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|The Mysterious Affair at Styles||Agatha Christie|
XI. The Case For The Prosecution
|Page 6 of 11||
"Well," I said consolingly, "it will be the other way about to-morrow."
"Yes," she said meditatively; then suddenly dropped her voice. "Mr. Hastings, you do not think--surely it could not have been Lawrence--Oh, no, that could not be!"
But I myself was puzzled, and as soon as I was alone with Poirot I asked him what he thought Sir Ernest was driving at.
"Ah!" said Poirot appreciatively. "He is a clever man, that Sir Ernest."
"Do you think he believes Lawrence guilty?"
"I do not think he believes or cares anything! No, what he is trying for is to create such confusion in the minds of the jury that they are divided in their opinion as to which brother did it. He is endeavouring to make out that there is quite as much evidence against Lawrence as against John--and I am not at all sure that he will not succeed."
Detective-inspector Japp was the first witness called when the trial was reopened, and gave his evidence succinctly and briefly. After relating the earlier events, he proceeded:
"Acting on information received, Superintendent Summerhaye and myself searched the prisoner's room, during his temporary absence from the house. In his chest of drawers, hidden beneath some underclothing, we found: first, a pair of gold-rimmed pince-nez similar to those worn by Mr. Inglethorp" --these were exhibited--"secondly, this phial."
The phial was that already recognized by the chemist's assistant, a tiny bottle of blue glass, containing a few grains of a white crystalline powder, and labelled: "Strychnine Hydrochloride. POISON."
A fresh piece of evidence discovered by the detectives since the police court proceedings was a long, almost new piece of blotting-paper. It had been found in Mrs. Inglethorp's cheque book, and on being reversed at a mirror, showed clearly the words: ". . . erything of which I die possessed I leave to my beloved husband Alfred Ing ..." This placed beyond question the fact that the destroyed will had been in favour of the deceased lady's husband. Japp then produced the charred fragment of paper recovered from the grate, and this, with the discovery of the beard in the attic, completed his evidence.
But Sir Ernest's cross-examination was yet to come.
"What day was it when you searched the prisoner's room?"
"Tuesday, the 24th of July."
"Exactly a week after the tragedy?"
"You found these two objects, you say, in the chest of drawers. Was the drawer unlocked?"
"Does it not strike you as unlikely that a man who had committed a crime should keep the evidence of it in an unlocked drawer for anyone to find?"
"He might have stowed them there in a hurry."
"But you have just said it was a whole week since the crime. He would have had ample time to remove them and destroy them."
"There is no perhaps about it. Would he, or would he not have had plenty of time to remove and destroy them?"
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