. The war was momentarily inactive, and the newspapers
seized with avidity on this crime in fashionable life: "The
Mysterious Affair at Styles" was the topic of the moment.
Naturally it was very annoying for the Cavendishes. The house
was constantly besieged by reporters, who were consistently
denied admission, but who continued to haunt the village and the
grounds, where they lay in wait with cameras, for any unwary
members of the household. We all lived in a blast of publicity.
The Scotland Yard men came and went, examining, questioning,
lynx-eyed and reserved of tongue. Towards what end they were
working, we did not know. Had they any clue, or would the whole
thing remain in the category of undiscovered crimes?
After breakfast, Dorcas came up to me rather mysteriously, and
asked if she might have a few words with me.
"Certainly. What is it, Dorcas?"
"Well, it's just this, sir. You'll be seeing the Belgian
gentleman to-day perhaps?" I nodded. "Well, sir, you know how he
asked me so particular if the mistress, or anyone else, had a
"Yes, yes. You have found one?" My interest was aroused.
"No, not that, sir. But since then I've remembered what the
young gentlemen"--John and Lawrence were still the "young
gentlemen" to Dorcas--"call the 'dressing-up box.' It's up in the
front attic, sir. A great chest, full of old clothes and fancy
dresses, and what not. And it came to me sudden like that there
might be a green dress amongst them. So, if you'd tell the
"I will tell him, Dorcas," I promised.
"Thank you very much, sir. A very nice gentleman he is, sir.
And quite a different class from them two detectives from London,
what goes prying about, and asking questions. I don't hold with
foreigners as a rule, but from what the newspapers say I make out
as how these brave Belges isn't the ordinary run of foreigners,
and certainly he's a most polite spoken gentleman."
Dear old Dorcas! As she stood there, with her honest face
upturned to mine, I thought what a fine specimen she was of the
old-fashioned servant that is so fast dying out.
I thought I might as well go down to the village at once, and
look up Poirot; but I met him half-way, coming up to the house,
and at once gave him Dorcas's message.
"Ah, the brave Dorcas! We will look at the chest, although--but
no matter--we will examine it all the same."
We entered the house by one of the windows. There was no one in
the hall, and we went straight up to the attic.
Sure enough, there was the chest, a fine old piece, all studded
with brass nails, and full to overflowing with every imaginable
type of garment.
Poirot bundled everything out on the floor with scant ceremony.
There were one or two green fabrics of varying shades; but Poirot
shook his head over them all. He seemed somewhat apathetic in
the search, as though he expected no great results from it.
Suddenly he gave an exclamation.
"What is it?"
The chest was nearly empty, and there, reposing right at the
bottom, was a magnificent black beard.
"Oho!" said Poirot. "Oho!" He turned it over in his hands,
examining it closely. "New," he remarked. "Yes, quite new."
After a moment's hesitation, he replaced it in the chest, heaped
all the other things on top of it as before, and made his way
briskly downstairs. He went straight to the pantry, where we
found Dorcas busily polishing her silver.
Poirot wished her good morning with Gallic politeness, and went
"We have been looking through that chest, Dorcas. I am much
obliged to you for mentioning it. There is, indeed, a fine
collection there. Are they often used, may I ask?"
"Well, sir, not very often nowadays, though from time to time we
do have what the young gentlemen call 'a dress-up night.' And
very funny it is sometimes, sir. Mr. Lawrence, he's wonderful.
Most comic! I shall never forget the night he came down as the
Char of Persia, I think he called it--a sort of Eastern King it
was. He had the big paper knife in his hand, and 'Mind, Dorcas,'
he says, 'you'll have to be very respectful. This is my
specially sharpened scimitar, and it's off with your head if I'm
at all displeased with you!' Miss Cynthia, she was what they call
an Apache, or some such name--a Frenchified sort of cut-throat, I
take it to be. A real sight she looked. You'd never have
believed a pretty young lady like that could have made herself
into such a ruffian. Nobody would have known her."
"These evenings must have been great fun," said Poirot genially.
"I suppose Mr. Lawrence wore that fine black beard in the chest
upstairs, when he was Shah of Persia?"
"He did have a beard, sir," replied Dorcas, smiling. "And well I
know it, for he borrowed two skeins of my black wool to make it
with! And I'm sure it looked wonderfully natural at a distance.
I didn't know as there was a beard up there at all. It must have
been got quite lately, I think. There was a red wig, I know, but
nothing else in the way of hair. Burnt corks they use
mostly--though 'tis messy getting it off again. Miss Cynthia was
a nigger once, and, oh, the trouble she had."
"So Dorcas knows nothing about that black beard," said Poirot
thoughtfully, as we walked out into the hall again.
"Do you think it is _the_ one?" I whispered eagerly.
"I do. You notice it had been trimmed?"
"Yes. It was cut exactly the shape of Mr. Inglethorp's, and I
found one or two snipped hairs. Hastings, this affair is very
"Who put it in the chest, I wonder?"
"Some one with a good deal of intelligence," remarked Poirot
dryly. "You realize that he chose the one place in the house to
hide it where its presence would not be remarked? Yes, he is
intelligent. But we must be more intelligent. We must be so
intelligent that he does not suspect us of being intelligent at
"There, mon ami, you will be of great assistance to me."
I was pleased with the compliment. There had been times when I
hardly thought that Poirot appreciated me at my true worth.
"Yes," he continued, staring at me thoughtfully, "you will be
This was naturally gratifying, but Poirot's next words were not
"I must have an ally in the house," he observed reflectively.
"You have me," I protested.
"True, but you are not sufficient."
I was hurt, and showed it. Poirot hurried to explain himself.
"You do not quite take my meaning. You are known to be working
with me. I want somebody who is not associated with us in any
"Oh, I see. How about John?"
"No, I think not."
"The dear fellow isn't perhaps very bright," I said thoughtfully.
"Here comes Miss Howard," said Poirot suddenly. "She is the very
person. But I am in her black books, since I cleared Mr.
Inglethorp. Still, we can but try."
With a nod that was barely civil, Miss Howard assented to
Poirot's request for a few minutes' conversation.
We went into the little morning-room, and Poirot closed the door.
"Well, Monsieur Poirot," said Miss Howard impatiently, "what is
it? Out with it. I'm busy."
"Do you remember, mademoiselle, that I once asked you to help
"Yes, I do." The lady nodded. "And I told you I'd help you with
pleasure--to hang Alfred Inglethorp."
"Ah!" Poirot studied her seriously. "Miss Howard, I will ask you
one question. I beg of you to reply to it truthfully."
"Never tell lies," replied Miss Howard.
"It is this. Do you still believe that Mrs. Inglethorp was
poisoned by her husband?"
"What do you mean?" she asked sharply. "You needn't think your
pretty explanations influence me in the slightest. I'll admit
that it wasn't he who bought strychnine at the chemist's shop.
What of that? I dare say he soaked fly paper, as I told you at
"That is arsenic--not strychnine," said Poirot mildly.
"What does that matter? Arsenic would put poor Emily out of the
way just as well as strychnine. If I'm convinced he did it, it
doesn't matter a jot to me _how_ he did it."
"Exactly. _If_ you are convinced he did it," said Poirot quietly.
"I will put my question in another form. Did you ever in your
heart of hearts believe that Mrs. Inglethorp was poisoned by her
"Good heavens!" cried Miss Howard. "Haven't I always told you
the man is a villain? Haven't I always told you he would murder
her in her bed? Haven't I always hated him like poison?"
"Exactly," said Poirot. "That bears out my little idea
"What little idea?"
"Miss Howard, do you remember a conversation that took place on
the day of my friend's arrival here? He repeated it to me, and
there is a sentence of yours that has impressed me very much. Do
you remember affirming that if a crime had been committed, and
anyone you loved had been murdered, you felt certain that you
would know by instinct who the criminal was, even if you were
quite unable to prove it?"
"Yes, I remember saying that. I believe it too. I suppose you
think it nonsense?"
"Not at all."
"And yet you will pay no attention to my instinct against Alfred
"No," said Poirot curtly. "Because your instinct is not against
"No. You wish to believe he committed the crime. You believe
him capable of committing it. But your instinct tells you he did
not commit it. It tells you more--shall I go on?"
She was staring at him, fascinated, and made a slight affirmative
movement of the hand.
"Shall I tell you why you have been so vehement against Mr.
Inglethorp? It is because you have been trying to believe what
you wish to believe. It is because you are trying to drown and
stifle your instinct, which tells you another name----"
"No, no, no!" cried Miss Howard wildly, flinging up her hands.
"Don't say it! Oh, don't say it! It isn't true! It can't be true.
I don't know what put such a wild--such a dreadful--idea into my
"I am right, am I not?" asked Poirot.
"Yes, yes; you must be a wizard to have guessed. But it can't be
so--it's too monstrous, too impossible. It must be Alfred
Poirot shook his head gravely.
"Don't ask me about it," continued Miss Howard, "because I shan't
tell you. I won't admit it, even to myself. I must be mad to
think of such a thing."
Poirot nodded, as if satisfied.
"I will ask you nothing. It is enough for me that it is as I
thought. And I--I, too, have an instinct. We are working
together towards a common end."
"Don't ask me to help you, because I won't. I wouldn't lift a
finger to--to----" She faltered.
"You will help me in spite of yourself. I ask you nothing--but
you will be my ally. You will not be able to help yourself. You
will do the only thing that I want of you."
"And that is?"
"You will watch!"
Evelyn Howard bowed her head.
"Yes, I can't help doing that. I am always watching--always
hoping I shall be proved wrong."
"If we are wrong, well and good," said Poirot. "No one will be
more pleased than I shall. But, if we are right? If we are
right, Miss Howard, on whose side are you then?"
"I don't know, I don't know----"
"It could be hushed up."
"There must be no hushing up."
"But Emily herself----" She broke off.
"Miss Howard," said Poirot gravely, "this is unworthy of you."
Suddenly she took her face from her hands.
"Yes," she said quietly, "that was not Evelyn Howard who spoke!"
She flung her head up proudly. "_This_ is Evelyn Howard! And she
is on the side of Justice! Let the cost be what it may." And with
these words, she walked firmly out of the room.
"There," said Poirot, looking after her, "goes a very valuable
ally. That woman, Hastings, has got brains as well as a heart."
I did not reply.
"Instinct is a marvellous thing," mused Poirot. "It can neither
be explained nor ignored."
"You and Miss Howard seem to know what you are talking about," I
observed coldly. "Perhaps you don't realize that I am still in
"Really? Is that so, mon ami?"
"Yes. Enlighten me, will you?"
Poirot studied me attentively for a moment or two. Then, to my
intense surprise, he shook his head decidedly.
"No, my friend."
"Oh, look here, why not?"
"Two is enough for a secret."
"Well, I think it is very unfair to keep back facts from me."
"I am not keeping back facts. Every fact that I know is in your
possession. You can draw your own deductions from them. This
time it is a question of ideas."
"Still, it would be interesting to know."
Poirot looked at me very earnestly, and again shook his head.
"You see," he said sadly, "_you_ have no instincts."
"It was intelligence you were requiring just now," I pointed out.
"The two often go together," said Poirot enigmatically.
The remark seemed so utterly irrelevant that I did not even take
the trouble to answer it. But I decided that if I made any
interesting and important discoveries--as no doubt I should--I
would keep them to myself, and surprise Poirot with the ultimate
There are times when it is one's duty to assert oneself.