Murder on the Orient Express Summary
Part I: The Facts
The great Belgian detective Hercule Poirot has just finished a case in Syria and is en route to London. On a train called the Taurus, he finds himself riding with an odd pair: Mary Debenham and Colonel Arbuthnot, both British. They seem not to know each other, but they kind of act like they do. Then Poirot catches them whispering on the train platform and acting suspicious. Miss Debenham gets especially antsy when it looks like the train will be delayed. Weird.
When the train arrives in Stamboul (modern-day Istanbul), Poirot leaves Miss Debenham and the Colonel, who are traveling on the connecting train, the Simplon Orient Express. Poirot has decided to play tourist in Stamboul. When he arrives at the hotel, though, he learns from a telegram that he actually has to get to London as soon as he can. He books passage on the connecting train, the Orient Express, for that evening. It looks like we'll be seeing more of Miss Debenham and the Colonel.
In the hotel dining room, Poirot runs into Monsieur Bouc (sidekick alert), who is an old friend and also a big shot at the train company. While the two men are dining together at the hotel before catching their train, they see a man named Ratchett, who's with his secretary, a young man named MacQueen. They are both American. Poirot immediately senses something is up with Ratchett. He gets an eerie feeling that the man is pure "evil" (1.2.56).
Everyone boards the train, which is weirdly full for the time of year. Poirot gets punted into a second-class car with MacQueen, with the promise that he'll be promoted to first class when they stop in Belgrade.
In the dining car, M. Bouc and Poirot observe all of the passengers. We've got a trio of men sitting together at a table (American, Italian, and British), a loud American lady who always talks about her daughter, a yellow-haired Swedish woman with a sheep-like face, a count and countess, an ugly old woman who is a Russian princess (and has a German maid), Mary and the Colonel, and, of course, Ratchett and MacQueen.
On his way out of the dining car, Ratchett tells Poirot that he's been receiving death threats. He asks if Poirot will take on his case. Poirot refuses, because he doesn't like Ratchett's "face" (1.3.85). Ouch.
Poirot is moved to a first class cabin, and he gets into bed. That night, a bunch of really strange things happen. First, Poirot hears Mr. Ratchett speak to the conductor in the next room over. Then he hears the American lady quarrel with the conductor down the hall. Eventually he hears something bump against his door. He pokes his head out and sees a woman in a red kimono walking down the hallway. Then he falls asleep. (Busy night.)
When Poirot wakes up, the train has stopped moving. It turns out that it's caught in a snowdrift. Everyone is complaining when Poirot gets to the dining car. Poirot chitchats a bit with the other passengers, including with Mary Debenham, who is now curiously calm. Poirot is then summoned to a compartment with M. Bouc.
Once in the compartment, M. Bouc tells Poirot that there has been a murder. Someone is dead! It's Ratchett, and he was stabbed twelve times. M. Bouc and the little Greek doctor, Dr. Constantine, think the culprit might be a woman.
Poirot goes with Dr. Constantine to inspect the body, and we get some evidence. The window is open, but the murderer did not leave the car that way. The murderer was both right-handed and left-handed. Some wounds were left later than others, after Ratchett had already died. Poirot and Dr. Constantine also find two clues: a piece of cambric with an "H" on it (from a lady's handkerchief) and a pipe cleaner (presumably belonging to a man). The evidence is just a little bit too perfect, so Poirot starts to get suspicious.
Oh, and Poirot finds something else important: there are two matches in the ashtray (of two different kinds) and a scrap of paper. Poirot uses a fancy scientific setup and burns the paper to reveal the writing. It mentions a young girl named Daisy Armstrong, who had been kidnapped and murdered in the United States. Her murderer got off free. Was Ratchett Daisy Armstrong's kidnapper? If so, was he killed for revenge?
We also learn more about the Armstrong kidnapping case. Apparently, the ordeal affected a lot of different people. The girl's parents are both dead (her mother died in childbirth, and her father shot himself). Daisy's mother was the daughter of famous tragic actress Linda Arden. Also, a maid threw herself out of a window when she was falsely accused of involvement in the plot. It's a pretty messed up story.
Part II: The Evidence
Poirot sets up a makeshift courtroom in the dining car and begins to collect the testimonies of each person on the train. In the chapters that follow, we get a rundown of the timeline and whereabouts of the Wagon Lit conductor, the American lady, the Swedish woman, the Russian Princess, the Count and Countess, Mr. Hardman, the Italian, Miss Debenham, and the German lady's maid.
No matter how much evidence Poirot accumulates, everyone on board has an airtight alibi. Their testimonies and evidence consistently point to the small, dark, womanish man theory.
After the interviews, Mrs. Hubbard finds a dagger in her sponge-bag (a kind of case for toiletry items). Now we've got the murder weapon. Poirot then searches the luggage of all the passengers and finds the Wagon Lit conductor's uniform in the Swedish woman's suitcase. He finds the scarlet kimono in his own. He considers this an act of "defiance" (2.15.28). In other words, it's on!
Part III: Poirot Sits Back and Thinks
Now we get Poirot's analysis of the events. First, he gives us a summary of all the evidence to date. There isn't a whole lot to go on. Then, he gives us a list of questions he needs to answer. Poirot, M. Bouc, and Dr. Constantine sit around and mull it over.
Finally, Poirot thinks he has it. First, though, he has to test his hypothesis. He returns to the Countess and finds out that she's really the daughter of Linda Arden and the sister of Daisy Armstrong's mother. Poirot then finds out that the handkerchief he found a piece of belongs to Princess Dragomiroff. That leads us to Mary Debenham, who, it turns out, was the governess for the Armstrong family.
The plot unravels: everyone on the train was connected to the Armstrong family. The annoying American woman, Mrs. Hubbard, is Linda Arden herself, the famous actress and mother of Daisy Armstrong's mother. At the end, Poirot proposes two possible solutions. In the first one, an outsider got on the train when it was stopped and killed Ratchett. The other, though, is the truth: the passengers were all in on it together in order to get justice for little Daisy Armstrong.
M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine choose to present the first, false solution to the police when the train starts moving again. This shows that they think Ratchett was not so much murdered as he was brought to justice.
Part 1, Chapter 1
An Important Passenger on the Taurus Express
- It's winter, and we're in Syria on a train platform. A young French lieutenant by the name of Dubosc is making small talk with a "distinguished stranger" (1.1.3).
- What's the significance of this stranger? We're so glad you asked.
- Here's what we know: apparently the lieutenant's general had been growing antsy, but then a Belgian stranger showed up from England. An officer killed himself and another quit. Then things got better, and the General eased up.
- It turns out that the mysterious Belgian stranger is none other than the famous detective Hercule Poirot. He solved the case that had been bothering the general.
- The case is over now, though, and Poirot and the lieutenant are stuck making awkward small talk on the platform. Poirot mentions that he'll be visiting Stamboul (modern-day Istanbul) on his train ride home, to play tourist for a few days.
- The narration shifts and suddenly we're with Mary Debenham, a woman traveling from Baghdad, who is inside the train that's alongside the platform. Her window is right above Poirot and the lieutenant. It's hot in the train, so she opens the window.
- Mary watches the conductor approach the men and she sizes up Poirot, thinking he is a "ridiculous-looking little man" with an "egg-shaped head" (1.1.28). Cheeky.
- Poirot and the awkward lieutenant exchange goodbyes, and Poirot boards the train.
- The conductor takes Poirot to his compartment. He happens to mention that there aren't many people traveling this time of year – just the English lady (Mary, who we met a moment ago) and a Colonel from India.
- Poirot asks for a Perrier (he's Belgian) and then goes to sleep. When he wakes up, it's 9:30 in the morning. He goes to the dining car for some coffee.
- Poirot is a master of observation. In the dining car, he passes the time by watching the other occupant of the dining car, Mary Debenham.
- Poirot notices that she is in her late 20s and has an air of "cool efficiency" about her (1.1.44). She's a nice young woman, though not a bombshell by any means.
- Another person, Colonel Arbuthnot, enters the car. He greets Mary, and asks if he can sit with her. The two don't seem to notice Poirot. They're not all that chatty, either.
- At lunch, Poirot again sees Mary and the Colonel sitting together. He eavesdrops on their conversation: she was a governess in Baghdad, and he was in Punjab. They discover a mutual friend. They are both going straight past Stamboul on the same route.
- Poirot notices the Colonel may be "susceptible" to Mary's charms (1.1.68).
- Poirot observes the two later on in the day. He hears Mary comment on the beauty of the scenery and say that she wishes she could enjoy it.
- Colonel Arbuthnot says that he wishes Mary were "out of all this" (1.1.75). Interesting. Aren't they supposed to be strangers?
- The pair exchanges a few more odd remarks, and Poirot thinks he's seen an "odd little comedy" (1.1.81). He's not going to forget about this.
- Later, on a station break in Konya, Turkey, Poirot again overhears a conversation between the Mary and the Colonel. Mary's voice is filled with emotion. She says they should not talk about this now, but later, "when it's behind us" (1.1.88).
- Poirot thinks this is all "curious" indeed (1.1.91). We do, too.
- The next day, a fire catches under the dining car, and the train halts. Mary happens upon Poirot and is seriously distressed. She says she cannot miss her connection on the Simplon Orient Express. Her hands tremble.
- Again, Poirot thinks this is odd for someone who was so cool and collected before.
- The train arrives at Haydapassar Station and Poirot departs for the Tokatlian Hotel, where he plans to stay while seeing the sites in Stamboul.
Part 1, Chapter 2
The Tokatlian Hotel
- When Poirot checks in at the hotel, there's a telegram waiting for him: there's been a development in the Kassner Case, and he must return to London immediately. So much for taking a vacation.
- Poirot asks the concierge to book him a first-class ticket for a sleeper on the Simplon Orient Express, leaving at 9 p.m. that evening.
- Poirot goes to grab a bite to eat in the hotel dining room before the train trip. There, he runs into M. Bouc, the director of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons Lits (1.2.24). Um, that means he runs the train line.
- The two realize they'll both be traveling on the Orient Express. Serendipity!
- When Poirot finishes his soup, he starts observing the other diners (this is clearly one of his favorite pastimes). Two men sitting together at a table catch his notice: one is a younger American man in his 30s, and the other is an older man aged between 60 and 70.
- Poirot pays special attention to the older man. He seems nice on the outside, but his eyes give him away. They are "deep set and crafty" (1.2.38). The older man gives Poirot a mean look.
- Poirot overhears that the older man is Mr. Ratchett, and the younger man, Hector.
- M. Bouc also comments on the men, and he and Poirot agree that they do not care for the older man. Poirot adds that he has something of a "wild animal" about him (1.2.52).
- Poirot even thinks that "evil" may have just passed them by (1.2.56).
- The concierge approaches and tells Poirot that, surprisingly, all of the first-class accommodations on the Orient Express are booked. That's really weird for this time of year.
- M. Bouc says not to worry, since he's a big shot train guy and all. Compartment No. 16 is usually open on the train. They'll get him on board somehow.
- At the train station we learn that even No. 16 is booked. After a little haggling, Poirot is put in the No. 7 second-class berth. Apparently a Mr. Harris, an Englishman, hasn't shown up. Poirot can get upgraded to first-class later on.
- The conductor shows Poirot to his berth, where he'll be riding along with a man named Hector MacQueen, the younger American man from the hotel dining room.
- The two men exchange pleasantries. MacQueen offers Poirot his bottom berth, but Poirot says no, and starts to explain why – because he'll be upgrading to first class at Belgrade – but before he can say this, the train lurches forward and starts on the journey.
Part 1, Chapter 3
Poirot Refuses a Case
- Over lunch the next day, M. Bouc and Poirot observe the interesting people around them. M. Bouc comments that "All around us are people of all classes, of all nationalities, of all ages" (1.3.7). Here they are, all thrown together. Interesting.
- Poirot wonders aloud if they could all be linked by death. It's a weird thought to have, but it turns out to be prescient. (Alert! Agatha Christie is throwing a major clue your way.)
- Poirot studies the thirteen people in the dining car:
- At the table opposite are an Italian man, an Englishman who has the deportment of a servant, and a badly dressed American man.
- At a small table is an ugly lady with gorgeous clothes and a collar of pearls, who, we learn, is the Russian Princess Dragomiroff. She's super rich and has quite the personality.
- Then there's Mary Debenham, whom we met before, sitting with a sheep-faced woman with yellow hair and an elderly American women who can't stop talking about her daughter.
- Colonel Arbuthnot sits at a table alone, staring at Mary. They're not sitting together. Weird.
- Against the wall sits a woman whom Poirot thinks is probably a German lady's maid.
- After her, there is a fashionable couple. M. Bouc says are from the Hungarian embassy.
- Last but not least, Poirot observes Mr. Ratchett and his employee MacQueen.
- M. Bouc is finished with his meal, so he leaves and invites Poirot to join him later. Poirot continues watching the scene.
- The elderly American woman complains about money and mentions her daughter again. Mary leaves the table and Arbuthnot follows.
- Mr. Ratchett gets up to leave. As he does so, he introduces himself to Poirot, whom Mr. Ratchett has heard of.
- Ratchett asks Poirot if he wants a job, and offers him big money to take on a case. Ratchett has had a threat on his life. He has enemies, apparently.
- Poirot regrets he cannot take on the assignment, not for any price. (It's not like Poirot needs the money. He's a famous detective, after all.)
- Mr. Ratchett is a little offended. He asks, why not? Poirot says that he doesn't like Mr. Ratchett's "face" (1.3.85). Zing!
Part 1, Chapter 4
A Cry in the Night
- At Belgrade, the Athens coach is added to the train. M. Poirot is upgraded to a first-class accommodation – compartment No. 1, where M. Bouc had been staying. Now M. Bouc is moving to the Athens coach.
- At 9:15 p.m., the train leaves the station. Poirot runs into MacQueen, who is talking to Arbuthnot. MacQueen says he thought Poirot was getting off at Belgrade. Nope, he was just upgraded to first class.
- In the corridor, the elderly American woman, Mrs. Hubbard, is talking to the Swedish lady, the sheep-like woman, about aspirin.
- Mrs. Hubbard and Poirot exchange words. She mentions her daughter, of course.
- They catch a glimpse of Mr. Ratchett, whose room connects with Mrs. Hubbard's, and Mrs. Hubbard tells Poirot that she is scared of Ratchett. She even bars the communicating door between their rooms at night.
- Arbuthnot and MacQueen come down the corridor, and go into MacQueen's carriage to talk about India and politics.
- Poirot heads to his bed, which is in the compartment past Hubbard and Ratchett's. He goes to sleep.
- Later that night, Poirot wakes up to a loud groan. The train is standing still. He hears the conductor go to Ratchett's door and knock. A voice answers in French that everything is fine.
- Poirot checks his watch – it's "twenty-three minutes to one" (1.4.41) – and goes back to sleep.
Part 1, Chapter 5
- Poirot is having a hard time sleeping, and he does hear Ratchett moving around next door. He also hears people ringing for the conductor.
- Poirot hears Mrs. Hubbard ring for the conductor and some kind of long fuss ensues. Poirot then rings for a bottle of mineral water.
- The conductor mentions that he is exasperated with Mrs. Hubbard. She claims a man was in her room. The conductor told her that was impossible. That's what the fuss was about.
- The conductor mentions that the train is stuck in a snowdrift, and that's why it's not moving.
- Poirot drops off to sleep, but he wakes up again when he hears a thud against the door. He gets up and looks in the hallway. He sees nothing but a woman in a red kimono walking away, and the conductor at the other end of the car.
- When Poirot wakes up again, it's morning (phew), but the train is still stuck (bummer). He goes to the dining car, where everybody's complaining. People are panicking.
- Actually, Mary Debenham isn't panicking. She's definitely not as anxious as she was back on the other train.
- The crowd continues to fuss. They conclude that they are in Yugo-Slavia.
- Poirot tells Mary that she is the only patient one. She is detached. She tells Poirot that there is among them a "stronger" character than her (1.5.65).
- Um, what? Mary comes to herself and says she means the old lady, the Princess. Ah. Sure.
- Later in the morning, Poirot is summoned by M. Bouc to come to a large empty train compartment.
- M. Bouc says they are in need of Poirot's assistance. Why? Because a passenger has been stabbed to death in his compartment! (Dun dun dun…)
- The passenger? Ratchett, of course. M. Bouc would like Poirot to help, since they are at a standstill and there are no police are on board the train.
- M. Bouc introduces Poirot to Dr. Constantine, the Greek doctor who was in a different train car last night with M. Bouc. The doctor says the death definitely occurred sometime between midnight and 2 a.m., maybe around 1 a.m.
- Ratchett was last seen alive at twenty to one when he spoke to conductor, as Poirot confirms.
- The window of his compartment was left open, though they think that's a red herring (a misleading clue) since there were no traces in the snow.
- Michel, the conductor, discovered the body around 11 a.m. this morning when he went to see if Mr. Ratchett would take lunch.
- We learn that the body was stabbed in many different places.
- The chef de train says that "only a woman would stab like that" (1.5.123). Nice.
- Dr. Constantine says that some blows were random, but others not so much. Some were powerful, others weak.
- Poirot tells the men that there was a threat against Ratchett's life. Could it have been a gangster? There's an unseemly American on the train in No. 16, but it couldn't have been him. The conductor would have seen him – or so he thinks.
- M. Bouc urges Poirot to take the case and use his "little grey cells of the mind" to help solve it (1.5.141).
- Poirot accepts and asks for a plan of the Istanbul-Calais coach (all others were locked), a passenger list, passports, and tickets of all involved.
- They realize the murderer must still be on the train with them.
Part 1, Chapter 6
- First, Poirot interrogates MacQueen, Ratchett's employee. Here's what we learn:
- When MacQueen first finds out about Ratchett's death, he assumes it was murder.
- MacQueen was Ratchett's secretary for a little over a year. They met in Persia, where MacQueen had come to get into the oil business.
- MacQueen busted in that business. He met Ratchett in a hotel, and Ratchett offered him a job. They've traveled around together ever since.
- Ratchett's full name is Samuel Edward Ratchett, and he's American. He never spoke much to MacQueen about his life. He had no relations to speak of.
- MacQueen's theory: Ratchett was running from someone or something, and left his identity behind in America.
- A few weeks ago, Ratchett began getting threatening poison pen letters.
- MacQueen shows Poirot the letters. They are gangster-like threats.
- Poirot notes their "monotonous" style and that they were probably written by two people, each writing different letters of the alphabet (1.6.87).
- Poirot tells MacQueen that Ratchett asked for his help; MacQueen is surprised.
- MacQueen admits that he didn't really like or trust his employer, though they were on good terms.
- The last time MacQueen saw Ratchett was around 10 p.m., about some pottery in Persia.
- The Ratchett received the most recent threatening letter on the morning the train left Constantinople.
- MacQueen's full name is Hector Willard MacQueen and his address is in New York.
- MacQueen leaves and M. Bouc and Poirot discuss his interview. He seems honest enough. M. Bouc proposes that he is innocent, but Poirot says he suspects everyone "till the last minute" (1.6.127).
- Poirot admits, though, that frenzied stabbing is not in line with MacQueen's character. M. Bouc says, no, it is more in line with someone of "Latin temperament" or a woman (1.6.128). (Warning: stereotypes ahead.)
Part 1, Chapter 7
- Next up are inspections of the body and of Ratchett's compartment with Dr. Constantine.
- Poirot notes that the window is open. He checks it out, but finds no fingerprints.
- As for the body, we learn it had twelve stab wounds. Two are very slight and three are severe.
- Something strikes the doctor as odd: some of the wounds appear not to have bled. That means they must have been made much later than the others.
- One of the wounds was made by a left-handed person, and some of the others by a right-handed person.
- Poirot murmurs: two people? He checks the switches on the bed light and the overhead light. Both are off.
- Poirot proposes a scenario: one murderer comes in, stabs, and turns off the light. The second comes in and does not see that Ratchett is dead. The second murderer stabs the body again.
- That would also make sense, because then we could say that one person was a man (the strong stabs) and one was a woman (the weak stabs).
- But why didn't Ratchett defend himself? He had a gun under his pillow, after all. Constantine picks up the victim's empty glass and confirms that the man was drugged.
- Another clue: Poirot finds two matches in the ashtray and some burnt paper scraps. There are two different kinds of matches: one kind is Ratchett's, and one kind is from the train.
- Two more clues: a piece of dainty fabric with an initial "H" on it, and a pipe cleaner. That means there's one clue for a woman and one for a man. Poirot is getting suspicious. The clues are a little too perfect, dropped "most conveniently" (1.7.85).
- We discover the murder weapon has not been left behind. Also, the doctor pulls Ratchett's watch from his breast pocket. It's dented, and the hour reads 1:15 a.m.
- The doctor thinks this clue cements the time of death, but, again, Poirot is not so sure. The clues are all too perfect.
- How to proceed? Ah, yes, the paper scraps. But they're charred. Poirot, though, has an ingenious scientific way to read them.
- The train match, he believes, is a clue the murderer didn't want us to see.
- He has someone get some mesh hat wire from one of the woman passengers, and, along with a small stove and moustache curling tongs, he uses it to light up the paper and illuminate the letters.
- The scraps read: "member little Daisy Armstrong" (1.7.123).
- With that, Poirot knows who Ratchett really is – a man named Cassetti – and why he had to leave America.
- Poirot finishes the investigation as the two men wonder how the murderer(s) escaped, since it clearly wasn't through the open window (which appears to be a red herring). How is the trick done?
Part 1, Chapter 8
The Armstrong Kidnapping Case
- Poirot finds M. Bouc eating an omelet and we get the details of the Daisy Armstrong case:
- Daisy Armstrong was a small child who was kidnapped by a ring of criminals. She was then murdered.
- Her father was an Englishman named Colonel Armstrong. His mother was the daughter of a Wall Street millionaire, so he was actually half-American.
- Daisy Armstrong's mother was the daughter of the famous tragic actress, Linda Arden.
- The family loved the little girl, but after they paid her ransom, they learned she was already dead.
- Daisy's mother, who was pregnant, was so shocked that she died in premature childbirth.
- Daisy's father was so heartbroken that he shot himself.
- An innocent French or Swiss maid had been suspected in the murder, and in desperation she threw herself out of a window. Gosh.
- Cassetti was arrested in connection with the case, but he had considerable wealth and resources. Public opinion was against him, but he managed to get acquitted on a technicality.
- Here's what Poirot is asking himself: was the murder of Cassetti done by a rival criminal gang, or was it "an act of private vengeance" (1.8.20)?
- We learn there is at least one member of the Armstrong family still living, possibly a younger sister of Daisy's mother.
- While he's talking with M. Bouc, Poirot mentions Ratchett's watch, though he says it's very "convenient" (1.8.27) – not in a good way.
- Poirot heard someone speaking to the conductor from Ratchett's room at 12:37 a.m., but he's not convinced that this proves Ratchett was there at the time.
Part 2, Chapter 1
The Evidence of the Wagon Lit Conductor
- M. Bouc sets up Poirot in the restaurant car with a plan of the coach, passports, tickets, etc. With that, the "Court of Inquiry" begins (2.1.5).
- First up is Pierre Michel, the conductor who was on duty the night of the murder. M. Bouc tells us that he's a Frenchman and longtime employee of the company. Michel is also not particularly bright.
- Poirot goes through the routine questions, and then gets to the good stuff. We get the conductor's timeline:
- Mr. Ratchett went to bed after dinner. The only people who went into the compartment after that were his secretary, MacQueen, and his valet.
- Ratchett rang his bell at about 12:40 a.m. Ratchett said, in French, that he rang by mistake.
- Michel then went back to his seat at the end of the corridor. He did go to the Athens coach for a bit to chat about the snow, but he returned when the bells rang.
- Michel saw the Colonel and MacQueen chatting in MacQueen's compartment no later than 2 a.m.
- Michel also says he saw a lady going to the toilet, but he doesn't know who it was. He noticed that she wore a "kimono of scarlet with dragons on it" (2.1.60).
- Also, Michel did not see anything fall against Poirot's door. Perhaps the thumping sound could have come from Ratchett's compartment, next door?
- He confirms that at the stop at Vincovi he stood on the platform.
- The forward door is usually fastened, but it is not so now. Michel is surprised.
- Michel also tells Poirot who it was that summoned him while he was knocking on Ratchett's door: Princess Dragomiroff.
- Poirot tells him that he hasn't done anything wrong, and lets him go.
Part 2, Chapter 2
The Evidence of the Secretary
- Next up for interrogation is MacQueen, Ratchett's secretary.
- Let's review the interesting points:
- MacQueen is surprised when Poirot tells him that Ratchett was really Cassetti.
- MacQueen reveals that his father was the District Attorney on the Armstrong case.
- After dinner, MacQueen talked to the English lady and then hung out with Colonel Arbuthnot in his compartment, where they talked about "world politics and the Government of India and our own troubles with the financial situation and the Wall Street crisis" (2.2.30).
- They talked until around 2 a.m.
- Arbuthnot and MacQueen did get out of the train at one point on the Vincovi stop, but it was super cold outside, so they got back on board.
- They left the train by the dining car, which was barred, but did not bar it on the way back in. Oops.
- He says he saw the conductor pass once in the hallway after the Vincovi stop.
- MacQueen also saw a woman in scarlet headed toward the toilet. She didn't go back that way, though.
- He does not smoke a pipe.
- MacQueen is usually in the first class compartments with Ratchett, but they were all booked on this journey, so that's why he was in second class.
Part 2, Chapter 3
The Evidence of the Valet
- Poirot calls in Ratchett's valet. (A valet is kind of like a personal manservant.) The facts:
- The valet last saw Ratchett at around 9 p.m., when he went in to hang up Ratchett's clothes and put his dentures in water.
- The valet, Masterman, mentions that Ratchett was upset about a letter he had received.
- We learn that Ratchett usually took sleeping draughts, though Masterman doesn't know the specific drug. Ratchett took it last night, though Masterman didn't actually see him drink it.
- Masterman wasn't alarmed when Ratchett didn't get up in the morning, because he had told him not to call him, and he sometimes got up late.
- Masterman knew about the threats, though he didn't particularly care for his employer. (Masterman is British and doesn't like Americans.)
- He reacts to mention of the Armstrong case, but he says he didn't know Ratchett was involved.
- After leaving Ratchett, Masterman summoned MacQueen.
- Masterman then went to bed in his berth, which he was sharing with an Italian man. The two don't get along very well. The Italian talks a lot.
- Masterman read a book called Love's Captive by Arabella Richardson.
- Around 10:30 p.m., the Italian went to sleep, but Masterman had a toothache and couldn't sleep. He stayed up and read, dropping off around 4 in the morning. The Italian snored and did not leave.
- Before working for Ratchett, Masterman was in service to Sir Henry Tomlinson in the UK, at Grosvenor Square. Tomlinson left for East Africa.
- Masterman smokes cigarettes, but he doesn't smoke a pipe.
Part 2, Chapter 4
The Evidence of the American Lady
- The American lady, Mrs. Hubbard, is all in a tizzy, so Poirot sees her next.
- Before the questioning begins, Mrs. Hubbard drops some "vurry important" information on Poirot (2.4.2): the murderer was in her own compartment last night.
- The way Mrs. Hubbard tells it, she could feel someone was in her compartment, so she closed her eyes and froze up, and then she called for the conductor. When he arrived, no one else was there. She claims the man got away.
- Mrs. Hubbard told the conductor to check the door, and, sure enough, it wasn't bolted.
- To prove that the man was in her compartment, she pulls a button from a Wagon Lit attendant's uniform out of her overstuffed bag. She knows that the man dropped it, because it was on top of a magazine she had been reading. The conductor who came in to check it didn't go anywhere near her magazine.
- From there, Poirot moves on to questioning Mrs. Hubbard. Here's what we learn:
- Mrs. Hubbard had made sure the door was bolted before she went to sleep by asking the Swedish woman to check it. The woman had come by her room to ask for aspirin.
- Hubbard mentions that the Swedish woman had gone into Ratchett's room by mistake and saw him in there. He apparently made a lewd comment to her.
- Hubbard says that Ratchett snored, but she didn't hear any snoring after she noticed the man in her compartment.
- Mrs. Hubbard claims not to know the Armstrong family personally, but says she did know of the case.
- She does not own a scarlet dressing gown.
- Mrs. Hubbard also admits to hearing a woman's voice coming from Ratchett's compartment. She had thought it best not to say anything about it before, since it's not a "very nice thing to speak about" (2.4.97).
- She says she heard the woman's voice before Ratchett was dead.
- The handkerchief, she says, is not hers. The one Poirot found is expensive, and hers isn't.
Part 2, Chapter 5
- Who's next? The Swedish lady, Greta Ohlsson. She's the one with yellow hair who Poirot thinks looks kind of like a sheep.
- The conversation takes place in French. Here's what goes down:
- Greta Ohlsson is a trained nurse who worked in a missionary school in Stamboul.
- She did indeed open the door on Mr. Ratchett, just like Mrs. Hubbard said. And yes, he said something inappropriate to her.
- Greta also confirms that Mrs. Hubbard's bolt on the communicating door was locked when she checked it.
- She then got into bed at 10:55 p.m.
- Greta's roommate is Mary Debenham, and Greta says she did not leave the compartment. Greta's a light sleeper, so she would have heard.
- She does not have a scarlet kimono.
- Greta has been in America with a woman who was an invalid, but she has not heard of the Armstrong case.
- After Ohlsson leaves, Poirot makes a timetable of the events to date (2.5.65-72). The way M. Bouc sees it, it's pretty clear that the crime was committed at 1:15 in the morning. Poirot's not so sure; he thinks there's something funny about this case. (Do you?)
- M. Bouc suspects the Italian man, and declares that "an Italian's weapon is the knife, and he stabs not once but several times" (2.5.76).
- Poirot says no, it's not that simple. Plus, Ratchett's valet gave the Italian an alibi.
Part 2, Chapter 6
The Evidence of the Russian Princess
- The Wagon Lit conductor is called in and his uniform is examined. He's not missing a button! The plot thickens.
- Pierre Michel also has an alibi: he was talking with other conductors when Mrs. Hubbard rang her bell.
- Poirot concludes that button might belong to the person in Mrs. Hubbard's room, who ran out and then back – into his or her own room. That means the murderer is still on the train.
- Does that mean there was only one murderer? Well, it's not so simple.
- Next on the interview list is Princess Dragomiroff. Poirot asks her to write down her name and address, but she has Poirot do it instead. Next, the questions:
- After dinner, Princess Dragomiroff went to bed and read until 11 p.m. She had some pain, so at 12:45 a.m. she rang for her maid and got a massage. Some time later the maid left. The train had stopped.
- The maid, Hildegarde Schmidt, has been with her for 15 years.
- Also, a revelation: Princess Dragomiroff was BFF with Linda Arden, the mother of Sonia Armstrong, who was Daisy's mother. Sonia was the princess's goddaughter. Coincidence? Hmm.
- We learn that Linda Arden is still alive, living in retirement. There is a second daughter, too, though the Princess says she has lost touch with her.
- When Poirot tells her that Ratchett was connected with the Armstrong case, she says the murder is "an entirely admirable happening" (2.6.90).
- She does not wear a red silk kimono.
- Princess Dragomiroff asks for Poirot's name, and says she recognizes him. Then she says, "This is Destiny" (2.6.104).
- Poirot wonders what in the world she meant by that.
Part 2, Chapter 7
The Evidence of Count and Countess Andrenyi
- The fashionable Hungarian couple steps up to the plate. Poirot talks to the husband first. The husband is wearing nice English threads, though he himself is not English:
- The Count claims they were both asleep and heard nothing.
- He claims not to have known that Ratchett was Cassetti, but he did know about the Armstrong case.
- He was in Washington for a year, but does not recall meeting any of the Armstrongs.
- After dinner, the two played piquet (a card game) in one of their two compartments. Then the wife took her sleeping draught (trional), and they went to sleep.
- The Count writes down his name and address.
- When the interview is over, the Count says there is no need to talk to his wife. Of course, Poirot still wants to. "A mere formality" he says (2.7.49). Here's what he gets out of her:
- She has only been married to the Count for a year.
- Her husband does not smoke a pipe.
- Her dressing gown is not scarlet silk, but corn chiffon.
- She also mentions that she didn't know there were detectives on trains when they go through Yugo-Slavia.
- Poirot says he is not Yugo-Slavian. He belongs "to the world" (2.7.81). Oh, Poirot.
- As the Countess leaves, Poirot studies her diplomatic Hungarian passport. There's a grease spot on it.
Part 2, Chapter 8
The Evidence of Colonel Arbuthnot
- Poirot moves on to interview another one of the first class passengers: Colonel Arbuthnot. Arbuthnot is a man of "true British brevity" (2.8.6). That is, he answers with yes's and no's.
- Here's the rundown:
- He is coming home on leave from England on a train, not the usual boat. Why? Reasons of his own, he says.
- He stopped in Baghdad for three days. He claims not to have known Mary Debenham until the train.
- Poirot asks his opinion of Mary Debenham, and says the crime was probably committed by a woman. (Yep, he's trying to push the Colonel's buttons.) Arbuthnot gets a little worked up and says the idea is absurd.
- As for his actions last night, he tells the same story as MacQueen: the two of them were discussing Indian politics. Though the Colonel generally doesn't like Americans, he's made an exception for MacQueen.
- Colonel Arbuthnot went to bed around 2 in the morning. MacQueen called the conductor as Arbuthnot left for his compartment.
- He did get off with MacQueen at the Vincovi stop, but briefly, because of the blizzard.
- Back in the compartment, he did indeed smoke a pipe. A pipe!
- Did he see anyone pass by? No, he did not see anyone. He smelled a woman, though. He knows because it reminded him of the plight of women in Russia.
- Arbuthnot has never been to America, but admits to knowing Colonel Toby Armstrong, Daisy Armstrong's father.
- He says that if Ratchett was Cassetti, then he got what he deserved.
- He also mentions something interesting: "trial by jury is a sound system" (2.8.90).
- Arbuthnot mentions that he noticed that the door beyond his, No. 16, had a man peeping out of it when he got back to his compartment. The man looked suspicious.
- Before he goes, Colonel Arbuthnot also mentions that Miss Debenham is a "pukka sahib." Poirot explains that this means her father and Colonel Arbuthnot's father went to same kind of school. But wait… aren't they not supposed to know each other?
- Poirot and M. Bouc agree that, although they have a clue that points to Colonel Arbuthnot, he doesn't fit the crime. Each crime has a "signature" (2.8.121), Poirot tells us, and this one does not have Arbuthnot's.
Part 2, Chapter 9
The Evidence of Mr. Hardman
- Now it's time for Poirot to interview the last of the first class passengers, the boisterous, gum-chewing American man in the loud suit. His name is Cyrus Bethman Hardman. The facts:
- Cyrus was traveling to Paris on business. He sells typewriter ribbons.
- Poirot asks about his actions last night after dinner. Cyrus cuts off the interview and asks who Poirot is. When he learns that he's a famous detective, Hardman says he has to come clean.
- Cyrus Hardman takes out the gum and his voice changes. He's actually a private detective from New York.
- What? Yep. Here's the story:
- Cyrus was in Europe on business, and Ratchett hired him to watch his back. Ratchett had been receiving death threats.
- Ratchett and Cyrus were traveling and on the lookout for someone whom Ratchett described as a "small man, dark, with a womanish kind of voice" (2.9.55).
- Cyrus says he didn't recognize Ratchett as Cassetti. He mentions the man probably had lots of enemies.
- About last night: no one got on and no one got off the train car. Cyrus was watching from his room.
- He says the conductor went past him a couple of times to answer bells, and then went into the rear coach. Then he helped out the American lady, Mrs. Hubbard.
- Cyrus says the only person who would be able to confirm his identity is MacQueen, who has seen him in New York. Also, a cable from New York could confirm who he is, no problem.
- He does not smoke a pipe.
Part 2, Chapter 10
The Evidence of the Italian
- Next, Poirot interviews the Italian, Antonio Foscarelli. M. Bouc is stoked, because he thinks the Italian committed the murder.
- On to the interview:
- Foscarelli is Italian, and speaks French very well, but he's a naturalized American. He sells cars for Ford and blabs on at length about this.
- He didn't recognize that Ratchett was Cassetti, but he faintly remembers the case. He claims not to know the Armstrong family.
- After dinner, Foscarelli went to his compartment, where the valet was. He smoked, read, and slept in the top berth. He heard the valet groaning with a toothache, and says he didn't leave the compartment, or talk much.
- He only smokes cigarettes.
- After Foscarelli leaves, M. Bouc goes on again about how Italians are liars, how he doesn't trust them, and how they always use knives. Poirot points out that there's no evidence against Foscarelli.
- Poirot says he thinks the crime was planned by "an Anglo-Saxon brain" (2.10.54). With that, they call in Mary Debenham.
Part 2, Chapter 11
The Evidence of Miss Debenham
- Mary Debenham comes in. She's neatly dressed and cool as a cucumber.
- Poirot takes a different approach with her. He gets her facts (that she went to her compartment and went to sleep), but then he starts asking her questions about her feelings.
- Poirot knows how to push buttons. He asks her if she is distressed about the crime. She says she is not.
- Poirot can tell she's getting peeved, so he lets her in on his method: "I see at once that you will be orderly and methodical…I ask what you feel, what you thought." (2.11.32)
- Still, we do get some information:
- Mary is traveling from Baghdad, where she was a governess to two children. She says she wants a post in London. Poirot remarks that he thought she might be getting married. (Again, pushing buttons.)
- Her opinion of Miss Ohlsson? Simple and pleasant.
- Her gown is not a scarlet kimono, nor is Miss Ohlsson's. However, she says, "that is not mine" (2.11.65), which makes Poirot think she has at least seen the kimono. She admits that she has.
- Mary did see a person out the door. This person had a cap on her head. She was tall and slim, with dragons on the back of her gown.
- Mary asks Poirot if he suspects Greta Ohlsson, and if she can reassure Greta since Greta was the last one to see Mr. Ratchett.
- Mary says, "She's like a sheep, you know. She gets anxious and bleats" (2.11.93).
Part 2, Chapter 12
The Evidence of the Lady's Maid
- Poirot admits to M. Bouc and Constantine that he was testing Miss Debenham, and was looking for a flaw. He doesn't think she would have committed a crime of passion, so he insists that they start thinking about the death as totally planned out beforehand.
- Poirot explains that he suspects Mary because of the conversation he overheard at the train stop in Konya. He thinks she's totally capable of having planned the crime, being cool and resourceful and all.
- The lady's maid, Hildegarde Schmidt, is next. Poirot is super sweet and kind to her. (Again, strategy.)
- Hildegarde confirms that she went in to Princess Dragomiroff's room last night to give her a massage.
- Hildegarde does not have a scarlet dressing gown.
- Before turning in, she went to fetch a rug from her compartment. She saw no one but the conductor, who was coming out of one of the middle compartments. She had not seen him before.
- Hildegarde has not been to America, but she has heard of the Armstrong case. The handkerchief isn't hers, but she hesitates when Poirot asks if she knows whom it belongs to. She says she doesn't.
- The three conductors, including Pierre Michel, are called in. She says the conductor she saw is not in the lineup. That man was small, dark, and had a mustache and a womanish voice. (Sound familiar?)
Part 2, Chapter 13
Summary of the Passenger's Evidence
- We've got all of the evidence, but M. Bouc is super confused, and Poirot is puzzled, too.
- Poirot decides to review the evidence with M. Bouc, arranging it with "order and method" (2.13.16).
- Here's the rundown:
- Fact 1: Ratchett died the night before from twelve stab wounds.
- Fact 2: The time of the crime might possibly be 1:15 a.m., unless the evidence of the watch was faked and the crime was committed earlier or later.
- If the crime was committed at 1:15 a.m., the murderer must still be on the train.
- Can they trust Hardman's account of the "small dark man with a womanish voice"? (2.13.32). Yes, because his story can easily be disproved with a simple cable. It's probably true. He is, at least, who he says he is.
- Corroboration of Hardman's story: Hildegard Schmidt saw such a man, and Mrs. Hubbard found that button.
- A smaller fact: Arbuthnot and MacQueen both mention seeing a conductor pass by their compartments, but Pierre Michel was sitting down the whole time.
- Four witnesses, then, corroborate the small, dark man theory.
- So, where is this man? Poirot proposes that one of the passengers was disguised. But which one? The only person who could fit the uniform would be the valet (a small man) or a tall woman – remember the womanish voice.
- Poirot tells M. Bouc about Constantine's medical exam (how some wounds happened later than others) and everyone's heads start to spin.
- Poirot seems to think there may be a "very simple" answer (2.13.61). After all, where are the man in the uniform and the kimono woman?
- Now it's time to search everyone's luggage. Poirot predicts that the scarlet kimono will be in one of the men's bags, and the conductor's uniform in Hildegarde Schmidt's bag – certainly, if she is innocent.
- Mrs. Hubbard enters, says she found the blood-covered murder weapon in her bag, and proceeds to faint.
Part 2, Chapter 14
The Evidence of the Weapon
- Mrs. Hubbard is revived, and the three men head to her compartment. On the floor is a cheap dagger, "sham Oriental," with rust on it (2.14.17). There are no fingerprints, of course.
- The man must have slipped into Mrs. Hubbard's room, put the knife in her bag, scared her, and then fled. Right? Well… Poirot's not convinced.
- Mrs. Hubbard comes in and is freaking out. She asks to be moved, so they take her to compartment No. 12 in the adjoining coach, which is identical to the one she's in now.
- Poirot also figures out something else about the bolted door: the door appears to be bolted if it's locked from the other side. That must have been what happened. The Swedish woman must have checked the door and assumed it was locked – but it was only locked from the other side.
- Mrs. Hubbard rambles on when Poirot asks her if she visited Smyrna. No, she sailed to Stamboul and a Mr. Johnson met her there.
- Mrs. Hubbard needs some coffee. They search her bags (there's nothing else unusual there) and then head out to conduct the rest of the search.
Part 2, Chapter 15
The Evidence of the Passenger's Luggage
- The men move carriage by carriage to search the luggage.
- Mr. Hardman has plenty of liquor, despite prohibition.
- In the Colonel's luggage, they find pipe cleaners that match the one found on the floor of Ratchett's room. Poirot still thinks the crime is not "dans son caractère" (2.15.35), or in the Colonel's character.
- They don't find anything unusual in Princess Dragomiroff's bags, and she says she trusts her maid, who is very loyal.
- While the Princess's luggage is being searched, she and Poirot have an exchange. She says Cassetti should have been flogged to death.
- Poirot says her strength is not perhaps in her arm, but in her "will" (2.15.70).
- The Count and Countess's luggage is next. They don't find anything interesting, except that one of the labels on the Countess's suitcase is damp.
- Mary Debenham and Greta Ohlsson are the next to have their luggage searched. There are no finds there. Poirot sends Greta to check on Mrs. Hubbard, and gets Mary alone.
- Poirot tells Mary that he overheard her conversation with the Colonel on the journey from Syria. There, she said something about, "When it's all over. When it's behind us" (2.15.120).
- What did she mean by that? Mary won't say. She does give her word, though, that she had never set eyes on Ratchett before. She says she'd been talking about a task that she'd already undertaken.
- Poirot asks Mary why she's not anxious about the delay now, given that she was so anxious about the delay on the Syrian train. Mary almost loses her temper and doesn't answer.
- She says she only met the Colonel on this trip. Poirot tells her about the pipe cleaner, and she says he was not involved. She will not say anything else.
- By now, Poirot really has her riled up. He says, "if you wish to catch a rabbit you put a ferret into the hole, and if the rabbit is there he runs" (2.15.177).
- In Hildegarde Schmidt's luggage, they do indeed find the Wagon Lit conductor's uniform. She says it is not hers, and they believe her.
- Poirot says something about Hildegarde being a good cook. She says all her ladies have thought so, and then stops short.
- The uniform is missing a button and also contains a conductor's pass key.
- They search the luggage belonging to MacQueen, and the valet, and the Italian, but they don't find a scarlet kimono.
- Poirot needs to think, but he's out of cigarettes. He goes to his case, and guess what he finds? The scarlet kimono!
- Poirot sees it as a "defiance," and says "Very well. I take it up" (2.15.228).
Part 3, Chapter 1
Which One of Them?
- M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine are totally confused. Poirot is puzzled, too, but he's more optimistic about being able to solve the case based on the evidence gathered from the passengers.
- For example, MacQueen said Ratchett didn't know any foreign languages, and that's why he had a secretary, but the voice the conductor heard in the car was speaking French.
- This tells us that at twenty minutes till one, some other person was in the compartment.
- Also, what's up with the watch? Did someone stop the hands?
- Finally, when could the intruder have gotten on the train? The only opportunity was when the train was stopped at Vincovi. So the killer must be one of the passengers.
- Poirot presents a list of evidence that we have already heard with each passenger's motive, alibi, evidence against him or her, and any suspicious circumstances. Go back to your book and check it out – it sums everything up nicely (3.1.46-58).
- Discouraged, M. Bouc says the list doesn't tell them much. With that, Poirot pulls out a list of questions that is a little more provocative.
Part 3, Chapter 2
- Poirot presents a list of things that need explaining. This is another list worth checking out in your book (3.2.1 and on).
- It presents all the weird stuff in the case that needs explaining: the "H" on the handkerchief, the pipe cleaner, the scarlet kimono, the second conductor, the watch, the time of the murder, and the weird stab wounds.
- First, the "H": it implicates Hubbard, Debenham (whose middle name is Hermione), and Hildegarde Schmidt.
- Pipe cleaner: Constantine thinks it's faked, since no one could have left two clues on purpose like that.
- The scarlet kimono? They have no idea.
- The Wagon Lit conductor? The only people who could have worn it are the valet, Debenham, the Princess, and the Countess. But they all have alibis!
- What about the watch? How did it get there? Was the murder committed earlier or later than 1:15 a.m.? The point is debated.
- As for the wounds, they suggest that multiple people stabbed the body.
- Poirot is not satisfied with the two murderers solution. Now, Poirot must sit back and think: "Which of them?" (3.2.50).
Part 3, Chapter 3
Certain Suggestive Points
- M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine attempt to think, though their minds wander. Poirot, on the other hand, stays still and appears to be asleep.
- Poirot thinks of something. He opens his eyes. He tells his friends that he has a hypothesis now, but that he'll have to make "certain experiments" (3.3.21) to test them.
- The first suggestive point he mentions is that he is surrounded by "people of all classes, of all ages, of all nationalities" – not common this time of year (3.3.22). Also, one passenger didn't show up.
- Other suggestive points are discussed. First? The dirty mark on the Countess's passport. What if her first name was actually "Helena" and not "Elena" – she could be tied to the handkerchief. Confirmation of this hypothesis: her damp luggage label on top of her initial on the case.
- What else? The murder was planned to look like an outside job, but the train stopping changed all that.
- The threatening letters? Not real.
- The burned letter? It must mean someone on the train was intimately connected to the Armstrong family, and the letter would have suspicion cast on them.
- The handkerchief – was it dropped to cast suspicion?
- Thought: perhaps Countess Andrenyi is the daughter of Linda Arden, a Shakespearean actress. Arden comes from the forest of Arden in As You Like It.
- Proposal: Countess Andrenyi is Linda Arden's daughter, the younger sister of Mrs. Armstrong, and her real name is Helen Goldenberg.
Part 3, Chapter 4
The Grease Spot on the Hungarian Passport
- After dinner, Poirot drops the handkerchief and offers it to the Countess. She says it is not hers. He asks if she is Helen Goldenberg, the daughter of Linda Arden.
- The Count has an outburst, but the Countess/Helena finally owns up to it. She speaks now with an American voice.
- The reason for the subterfuge? The murdered man murdered her niece. She wanted to avoid being swept into the investigation. She maintains that she did not kill him.
- The Count gives his word of honor that his wife is telling the truth, and speaks earnestly.
- The Countess says, still, that the handkerchief is not hers. She changed the passport because she didn't want to be put through rigorous questioning. She was scared.
- Poirot then asks her for help. First, he asks about Susanne, the maid who threw herself out of the window.
- The Countess confirms that Susanne was French and a nursemaid, and adds that the nurse's last name was Stengelberg.
- Poirot asks if she's recognized anyone since she's been on the train. She says no. What about the Princess? Oh yeah, her.
- Who was the Armstrong governess? She was "a big, red-haired woman" by the name of Freebody (3.4.86).
Part 3, Chapter 5
The Christian Name of Princess Dragomiroff
- While M. Bouc is now certain of the Countess's guilt, Poirot still has more detective work to do. In fact, he believes the Count when he says his wife did not murder the man. And then there's the handkerchief.
- Speaking of which, Princess Dragomiroff bursts up into the room and informs the men that the handkerchief is hers. How? Her Christian name is Natalia, which starts with "N." "H" is an "N" in Russian.
- She then says she has no idea how it got in there. She says she did not tell Poirot that the Countess was Mrs. Armstrong's sister out of loyalty.
- She says that in this case "justice – strict justice – has been done" (3.5.38).
- She can prove the handkerchief is hers by writing to the makers in Paris.
- The maid hesitated when she saw the handkerchief, too, but protected the Princess out of loyalty.
- The Princess leaves. Poirot thinks her power is "in her will rather than in her arm" (3.5.54).
- Lies, lies, and more lies. And Poirot sets out to uncover more. How? By confronting people with his guesses and seeing what happens. When confronted with the truth, people usually admit it, if only out of shock.
- Next up? The Colonel.
Part 3, Chapter 6
A Second Interview with Colonel Arbuthnot
- Arbuthnot is summoned to the dining car. When confronted with the pipe cleaner, he says it's probably his, and no, he doesn't know how it got there.
- Poirot says it doesn't really matter and that the real reason he wanted to see him is to talk about Miss Debenham. Arbuthnot is taken aback.
- He asks Arbuthnot about the conversation he overheard between the two of them on the train platform. The Colonel says that his lips are sealed.
- Poirot says that Miss Debenham is a "highly suspicious character" (3.6.43) and tells him she was the governess at the Armstrong's house.
- The Colonel is silent. When pressed, he says he thinks Poirot is wrong, but Poirot should ask Miss Debenham.
Part 3, Chapter 7
The Identity of Mary Debenham
- Mary sweeps defiantly into the train car. Poirot confronts her with her identity as the governess of the Armstrong family. She flinches, but admits it.
- Mary says she lied in order to protect her reputation as a governess. She wouldn't be able to get a job if she was swept up into a murder investigation.
- She also claims not to have recognized the Countess. Um, sure.
- Poirot asks if she will tell him her secret. She breaks down and sobs. The Colonel jumps up and yells at Poirot and then tends to Mary.
- Mary runs out, followed by the Colonel, and Poirot reveals how he guessed it all. The Countess had said her governess was a big redheaded woman, a description so opposite to Mary as to be suspicious.
- Plus? She said the name was Miss Freebody. There's a shop in London called Debenham & Freebody, and that told Poirot who it was.
Part 3, Chapter 8
Further Surprising Revelations
- By now you can guess where this is going: everyone on the train is connected to the Armstrong family.
- This chapter features the following revelations from the following characters:
- The Italian, Foscarelli, was the chauffer.
- The Swedish lady, Greta Ohlsson, was Daisy Armstrong's nurse.
- Masterman, the valet, was Mr. Armstrong's valet and his "batman" in the war (3.8.53).
- Mr. Hardman, the private eye, denies being the gardener. He does admire Poirot's methods, though.
- Regardless, Poirot has it all figured out, and he's surprised his friends don't. He asks for all of the passengers to be called to the dining car where he will lay out two possible solutions.
Part 3, Chapter 9
Poirot Propounds Two Solutions
- Everyone gathers in the train car and Poirot gives two scenarios. Why two? You'll see. M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine will give their judgments concerning which is right. (They are the jury, in a sense.)
- The first solution:
- The murderer entered the train at either Belgrade or Vincovi dressed as a valet, murdered Ratchett and then left the train in plain clothes before it took off from the station.
- But what of the watch? Poirot's stroke of genius: "Mr. Ratchett had omitted to put his watch back an hour as he should have done at Tzaribrod" (3.9.19). So the watch was ahead! Which means he died at 12:15.
- M. Bouc doesn't know if he buys this: what about the voice in the compartment? Poirot explains: it was someone who came in and found Ratchett dead but was afraid to be implicated.
- And Mrs. Hubbard? She was having a nightmare and got the time wrong.
- And the maid? She did run into the man, but earlier, and had lied to give her lady an airtight alibi.
- Dr. Constantine is mad and jumps up and says this does not hold water. What the heck? (The stab wounds, for example.)
- Okay, okay, fine. Poirot gives the second solution:
- Everyone on the train car was in on it. Where else would you find such a mix of classes and nationalities except in America? And that's what the Armstrong household was.
- In other words, it was an elaborate scheme by all these people – all members of the Armstrong family or people affiliated with the Armstrongs – to bring justice to Daisy Armstrong.
- The case included many red herrings: for example, MacQueen's suggestion that Ratchett couldn't speak French.
- Then there were Mr. Hardman's methods. He only watched the hallway, which is not a good way to guard anyone, but it would keep an outsider from being implicated.
- Also, the Colonel called Miss Debenham Mary, which means they were intimately acquainted.
- Plus, Mrs. Hubbard's bolt on her door had not actually been covered by the sponge-bag. In odd number compartments, the bolt is above the handle.
- The whole thing was a "comedy played for my benefit" (3.9.50), says Poirot.
- They were all in on it, like a jury of twelve. And they all stabbed him, so as not to know who actually killed him.
- The clues were dropped as red herrings to confuse matters and incriminate people who had airtight alibis.
- The scarlet kimono? Probably the Countess's. That's another red herring.
- The Countess was innocent, and her husband did the stabbing for her.
- The conductor, Pierre Michel, was also in on it: his daughter was the nursemaid who threw herself out of the window.
- Hardman was the one in love with the girl. (How sad!)
- And Mrs. Hubbard? Why, she's none other than the famous actress Linda Arden herself.
- At this, Mrs. Hubbard admits to it, and details the plot. They were, in fact, all in on it together. And they would have succeeded if it weren't for the accident – and Poirot!
- Conclusion? The second solution is the one that is obviously correct. It matches up with the evidence. But has justice been served? M. Bouc and Dr. Constantine agree that it has, by choosing to present the first, false solution to the authorities.
- Poirot retires from the case.