3. Certain Suggestive Points
It was quite a quarter of an hour before anyone spoke.
M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine had started by trying to obey Poirot’s instructions. They had endeavoured to see through a maze of conflicting particulars to a clear and outstanding solution.
M. Bouc’s thoughts had run something as follows:
“Assuredly I must think. But as far as that goes I have already thought… Poirot obviously thinks that this English girl is mixed up in the matter. I cannot help feeling that that is most unlikely… The English are extremely cold. Probably it is because they have no figures… But that is not the point. It seems that the Italian could not have done it-a pity. I suppose the English valet is not lying when he said the other never left the compartment? But why should he! It is not easy to bribe the English; they are so unapproachable. The whole thing is most unfortunate. I wonder when we shall get out of this. There
must besome rescue work in progress. They are so slow in these countries… it is hours before anyone thinks of doing anything. And the police of these countries, they will be most trying to deal with-puffed up with importance, touchy, on their dignity. They will make a grand affair of all this. It is not often that such a chance comes their way. It will be in all the newspapers…”
And from there on, M. Bouc’s thoughts went along a well-worn course which they had already traversed some hundred times.
Dr. Constantine’s thoughts ran thus:
“He is queer, this little man. A genius? Or a crank? Will he solve this mystery? Impossible-I can see no way out of it. It is all too confusing… Everyone is lying, perhaps… But even then, that does not help one. If they are all lying, it is just as confusing as if they were speaking the truth. Odd about those wounds. I cannot understand it… It would be easier to understand if he had been shot-after all, the term ‘gunman’ must mean that they shoot with a gun. A curious country, America. I should like to go there. It is so progressive. When I get home I must get hold of Demetrius Zagone-he has been to America, he has all the modern ideas… I wonder what Zia is doing at this moment. If my wife ever finds out-“
His thoughts went on to entirely private matters…
Hercule Poirot sat very still.
One might have thought he was asleep.
And then, suddenly, after a quarter of an hour’s complete immobility his eyebrows began to move slowly up his forehead. A little sigh escaped him. He murmured beneath his breath.
“But after all, why not? And if so-why, if so, that would explain everything.”
His eyes opened. They were green like a cat’s. He said softly: “Eh bien. I have thought. And you?”
Lost in their reflections, both men started violently.
“I have thought also,” said M. Bouc, just a shade guiltily. “But I have arrived at no conclusion. The elucidation of crime is yourm etier, not mine, my friend.”
“I, too, have reflected with great earnestness,” said the doctor, unblushingly recalling his thoughts from certain pornographic details. “I have thought of many possible theories, but not one that really satisfies me.”
Poirot nodded amiably. His nod seemed to say:
“Quite right. That is the proper thing to say. You have given me the cue I expected.”
He sat very upright, threw out his chest, caressed his moustache and spoke in the manner of a practised speaker addressing a public meeting.