3. The Evidence of the Valet
The American was succeeded by the pale Englishman with the inexpressive face whom Poirot had already noticed on the day before. He stood waiting very correctly. Poirot motioned to him to sit down.
“You are, I understand, the valet of M. Ratchett.”
“Edward Henry Masterman.”
“And your home address?”
“21 Friar Street, Clerkenwell.”
“You have heard that your master has been murdered?”
“Yes, sir. A very shocking occurrence.”
“Will you now tell me, please, at what hour you last saw M. Ratchett?”
The valet considered.
“It must have been aboutnine o’clock, sir, last night. That or a little after.”
“Tell me in your own words exactly what happened.”
“I went in to Mr. Ratchett as usual, sir, and attended to his wants.”
“What were your duties exactly?”
“To fold or hang up his clothes, sir, put his dental plate in water and see that he had everything he wanted for the night.”
“Was his manner much the same as usual?”
The valet considered a moment.
“Well, sir, I think he was upset.”
“In what way-upset?”
“Over a letter he’d been reading. He asked me if it was I who had put it in his compartment. Of course I told him I hadn’t done any such thing, but he swore at me and found fault with everything I did.”
“Was that unusual?”
“Oh, no, sir. He lost his temper easily-as I say, it just depended what had happened to upset him.”
“Did your master ever take a sleeping draught?”
Dr. Constantine leaned forward a little.
“Always when travelling by train,
sir. He said he couldn’t sleep otherwise.”
“Do you know what drug he was in the habit of taking?”
“I couldn’t say, I’m sure, sir. There was no name on the bottle-just ‘The Sleeping Draught to be taken at bedtime.’ “
“Did he take it last night?”
“Yes, sir. I poured it into a glass and put it on top of the toilet table ready for him.”
“You didn’t actually see him drink it?”
“What happened next?”
“I asked if there was anything further, and also asked what time he would like to be called in the morning. He said he didn’t want to be disturbed till he rang.”
“Was that usual?”
“Quite usual, sir. When he was ready to get up he used to ring the bell for the conductor and then send him for me.”
“Was he usually an early or a late riser?”
“It depended, sir, on his mood. Sometimes he’d get up for breakfast, sometimes he wouldn’t get up till just on lunch time.”
“So that you weren’t alarmed when the morning wore on and no summons came?”
“Did you know that your master had enemies?”
“Yes, sir.” The man spoke quite unemotionally.
“How did you know?”
“I had heard him discussing some letters, sir, with Mr. MacQueen.”
“Had you an affection for your employer, Masterman?”
Masterman’s face became, if possible, even more inexpressive than it was normally.
“I should hardly like to say that, sir. He was a generous employer.”
“But you didn’t like him?”
“Shall we put it that I don’t care very much for Americans, sir?”
“Have you ever been in America?”
“Do you remember reading in the paper of the Armstrong kidnapping case?”
A little colour came into the man’s cheeks.
“Yes, indeed, sir. A little baby girl, wasn’t it? A very shocking affair.”
“Did you know that your employer, Mr. Ratchett, was the principal instigator in that affair?