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|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||Agatha Christie|
IX. Dr. Bauerstein
|Page 6 of 9||
"Yes, but what about the bitter taste that coco won't disguise?"
"Well, we've only his word for that. And there are other possibilities. He's admittedly one of the world's greatest toxicologists----"
"One of the world's greatest what? Say it again."
"He knows more about poisons than almost anybody," I explained. "Well, my idea is, that perhaps he's found some way of making strychnine tasteless. Or it may not have been strychnine at all, but some obscure drug no one has ever heard of, which produces much the same symptoms."
"H'm, yes, that might be," said John. "But look here, how could he have got at the coco? That wasn't downstairs?"
"No, it wasn't," I admitted reluctantly.
And then, suddenly, a dreadful possibility flashed through my mind. I hoped and prayed it would not occur to John also. I glanced sideways at him. He was frowning perplexedly, and I drew a deep breath of relief, for the terrible thought that had flashed across my mind was this: that Dr. Bauerstein might have had an accomplice.
Yet surely it could not be! Surely no woman as beautiful as Mary Cavendish could be a murderess. Yet beautiful women had been known to poison.
And suddenly I remembered that first conversation at tea on the day of my arrival, and the gleam in her eyes as she had said that poison was a woman's weapon. How agitated she had been on that fatal Tuesday evening! Had Mrs. Inglethorp discovered something between her and Bauerstein, and threatened to tell her husband? Was it to stop that denunciation that the crime had been committed?
Then I remembered that enigmatical conversation between Poirot and Evelyn Howard. Was this what they had meant? Was this the monstrous possibility that Evelyn had tried not to believe?
Yes, it all fitted in.
No wonder Miss Howard had suggested "hushing it up." Now I understood that unfinished sentence of hers: "Emily herself----" And in my heart I agreed with her. Would not Mrs. Inglethorp have preferred to go unavenged rather than have such terrible dishonour fall upon the name of Cavendish.
"There's another thing," said John suddenly, and the unexpected sound of his voice made me start guiltily. "Something which makes me doubt if what you say can be true."
"What's that?" I asked, thankful that he had gone away from the subject of how the poison could have been introduced into the coco.
"Why, the fact that Bauerstein demanded a post-mortem. He needn't have done so. Little Wilkins would have been quite content to let it go at heart disease."
"Yes," I said doubtfully. "But we don't know. Perhaps he thought it safer in the long run. Some one might have talked afterwards. Then the Home Office might have ordered exhumation. The whole thing would have come out, then, and he would have been in an awkward position, for no one would have believed that a man of his reputation could have been deceived into calling it heart disease."
"Yes, that's possible," admitted John. "Still," he added, "I'm blest if I can see what his motive could have been."
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