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|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||Agatha Christie|
IV. Poirot Investigates
|Page 5 of 13||
I made no reply. I was bewildered, but I knew that it was no good asking him to explain. In a moment or two he roused himself, and went on with his investigations. He picked up the bunch of keys from the floor, and twirling them round in his fingers finally selected one, very bright and shining, which he tried in the lock of the purple despatch-case. It fitted, and he opened the box, but after a moment's hesitation, closed and relocked it, and slipped the bunch of keys, as well as the key that had originally stood in the lock, into his own pocket.
"I have no authority to go through these papers. But it should be done--at once!"
He then made a very careful examination of the drawers of the wash-stand. Crossing the room to the left-hand window, a round stain, hardly visible on the dark brown carpet, seemed to interest him particularly. He went down on his knees, examining it minutely--even going so far as to smell it.
Finally, he poured a few drops of the coco into a test tube, sealing it up carefully. His next proceeding was to take out a little notebook.
"We have found in this room," he said, writing busily, "six points of interest. Shall I enumerate them, or will you?"
"Oh, you," I replied hastily.
"Very well, then. One, a coffee-cup that has been ground into powder; two, a despatch-case with a key in the lock; three, a stain on the floor."
"That may have been done some time ago," I interrupted.
"No, for it is still perceptibly damp and smells of coffee. Four, a fragment of some dark green fabric--only a thread or two, but recognizable."
"Ah!" I cried. "That was what you sealed up in the envelope."
"Yes. It may turn out to be a piece of one of Mrs. Inglethorp's own dresses, and quite unimportant. We shall see. Five, *THIS!" With a dramatic gesture, he pointed to a large splash of candle grease on the floor by the writing-table. "It must have been done since yesterday, otherwise a good housemaid would have at once removed it with blotting-paper and a hot iron. One of my best hats once--but that is not to the point."
"It was very likely done last night. We were very agitated. Or perhaps Mrs. Inglethorp herself dropped her candle."
"You brought only one candle into the room?"
"Yes. Lawrence Cavendish was carrying it. But he was very upset. He seemed to see something over here"--I indicated the mantelpiece--"that absolutely paralysed him."
"That is interesting," said Poirot quickly. "Yes, it is suggestive"--his eye sweeping the whole length of the wall-- "but it was not his candle that made this great patch, for you perceive that this is white grease; whereas Monsieur Lawrence's candle, which is still on the dressing-table, is pink. On the other hand, Mrs. Inglethorp had no candlestick in the room, only a reading-lamp."
"Then," I said, "what do you deduce?"
To which my friend only made a rather irritating reply, urging me to use my own natural faculties.
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