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|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||Agatha Christie|
IX. Dr. Bauerstein
|Page 5 of 9||
"Cheer up, John!" I said soothingly. "It can't last for ever."
"Can't it, though? It can last long enough for us never to be able to hold up our heads again."
"No, no, you're getting morbid on the subject."
"Enough to make a man morbid, to be stalked by beastly journalists and stared at by gaping moon-faced idiots, wherever he goes! But there's worse than that."
John lowered his voice:
"Have you ever thought, Hastings--it's a nightmare to me-- who did it? I can't help feeling sometimes it must have been an accident. Because--because--who could have done it? Now Inglethorp's out of the way, there's no one else; no one, I mean, except--one of us."
Yes, indeed, that was nightmare enough for any man! One of us? Yes, surely it must be so, unless-----
A new idea suggested itself to my mind. Rapidly, I considered it. The light increased. Poirot's mysterious doings, his hints--they all fitted in. Fool that I was not to have thought of this possibility before, and what a relief for us all.
"No, John," I said, "it isn't one of us. How could it be?"
"I know, but, still, who else is there?"
"Can't you guess?"
I looked cautiously round, and lowered my voice.
"Dr. Bauerstein!" I whispered.
"Not at all."
"But what earthly interest could he have in my mother's death?"
"That I don't see," I confessed, "but I'll tell you this: Poirot thinks so."
"Poirot? Does he? How do you know?"
I told him of Poirot's intense excitement on hearing that Dr. Bauerstein had been at Styles on the fatal night, and added:
"He said twice: 'That alters everything.' And I've been thinking. You know Inglethorp said he had put down the coffee in the hall? Well, it was just then that Bauerstein arrived. Isn't it possible that, as Inglethorp brought him through the hall, the doctor dropped something into the coffee in passing?"
"H'm," said John. "It would have been very risky."
"Yes, but it was possible."
"And then, how could he know it was her coffee? No, old fellow, I don't think that will wash."
But I had remembered something else.
"You're quite right. That wasn't how it was done. Listen." And I then told him of the coco sample which Poirot had taken to be analysed.
John interrupted just as I had done.
"But, look here, Bauerstein had had it analysed already?"
"Yes, yes, that's the point. I didn't see it either until now. Don't you understand? Bauerstein had it analysed--that's just it! If Bauerstein's the murderer, nothing could be simpler than for him to substitute some ordinary coco for his sample, and send that to be tested. And of course they would find no strychnine! But no one would dream of suspecting Bauerstein, or think of taking another sample--except Poirot," I added, with belated recognition.
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