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|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||Agatha Christie|
X. The Arrest
|Page 7 of 10||
Just before tea, I strolled down to tell Poirot of the new disappointment, but found, to my annoyance, that he was once more out.
"Gone to London again?"
"Oh, no, monsieur, he has but taken the train to Tadminster. 'To see a young lady's dispensary,' he said."
"Silly ass!" I ejaculated. "I told him Wednesday was the one day she wasn't there! Well, tell him to look us up to-morrow morning, will you?"
But, on the following day, no sign of Poirot. I was getting angry. He was really treating us in the most cavalier fashion.
After lunch, Lawrence drew me aside, and asked if I was going down to see him.
"No, I don't think I shall. He can come up here if he wants to see us."
"Oh!" Lawrence looked indeterminate. Something unusually nervous and excited in his manner roused my curiosity.
"What is it?" I asked. "I could go if there's anything special."
"It's nothing much, but--well, if you are going, will you tell him--" he dropped his voice to a whisper--"I think I've found the extra coffee-cup!"
I had almost forgotten that enigmatical message of Poirot's, but now my curiosity was aroused afresh.
Lawrence would say no more, so I decided that I would descend from my high horse, and once more seek out Poirot at Leastways Cottage.
This time I was received with a smile. Monsieur Poirot was within. Would I mount? I mounted accordingly.
Poirot was sitting by the table, his head buried in his hands. He sprang up at my entrance.
"What is it?" I asked solicitously. "You are not ill, I trust?"
"No, no, not ill. But I decide an affair of great moment."
"Whether to catch the criminal or not?" I asked facetiously.
But, to my great surprise, Poirot nodded gravely.
" 'To speak or not to speak,' as your so great Shakespeare says, 'that is the question.' "
I did not trouble to correct the quotation.
"You are not serious, Poirot?"
"I am of the most serious. For the most serious of all things hangs in the balance."
"And that is?"
"A woman's happiness, mon ami," he said gravely.
I did not quite know what to say.
"The moment has come," said Poirot thoughtfully, "and I do not know what to do. For, see you, it is a big stake for which I play. No one but I, Hercule Poirot, would attempt it!" And he tapped himself proudly on the breast.
After pausing a few minutes respectfully, so as not to spoil his effect, I gave him Lawrence's message.
"Aha!" he cried. "So he has found the extra coffee-cup. That is good. He has more intelligence than would appear, this long-faced Monsieur Lawrence of yours!"
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