2. Ten Questions
On the paper was written:
THINGS NEEDING EXPLANATION
The handkerchief marked with the initial H. Whose is it?
The pipe-cleaner. Was it dropped by Colonel Arbuthnot? Or by someone else?
Who wore the scarlet kimono?
Who was the man or woman masquerading in Wagon Lit uniform?
Why do the hands of the watch point to 1.15?
Was the murder committed at that time?
Was it earlier?
Was it later?
Can we be sure that Ratchett was stabbed by more than one person?
What other explanation of his wounds can there be?
“Well, let us see what we can do,” said M. Bouc, brightening a little at this challenge to his wits. The handkerchief, to begin with. Let us by all means be orderly and methodical.”
“Assuredly,” said Poirot, nodding his head in a satisfied fashion.
M. Bouc continued somewhat didactically.
The initial H is connected with three people-Mrs. Hubbard, Miss Debenham, whose second name is Hermione, and the maid Hildegarde Schmidt.”
“Ah! And of those three?”
“It is difficult to say. But Ithink I should vote for Miss Debenham. For all one knows she may be called by her second name and not her first. Also there is already some suspicion attaching to her. That conversation you overheard, mon cher, was certainly a little curious, and so is her refusal to explain it.”
“As for me, I plump for the American,” said Dr. Constantine. “It is a very expensive handkerchief, that; and Americans, as all the world knows, do not care what they pay.”
“So you both eliminate the maid?” asked Poirot.
“Yes. As she herself said, it is the handkerchief of a member of the upper classes.”
And the second question-the pipe-cleaner. Did Colonel Arbuthnot drop it, or somebody else?”
“That is more difficult. The English, they do not stab.
You are right there. I incline to the view that someone else dropped the pipe-cleaner-and did so to incriminate the long-legged Englishman.”
“As you said, M. Poirot,” put in the doctor, “two clues is too much carelessness. I agree with M. Bouc. The handkerchief was a genuine oversight-hence none of the women will admit that it is hers. The pipe-cleaner is a faked clue. In support of that theory, you notice that Colonel Arbuthnot shows no embarrassment and admits freely to smoking a pipe and using that type of cleaner.”
“You reason well,” said Poirot.
“Question No. 3-Who wore the scarlet kimono!” went on M. Bouc. “As to that, I will confess I have not the slightest idea. Have you any views on the subject, Dr. Constantine?”
“Then we confess ourselves beaten there. The next question has, at any rate, possibilities. Who was the man or the woman masquerading in Wagon Lit uniform? Well, one can list with certainty a number of people that it could not have been. Hardman, Colonel Arbuthnot, Foscarelli, Count Andrenyi and Hector MacQueen are all too tall. Mrs. Hubbard, Hildegarde Schmidt and Greta Ohlsson are too broad. That leaves the valet, Miss Debenham, Princess Dragomiroff and Countess Andrenyi-and none of them sounds likely! Greta Ohlsson in one case, and Antonio Foscarelli in the other, both swear that Miss Debenham and the valet never left their compartments. Hildegarde Schmidt swears that the Princess was in hers, and Count Andrenyi has told us that his wife took a sleeping draught. Therefore it seems impossible that it can be anybody-which is absurd!”
“As our old friend Euclid says,” murmured Poirot.
“It must be one of those four,” said Dr. Constantine.