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|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||Agatha Christie|
XIII. Poirot Explains
|Page 7 of 8||
"You are joking, Poirot!"
"No. Shall I tell you what made Monsieur Lawrence turn so pale when he first entered his mother's room on the fatal night? It was because, whilst his mother lay there, obviously poisoned, he saw, over your shoulder, that the door into Mademoiselle Cynthia's room was unbolted."
"But he declared that he saw it bolted!" I cried.
"Exactly," said Poirot dryly. "And that was just what confirmed my suspicion that it was not. He was shielding Mademoiselle Cynthia."
"But why should he shield her?"
"Because he is in love with her."
"There, Poirot, you are quite wrong! I happen to know for a fact that, far from being in love with her, he positively dislikes her."
"Who told you that, mon ami?"
"La pauvre petite! And she was concerned?"
"She said that she did not mind at all."
"Then she certainly did mind very much," remarked Poirot. "They are like that--les femmes!"
"What you say about Lawrence is a great surprise to me," I said.
"But why? It was most obvious. Did not Monsieur Lawrence make the sour face every time Mademoiselle Cynthia spoke and laughed with his brother? He had taken it into his long head that Mademoiselle Cynthia was in love with Monsieur John. When he entered his mother's room, and saw her obviously poisoned, he jumped to the conclusion that Mademoiselle Cynthia knew something about the matter. He was nearly driven desperate. First he crushed the coffee-cup to powder under his feet, remembering that *SHE had gone up with his mother the night before, and he determined that there should be no chance of testing its contents. Thenceforward, he strenuously, and quite uselessly, upheld the theory of 'Death from natural causes'."
"And what about the 'extra coffee-cup'?"
"I was fairly certain that it was Mrs. Cavendish who had hidden it, but I had to make sure. Monsieur Lawrence did not know at all what I meant; but, on reflection, he came to the conclusion that if he could find an extra coffee-cup anywhere his lady love would be cleared of suspicion. And he was perfectly right."
"One thing more. What did Mrs. Inglethorp mean by her dying words?"
"They were, of course, an accusation against her husband."
"Dear me, Poirot," I said with a sigh, "I think you have explained everything. I am glad it has all ended so happily. Even John and his wife are reconciled."
"Thanks to me."
"How do you mean--thanks to you?"
"My dear friend, do you not realize that it was simply and solely the trial which has brought them together again? That John Cavendish still loved his wife, I was convinced. Also, that she was equally in love with him. But they had drifted very far apart. It all arose from a misunderstanding. She married him without love. He knew it. He is a sensitive man in his way, he would not force himself upon her if she did not want him. And, as he withdrew, her love awoke. But they are both unusually proud, and their pride held them inexorably apart. He drifted into an entanglement with Mrs. Raikes, and she deliberately cultivated the friendship of Dr. Bauerstein. Do you remember the day of John Cavendish's arrest, when you found me deliberating over a big decision?"
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