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|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||Agatha Christie|
V. "It Isn't Strychnine, Is It?"
|Page 2 of 17||
"Breakfast is ready," said John Cavendish, coming in from the hall. "You will breakfast with us, Monsieur Poirot?"
Poirot acquiesced. I observed John. Already he was almost restored to his normal self. The shock of the events of the last night had upset him temporarily, but his equable poise soon swung back to the normal. He was a man of very little imagination, in sharp contrast with his brother, who had, perhaps, too much.
Ever since the early hours of the morning, John had been hard at work, sending telegrams--one of the first had gone to Evelyn Howard--writing notices for the papers, and generally occupying himself with the melancholy duties that a death entails.
"May I ask how things are proceeding?" he said. "Do your investigations point to my mother having died a natural death-- or--or must we prepare ourselves for the worst?"
"I think, Mr. Cavendish," said Poirot gravely, "that you would do well not to buoy yourself up with any false hopes. Can you tell me the views of the other members of the family?"
"My brother Lawrence is convinced that we are making a fuss over nothing. He says that everything points to its being a simple case of heart failure."
"He does, does he? That is very interesting--very interesting," murmured Poirot softly. "And Mrs. Cavendish?"
A faint cloud passed over John's face.
"I have not the least idea what my wife's views on the subject are."
The answer brought a momentary stiffness in its train. John broke the rather awkward silence by saying with a slight effort:
"I told you, didn't I, that Mr. Inglethorp has returned?"
Poirot bent his head.
"It's an awkward position for all of us. Of course one has to treat him as usual--but, hang it all, one's gorge does rise at sitting down to eat with a possible murderer!"
Poirot nodded sympathetically.
"I quite understand. It is a very difficult situation for you, Mr. Cavendish. I would like to ask you one question. Mr. Inglethorp's reason for not returning last night was, I believe, that he had forgotten the latch-key. Is not that so?"
"I suppose you are quite sure that the latch-key *WAS forgotten--that he did not take it after all?"
"I have no idea. I never thought of looking. We always keep it in the hall drawer. I'll go and see if it's there now."
Poirot held up his hand with a faint smile.
"No, no, Mr. Cavendish, it is too late now. I am certain that you would find it. If Mr. Inglethorp did take it, he has had ample time to replace it by now."
"But do you think----"
"I think nothing. If anyone had chanced to look this morning before his return, and seen it there, it would have been a valuable point in his favour. That is all."
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